Information for Authors
To check on your active submission, please visit Research’s manuscript submissions site
For general guidance on using the manuscript submission system, please read the tutorials for Authors, Editors, and Reviewers. For questions on specific functionality, explore the Editorial Manager video library.
Categories of Manuscripts
The journal Research accepts submissions for research articles, reviews, editorials and views. Prior to submission, each author should review and be prepared to fulfill the submission requirements outlined in the Editorial Policies page and comply with following limitations.
Research articles should present a major advance and must include an abstract of up to 250 words, an introduction and sections with brief and informative subheadings. Authors may include up to six figures and/or tables and about 40 references. Total research article length should be under 10,000 words. Supplementary materials should be limited to information that is not essential for the general understanding of the research presented in the main text and can include data sets, figures, tables, videos or audio files.
Reviews should describe and synthesize recent developments of significance and highlight future directions. Reviews must include an abstract, an introduction that outlines the main theme, brief subheadings and an outline of important unresolved questions. Reviews should be no longer than 8000 words, although longer manuscripts will be considered. Authors may include up to six figures and/or tables and up to 100 references. Most reviews are solicited by the editors but unsolicited submissions will be considered.
Editorials are short, invited opinion pieces that discuss an issue of immediate importance to the research community. Editorials should have fewer than 1000 words total, no abstract, a minimal number of references (no more than 5) and no figures or tables. Editorials are solicited by the editors.
Preparation of Manuscripts
English Language Editing Services
Interested in pre-submission English language assistance? The Science Partner Journals publishing team has evaluated the work of the companies listed on the SPJ Author Services page and found their services to be effective for editing scientific English language in manuscripts prior to submission.
Experimental Design and Statistics Guidelines
Study Design Guidelines
In an ideal study, the following components will be specified before the initiation of the experiments. In the first portion of the Materials and Methods section, which should be titled Study Design, state how you have addressed each of these points (if applicable):
- Sample size - How did you select your sample size? Did you use a power analysis to calculate the sample size necessary to achieve a reliable measurement of the effect? Did you alter this number during the course of the study and, if so, why?
- Rules for stopping data collection - Did you define rules for stopping data collection in advance (for example, specific intermediary and final endpoints)?
- Data inclusion/exclusion criteria - What criteria did you apply for inclusion and exclusion of data? Were these criteria established prospectively?
- Outliers - How were outliers defined and handled? Were they defined before the beginning of the study? Have you reported outliers that were excluded?
- Selection of endpoints - Were the primary and secondary endpoints prospectively selected? If multiple endpoints were assessed, the appropriate statistical corrections should be applied.
- Replicates - How many times was each experiment performed? How were the number and composition of replicates determined? Specify both sampling and experimental replicates. Were the results substantiated by repetition under a range of conditions?
In addition, the Study Design section must describe how and why the study was conducted and how the data were collected. Specifically,
- Research objectives - State the objectives of the research, clearly distinguishing pre-specified hypotheses from hypotheses suggested after initiation of the data analyses.
- Research subjects or units of investigation - Describe the type of research subjects (e.g., cancer patients, healthy volunteers), animals or experimental units (e.g., cell cultures) studied.
- Experimental design - Describe the overall design (e.g., randomized controlled clinical trial, controlled laboratory experiment, observational study, survey). Include the treatments that were applied, the types of observations made and the measurement techniques used. The details of the measurement methods should be described in separate sections. If a questionnaire was used to obtain information from human subjects, include it.
- Randomization - Include in the description of the study whether the subject or other experimental units were assigned randomly to the various experimental groups and, if not, how the sample was selected (e.g., random sample, stratified sample, matched case-control sets). The population from which they were taken should be specified. How was randomization performed? Were the data collected and processed randomly or were they grouped?
- Blinding - Include whether the study was blinded and the method used for allocation concealment, blinded conduct of the experiment and blinded assessment of outcomes. Did the investigator know to which group a particular animal taken from a cage (for example) was allocated? Were the animal caretakers and investigators conducting the experiments blinded to the allocation sequence? Were the investigators who assessed, measured or quantified the results blinded to the intervention?
Statistical Analysis Guidelines
Generally, authors should describe statistical methods with enough detail to enable a knowledgeable reader with access to the original data to verify the results.
- Data pre-processing steps such as transformations, re-coding, re-scaling, normalization, truncation and handling of below-detectable-level readings and outliers should be fully described; any removal or modification of data values must be fully acknowledged and justified.
- Descriptive statistics should be presented for variables that are integral to subsequent analyses and interpretation of the study findings.
- The number of sampled units, N, upon which each reported statistic is based must be stated.
- For continuous variables, distributions should be described using graphical displays such as scatterplots, boxplots or histograms or by reporting measures of central tendency (e.g., mean or median) and dispersion (e.g., SD, interquartile range).
- For continuous variables that are approximately normally distributed, mean and SD are suitable measures for center and dispersion, respectively.
- For continuous variables with asymmetrical distributions, median and range (or interquartile range) are preferred to mean and SD.
- All measures of central tendency or dispersion that are used should be identified.
- For very small samples sizes (e.g., N > 20), presentation of all data values in tabular format is desirable unless presentation would violate restrictions for privacy or confidentiality for human subjects.
- Units should be supplied for all measurements.
- Methods used for conducting statistical tests (e.g., t test, Wilcoxon signed-rank test, Wald test of regression coefficient) and for constructing confidence intervals (e.g., normal-based 95% CI: mean ± 2SD, likelihood ratio–based interval) should be clearly stated. Mention methods used in the Materials and Methods and then provide the individual test name in the figure legend for each experiment.
- The testing level (alpha) and whether one-sided or two-sided testing was used should be reported for each statistical test; typically two-sided testing is appropriate but if one-sided testing is used, its use should be justified.
- Adjustments made to alpha levels (e.g., Bonferroni correction) or other procedures used to account for multiple testing (e.g., false discovery rate control) should be reported.
- When Bayesian analyses are conducted, any assumptions made for prior distributions must be fully described.
- Sufficient information should be supplied to allow readers to judge whether any assumptions necessary for the validity of statistical approaches (e.g., data are normally distributed, survival data are consistent with proportional hazards in a Cox regression model) have been verified.
- An accounting of missing data values should be provided; if imputed data values are used in statistical analyses, the methods used for imputation should be fully described.
- Novel or highly complex statistical methods or computational algorithms should be adequately described with references supplied to allow readers the opportunity to recreate the calculations; at its discretion, Research may require that computer code and data be made available as supplementary information as a condition of publication.
- Authors should present results in complete and transparent fashion, so that all stated conclusions are backed by appropriate statistical evaluation and any limitations of the study are frankly discussed.
- Point estimates of population parameters (e.g., mean, correlation coefficient, slope) or comparative measures (e.g., mean difference, odds ratio, hazard ratio) should be accompanied by a measure of uncertainty such as a standard error or a confidence interval.
- Results of each statistical test should be reported in full with the value of the test statistic and P value and not simply reported as significant or nonsignificant; more than two significant digits on P values are usually not needed except in situations of extreme multiple testing, such as in genetic association studies where stringent corrections for multiple testing might be used.
- Any results that are reported to constitute a blinded, independent validation of a statistical model (or mathematical classifier or predictor) must be accompanied by a detailed explanation that includes (i) specification of the exact “locked down” form of the model, including all data processing steps, algorithm for calculating the model output and any cutpoints that might be applied to the model output for final classification; (ii) date on which the model or predictor was fully locked down in exactly the form described; (iii) name of the individual(s) who maintained the blinded data and oversaw the evaluation (e.g., honest broker); and (iv) statement of assurance that no modifications, additions or exclusion were made to the validation data set from the point at which the model was locked down and that neither the validation data nor any subset of it had ever been used to assess or refine the model being tested.
Authors are encouraged to follow published standard reporting guidelines for the study discipline.
Type of Study
Prognostic marker studies
Meta-analysis of observational studies in medicine
Systematic reviews and meta-analysis of health care interventions
Cohort and case-control studies
Genetic association studies
STROBE Extension STREGA
Tumor marker studies
Studies using biospecimens
Rodent model studies
Microarray-based studies for clinical outcomes
Many of these guidelines can be found at the EQUATOR website.
Preparation of Figures & Images
Creating Your Figures
It is best to create your figures as vector-based files such as those produced by Adobe Illustrator. Vector-based files will give us maximum flexibility for sizing your figures properly without losing resolution. These figure files can be saved at a lower resolution to minimize the file size at initial submission.
Although we do not need the highest-resolution files for the initial submission, you will need to have these high-resolution files of your figures on hand so that they can be submitted with your revised manuscript for final publication production. Each figure or image must be in a separate editable file format. Images may be in Photoshop, TIFF, GIF, JPEG, PNG, BMP and vector art files must be in PS, EPS, FIG, AI, Visio, WMF, EMF, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OPJ, CDR, or PDF.
Figure Layout and Scaling
In laying out information in a figure, the objective is to maximize the space given to presentation of the data. Avoid wasted white space and clutter.
Please follow these guidelines for your figures:
- The figure’s title should be at the beginning of the figure legend, not within the figure itself.
- Include the figure’s identifying number (e.g., “Figure 1”) on the same manuscript page that includes the figure.
- Keys to symbols, if needed, should be kept as simple as possible. Details can be put into the figure legend.
- Use solid symbols for plotting data if possible (unless data overlap or there are multiple symbols). For legibility when figures are reduced, symbol sizes should be a minimum of 6 points and line widths should be a minimum of 0.5 points.
- Panels should be set close to each other and common axis labels should not be repeated.
- Scales or axes should not extend beyond the range of the data plotted. All microscopic images should include scale bars, with their values shown either with the bar or in the figure legend. Do not use minor tick marks in scales or grid lines. Avoid using y-axis labels on the right that repeat those on the left.
Color-mix and Contrast Considerations
- Avoid using red and green together. Color-blind individuals will not be able to read the figure.
- Do not use colors that are close to each other in hue to identify different parts of a figure.
- Avoid using grayscale.
- Use white type and scale bars over darker areas of images.
Typefaces and Labels
Please observe the following guidelines for labels on graphs and figures:
- Simple solid or open symbols reduce well.
- Label graphs on the ordinate and abscissa with the parameter or variable being measured, the units of measure in parentheses and the scale. Scales with large or small numbers should be presented as powers of 10. When an individual value must be presented as an exponential, use correct form: 6 × 10–3, not 6e-03.
- Avoid the use of light lines and screen shading. Instead, use black-and-white, hatched, and cross-hatched designs for emphasis.
- Capitalize the first letter in a label only, not every word (and proper nouns, of course).
- Units should be included in parentheses. Use System International (SI) notation. If there is room, write out variables (e.g., Pressure (MPa), Temperature (K)).
- Variables are always set in italics or as plain Greek letters (e.g., P,T, µ). Vectors should be set as roman boldface (rather than as italics with arrows above).
- Type on top of color in a color figure should be in boldface. Avoid using color type.
- When figures are assembled from multiple gels or micrographs, use a line or space to indicate the border between two original images.
- Use leading zeros on all decimals (e.g., 0.3, 0.55) and only report significant digits.
- Use small letters for part labels in multipart figures enclosed in brackets, (a), (b), (c), etc.
- Avoid subpart labels within a figure part; instead, maintain the established sequence of part labels, using small or lower-case letters. Use numbers (1, 2, 3) only to represent a time sequence of images.
- When reproducing images that include labels with illegible computer-generated type (e.g., units for scale bars), omit such labels and present the information in the legend instead.
Modification of Figures
Research does not allow certain electronic enhancements or manipulations of micrographs, gels or other digital images. Figures assembled from multiple photographs or images must indicate the separate parts with lines between them. Linear adjustment of contrast, brightness or color must be applied to an entire image or plate equally. Nonlinear adjustments must be specified in the figure legend. Selective enhancement or alteration of one part of an image is not acceptable. In addition, Research may ask authors of papers returned for revision to provide additional documentation of their primary data.
File Naming and Formats for Initial Submission
Saving Your Figure Files for Initial Submission
To keep file sizes small, please save your figures at a resolution 300 dots per inch (dpi) for initial submission. (A higher resolution and a different suite of acceptable file formats applies for revised figures submitted after peer review.) In some cases, higher-resolution files are necessary to properly represent data (for example, micrographs or immunocytochemistry).
Acceptable file formats include Photoshop, TIFF, GIF, JPEG, PNG, BMP for images and PS, EPS, FIG, AI, Visio, WMF, EMF, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OPJ, CDR, or PDF for vector art files.
During typesetting, you may be requested to improve an editable, high-resolution version of your figure files.
Naming Your Files
Name all manuscript files starting with the surname of the first author. File names should correspond to the figure’s identifying number (e.g., “Figure 1”). Supplemental material figures should include “S” prior to the number (e.g., Figure S1). Co-author forms (e.g., Conflict of Interest, License to Publish) should start with the co-author’s lastname.
Examples of acceptable file names:
Use double spacing throughout the text, tables, figure legends and references. Electronic files should be formatted for U.S. letter paper which is 8.5" × 11" (215.9 by 279.4 mm) or A4 paper. For best results, use Times and Symbol fonts only.
Acceptable file formats
We prefer that the initial submission be uploaded to our electronic submission site as a Word file that contains all components of the paper. Create a single file consisting of the text, references, figures and their legends, tables and their legends, and Supplementary Materials. Supplementary Materials that cannot be incorporated into a Word file must be sent to us separately (see below).
Alternatively, you may upload your manuscript as one file that contains all of the textual material plus separate figure files (one for each figure) and separate Supplementary Material files. The text file should be a Word .docx (preferred) or .doc file.
Please use zipped files when necessary to upload unusually large supplementary files.
See the above instructions for creating your original figures. For initial submission, the figure files should be incorporated into the main text .doc or .docx file if possible. All figures should be cited in the manuscript in a consecutive order. Figures should be supplied in either vector art formats (Illustrator, EPS, WMF, FreeHand, CorelDraw, PowerPoint, Excel, etc.) or bitmap formats (Photoshop, TIFF, GIF, JPEG, etc.). Bitmap images should be of 300 dpi resolution at least unless the resolution is intentionally set to a lower level for scientific reasons. If a bitmap image has labels, the image and labels should be embedded in separate layers.
If a single file is not possible, figures should be uploaded as separate PDFs, although the following formats are also acceptable: JPEG, PNG, AI, PSD, TIFF, PICT, and GIF.
Text and figures. Include supporting text (including supplementary materials and methods, tables, and figures) at the end of the main manuscript file, in a separate section titled Supplementary Materials, if this can be easily done. Alternatively, Supplementary Materials can be included as a separate file that can be uploaded. In that case, use one of the file types specified above (.doc or .docx preferred).
Video files. Acceptable formats for videos are MP4, AVI, MOV, MPEG, and WMV. Keep videos short and the display window small to minimize the file size of the video. Supply caption information with the videos. Edit longer sequences into several small pieces with captions specific to each video sequence.
Audio files. Please contact the editors regarding submission of such file types.
Submission of Manuscripts
All manuscripts should be prepared according to the guidelines above and submitted via Editorial Manager by following the link to Submit Manuscript. If the choice to “Submit a new manuscript to Research” does not appear on the new window automatically, choose the option to do so from the list or visit http://www.editorialmanager.com/research/default.aspx.
Authors should submit papers to Research in Microsoft Word .docx format (preferred), .doc or LaTex format. To submit, authors should use the Research Template for Research Article Submission, which will facilitate accurate preparation and processing. Please follow the guidelines in this document when formatting your manuscript.
The body text of research articles must include the following sections:
- Authors and their affiliations
- Materials and Methods
- Figures and Tables
- Supplementary Materials
Each of these sections is outlined in detail in the Template for Research Article Submission.
The following items are required for submission:
- A cover letter, containing the following:
- The title of the paper and a brief summary of the main point.
- A statement that none of the material has been published or is under consideration elsewhere, including online, and that all authors listed on the paper have reviewed and agree to the Submission Terms and Conditions.
- Names, email addresses and ORCID IDs for all authors, including selection of one to be corresponding author.
- Names, affiliations and email addresses of potential referees.
- Copies of any paper by you or your co-authors that is in press or under consideration elsewhere that relates to the work submitted to Research should be uploaded as a related paper during submission.
During manuscript submission, the submitting author will be asked to confirm their understanding of or compliance with Research’s policies on:
- Prior publication
- Informed consent
- Animal care and use
- Related papers
- Citation to personal communications and unpublished data
- Data deposition and availability
- License selection
- Materials sharing
- Third-part image reuse
- Publication of accepted version
Authors may submit their references in any style. If accepted, Research will reformat the references in Chicago style. Authors are responsible for ensuring that the information in each reference is complete and accurate.
All references should be numbered consecutively in the order of their first citation. Citations of references in the text should be identified using numbers in square brackets e.g., “as discussed by Liu ”; “as discussed elsewhere [9, 10]”. All references should be cited within the text and uncited references will be removed.
For your information, our citation style is:
[x] Author initials and surname, “Title in sentence style,” Journal title, vol. (volume number), no. (issue number), pp. (page numbers separated by an en-dash), Year.
 J. D. Watson and F. H. C. Crick, “A structure for deoxyribose nucleic acid,” Nature, vol. 171, no. 4356, pp. 737–738, 1953.
 W. Doniger, Splitting the Difference (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999), 65.
 S. Levine and V. Koltun, "Continuous Inverse Optimal Control with Locally Optimal Examples" (Paper presentation, 29th International Conference on Machine Learning, Edinburgh, Scotland, June 2012), arxiv.org/pdf/1206.4617v1.pdf.
 “Information for Reviewers,” AAAS, accessed April 12, 2019, https://spj.sciencemag.org/research/information.for.reviewers/
For articles with six or more authors, the first three authors are listed followed by 'et al.'. When journals use only article numbers, no page numbers are necessary.
 B. P. Abbott, R. Abbott, T. D. Abbott et al., “Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger,” Physical Review Letters, vol. 116, no. 6, Article ID 061102, 2016.
DOIs, if available, should be included for each reference.
Each submission to Research must be accompanied by Licenses to Publish and Conflict of Interest forms completed by each author before the review process can be completed. Image Permission forms are required as needed for re-use of any third-party created figure, image, or other asset; permission is only needed if the copyright holder is not an author on the paper.
These forms need to be completed prior to manuscript acceptance. They do not need to be completed prior to submission.
Documents may be printed out, signed, and scanned or signed using an electronic signature. Once completed, please upload the files into Editorial Manager alongside your manuscript files.