Instructions for authors
See 'About this journal' for descriptions of different article types and information about policies and the refereeing process.
Correspondence articles are short articles (usually 1000-1500 words) that either:
- Reanalyze part of an article that has previously been published in BMC Biology or another journal; or
- Present findings, or discuss issues of particular interest to the community, but are not suitable as a standard research article.
Correspondence articles are considered at the discretion of the editor and may be edited for clarity or length, and will undergo peer review. Authors wishing to make a minor point about a published article may instead be advised to post a comment on the original article. Where authors comment on a previously published article, the authors of the original article will be invited to respond, and their response may be published as part of the correspondence.
If you are unsure whether your manuscript is suitable, please contact the editors.
Manuscripts must be submitted by one of the authors of the manuscript, and should not be submitted by anyone on their behalf. The submitting author takes responsibility for the article during submission.
To facilitate rapid publication and to minimize administrative costs, BMC Biology accepts only online submission.
Files can be submitted as a batch, or one by one. The submission process can be interrupted at any time; when users return to the site, they can carry on where they left off.
During submission you will be asked to provide a cover letter. Use this to explain why your manuscript should be published in the journal, to elaborate on any issues relating to our editorial policies in the 'About BMC Biology' page, and to declare any potential competing interests.
Assistance with the process of manuscript preparation and submission is available from BioMed Central customer support team.
We also provide a collection of links to useful tools and resources for scientific authors on our Useful Tools page.
The following word processor file formats are acceptable for the main manuscript document:
- Microsoft word (DOC, DOCX)
- Rich text format (RTF)
- Portable document format (PDF)
- TeX/LaTeX (use BioMed Central's TeX template)
- DeVice Independent format (DVI)
TeX/LaTeX users: Please use BioMed Central's TeX template and BibTeX stylefile if you use TeX format. During the TeX submission process, please submit your TeX file as the main manuscript file and your bib/bbl file as a dependent file. Please also convert your TeX file into a PDF and submit this PDF as an additional file with the name 'Reference PDF'. This PDF will be used by internal staff as a reference point to check the layout of the article as the author intended. Please also note that all figures must be coded at the end of the TeX file and not inline.
If you have used another template for your manuscript, or if you do not wish to use BibTeX, then please submit your manuscript as a DVI file. We do not recommend converting to RTF.
For all TeX submissions, all relevant editable source must be submitted during the submission process. Failing to submit these source files will cause unnecessary delays in the publication procedures.
Through a special arrangement with LabArchives, LLC, authors submitting manuscripts to BMC Biology can obtain a complimentary subscription to LabArchives with an allotment of 100MB of storage. LabArchives is an Electronic Laboratory Notebook which will enable scientists to share and publish data files in situ; you can then link your paper to these data. Data files linked to published articles are assigned digital object identifiers (DOIs) and will remain available in perpetuity. Use of LabArchives or similar data publishing services does not replace preexisting data deposition requirements, such as for nucleic acid sequences, protein sequences and atomic coordinates.
Instructions on assigning DOIs to datasets, so they can be permanently linked to publications, can be found on the LabArchives website. Use of LabArchives’ software has no influence on the editorial decision to accept or reject a manuscript.
Authors linking datasets to their publications should include an Availability of supporting data section in their manuscript and cite the dataset in their reference list.
Preparing main manuscript text
General guidelines of the journal's style and language are given below.
Length of article
Correspondences should be between 1000-1500 words.
Overview of manuscript sections for Correspondences
Manuscripts for Correspondences submitted to BMC Biology should be divided into the following sections (in this order):
The Accession Numbers of any nucleic acid sequences, protein sequences or atomic coordinates cited in the manuscript should be provided, in square brackets and include the corresponding database name; for example, [EMBL:AB026295, EMBL:AC137000, DDBJ:AE000812, GenBank:U49845, PDB:1BFM, Swiss-Prot:Q96KQ7, PIR:S66116].
The databases for which we can provide direct links are: EMBL Nucleotide Sequence Database (EMBL), DNA Data Bank of Japan (DDBJ), GenBank at the NCBI (GenBank), Protein Data Bank (PDB), Protein Information Resource (PIR) and the Swiss-Prot Protein Database (Swiss-Prot).
The title page should list the title of the article, the full names, institutional addresses, email addresses for all authors. The corresponding author should also be indicated.
A short, unstructured, single paragraph summary, no more than 350 words, of the major points raised , making evident the key work highlighted in the article.
Three to ten keywords representing the main content of the article.
Headings may be used to divide the main body of the text. Headings should describe the section contents but should be short and there should be no more than four in an article. Please avoid using generic headings such as 'introduction' or 'conclusions'. The first paragraph should aim to provide the context for the article.
List of abbreviations
If abbreviations are used in the text they should be defined in the text at first use, and a list of abbreviations can be provided, which should precede the competing interests and authors' contributions.
A competing interest exists when your interpretation of data or presentation of information may be influenced by your personal or financial relationship with other people or organizations. Authors must disclose any financial competing interests; they should also reveal any non-financial competing interests that may cause them embarrassment were they to become public after the publication of the manuscript.
Authors are required to complete a declaration of competing interests. All competing interests that are declared will be listed at the end of published articles. Where an author gives no competing interests, the listing will read 'The author(s) declare that they have no competing interests'.
When completing your declaration, please consider the following questions:
Financial competing interests
- In the past three years have you received reimbursements, fees, funding, or salary from an organization that may in any way gain or lose financially from the publication of this manuscript, either now or in the future? Is such an organization financing this manuscript (including the article-processing charge)? If so, please specify.
- Do you hold any stocks or shares in an organization that may in any way gain or lose financially from the publication of this manuscript, either now or in the future? If so, please specify.
- Do you hold or are you currently applying for any patents relating to the content of the manuscript? Have you received reimbursements, fees, funding, or salary from an organization that holds or has applied for patents relating to the content of the manuscript? If so, please specify.
- Do you have any other financial competing interests? If so, please specify.
Non-financial competing interests
Are there any non-financial competing interests (political, personal, religious, ideological, academic, intellectual, commercial or any other) to declare in relation to this manuscript? If so, please specify.
If you are unsure as to whether you, or one your co-authors, has a competing interest please discuss it with the editorial office.
Please acknowledge anyone who contributed towards the article by making substantial contributions to conception, design, acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data, or who was involved in drafting the manuscript or revising it critically for important intellectual content, but who does not meet the criteria for authorship. Please also include the source(s) of funding for each author, and for the manuscript preparation. Authors must describe the role of the funding body, if any, in design, in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript; and in the decision to submit the manuscript for publication. Please also acknowledge anyone who contributed materials essential for the study. If a language editor has made significant revision of the manuscript, we recommend that you acknowledge the editor by name, where possible.
Authors should obtain permission to acknowledge from all those mentioned in the Acknowledgements section.
Endnotes should be designated within the text using a superscript lowercase letter and all notes (along with their corresponding letter) should be included in the Endnotes section. Please format this section in a paragraph rather than a list.
All references, including URLs, must be numbered consecutively, in square brackets, in the order in which they are cited in the text, followed by any in tables or legends. Each reference must have an individual reference number. Please avoid excessive referencing. If automatic numbering systems are used, the reference numbers must be finalized and the bibliography must be fully formatted before submission.
Only articles, datasets and abstracts that have been published or are in press, or are available through public e-print/preprint servers, may be cited; unpublished abstracts, unpublished data and personal communications should not be included in the reference list, but may be included in the text and referred to as "unpublished observations" or "personal communications" giving the names of the involved researchers. Obtaining permission to quote personal communications and unpublished data from the cited colleagues is the responsibility of the author. Footnotes are not allowed, but endnotes are permitted. Journal abbreviations follow Index Medicus/MEDLINE. Citations in the reference list should include all named authors, up to the first 30 before adding 'et al.'..
Any in press articles cited within the references and necessary for the reviewers' assessment of the manuscript should be made available if requested by the editorial office.
Style files are available for use with popular bibliographic management software:
Examples of the BMC Biology reference style are shown below. Please ensure that the reference style is followed precisely; if the references are not in the correct style they may have to be retyped and carefully proofread.
All web links and URLs, including links to the authors' own websites, should be given a reference number and included in the reference list rather than within the text of the manuscript. They should be provided in full, including both the title of the site and the URL, in the following format: The Mouse Tumor Biology Database [http://tumor.informatics.jax.org/mtbwi/index.do]. If an author or group of authors can clearly be associated with a web link, such as for weblogs, then they should be included in the reference.
Examples of the BMC Biology reference style
Article within a journal
Koonin EV, Altschul SF, Bork P: BRCA1 protein products: functional motifs. Nat Genet 1996, 13:266-267.
Article within a journal supplement
Orengo CA, Bray JE, Hubbard T, LoConte L, Sillitoe I: Analysis and assessment of ab initio three-dimensional prediction, secondary structure, and contacts prediction. Proteins 1999, 43(Suppl 3):149-170.
In press article
Kharitonov SA, Barnes PJ: Clinical aspects of exhaled nitric oxide. Eur Respir J, in press.
Zvaifler NJ, Burger JA, Marinova-Mutafchieva L, Taylor P, Maini RN: Mesenchymal cells, stromal derived factor-1 and rheumatoid arthritis [abstract]. Arthritis Rheum 1999, 42:s250.
Article within conference proceedings
Jones X: Zeolites and synthetic mechanisms. In Proceedings of the First National Conference on Porous Sieves: 27-30 June 1996; Baltimore. Edited by Smith Y. Stoneham: Butterworth-Heinemann; 1996:16-27.
Book chapter, or article within a book
Schnepf E: From prey via endosymbiont to plastids: comparative studies in dinoflagellates. In Origins of Plastids. Volume 2. 2nd edition. Edited by Lewin RA. New York: Chapman and Hall; 1993:53-76.
Whole issue of journal
Ponder B, Johnston S, Chodosh L (Eds): Innovative oncology. In Breast Cancer Res 1998, 10:1-72.
Whole conference proceedings
Smith Y (Ed): Proceedings of the First National Conference on Porous Sieves: 27-30 June 1996; Baltimore. Stoneham: Butterworth-Heinemann; 1996.
Margulis L: Origin of Eukaryotic Cells. New Haven: Yale University Press; 1970.
Monograph or book in a series
Hunninghake GW, Gadek JE: The alveolar macrophage. In Cultured Human Cells and Tissues. Edited by Harris TJR. New York: Academic Press; 1995:54-56. [Stoner G (Series Editor): Methods and Perspectives in Cell Biology, vol 1.]
Book with institutional author
Advisory Committee on Genetic Modification: Annual Report. London; 1999.
Kohavi R: Wrappers for performance enhancement and oblivious decision graphs. PhD thesis. Stanford University, Computer Science Department; 1995.
Link / URL
The Mouse Tumor Biology Database [http://tumor.informatics.jax.org/mtbwi/index.do]
Link / URL with author(s)
Neylon C: Open Research Computation: an ordinary journal with extraordinary aims. [http://blogs.openaccesscentral.com/blogs/bmcblog/entry/open_research_computation_an_ordinary]
Dataset with persistent identifier
Zheng, L-Y; Guo, X-S; He, B; Sun, L-J; Peng, Y; Dong, S-S; Liu, T-F; Jiang, S; Ramachandran, S; Liu, C-M; Jing, H-C (2011): Genome data from sweet and grain sorghum (Sorghum bicolor). GigaScience Database. http://dx.doi.org/10.5524/100012.
Preparing illustrations and figures
Illustrations should be provided as separate files, not embedded in the text file. Each figure should include a single illustration and should fit on a single page in portrait format. If a figure consists of separate parts, it is important that a single composite illustration file be submitted which contains all parts of the figure. There is no charge for the use of color figures.
The following file formats can be accepted:
- PDF (preferred format for diagrams)
- DOCX/DOC (single page only)
- PPTX/PPT (single slide only)
- PNG (preferred format for photos or images)
The legends should be included in the main manuscript text file at the end of the document, rather than being a part of the figure file. For each figure, the following information should be provided: Figure number (in sequence, using Arabic numerals - i.e. Figure 1, 2, 3 etc); short title of figure (maximum 15 words); detailed legend, up to 300 words.
Please note that it is the responsibility of the author(s) to obtain permission from the copyright holder to reproduce figures or tables that have previously been published elsewhere.
Preparing a personal cover page
If you wish to do so, you may submit an image which, in the event of publication, will be used to create a cover page for the PDF version of your article. The cover page will also display the journal logo, article title and citation details. The image may either be a figure from your manuscript or another relevant image. You must have permission from the copyright to reproduce the image. Images that do not meet our requirements will not be used.
Images must be 300dpi and 155mm square (1831 x 1831 pixels for a raster image).
Allowable formats - EPS, PDF (for line drawings), PNG, TIFF (for photographs and screen dumps), JPEG, BMP, DOC, PPT, CDX, TGF (ISIS/Draw).
Each table should be numbered and cited in sequence using Arabic numerals (i.e. Table 1, 2, 3 etc.). Tables should also have a title (above the table) that summarizes the whole table; it should be no longer than 15 words. Detailed legends may then follow, but they should be concise. Tables should always be cited in text in consecutive numerical order.
Smaller tables considered to be integral to the manuscript can be pasted into the end of the document text file, in A4 portrait or landscape format. These will be typeset and displayed in the final published form of the article. Such tables should be formatted using the 'Table object' in a word processing program to ensure that columns of data are kept aligned when the file is sent electronically for review; this will not always be the case if columns are generated by simply using tabs to separate text. Columns and rows of data should be made visibly distinct by ensuring that the borders of each cell display as black lines. Commas should not be used to indicate numerical values. Color and shading may not be used; parts of the table can be highlighted using symbols or bold text, the meaning of which should be explained in a table legend. Tables should not be embedded as figures or spreadsheet files.
Larger datasets or tables too wide for a portrait page can be uploaded separately as additional files. Additional files will not be displayed in the final, laid-out PDF of the article, but a link will be provided to the files as supplied by the author.
Tabular data provided as additional files can be uploaded as an Excel spreadsheet (.xls ) or comma separated values (.csv). As with all files, please use the standard file extensions.