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
Farrar JM (2002) Chemical reactions. Steric and solvent effects in ionic reactions. Science 295: 2222–2223
A journal article with 2 authors
Carmeliet P & Jain RK (2011) Molecular mechanisms and clinical applications of angiogenesis. Nature 473: 298–307
A journal article with 3 authors
Ji Z, Gao H & Yu H (2015) CELL DIVISION CYCLE. Kinetochore attachment sensed by competitive Mps1 and microtubule binding to Ndc80C. Science 348: 1260–1264
A journal article with 21 or more authors
Kaka S, Pufall MR, Rippard WH, Silva TJ, Russek SE & Katine JA (2005) Mutual phase-locking of microwave spin torque nano-oscillators. Nature 437: 389–392

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Karamalidis AK & Dzombak DA (2010) Surface Complexation Modeling Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
An edited book
Polycarpou M, Carvalho ACPLF de, Pan J-S, Woźniak M, Quintian H & Corchado E eds. (2014) Hybrid Artificial Intelligence Systems: 9th International Conference, HAIS 2014, Salamanca, Spain, June 11-13, 2014. Proceedings Cham: Springer International Publishing
A chapter in an edited book
Aloupis G, Bose PK, Collette S, Demaine ED, Demaine ML, Douïeb K, Dujmović V, Iacono J, Langerman S & Morin P (2011) Common Unfoldings of Polyominoes and Polycubes. In Computational Geometry, Graphs and Applications: 9th International Conference, CGGA 2010, Dalian, China, November 3-6, 2010, Revised Selected Papers, Akiyama J Bo J Kano M & Tan X (eds) pp 44–54. Berlin, Heidelberg: 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
Andrew E (2015) GPS In Fake Tusks Exposes Ivory Smuggling Route. IFLScience Available at: [Accessed October 30, 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 (2010) Perchlorate: Occurrence Is Widespread but at Varying Levels; Federal Agencies Have Taken Some Actions to Respond to and Lessen Releases 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
Plumer DR (2010) The relationship between earned value management metrics and customer satisfaction.

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
Greenhouse L (2006) Supreme Court Gives Employees Broader Protection Against Retaliation in Workplace. New York Times: A22

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Farrar, 2002).
This sentence cites two references (Farrar, 2002; Carmeliet & Jain, 2011).

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

  • Two authors: (Carmeliet & Jain, 2011)
  • Three or more authors: (Kaka et al, 2005)

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