How to format your references using the Biological Theory citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for Biological Theory. For a complete guide how to prepare your manuscript refer to the journal's instructions to authors.

Using reference management software

Typically you don't format your citations and bibliography by hand. The easiest way is to use a reference manager:

PaperpileThe citation style is built in and you can choose it in Settings > Citation Style or Paperpile > Citation Style in Google Docs.
EndNoteFind the style here: output styles overview
Mendeley, Zotero, Papers, and othersThe style is either built in or you can download a CSL file that is supported by most references management programs.
BibTeXBibTeX syles are usually part of a LaTeX template. Check the instructions to authors if the publisher offers a LaTeX template for this journal.

Journal articles

Those examples are references to articles in scholarly journals and how they are supposed to appear in your bibliography.

Not all journals organize their published articles in volumes and issues, so these fields are optional. Some electronic journals do not provide a page range, but instead list an article identifier. In a case like this it's safe to use the article identifier instead of the page range.

A journal article with 1 author
Passey BH (2015) Geochemistry. Biogeochemical tales told by isotope clumps. Science 348:394–395
A journal article with 2 authors
Matouschek A, Finley D (2012) Cell biology. An ancient portal to proteolysis. Science 337:813–814
A journal article with 3 authors
Chen Y, Emerson JJ, Martin TM (2005) Evolutionary genomics: codon volatility does not detect selection. Nature 433:E6-7; discussion E7-8
A journal article with 5 or more authors
Misra S, Kumar A, Ratnasekhar C, et al (2014) Exposure to endosulfan influences sperm competition in Drosophila melanogaster. Sci Rep 4:7433

Books and book chapters

Here are examples of references for authored and edited books as well as book chapters.

An authored book
Jain RK, Triandis HC, Weick CW (2010) Managing Research, Development, and Innovation. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ
An edited book
van Dijk P, Başkent D, Gaudrain E, et al (eds) (2016) Physiology, Psychoacoustics and Cognition in Normal and Impaired Hearing. Springer International Publishing, Cham
A chapter in an edited book
Villaseñor-Navarro Y, Aguilar-Cortazar LO, Perez-Zuñiga I, et al (2013) Imaging in Inflammatory Carcinoma. In: de la Garza-Salazar JG, Meneses-Garcia A, Arce-Salinas C (eds) Inflammatory Breast Cancer. Springer, London, pp 61–72

Web sites

Sometimes references to web sites should appear directly in the text rather than in the bibliography. Refer to the Instructions to authors for Biological Theory.

Blog post
Andrew E (2015) Why are Parrots Such Good Copycats? In: IFLScience. Accessed 30 Oct 2018


This example shows the general structure used for government reports, technical reports, and scientific reports. If you can't locate the report number then it might be better to cite the report as a book. For reports it is usually not individual people that are credited as authors, but a governmental department or agency like "U. S. Food and Drug Administration" or "National Cancer Institute".

Government report
Government Accountability Office (1996) Transportation and Telecommunications Issue Area: Active Assignments. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC

Theses and dissertations

Theses including Ph.D. dissertations, Master's theses or Bachelor theses follow the basic format outlined below.

Doctoral dissertation
Dickens KR (2010) Factors influencing teacher job satisfaction and their alignment with current district practices in a suburban school district. Doctoral dissertation, Lindenwood University

News paper articles

Unlike scholarly journals, news papers do not usually have a volume and issue number. Instead, the full date and page number is required for a correct reference.

New York Times article
Taggart J, Granville K (2017) How We Shop: Past, Present Future. New York Times BU4

In-text citations

References should be cited in the text by name and year in parentheses:

This sentence cites one reference (Passey 2015).
This sentence cites two references (Matouschek and Finley 2012; Passey 2015).

Here are examples of in-text citations with multiple authors:

  • Two authors: (Matouschek and Finley 2012)
  • Three or more authors: (Misra et al. 2014)

About the journal

Full journal titleBiological Theory
AbbreviationBiol. Theory
ISSN (print)1555-5542
ISSN (online)1555-5550

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