System Dynamics Review

Cover image for Vol. 30 Issue 3

Edited By: Rogelio Oliva

Impact Factor: 1.073

ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2013: 20/45 (Social Sciences Mathematical Methods); 93/173 (Management)

Online ISSN: 1099-1727

Author Guidelines

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Author Guidelines

Manuscript submission. System Dynamics Review operates an online submission and peer review system that allows authors to submit articles online and track their progress via a web interface. Please read the remainder of these instructions to authors and then click to navigate to the System Dynamics Review online submission site.

All papers must be submitted via the online system.

For reviewing purposes you should upload either a .pdf or .doc file with the figures and tables integrated within the text of the main document.
Submission of a manuscript will be held to imply that it contains original unpublished work and is not being submitted for publication elsewhere at the same time.

Submissions should be in one of the following forms:

  • Main articles
    Full-length papers (approximately 5,000 words, including copies of tables and illustrations) on research, applications methodology, generic structures and other significant topics.Shorter articles reporting studies in progress, observations on policy or methodology, teaching notes and commentaries may also be considered.
    Submitted articles should adhere to the following thematic guidelines:

    1. Be relevant to the SD community – the main readership of the journal. For a more specific description, see the Aims and Scope, and Readership sections of Journal Overview.

    2. Be well written – the language, argument, and structure of the manuscript must be clear and logical, and fit in well to the SDR style and guidelines.

    3. Have impeccable SD (model, formulation, validation, interpretation, etc.) – all SD work should be provided in auditable format in order to allow a more streamlined review process.

    4. Offer a unique and new contribution – an application of a causal loop diagram (or even of a simulation model) does not automatically constitute a publication for the SDR. Why should other system dynamicists be reading your contribution? What can they learn from this exercise? What is different in your paper to what has been done before? For all articles, a contribution-to-length ratio will be assessed, so contributors should carefully consider their submissions in such light. This contribution is preferably to the SD field, although papers that describe the application of SD in a new domain, especially in the improvement of existing practices, are also acceptable.

  • Notes and Insights
    Short (maximum 3,500 words) non-research/non-refereed articles of interest to the SD community.

  • Research Problems
    Short articles presenting problems with the potential to stimulate system dynamics research and applications.

  • Archives
    Reprints or first-time publication of old classics important to current practitioners in the field.

  • Announcements and Reviews
    Information about conferences, events, books, dissertations, teaching materials, hardware and software, and articles in other publications of interest to the system dynamics community.

Manuscript style
The language of the journal is English. All submissions must have a margin of 3 cm all round. The journal operates a double-blind review process whereby Reviewers' names and Authors' names are screened from each other. Please pay close attention to the instructions below.

Main document

  • The title page must list the full title and short title only.
  • Supply an abstract of up to 150 words for all main articles. An abstract is a concise summary of the whole paper, not just the conclusions, and is understandable without reference to the rest of the paper. It should contain no citation to other published work.
  • Include up to eight keywords that describe your paper for indexing purposes.
  • Note that the SDR does not number sections and subsections.

  • Keep use of footnotes to a minimum and when needed, keep them brief.

Supplemental files

  • Names and affiliations of all authors must be provided in a separate document given the designation – Supplementary Material Not for Review.
  • Do NOT incorporate into your main document.
  • Give the full address, including email, telephone and fax, of the author who is to check the proofs.
  • Include the name(s) of any sponsor(s) of the research contained in the paper, along with grant number(s).
  • Include also a brief biography of each author (with the exception of the Announcements and Reviews section).

Supporting information
We allow submission of "Supporting Information" for online publication only. Go to to access the Wiley-Blackwell guidelines for the submission of Supporting Information. If you wish to submit Supporting Information, please select the file designation “Supporting Information for review and online publication only” when uploading your files.

Guidelines for model documentation
Authors of articles employing formal models are expected to make available to editors and reviewers an electronic version of their model, which can be in any of the common system dynamics software formats. If possible, models should be documented using the SDM-Doc tool described in Martinez-Moyano I.J. 2012. Documentation for model transparency. System Dynamics Review, 28(2):199-208 and hosted by the System Dynamics Society. If the model was developed in a software not currently supported by the documentation tool, the authors should provide model diagnostics similar to the ones generated by SDM-Doc. Please submit model and model documentation in a zip file using the Supplementary Material for Review option when uploading the file.

Readers requesting documentation and paying costs of preparation and handling should be able to obtain from authors documented model listings and parameter values supporting published results. Upon request, the Executive Editor may waive these documentation standards for specific articles – in cases, for example, involving proprietary models with extremely large listings. It is the author's responsibility to obtain and supply with the manuscript written permission to reproduce copyright material.

Guidelines for simulation documentation
Exogenous inputs, simulation runs, experimental setups, and optimization results should be documented in a way that it is possible for a third party to replicate the results. Please see Rahmandad and Sterman, 2012. Reporting guidelines for simulation based-research in social sciences. System Dynamics Review, 28(4): 396-411, for a detailed description of minimum and preferred documentation requirements.

Guidelines for causal loop and stock and flow diagrams
Please follow the guidelines for causal loop diagrams in Section 5.2 of John Sterman’s Business Dynamics (2000, Irwin/McGraw-Hill).

  • Preferably use +/– to denote link polarity and not s/o.
  • Preferably use R/B to indicate loop polarity and not +/–.
  • Preferably use sans serif (non-serif) fonts.
  • Make all loops clearly visible and identifiable as loops – see George Richardson’s account of the process to improve a causal loop diagram (available here).
  • Maintain a reasonable font-size to arrow-length ratio. While it is not desirable to have ‘crowded’ diagrams, diagrams with too much white space (small variable names among very long arrows) also have legibility problems (see diagrams in Sterman, 2000).
  • Avoid boxes around the diagrams – we like to enlarge images as much as possible, and boxes limit our ability to do so.
  • The above guidelines also apply for stock and flow diagrams. Keep in mind that an image of the model structure is not a good way to document the model – that is why we have full equation listing. Instead, the diagram should be viewed as a way to graphical convey a piece of the model structure. As such, the emphasis should be in the stock and flows and the feedback loops. As a general rule, diagrams should not contain parameters or the inputs required to formulate table functions.

  • Preferably avoid geometrical figures other than the rectangles for stocks and the valves for flows.

Guidelines for graphs
Graphs of simulation output or behavior over time should adhere to the following guidelines.

  • Unless they are necessary to make a point in the text, avoid gridlines. However, do include detailed tick marks and labels in the axis to aid scaling and interpretation of the graph.

  • Axes should be labeled with relevant titles and units.

  • Preferably use sans serif (non-serif) fonts.

  • Please note that graphs in the journal are not in color, thus, use thickness and format (dashed, dotted, etc.) to differentiate among different lines in the same plot.

  • Avoid using legends. In most cases it should be possible to label the lines directly inside the graph box.

  • Choose a scale and a time horizon that will make the relevant dynamics clearly visible.

  • Avoid boxes around the graphs – we like to enlarge images as much as possible, and boxes limit our ability to do so.

  • In general, the output graph of SD software is not flexible enough to fully customize production-ready graphs. We recommend the use of R (freeware) for the development of fully customizable graphs. Here is the customizable code to generate a graph in R, and the output it generates. Note that the variable values were imported directly out of the SD software output.

Guidelines for tables

Tables should adhere to the following guidelines.

  • Avoid the use of vertical lines — column justification should suffice most of the times.
  • Minimize the use of horizontal lines — normally one line to separate the headers from the rest of the table is enough.
  • Preferably use san serif (non-serif) fonts.

Reference style
References should be quoted in the text as name and year within brackets and listed at the end of the paper alphabetically. Where reference is made to more than one work by the same author published in the same year, identify each citation in the text as follows: (Collins, 1998a), (Collins, 1998b). Where three or more authors are listed in the reference list, please cite in the text as (Collins et al., 1998). Provide page number(s) for direct quotations: (Collins, 1998, p.36).
All references must be complete and accurate. Online citations should include date of access. If necessary, cite unpublished or personal work in the text but do not include it in the reference list. References should be listed in the following style:

  • Tan B, Anderson EG, Dyer JS, Parker GG. 2010. Evaluating system dynamics models of risky projects using decision trees: Alternative energy projects as an illustrative example. System Dynamics Review 26(1): 1-17.

  • Sterman JD. 2000. Business Dynamics: Systems Thinking and Modeling for a Complex World. Irwin/McGraw-Hill, Boston.

  • Graham AK. 1980. Parameter estimation in system dynamics modeling. In Randers J. (ed.) Elements of the System Dynamics Method. Productivity Press, Cambridge MA, 143-161.

  • Eberlein RL. 1984. Simplifying dynamic models by retaining selected behavior modes. PhD Thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA.

  • Homer JB. 1983. Partial-model testing as a validation tool for system dynamics. In Proceedings of the 1983 International System Dynamics Conference. Chestnut Hill, MA, System Dynamics Society.

  • Forrester JW. 1991. Longer-term economic changes. Memo D-4207-1. System Dynamics Group, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA.

  • Kampmann CE, Oliva R. 2006. Toolset for Loop Eigenvalue Elasticity Analysis. Retrieved June 6, 2012, from

Follow this link to obtain the EndNote style file that defines this format for these reference types.

Submission of a revised manuscript
When submitting your revision you must upload editable files e.g., .doc, .rtf for your text and .tif or .eps for your figures. If your manuscript is accepted for publication we will use the files you upload during the revision process to typeset your article within a totally digital workflow.

Accepted manuscripts: Authors must supply by postal mail to the Publisher:

  • a Copyright Transfer Agreement with original signature(s) – without this we will be unable to accept the submission, and

  • permission grants – if the manuscript contains extracts, including illustrations, from other copyright works (including material from online or intranet sources) it is the author's responsibility to obtain written permission from the owners of the publishing rights to reproduce such extracts using the Wiley Permission Request Form.

Illustrations – revised manuscripts
Upload each figure as a separate file in either .tif or .eps format, with the figure number and the top of the figure indicated (within a Word document is acceptable following the correct resolution guidelines). Compound figures e.g. 1a, b, c should be uploaded as one figure. Tints are not acceptable. Lettering must be of a reasonable size that would still be clearly legible upon reduction, and consistent within each figure and set of figures. Where a key to symbols is required, please include this in the artwork itself, not in the figure legend. More detailed information on preparing artwork can be found on our Author Services page at All illustrations must be supplied at the correct resolution:

  • Black-and-white and color photos – 300 dpi

  • Graphs, drawings, etc. – 800 dpi preferred; 600 dpi minimum

  • Combinations of photos and drawings (black-and-white and color) – 500 dpi

Tables should be part of the main document and should be placed after the references. If the table is created in Excel the file should be uploaded separately. Line artwork must be high-quality (not photocopies). Gray shading (tints) are not acceptable; lettering must be of a reasonable size that would still be clearly legible upon reduction, and consistent within each figure and set of figures. Supply artwork at the intended size for printing.

Color policy. Illustrations should be supplied electronically in either .tif or .eps format if possible. The cost of printing color illustrations in the journal will be charged to the author. The cost is £150 for the first figure and £50 for each figure thereafter. If illustrations are supplied in color they may be used in the online version of the article at no cost to the author, even if this illustration was printed in black and white in the journal. The PDF will appear on the Wiley Online Library site.

To enable the publisher to disseminate the author's work to the fullest extent, the author must sign a Copyright Transfer Agreement, transferring copyright in the article from the author to the System Dynamics Society, and submit the original signed agreement upon notification of acceptance. A copy of the agreement to be used (which may be photocopied) can be found in the first issue of each volume of the System Dynamics Review. Copies may also be obtained from the journal editor or publisher, or may be printed from this website.

Proofs Proofs will be sent to the author for checking. This stage is to be used only to correct errors that may have been introduced during the production process. Prompt return of the corrected proofs, preferably within two days of receipt, will minimize the risk of the paper being held over to a later issue. Free access to the final PDF offprint of your article will be available via Author Services only. Please therefore sign up for Author Services if you would like to access your article PDF offprint and enjoy the many other benefits the service offers. Further reprints and copies of the journal may be ordered. There is no page charge to authors.