Please see here for our full guidelines for submitting to a Royal Society Publishing journal. Below are some journal specific guidelines relevant for submissions to Biology Letters.
Biology Letters word limit | 2500 words for Research articles and Opinion pieces, 5000 words for Reviews, 1000 words for Comments.
Please check that your paper contains the following:
| title page | abstract | figure/table legends (where used) | references | acknowledgements | author contributions | data accessibility | funding | competing interests | ethical statement |
If any of these are missing, your paper will be returned to you to amend. A separate cover letter should also be uploaded to support your submission.
- The text inside the tables is not included in the word count, ALL other text is included in the word count. The word count is strictly enforced.
- We allow a maximum of 4 displays, only 2 of which can be figures.
- Biology Letters does not have page or colour charges
- To use double line-spacing and include line numbers in your main document
Submitting | Authors should submit a text file (eg .doc, .docx) with line numbers - please do not upload a PDF file. Each figure should be uploaded separately with legends included in the main text file. Any tables should be included in the main word document. Authors are advised to embed fonts. When fonts are not embedded, the ScholarOne Manuscripts converter — used to generate the PDF — may not recognise the fonts, resulting in a poorly formatted or unreadable PDF for assessment.
The Royal Society Publishing guide for formatting your article can be found here and should be adhered to by all authors submitting to Biology Letters.
Biology Letters accepts the following article types.
Research Articles | A research article is the presentation of the authors own most recent work, including methods and results.
Opinion Pieces | If you are interested in writing an opinion piece please contact the editorial office with your proposal. An opinion piece should be written as a perspective, not a formal review. It should be of interest to a broad readership and at the cutting-edge of science. A brief review and critique of past and current work should be given, but the author's own outlook on the subject should be included, in addition to their view on new directions in the field and how it should progress. The author does not have to agree with conventional thought, but should present both sides of any debate.
Comments and Invited Replies | Comments bring attention to an oversight in a Biology Letters article or propose an opposing view. They are often a critique, providing corrections or offering new analyses. However, if factual errors are identified that affect the accuracy of the published record, a correction may be published instead. Comments will be published at the discretion of the Editor.
Comments are self-proposed by any reader shortly after the initial article is published (ideally within 6 months of online publication).
The comment is peer-reviewed by the corresponding author of the original article, a referee from the original article, and another impartial referee. If the comment is accepted, the authors of the original article will be invited to submit a reply. Please contact the editorial office prior to submission with any queries.
Reviews | Biology Letters now welcomes unsolicited reviews. If you are interested in writing a review please contact the editorial office with your proposal addressed to the Reviews Editor, Robert Elwood.
A review should go beyond a summary of known information. It should provide a novel synthesis, novel conclusions and should outline future direction of research. We encourage a discussion of ideas before a full manuscript is produced. The word limit for reviews is 5000 words.
All our reviews are free to access.
Mini-Series | Themed Mini-Series are a collection of 3-6 articles, comprising original research and review articles introduced by an editorial, which will provide an overview of the topic. Mini-Series articles will be published in one issue.
Special Features | Special Features are a collection of eight of more articles comprising original research and review articles introduced by an editorial, which will provide an overview of the topic, and are published in more than one issue.
Mini-Series and Special Features should be novel and of interest to a wide biological readership, and the articles collectively should be designed to advance significantly our understanding of the topic under consideration. The decision to commission a review, Mini-Series and Special Feature will be taken by the Editor-in-Chief in consultation with the Handling Editors and Reviews Editor. Ideas can be suggested by members of the Editorial Board or can be unsolicited proposals sent to the Biology Letters editorial office firstname.lastname@example.org. Proposals need to include a statement explaining the rationale for the topic together with a list of potential topics and authors. The proposer should act as the editor and as the handling Board Member for submissions, suggest peer-reviewers accordingly, and act as adjudicator in order to assist the Editor on the decision-making
Open Access in Biology LettersAuthors may have their article made freely available to all, immediately upon publication, by payment of an article processing charge. Such articles are covered by a Creative Commons license allowing redistribution and re-use, and we deposit them in PubMedCentral on the author's behalf. For full details including information on our Article Processing Charge please visit our Open Access page
Open data in Biology Letters
We require supporting data to be made available prior to publication so that all results are reproducible. For more information please refer to our data sharing policies. In order to make this policy as easy possible to comply with the Biology Letters submission system is fully integrated with the Dryad data repository. We also cover the cost of submitting data to Dryad up to 20GB.
Unless there are strong extenuating circumstances for doing so, we will not generally accept statements such as "Data and materials are available upon request from the authors" in our data accessibility statements. Exceptions are at the Editor's discretion.
In accordance with our preprint policy, we encourage authors to deposit early versions of articles in appropriate subject repositories or preprint servers.
Submit your article
Submit your manuscript online via ScholarOne Manuscripts.
Biology Letters is committed to the efforts undertaken by the Royal Society and Royal Society Publishing to make users of our services aware of and responsive to the challenges posed by unconscious biases. As part of these efforts, the Royal Society has published an In Verba blog post, a guidance PDF, and short video animation to support users in understanding and tackling unconscious bias.
Our authors are strongly encouraged to familiarise themselves with these publications when considering submitting to the journal.