Biological Reviews

Cover image for Vol. 92 Issue 1

Edited By: Tim Benton

Impact Factor: 10.725

ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2015: 1/86 (Biology)

Online ISSN: 1469-185X

Author Guidelines

Biological Reviews welcomes the submission of manuscripts that fit the aims and scope of the journal, articles do not have to be invited.

Submissions of Manuscripts
Submissions to Biological Reviews are now made online using ScholarOne Manuscripts (formerly known as Manuscript Central). To submit to the journal go to If this is the first time you have used the system you will be asked to register by clicking on 'create an account'. Full instructions on making your submission are provided. You should receive an acknowledgement within a few minutes. Thereafter, the system will keep you informed of the process of your submission through refereeing, any revisions that are required, and a final decision.Manuscripts submitted by other methods will not be considered.

Submitting authors should include phone numbers and email address. Biological Reviews requires the submitting author (only) to provide an ORCID iD when submitting a manuscript. Submission of a paper is taken to imply it has not previously been published and that it is not being considered publication elsewhere. Upon acceptance of a paper, the author will be asked to transfer copyright to the Cambridge Philosophical Society. Enquiries should be addressed to the Editor, Biological Reviews, Cambridge Philosophical Society, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge, CB2 1RX, UK.(Tel: +44 (0) 1223 334735).

When submitting an article, authors should also submit a covering letter outlining how the manuscript fits the aims and scope of Biological Reviews. In particular, they should address the following:
• Why the field needs a review now. (Is it fast moving? Are there other reviews? Is there a set of recent advances?)
• What their article contributes beyond describing the literature. (What are the novel insights that they derive; how much will this review reshape – versus describe – the field?)
• To what extent will the article appeal to a broad readership of non-specialists (including what efforts they have made to make it accessible).

Style and content

Articles should be synthetic and critical assessments of fields of research of value to specialists in the field, and comprehensible to biologists in general. Reviews should go beyond a compilation of the research area by including synthesis leading to significant new insights. Papers should not generally exceed 15,000 words (abstract, main text, references, figure legends); papers exceeding 20,000 words will need very strong referee support. Authors are asked to provide a word count and to suggest the names of five suitable referees, who should not be collaborators.

Articles should be written in British English in a clear and concise scientific style, avoiding informality or excessive use of technical jargon. Non - native English speakers are advised to ask an English- Speaking colleague to provide feedback, or to use a professional language- polishing or editing service.

Each article should have an Abstract (not more than 500 words), 5 – 10 Key words, a list of Contents, a general Introduction, and Conclusions (given as numbered statements).  Sections and subsections are to be numbered 1., (1), (a) etc.  The generic name of a species should be given in full for the first time it occurs in a paragraph.  The author for each species is desirable on its first mention.  In general, chemical formulae may not be used as abbreviations in the text.  Use S.I. units.  Recent issues of the Journal should be consulted for style.

Preparation of manuscripts
Manuscripts should be submitted in an editable format( e.g Microsoft Word.docx). Text should be double-spaced throughout, with line numbering and adequate margins.

Article Structure
Each article must have an Abstract, Key words, a list of Contents, a general Introduction, and Conclusions. Sections and subsections are to be numbered I., (1), (a), (i) etc. Subsections in the main body of text should be logical divisions but authors are allowed flexibility on their number and placement. Keep headings short and to the point; avoid use of statements as headings. Footnotes and boxed text are discouraged

The title should be a short (under 15 words) and clear description of your paper. The title will be used for indexing and by search engines to locate your paper, so key terms should be included if possible. Avoid use of acronyms, abbreviations and numbers.

List of authors and affiliations
All authors’ names should be given: first names, other names abbreviated to initials, and surnames. Identify the author for correspondence using a superscript asterisk after the surname, with contact details (email address and telephone number) provided below the affiliation addresses. Link authors to affiliation addresses (the institutions where the work was carried out) using superscript numbers in numerical order. Any present addresses should be indicated using a superscript dagger symbol and these listed below the correspondence author information. If two authors made an equal contribution this may be indicated by a superscript symbol with ‘Authors contributed equally to this work’, again inserted below the correspondence author information. Affiliation addresses (full postal address, including country) should follow the list of authors.

Not more than 500 words. Single paragraph, no references or unexplained abbreviations. Keep it concise, informative, and preferably include relevant search terms.

Key words
5–10 key words should be provided. Avoid overly broad or meaningless terms. These words will be used by search engines, thus attempt to use words or phrases that will allow investigators in this field to locate your paper. Contents All sections and subsections must be included.

State objectives, avoid a lengthy literature survey or any summary of your findings.

Main body of text
Subsections in the main body of text should be logical and informative divisions but authors are allowed flexibility on their number and placement.

Where present, methods sections should include sufficient information to make the research fully reproducible. Previously published methods should be given as an appropriate reference with any amendments stated clearly.

The generic name of a species should be given in full on the first use of its common name in the text. The authority for each species is desirable on its first mention.

In general, chemical formulae may not be used as abbreviations in the text. Use S.I. units, with equivalents in S.I. units where the use of non-standard units is unavoidable. Use decimal points, not decimal commas. Restrict to 3 d.p. where possible (for significance levels 4 d.p. is acceptable, e.g. P0.0005). Use an en-rule (alt hyphen) in number ranges.

Any abbreviations used in the text must be defined clearly on first use. Ensure consistency of use throughout, paying particular attention to case use. An abbreviations or symbols list is not usually required, but may be included as an appendix where the number is large and the list is deemed necessary by the editor. For gene, protein and other specialised names use internationally agreed nomenclature. Note that gene names should be in italic type; their protein products are not in italics. GenBank accession numbers and TreeBase accession numbers should be given where appropriate.

Give full details of any statistical analyses (in text or table/figure legends). Include the type of test, a clear explanation of the data to which the test was applied, the value of the relevant statistic, sample size (N), degrees of freedom and the probability level (P). State whether a test is one- or two-tailed where appropriate. Note use of italics for N, P, F and other statistical variables. The P level used for significance must be stated, with reasons for departure from the usual criterion of P0.05 justified. Errors must be defined. Means and standard error (S.E.) or standard deviation (S.D.) should be given as, e.g. mean ± S.D. (N).

Simple mathematical formulae should be within the main body of the text. Equations should be displayed on separate lines and numbered consecutively on the left side with numbers in parentheses.

The conclusions section should be in the form of a short list of numbered points summarising the main findings of your article. Avoid the introduction of new material or new references in the conclusions section.


In-text citation
Text citations should give author or two authors and date; if several papers are listed for the same author in one year italic letters a, b, etc. should follow the date. For three-author papers all names should be given on first citation in the text, with only the first name et al. used subsequently. For more than three authors et al. is used in all citations. Only articles that have been accepted for publication or have been published can be cited. Citations of unpublished work should be cited in the text as a list of authors with forenames as initials followed by ‘unpublished data’ or ‘in preparation’.

Reference list
References should be listed in alphabetical then chronological order at the end of the text. Authors are expected to check carefully that all citations in the text and figure or table legends are included in the reference list, and that dates and spellings match. All author names should be given in the reference list; very extensive author lists may be abbreviated to the first 15 authors followed by et al. Full titles of papers, journal names (in full, not as the abbreviated form), volume number, and first and last page numbers should be given. Use an en-rule, not a hyphen, for page ranges. Publisher and place of publication should be given for books. Authors should consult a recent issue of the Journal for style. If a tool such as EndNote or Reference Manager is used for reference management and formatting then authors are requested to check thoroughly for missing/additional references. Please remove linked fields (produced by EndNote) from your final submission.

Figures may be line diagrams, drawings or photographs and must have legends which should make the Figures comprehensible without reference to the text.  The legends should be typed double-spaced on separate sheets.  Figures should be drawn in Indian ink on good quality white paper or produced by computer to comparable quality. A photocopy showing the position of any lettering should accompany each Figure. Lettering will be added by the Press. Please read our instructions for electronic artwork formats and resolutions (digital illustration standards) before you create electronic figure files. Figures copied, with permission, from other sources can be incorporated with their own lettering and the source acknowledged.  The position of Figures and Tables should be indicated.

Colour figures. The Journal encourages the publication of colour figures. Colour is free to authors where the Editors are of the view that it is essential. In all other instances, authors will be asked to return a signed copy of the completed Colourwork Agreement Form to Customer Services (OPI) after their manuscript has been accepted and sent to the Publisher. Please post or courier all pages of your completed form to Customer Services. Note that electronic or faxed copies cannot be accepted in compliance with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) requirements.

Once completed, please return the form via post only to the Customer Services at:

      Customer Services (OPI)
      John Wiley & Sons Ltd, European Distribution Centre
      New Era Estate
      Oldlands Way
      Bognor Regis
      West Sussex
      PO22 9NQ

For queries, please contact the production editor of the journal. The Journal is pleased to allow authors to publish figures in colour free of charge in the online edition.

Overview of the editorial process
Upon submission, a manuscript is checked to ensure it is complete and addresses the aims and scope of Biological Reviews. Any article failing these criteria will be returned to the authors. The manuscript is then subjected to an editorial review. Manuscripts passing this stage are sent out for peer review, which may require more than one round of reviewing. Manuscripts that are provisionally accepted after peer-reviewing enter a detailed quality-control stage including editing to ensure that the text and figures are clear and consistent, that the manuscript conforms to our usual style, and to check for statistical rigour. The authors will be required to address any queries arising at this stage. Final acceptance occurs after this process is complete, and the manuscript then enters the production stage leading to proofs (see below).

Supporting Information
Supporting Information can be a useful way for an author to include important but ancillary information with the online version of an article. Examples of Supporting Information include additional tables, data sets, figures, movie files, audio clips, 3D structures, and other related nonessential multimedia files.

Supporting Information should be cited within the article text, and a descriptive legend should be included. It is published as supplied by the author, and a proof is not made available prior to publication; for these reasons, authors should provide any Supporting Information in the desired final format.

For further information on recommended file types and requirements for submission, please visit:

OnlineOpen is available to authors who wish to make their article available to non-subscribers on publication, or whose funding agency requires grantees to archive the final version of their article. With OnlineOpen the author, the author's funding agency, or the author's institution pays a fee to ensure that the article is made available to non-subscribers upon publication via Wiley Online Library, as well as deposited in the funding agency's preferred archive. Any authors wishing to send their paper OnlineOpen will be required to complete the online payment form AND exclusive licence form.

Prior to acceptance there is no requirement to inform an Editorial Office that you intend to publish your paper OnlineOpen if you do not wish to. All OnlineOpen articles are treated in the same way as any other article. They go through the journal's standard peer-review process and will be accepted or rejected based on their own merit.

EndNote reference styles can be searched for here:

Reference Manager reference styles can be searched for here:

After Acceptance: Production
If your paper is accepted, the author identified as the formal corresponding author for the paper will receive an email prompting them to login into Author Services; where via the Wiley Author Licensing Service (WALS) they will be able to complete the license agreement on behalf of all authors on the paper.

For authors signing the copyright transfer agreement

If the OnlineOpen option is not selected the corresponding author will be presented with the copyright transfer agreement (CTA) to sign. The terms and conditions of the CTA can be previewed in the samples associated with the Copyright FAQs below:

CTA Terms and Conditions

For authors choosing OnlineOpen

If the OnlineOpen option is selected the corresponding author will have a choice of the following Creative Commons License Open Access Agreements (OAA):

Creative Commons Attribution License OAA

Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License OAA

Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial -NoDerivs License OAA

To preview the terms and conditions of these open access agreements please visit the Copyright FAQs hosted on Wiley Author Service and visit

If you select the OnlineOpen option and your research is funded by certain funders [e.g. The Wellcome Trust and members of the Research Councils UK (RCUK) or the Austrian Science Fund (FWF)] you will be given the opportunity to publish your article under a CC-BY license supporting you in complying with Wellcome Trust and Research Councils UK requirements. For more information on this policy and the Journal’s compliant self-archiving policy please visit:

The corresponding author will receive an email alert containing a link to a website that allows the author to correct the proof via the Online Proofing System. An active email address must therefore be provided for the corresponding author. The proof can be downloaded as a PDF (portable document format) file from this site or you may choose to correct the proof directly online. Acrobat Reader will be required in order to read the PDF file. This software can be downloaded (free of charge) from This will enable the file to be opened, read on screen and printed out in order for any corrections to be added. Further instructions will be sent with the proof. As few alterations should be made to it as possible. Excessive changes made by the author in the proofs, excluding typesetting errors, will be charged separately. Corrected proofs should be finalised through the Online Proofing System or sent to the Production Editor. An addendum of not more than 1000 words dealing with recently published work may be sent to the Editor with the first corrected proof.

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.

Additional paper offprints may be ordered online. Please click on the following link, fill in the necessary details and ensure that you type information in all of the required fields:

If you have queries about paper offprints please e-mail

Last updated: 5th January 2017