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
Grotzinger JP (2013) Analysis of surface materials by the Curiosity Mars rover. Science 341: 1475
A journal article with 2 authors
Schubert EF & Kim JK (2005) Solid-state light sources getting smart. Science 308: 1274–1278
A journal article with 3 authors
Enquist BJ, Haskell JP & Tiffney BH (2002) General patterns of taxonomic and biomass partitioning in extant and fossil plant communities. Nature 419: 610–613
A journal article with 21 or more authors
Phizicky E, Bastiaens PIH, Zhu H, Snyder M & Fields S (2003) Protein analysis on a proteomic scale. Nature 422: 208–215

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Lewis S (2016) Positive Psychology and Change Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
An edited book
Langlois WE (2014) Slow Viscous Flow 2nd ed. 2014. Deville MO (ed) Cham: Springer International Publishing
A chapter in an edited book
Matalonga S, Rodrigues F & Travassos GH (2015) Matching Context Aware Software Testing Design Techniques to ISO/IEC/IEEE 29119. In Software Process Improvement and Capability Determination: 15th International Conference, SPICE 2015, Gothenburg, Sweden, June 16-17, 2015. Proceedings, Rout T O’Connor RV & Dorling A (eds) pp 33–44. Cham: Springer International Publishing

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
Hamilton K (2016) 2016, The Year That Was: Science And Technology. 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 (1991) Financial Management: Actions Needed to Ensure Effective Implementation of NASA’s Accounting System 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
Ren H (2014) Modification and Characterization of Ordered Mesoporous Carbons for Resorcinol Removal.

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
Hagerdon MLK (2016) The Triangle. New York Times: A14

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Grotzinger, 2013).
This sentence cites two references (Grotzinger, 2013; Schubert & Kim, 2005).

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

  • Two authors: (Schubert & Kim, 2005)
  • Three or more authors: (Phizicky et al, 2003)

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