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
Alesina A (2013) Economics. Women, fertility, and the rise of modern capitalism. Science 342:427–428
A journal article with 2 authors
Bruick RK, McKnight SL (2002) Transcription. Oxygen sensing gets a second wind. Science 295:807–808
A journal article with 3 authors
McCormick DA, Shu Y, Yu Y (2007) Neurophysiology: Hodgkin and Huxley model--still standing? Nature 445:E1-2; discussion E2-3
A journal article with 5 or more authors
Geijsen N, Uings IJ, Pals C, et al (2001) Cytokine-specific transcriptional regulation through an IL-5Ralpha interacting protein. Science 293:1136–1138

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Ben-Daya M, Kumar U, Murthy DNP (2016) Introduction to Maintenance Engineering. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK
An edited book
Kollias SD, Stafylopatis A, Duch W, Oja E (eds) (2006) Artificial Neural Networks – ICANN 2006: 16th International Conference, Athens, Greece, September 10-14, 2006. Proceedings, Part I. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg
A chapter in an edited book
Tsai C-F (2014) Zisi and the Thought of Zisi and Mencius School. In: Shen V (ed) Dao Companion to Classical Confucian Philosophy. Springer Netherlands, Dordrecht, pp 119–138

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
Davis J (2017) Undercover Investigation Reveals The Horrific Trade In Baby Chimpanzees. 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 (2000) Early Childhood Programs: Characteristics Affect the Availability of School Readiness Information. 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
Stott NM (2012) Beta cell compensatory factors in nicotinic acid-induced insulin resistance. Doctoral dissertation, California State University, Long Beach

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
Belson K, Pilon M (2012) Hostility Lingers Over Wittenberg’s Handling of Marathon Cancellation. New York Times B15

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Alesina 2013).
This sentence cites two references (Bruick and McKnight 2002; Alesina 2013).

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

  • Two authors: (Bruick and McKnight 2002)
  • Three or more authors: (Geijsen et al. 2001)

About the journal

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

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