Author guideline

Format of articles

In order to make manuscript submission as easy as possible for authors, we have introduced format-free initial submission for our journals. We do encourage authors to read the manuscript preparation guidelines below and to consider how easy a manuscript is to read by reviewers and editors.

Once an article has been accepted for publication the main manuscript must be submitted as an editable file, not a PDF, and the source files of any figures and tables must be provided.

However, we strongly recommend that you write concisely and stick to the following guidelines:

  • Articles should ideally be no more than 20 typeset pages
  • The main text should be no more than 6000 words (not including Abstract, References and legends of figure, maps, tables etc.)
  • The title should be no more than 25 words
  • The abstract should be no more than 250 words
Title page

Article title should be a short description not more than 25 words of the research you are reporting. The best titles are written with both human readers and search engines in mind; including keywords in your title will help readers discover your article online. The title page should also contain full names and affiliations for each author.


The abstract should be no more than 250 words and should not include any references. Make sure it serves both as a general introduction to the topic and as a brief, non-technical summary of the main results and their implications.


Please include at least 3 and up to 5 keywords. Try to avoid overly broad or specialized terms that might be meaningless to a reader.


Your manuscript text file should start with a title page that shows author affiliations and contact information, identifying the corresponding author with an asterisk. We recommend that each section includes an introduction of referenced text that expands on the background of the work. Some overlap with the Abstract is acceptable.

For the main body of the text, there are no specific requirements. You can organize it in a way that best suits your research. However, the following structure will be suitable:

  • Introduction
  • Methods and Materials 
  • Results (with subheadings)
  • Discussion (without subheadings)
  • Conclusion and recommendation
  • References 

Please note, footnotes should not be used.

You may include a limited number of mathematical equations if necessary. Display items are limited to 16 (figures, maps and/or tables).

Your submission must also include:

  • A cover letter
  • Individual figure, maps and table files and optional supplementary information & data files

For first submissions (i.e. not revised manuscripts), you may incorporate the manuscript text and other files into a single zip file up to 25 MB in size.

Revised manuscripts

For revised manuscripts, you should provide all textual content in a single file, prepared using Microsoft Word. Please note, we do not accept PDF files for the article text of revised manuscripts. Make sure you:

  • Format the manuscript file as single-column text without justification.
  • Number the pages using an English numeral in the footer of each page.
  • Use the 12 font size Times New Roman line spacing with 1.5.
  • Supply any figures, maps or tables as individual files.
  • Combine and supply any Supplementary Information as a separate file.
  • Include the title of the manuscript and author list in the first page of the Supplementary Information file.
Write your manuscript

Scientific article is read by a truly diverse range of people. Please therefore give careful thought to communicating your findings as clearly as possible. Although you can assume a shared basic knowledge of science, please don’t expect that everyone will be familiar with the specialist language or concepts of your particular field. Therefore:

  • Avoid technical jargon wherever possible, explaining it clearly when it is unavoidable.
  • If you must use an abbreviation, make sure you spell it out fully in the text or legend the first time it appears.
  • Clearly explain the background, rationale and main conclusions of your study.
  • Write titles and abstracts in language that will be readily understood by any scientist.

The Methods section should be written as concisely as possible but should contain all elements necessary to allow interpretation and replication of the results. We recommend you limit your Methods section to 500 words. Make sure it includes adequate experimental and characterization data for others to be able to reproduce your work. You should:

  • Please include full specific details of materials used, such as models or software. 
  • Include descriptions of standard protocols and experimental procedures.
  • Only identify commercial suppliers of data or instrumentation when the source is critical to the outcome of the experiments.
  • You will also be required to provide a Data Availability statement;
  • Identify sources for any kits you use in your procedures.
  • Describe the experimental protocol in detail 
  • Please additionally include the accession details in your methods sections where appropriate

Please note that references to datasets must also be included in the reference list with DOIs where available. Each reference should contain as many of the following elements as possible:

  • Include all authors unless there are six or more, in which case only the first author should be given, followed by ‘et al.’.
  • Year of publication
  • Title of paper or book
  • Journal name using standard abbreviation
  • Volume number
  • Book publisher and location
  • First and last page numbers, or article number
  • Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

In your reference list, you should:

  • List authors by last name first, followed by a comma and initials (followed by full stops) of given names.
  • Use Roman text for Article and dataset titles, with only the first word of the title having an initial capital and written exactly as it appears in the work cited, ending with a full stop.
  • Use italics for book titles, giving all words in the title an initial capital.
  • Use italics for journal and data repository names, abbreviating them according to common usage (with full stops).
  • Use bold for volume numbers and the subsequent comma.
  • Give the full-page range (or article number), where appropriate.

Please keep any acknowledgements brief, and don’t include thanks to anonymous referees and editors, or any effusive comments. You may acknowledge grant or contribution numbers.

Date availability

You must include a Data Availability Statement in all submitted manuscripts. The statement should be provided as a separate section (titled ‘Data Availability’) at the end of the main text, before the ‘References’ section. Data availability statements should include, where applicable, accession codes, other unique identifiers and associated web links for publicly available datasets, and any conditions for access of non-publicly available datasets. Where figure source data are provided, statements confirming this should be included in data availability statements. Depending on the data described in the manuscript, data availability statements commonly take one of the following forms, or can be a composite of the statements below:

  • The datasets generated during and/or analyzed during the current study are available in the [NAME] repository, [PERSISTENT WEB LINK TO DATASETS].
  • All data generated or analyzed during this study are included in this published article (and its Supplementary Information files).
  • The data that support the findings of this study are available from [THIRD PARTY NAME] but restrictions apply to the availability of these data, which were used under license for the current study, and so are not publicly available. Data are however available from the authors upon reasonable request and with permission of [THIRD PARTY NAME].
Ethics Declarations

If your research includes human or animal subjects, you will need to include the appropriate ethics declarations in the Methods section of your manuscript.

Consent to participate/ Consent to publish

Please note that:

  1. Study participant names (and other personally identifiable information) must be removed from all text/figures/tables/images.
  2. The use of colored bars/shapes or blurring to obscure the eyes/facial region of study participants is not an acceptable means of anonymisation. For manuscripts that include information or images that could lead to identification of a study participant, your Methods section must include a statement that confirms informed consent was obtained to publish the information/image(s) in an online open access publication.
Figure, maps & tables

All figures and tables should be numbered and referred to in the text by their number. Figure and table captions should be provided within the manuscript, and should be brief and informative, and include any relevant copyright information if taken from a published source.

At initial submission, figures can be provided within the manuscript or as separate files. On revision, figures should be uploaded as separate files. During production, figures and tables will be resized to fit the page and text styles and labelling will be updated in line with our house style.

The following file formats are most suitable:

  • TIFF
  • JPEG
  • Postscript (PS or EPS)

Color figures are welcomed. All figures will be published in color online (the version of record), but will be reproduced in black and white in any print versions of the journal by default. If you feel that print color is essential for any of your figures, please list the relevant figure numbers on submission of your article.

Authors are encouraged to consider the needs of color-blind readers when choosing colors for figures. Many color-blind readers cannot interpret visuals that rely on discrimination of green and red, for example. The use of color-safe combinations, such as green and magenta, turquoise and red, yellow and blue or other accessible color palettes is recommended.

Tables must be provided in an editable format at final submission.


Include any equations and mathematical expressions in the main text of the paper. Identify equations that are referred to in the text by parenthetical numbers, such as (1), and refer to them in the manuscript as “equation (1)” etc.

For submissions in a .doc or .docx format, please make sure that all equations are provided in an editable Word format. You can produce these with the equation editor included in Microsoft Word.

Statistical guidelines

If your paper contains statistical testing, it should state the name of the statistical test, the n value for each statistical analysis, the comparisons of interest, a justification for the use of that test (including, for example, a discussion of the normality of the data when the test is appropriate only for normal data), the alpha level for all tests, whether the tests were one-tailed or two-tailed, and the actual P value for each test (not merely “significant” or “P < 0.05”). Please make it clear what statistical test was used to generate every P value. Use of the word “significant” should always be accompanied by a P value; otherwise, use “substantial,” “considerable,” etc.

Data sets should be summarized with descriptive statistics, which should include the n value for each data set, a clearly labelled measure of center (such as the mean or the median), and a clearly labelled measure of variability (such as standard deviation or range).

Ranges are more appropriate than standard deviations or standard errors for small data sets. Graphs should include clearly labelled error bars. You must state whether a number that follows the ± sign is a standard error (s.e.m.) or a standard deviation (s.d.).

You must justify the use of a particular test and explain whether the data conforms to the assumptions of the tests. Three errors are particularly common:

Multiple comparisons: when making multiple statistical comparisons on a single data set, you should explain how you adjusted the alpha level to avoid an inflated Type I error rate, or you should select statistical tests appropriate for multiple groups (such as ANOVA rather than a series of t-tests).

Normal distribution: many statistical tests require that the data be approximately normally distributed; when using these tests, you should explain how you tested your data for normality. If the data does not meet the assumptions of the test, you should use a non-parametric alternative instead.

Small sample size: when the sample size is small (less than about 10), you should use tests appropriate to small samples or justify the use of large-sample tests.