Manuscript Formatting Requirements and Preparation Tips


1. Manuscript length and structure


The target lengths for the different manuscript types (Research Article, Note, Review, Comment, Reply Comment and Opinion Piece) are listed in Author guidelines.


Manuscripts should be structured as follows:
  • Title page (title, author list, author affiliations, corresponding author email, running page head, abstract, key words)
  • Main text (see below)
  • Acknowledgements
  • Literature cited
  • Tables (with legends)
  • Figures (with legends)
  • Appendices (length: up to 2 printed pages; longer materials should be submitted as online supplementary materials in a separate file)


Main text:
  • Research Articles and Notes should follow the IMRAD format (Introduction, Materials & Methods, Results, Discussion and an optional Conclusions section). Note that separate Results and Discussion sections are strongly preferred, but exceptions are possible if the manuscript’s content warrants a combined Results & Discussion section.
  • Reviews, Comments, Reply Comments and Opinion Pieces may deviate from the IMRAD format as necessary.


2. Title page


Title: The title should be concise and informative, i.e. summarizing either the subject or the most important findings of the study rather than merely the hypothesis addressed. It should have around 100 characters (ca. 15 words), and 150 characters at most (including spaces). Avoid 'A', 'An', 'The', 'On', etc. at the beginning. Avoid questions in the title.


Provide a running page head with 3 to 6 words; e.g. 'Detection of shrimp WSSV'.


Authors and addresses: If a manuscript has several authors from different institutions:


  • use superscript numerals for identification;
  • provide the address of each author's institution, identifying any present address(es) if applicable. Include zip or postal code but not street address or box number;
  • use an asterisk (*) to refer to a footnote that identifies the single corresponding author and provide her/his e-mail.


Abstract: Limit length to 250 words. Provide concise information on your work, its significance and its principal results. Avoid literature cites, series of data, or meaningless clauses such as 'the results are discussed'.


Key words: Supply 3 to 8 key words, listed in order of importance.


3. Text


Please number all pages and restart line numbering on each page (important: do not use ‘continuous’ line numbering), 12 point font, double spacing and numbered sections. Manuscripts that do not use correct English grammar, spelling and punctuation will be returned to authors without review; if you are not a native English speaker, you should have the text edited by someone who is, before submitting your manuscript. You may also wish to consult a 'How to' book such as Day & Gastel (2011; How to write and publish a scientific paper, 7th edn. Greenwood Press, Santa Barbara, CA).


Section headings: Main sections (IMRAD) should be numbered '1. INTRODUCTION’, ‘2. MATERIALS & METHODS’, etc. Subsections should be numbered as e.g. '2.1. Study site', ‘2.2. Sample collection’, etc. Avoid going beyond third-level subsections (e.g. 3.1.1.).


Verbosity: Please eliminate verbiage; example:


Verbose – 'The speed was chosen because past studies by Miller (1995) and Smith (1998) have shown this to be slightly greater than the maximum sustained swimming speed.'


Not verbose – 'The speed is slightly greater than the maximum sustained swimming speed (Miller 1995, Smith 1998).'


Verbose – 'It has been shown that boat noise affects whale behaviour (Smith 1994).' (and similar phrases such as 'it has been reported/found that', 'it is possible/suspected that', 'results show that')


Not verbose – 'Boat noise influences whale behaviour (Smith 1994).'


Genus and species names must be in italics; write the genus name in full at first mention in each section (Abstract, Introduction, Materials and Methods, Results, Discussion) and abbreviate whenever mentioned again in the same section. When referring to a species, do not use the genus name alone, unless you have previously defined it that way; be precise when using 'sp.' (singular) and 'spp.' (plural).


At first mention in a section – 'The filter feeding of blue mussels Mytilus edulis was examined'.


After first mention in a section – 'Filter feeding rates of M. edulis increased with increasing temperature.'


Sequence data: Full sequence information is required when molecular methods are used. The sequences of novel primers must be given. Novel nucleotide or protein sequences must be deposited in the GenBank, EMBL or DDBJ databases and an accession number obtained.


Conservation Evidence: If your study is testing for an intervention, please check the existing evidence for your intervention at State whether or not relevant evidence is available there, and if so, briefly summarise it in your Introduction. Otherwise, search for individual studies testing the action, and summarise any relevant evidence. If Conservation Evidence does not yet cover the topic and no individual studies exist, please state this; you may briefly reference other relevant literature, but this is not essential.


Ocean acidification data reporting: When presenting methods and results reporting ocean acidification the 'Guide to best practices for ocean acidification research and data reporting' must be followed. Specifics for reporting ocean acidification data in scientific journals are outlined in Annex 1 of the 2015 addendum.


Abbreviations: Define abbreviations and acronyms in the Abstract and at first mention in the main text, and thereafter use only the abbreviation / acronym.


Equations and units: Use standard SI units. Relations or concentrations (e.g. mg per l) must be given as 'mg l–1' (not mg/l). Variables are usually italicised (except for Greek letters). Italicisation should be consistent in normal, superscript and subscripted text. Example of proper spacing: 'p < 0.05, r2 = 0.879' (not 'p<0.05, r2=0.879'); but: 'we studied organisms of size <0.5 µm'


Figures and tables


Please consult Guidelines to Authors on Figure Preparation.


Figures, tables, and their captions should be self-explanatory; e.g. abbreviations and acronyms must be defined here. For table footnotes, use superscripted lower case letters; asterisks can be used to indicate statistical significance (must be defined in the legend).


4. Acknowledgement section


Declare all sources of funding of the study. In addition, you may wish to acknowledge any assistance you received from anyone not listed as author. Include this section before your Literature Cited.


5. References

All references cited in the text must be listed in the Literature Cited section, and all listed literature must appear in the text, using Harvard (Name-Year) referencing style. Citing references as 'in press' implies that the article has been accepted for publication; if pagination information is not available yet, the DOI should be included in the citation in the Literature Cited section. Unpublished results and submitted articles should be cited as: author's name unpub. data (e.g. N. Smith unpubl. data) in the text only.

a. Within the text

2 authors: use ‘&' between last names
3 or more authors: use the first author’s last name followed by ‘et al.’ (not italicized and not separated by a comma)

If the same first author published multiple papers in the same year and the within-text citations would look identical, distinguish these citations with a lower case letter (a, b, c, etc.) after the year.

Multiple citations within a single bracket: separate cites with a comma (not a semi-colon). Sort multiple cites chronologically from oldest to newest and if several cites are from the same year, sort them alphabetically.

(Smith & Miller 1965, Ahmed 1968, Miller et al. 2000a)
(Burns 2000, Miller et al. 2000a,b, Quinn 2000, Barni in press)

b. Literature Cited section


Format required for citing literature (examples):


Periodicals: Use standard abbreviations according to 'BIOSIS Serial Sources' or use the style for your selected journal in a reference managing software. A list of over 30000 journal names and BIOSIS abbreviations can be found here. In addition, Endnote users may download styles for IR journals in this zip file for import into reference managing software.


  • Dempster T, Holmer M (2009) Introductory editorial. Aquacult Environ Interact 1:1–5


Books: Write the title of the book in lower case, and give the publisher and place of publication. In the case of book series, give the series editor as well. Example:


  • Hanski I (2005) The shrinking world: ecological consequences of habitat loss. In: Kinne O (ed) Excellence in ecology, Book 14. International Ecology Institute, Oldendorf/Luhe


Papers from books, conference reports, symposium proceedings, etc.: Give the title of the chapter, the editor(s) and title of the volume, the publisher and place of the publisher (not the location where the conference was held), and the pages of the chapter. The date cited must be the year of publication (not the year in which the conference was held). Example:


  • West TL, Amrose WG (1992) Abiotic and biotic effects on population dynamics of oligohaline benthic invertebrates. In: Colombo G, Ferrari I, Ceccherelli VU, Rossi R (eds) Marine eutrophication and population dynamics. Proc 25th Eur Mar Biol Symp. Olsen & Olsen, Fredensburg, p 189–194


Dissertations: Write the title in lower case, the type of thesis / dissertation (e.g. MS / MSc / PhD), and give the university and its location. Example:


  • Eve TM (2001) Chemistry and chemical ecology of Indo-Pacific gorgonians. PhD dissertation, University of California, San Diego, CA


Websites: Permanent databases such as FishBase, GenBank, or climatological sources may be included in the Literature Cited list; the access date must be given. URLs for printed publications also available online may be included with their citations. Example:


  • Froese F, Pauly D (2009) FishBase. (accessed 13 Jan 2013)

    Other website references should only be cited in the body text.


6. Final checklist


Please cross-check your manuscript using this list. Consult recent IR publications as a general guide for formatting:


  • Include page numbers and line numbers (restart on each page)
  • Ensure that abbreviations are defined at first mention in the abstract, main manuscript Included text and figure/table legends, and that the legends are informative
  • Use periods instead of commas as decimal signs
  • Correctly present your statistical results (e.g. include two sets of degrees of freedom for ANOVA results and significance/p-values of regressions)
  • Cite all of the references in the text and vice versa
  • Correctly label your figure axes with a title and a unit where applicable
  • Create legible figures: i.e. large enough font size (at least 10 pt) with sufficient resolution for pdf viewing
  • Prepare the manuscript (text, figures and tables) as a single file