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

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for Molecular 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.
EndNoteDownload the output style file
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
Kontos T (2011) Quantum physics: single electrons take the bus. Nature 477: 414
A journal article with 2 authors
Balafoutas L & Sutter M (2012) Affirmative action policies promote women and do not harm efficiency in the laboratory. Science 335: 579–582
A journal article with 3 authors
Maamar H, Raj A & Dubnau D (2007) Noise in gene expression determines cell fate in Bacillus subtilis. Science 317: 526–529
A journal article with 21 or more authors
Xu H, Zhang Z, Shi R, Liu H, Wang Z, Wang S & Peng L-M (2013) Batch-fabricated high-performance graphene Hall elements. Sci. Rep. 3: 1207

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Yanni SB (2015) Translational ADMET for Drug Therapy Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc
An edited book
Kaufman HL, Wadler S & Antman K eds. (2008) Molecular Targeting in Oncology Totowa, NJ: Humana Press
A chapter in an edited book
Moore FA & Moore LJ (2013) Damage Control Laparotomy in Surgical Sepsis. In Common Problems in Acute Care Surgery, Moore LJ Turner KL & Todd SR (eds) pp 51–58. New York, NY: Springer

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 Molecular Systems Biology.

Blog post
Davis J (2015) New Species Of Pillbug Discovered Near L.A. IFLScience


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) Federally Funded R&D Centers: Observations on DOD Actions To Improve Management Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Poudyal Kharel A (2015) Pyrolysis Studies of Copper and Copper Phosphate Mixtures on a Tungsten Surface.

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
Burghardt LF (2006) A Pink Slip-Up For Garbage Pickup. New York Times: 14LI7

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Kontos, 2011).
This sentence cites two references (Kontos, 2011; Balafoutas & Sutter, 2012).

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

  • Two authors: (Balafoutas & Sutter, 2012)
  • Three or more authors: (Xu et al, 2013)

About the journal

Full journal titleMolecular Systems Biology
AbbreviationMol. Syst. Biol.
ISSN (online)1744-4292
ScopeGeneral Agricultural and Biological Sciences
General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
Computational Theory and Mathematics
Information Systems
General Immunology and Microbiology
Applied Mathematics

Other styles