How to format your references using the BMC Systems Biology citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for BMC Systems Biology. 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
1. Holland GJ. Oceans. Predicting El Nino’s Impacts. Science. 2009;325:47.
A journal article with 2 authors
1. Ramos SBV, Laederach A. Molecular biology: A second layer of information in RNA. Nature. 2014;505:621–2.
A journal article with 3 authors
1. Ghimire A, Shafran E, Gerton JM. Using a sharp metal tip to control the polarization and direction of emission from a quantum dot. Sci Rep. 2014;4:6456.
A journal article with 7 or more authors
1. Guo D-Y, Shan C-X, Qu S-N, Shen D-Z. Highly sensitive ultraviolet photodetectors fabricated from ZnO quantum dots/carbon nanodots hybrid films. Sci Rep. 2014;4:7469.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
1. Stenning A, Smith A, Rochovská A, Świa̧tek D. Domesticating Neo-Liberalism. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell; 2010.
An edited book
1. Zalesny R, Papadopoulos MG, Mezey PG, Leszczynski J, editors. Linear-Scaling Techniques in Computational Chemistry and Physics: Methods and Applications. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands; 2011.
A chapter in an edited book
1. Nakada M, Kita D, Hayashi Y, Kawakami K, Hamada J-I, Minamoto T. RNAi in Malignant Brain Tumors: Relevance to Molecular and Translational Research. In: Erdmann VA, Barciszewski J, editors. RNA Technologies and Their Applications. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer; 2010. p. 107–29.

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 BMC Systems Biology.

Blog post
1. Taub B. New Nazca Geoglyph Of Strange, Tongue-Poking Creature Discovered. IFLScience. 2016. 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
1. Government Accountability Office. Practices Followed in Equipping Academic Facilities Constructed Under the Higher Education Facilities Act. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office; 1969.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
1. Liu H. Three Papers on the Sociology of Initial Public Offerings (IPOs). Doctoral dissertation. Indiana University; 2017.

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
1. Isherwood C. A Puppet Musical Is Silly but Serious. New York Times. 2017;:C6.

In-text citations

References should be cited in the text by sequential numbers in square brackets:

This sentence cites one reference [1].
This sentence cites two references [1, 2].
This sentence cites four references [1–4].

About the journal

Full journal titleBMC Systems Biology
AbbreviationBMC Syst. Biol.
ISSN (online)1752-0509
ScopeMolecular Biology
Structural Biology
Computer Science Applications
Applied Mathematics
Modelling and Simulation

Other styles