Science: Information for authors
Categories of manuscripts
Preparing your manuscript
Submitting your manuscript
Science is a weekly, peer-reviewed journal that publishes significant original scientific research, plus reviews and analyses of current research and science policy. We seek to publish papers that are influential in their fields or across fields and that will substantially advance scientific understanding. Selected papers should present novel and broadly important data, syntheses, or concepts. We welcome submissions from all fields of science and from any source.
Manuscripts should be submitted at our manuscript submission and information portal https://cts.sciencemag.org. The status of submitted manuscripts can also be tracked at this portal.
Authors should familiarize themselves with the overall editorial policies for the Science Journals before submitting their paper. These policies spell out the rights and responsibilities that authors agree to when submitting and publishing their papers. Access this information here.
Categories of manuscripts
Peer-Reviewed Research Manuscripts
Research Articles (up to ~4500 words, including references, notes and captions–corresponds to ~5 printed pages in the journal) are expected to present a major advance. Research Articles include an abstract, an introduction, up to six figures or tables, sections with brief subheadings, and about 40 references. Materials and Methods should be included in supplementary materials, which should also include information needed to support the paper's conclusions.
Science also accepts a few Research Articles for online presentation. These are expected to present significant research results that cannot be fully presented in the print format and merit the extra length and attention provided by this presentation. The cover letter should indicate why the additional length is merited. These can be up to 8000 words and include methods, additional figures and potentially videos, as part of the main article. Additional supplementary materials which include information needed to support the paper's conclusions, are allowed. The full text will be included in all digital versions of Science, and a structured abstract will be included in the print version. A pdf of the full article can be downloaded.
Reports (up to ~2500 words including references, notes and captions–corresponds to ~3 printed pages in the journal) present important new research results of broad significance. Reports should include an abstract, an introductory paragraph, up to four figures or tables, and about 30 references. Materials and Methods should be included in supplementary materials, which should also include information needed to support the paper's conclusions.
Reviews All Reviews, except reviews in Special Issues, are now published online, where additional length, references, and enhanced media, are possible. The full text will be included in all digital versions of Science, and an enhanced abstract consisting of 550-600 words divided into 3 sections headed Background, Advances, and Outlook will be included in the print version. Reviews can be up to 6000 words and include up to 100 references, and 4-6 figures or tables. Reviews do not contain supplementary material. They should describe and synthesize recent developments of interdisciplinary significance and highlight future directions. They include an abstract, an introduction that outlines the main themes, brief subheadings, and an outline of important unresolved questions. Unsolicited offers of Reviews are considered. Proposals in the form of an enhanced abstract, one figure, and a list of 5-10 of the most important recent citations should be emailed to email@example.com
Science's Insights section presents analysis by scientists and other experts on issues of interest to Science readers. With the exception of Letters, eLetters, and Technical Comments, most items in this section are commissioned by the editors, but unsolicited contributions are welcome. Perspectives and Policy Forums should include an abstract. Commentary material may be peer reviewed at the Editors' discretion.
- Perspectives (up to 1000 words plus 1 figure) highlight recent exciting research, but do not primarily discuss the author's own work. They may provide context for the findings within a field or explain potential interdisciplinary importance. Perspectives that comment on papers in Science should add a dimension to the research and not merely be a summary of the experiments described in the paper. Although many Perspectives that comment on research published in Science are solicited, we welcome inquiries regarding new advances and fresh insights. As these are meant to express a personal viewpoint, with rare exceptions, Perspectives should have no more than two authors.
- Books or Media Reviews (up to 800 words) feature commentary on new books, films, exhibitions, performances, mobile applications, podcasts, and other media that are likely to be of broad interest to our readership. Please contact the Book Review Editor before you begin preparing your book or media review, indicating why you believe the work would be of interest to Science readers, and why you are well-positioned to write the review.
- Policy Forums (1000 to 2000 words, 1-2 figures, and up to 15 references) presents issues related to the intersections between science and society that have policy implications.
- Letters (up to 300 words) discuss material published in Science in the last 3 months or issues of general interest. Letters should be submitted through our Manuscript Submission and Information Portal (https://cts.sciencemag.org). Letters may be reviewed. The author of a paper in question is usually given an opportunity to reply. Letter submissions are acknowledged upon receipt by Science’s automatic system, but letter writers are not always consulted before publication. Letters are subject to editing for clarity and space. Letters rejected for print publication may be posted as eLetters.
- eLetters are brief online comments that can be submitted in response to papers or news stories published in Science. eLetters are submitted on the Science website, evaluated, and posted with the article if accepted. Authors are identified and must agree to our terms and conditions (http://www.sciencemag.org/about/terms-service).
- Technical Comments (up to 1000 words, 2 figures or tables, 15 references, and no Supplementary Materials), are published online and critique the core conclusions and/or methodology of research published in Science within the previous 3 months. The abstract (60 words or less) will be included in the Letters section of the print edition. Technical Comments should not present new data or other previously unpublished work nor be based on new findings/concepts that would not have been accessible to the authors when the paper was written. Pertinent comments on non-technical aspects of a paper should be submitted as eLetters. Authors of Technical Comments should contact the authors of the paper before submitting their manuscript, and should submit to Science the relevant correspondence. Technical Comments that are accepted will be posted online along with a formal reply from the authors of the original paper.
Preparing your manuscript
We accept submissions only online at https://cts.sciencemag.org. Preparing a manuscript that follows our guidelines concerning length, style and acceptable file formats will facilitate the evaluation process.
See Guidelines for Preparing a New Manuscript. Revised manuscripts for the most part follow the same style guidelines, however there are some differences, particularly in figure preparation. See Guidelines for Preparing a Revised Manuscript.
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Submitting your manuscript
Authors and reviewers must have an account to sign into our manuscript submission and information portal at https://cts.sciencemag.org. If you do not have an account, you will need to create one, but then can use this account for any future submissions to Science Journals. At the manuscript submission and information portal, you will first accept terms regarding submission of a manuscript to Science. For details on our policies see Editorial Policies.
The main submission form is a series of tabbed windows, which you can move among by clicking the tabs at the top of the form. (The form may be filled out in any order.) You will move between the following tabs.
Authors: Names, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses for all authors, including designation of at least one as corresponding author. An ORCID ID is required for first and corresponding authors and is strongly encouraged for all authors.
The Article type you are submitting (see a description of manuscript types.)
The title of your manuscript (96 character maximum for Research Articles and Reports)
Short title (40 character maximum)
Field codes (select one or two fields/disciplines that describe your manuscript)
A cover letter which should include
- Reference to any pre-submission discussions with editors.
- The title of the paper and a statement of its main point.
- Any information needed to ensure a fair review process, including related manuscripts submitted to other journals.
- Names of colleagues who have reviewed the paper.
- A statement that none of the material has been published or is under consideration for publication elsewhere.
- For investigations on humans, a statement indicating that informed consent was obtained after the nature and possible consequences of the studies were explained.
- For authors using laboratory animals, a statement that the animals' care was in accordance with institutional guidelines.
- Specification of where all data underlying the study are available, or will be deposited, and whether there are any restrictions on data availability such as an MTA.
- Information on any reference material or additional data files uploaded to the Auxiliary files section (see below).
- Please also upload a .docx version of your cover letter – see below.
- You will have the opportunity to request a specific editor, but this is not required and editor assignment also depends on availability, relative loads and other factors.
- We require you to list all funding sources. This can be done through a dropdown if your funder is included in FundRef’s controlled vocabulary list.
Reviewers: Names, affiliations, and e-mail addresses of up to five potential reviewers and up to five excluded reviewers.
Upload Documents: Upload a cover letter, a combined PDF (manuscript including figures, tables, and Supplementary Material) to be used during the evaluation process, the manuscript in MS Word .docx format, and any auxiliary files. Please follow our instructions for Preparing an Initial Manuscript. LaTeX users should use our LaTeX template and at the initial stage should either convert files to Microsoft Word .docx or submit a PDF file [see our LaTeX instructions here]. Supplementary Material may also be submitted as a single separate file in .docx or PDF format. The manuscript file and the Supplementary Material file each have a 25MB size limit. Supplementary multimedia or large data files that cannot be included in the Supplementary Material file should be uploaded as Auxiliary Supplementary Materials or Movies. There is a 25 MB combined size limit on auxiliary or movie files and a limit of 10 auxiliary or movie files. Video clips should be in .mp4 format. Quicktime (.mov) files are acceptable provided the h.264 compression setting is used. Where possible please use HD frame size (1920x1080 pixels). Animated GIFs are not accepted. For audio files, WAV AIFF, AU or .m4a are preferred. MP3 or AAC files are acceptable but a bit rate of at least 160kb/s must be used. Authors should submit video and audio with clearly identifiable accompanying captions and credit information. Other items that are required at submission and should be uploaded to the Auxiliary files section are:
- Any papers by any subset of the authors that are related to the manuscript and are under consideration or in press at other journals. This applies throughout the evaluation process at Science. If a related paper is submitted elsewhere while the Science paper is under consideration, please contact your editor.
- Data files required for review of your manuscript.
- Written permission from any author who is not an author of your manuscript but whose work is cited as in press. Permission must allow distribution of in press manuscripts or relevant data to reviewers. A copy of an email is sufficient. We do not allow citation to in press manuscripts at publication – these would need to be replaced by the published reference.
- Copies of any relevant MTAs.
- Please note in your cover letter if reference material or extra data files are included, and your editor will facilitate review as necessary.
- Validate: Confirm and complete the submission (we will not consider a submission complete until it is confirmed).
Check that the status of the manuscript is received on your home page. You can return to the site to track the status of the manuscript.
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Science is committed to thorough and efficient evaluation of submitted manuscripts. Papers are assigned to a staff editor who has knowledge of the manuscript’s field-of-study. Most submitted papers are rated for suitability by members of Science’s Board of Reviewing Editors. The editors at Science consider this advice in selecting papers for in-depth review. Authors of papers that are not selected for review are notified promptly, within about 2 weeks.
Research papers that are selected for in-depth review are evaluated by at least two outside reviewers, who are contacted before being sent a paper and asked to return comments within 2 weeks in most cases. Once all reviews are in, we initiate a cross-review process in which we invite all reviewers to read the other (still anonymous) reviews and make additional comments within 2 business days. Cross-review is encouraged, but not required. We are able to expedite the review process significantly for papers that require rapid assessment. Manuscripts selected for publication are edited to improve accuracy and clarity, as well as for length. Rejected papers cannot be resubmitted over a disagreement on novelty, interest, or relative merit. If a paper was rejected on the basis of serious reviewer error, resubmission may be considered.
Authors are notified of decisions by e-mail, and the status of the manuscript can be tracked at https://cts.sciencemag.org. Membership in AAAS is not a factor in selection of manuscripts for publication. Science treats all submitted manuscripts as confidential documents. Science also instructs and expects our Board of Reviewing Editors and reviewers to treat manuscripts as confidential material. Our peer review process is confidential and identities of reviewers are not released. (Letters and Technical Comments are sent to the authors of papers on which they comment for response or rebuttal, but otherwise are treated in the same way as other contributions with respect to confidentiality.)
Science publishes five other journals: Science Signaling, Science Translational Medicine, Science Immunology, Science Robotics, and our open access, interdisciplinary journal, Science Advances. Authors submitting to Science may elect to transfer to one of our other journals should the manuscript not be selected for publication at Science. Science editors will not see this choice until after the decision is made, and authors will be given the opportunity to confirm the choice before transfer is initiated. If a manuscript is rejected from Science with the option of transfer, we would be happy to transfer your submission from Science with no reformatting required. Editors at the second journal may use the information gathered during evaluation at Science to expedite review, including reuse of the reviews provided reviewers agree. You may also choose to start a new review process. The transfer can only include documents that were part of the review process at Science. Once transfer is complete, you will have the opportunity to upload a response to the reviews where appropriate.
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Most papers are published in print and online 4 to 8 weeks after acceptance. In addition, Science selects papers for earlier online publication in First Release, using the accepted version of the paper with minimal copyediting. The official publication date of these papers is the date of First Release publication. Requests for accelerated online publication should be explained to the editors in the cover letter.
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Writing Cover Letters for Scientific Manuscripts
Release Date: September 29, 2012
Category: Scientific Writing
Key Points Summary
- Always submit an accompanying cover letter with every manuscript.
- Some journals have very specific requirements for information to provide in the cover letter, and these are usually stated in the journal’s instructions to authors. Make sure your cover letter includes any journal-required elements.
- Strong cover letters tell journal editors why they should publish your manuscript in their journals.
- Cover letters should be succinct and focus on the importance and novelty of your findings, as well as how they relate to the scope of your target journal.
After the hard work of perfecting your manuscript and selecting a target journal, one more task remains before submission: writing a cover letter. The cover letter is an important document that must do more than tell the editor that you are submitting your manuscript for consideration. It should capture the editor’s attention, provide information about the novelty and importance of your findings, and indicate that all authors have approved of the submission and the manuscript has not been submitted to more than one journal concurrently.
Strong cover letters not only introduce your manuscript – they offer an important opportunity to convince journal editors to consider your manuscript for publication.
Determine Your Target Journal’s Requirements
Before you begin, check your target journal’s author instructions for any cover letter requirements, such as certain specifically worded statements. No matter what else you decide to include, always make sure that your cover letter contains any required information and statements described in your target journal’s author instructions.
Develop an Outline for the Cover Letter
In addition to any information and statements required by your target journal, every cover letter should contain the following elements:
- An introduction stating the title of the manuscript and the journal to which you are submitting.
- The reason why your study is important and relevant to the journal’s readership or field.
- The question your research answers.
- Your major experimental results and overall findings.
- The most important conclusions that can be drawn from your research.
- A statement that the manuscript has not been published and is not under consideration for publication in any other journal
- A statement that all authors approved the manuscript and its submission to the journal.
- Any other details that will encourage the editor to send your manuscript for review.
Write one or more sentences to address each of these points. You will revise and polish these sentences to complete your cover letter.
Write the Body of the Cover Letter
Open your cover letter with a sentence or two explaining why you are writing, the title of your manuscript, and the title of the journal.
- Example: “I am writing to submit our manuscript entitled, “Taking antioxidants plus zinc reduces the risk of advanced age-related macular degeneration for high-risk patients,” for consideration for publication in Archives of Ophthalmology.”
Briefly state the background for the problem or question your research answers. The focus of the paragraph is to explain why your research was needed and clearly state the question your research answers. Clearly and concisely explain your results, findings, and conclusions.
To keep your cover letter concise, limit this explanation to one or two brief paragraphs. You can also include a sentence or two that links your findings to the interests of the journal’s readership, if appropriate. It may be helpful to review your abstract to stay focused on your most important results and conclusions.
- Example: “Because our findings could be applied in the clinic right away, they are likely to be of great interest to the vision scientists, researchers, clinicians, and trainees who read your journal.”
As you write this explanation, think in terms of “how will my manuscript benefit the journal?” The journal editor’s goal is to publish important, novel findings that are within the journal’s scope and of interest to its readership. Your goal is to show the editor how your manuscript meets these criteria. Such manuscripts will be highly referenced, which will increase the impact factor of the journal. Without exaggerating, explain the novelty, relevance, and interest of your findings to researchers who read that journal.
After describing your research and findings, include a paragraph with any journal-required statements. If the findings in the manuscript have been presented at a scientific meeting, include that information in this paragraph. This paragraph should also include statements about exclusivity and author approval for submission.
- Example: “This manuscript describes original work and is not under consideration by any other journal. All authors approved the manuscript and this submission.”
In your last paragraph, thank the editor for his or her consideration.
- Example: “Thank you for receiving our manuscript and considering it for review. We appreciate your time and look forward to your response.”
Add Basic Letter Elements
Cover letters follow the same simple format as all letters. Make sure your cover letter includes the following basic letter elements:
- Addressee name and mailing address.
- Salutation (such as “Dear Dr. Smith:” or “Dear Editor:”).
- Body of the letter.
- Closing (such as “Kind regards,” or “Thank you,”).
- Signature block (author’s signature, typed name and highest degree, institution, and mailing address).
- Enclosure designation (“Enclosure” to indicate your manuscript is included with the cover letter).
Cover letters are often submitted electronically in an e-mail message. E-mail cover letters may not contain more formal letter elements like the date and address block.
Revise the Cover Letter
Read through your cover letter several times to proofread and revise the text for clarity and brevity. Remove any stray points or sentences that do not directly relate to the purpose, major results, and most important findings and conclusions of your study. As you revise the cover letter, ask yourself if the impact, novelty, and relevance of your findings are clear. Rewrite any sentences that are very long, do not make your point clearly, or are cluttered with too many details.
Cover letters should not exceed one page unless absolutely necessary. If you write a cover letter that is longer than one page, think carefully about how it can be shortened.
As you revise the cover letter, proofread for the same basic grammar and construction issues you would look for when revising your manuscript.
- Eliminate unnecessary or redundant phrases like “in order to” and “may have the potential to.”
- Make sure the letter is written in plain English. Remove any jargon and define all abbreviations at first use.
- Proofread for spelling and grammar errors.
During your review, read the cover letter at least once to ensure you avoid the following:
- Statements that exaggerate or overstate results
- Conclusions that are not supported by the data reported in the manuscript.
- Sentences repeated word-for-word from the manuscript text.
- Too many technical details.
Always complete a final check to confirm that your cover letter includes all elements required by your target journal.
More Resources for Writing Cover Letters
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