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
Grayson M (2012) Breast cancer. Nature 485: S49
A journal article with 2 authors
Charbonnel C & Talon S (2007) Astronomy. Mixing a stellar cocktail. Science 318: 922–923
A journal article with 3 authors
Henrich J, Heine SJ & Norenzayan A (2010) Most people are not WEIRD. Nature 466: 29
A journal article with 21 or more authors
Okutsu T, Shikina S, Kanno M, Takeuchi Y & Yoshizaki G (2007) Production of trout offspring from triploid salmon parents. Science 317: 1517

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Benitez M, Davidson J & Flaxman L (2009) Small Schools, Big Ideas San Francisco, CA, USA: Jossey-Bass
An edited book
Stützle T ed. (2009) Learning and Intelligent Optimization: Third International Conference, LION 3, Trento, Italy, January 14-18, 2009. Selected Papers Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer
A chapter in an edited book
Balle JD (2008) Husserls typisierende Apperzeption und die Phänomenologie dynamischer Intentionalität. In Meaning and Language: Phenomenological Perspectives, Mattens F (ed) pp 89–104. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands

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 (2013) The latest report from the IPCC: scientists are 95% certain that humans are the ‘dominant cause’ of global warming since the 1950s. 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 (2012) Data Center Consolidation: Agencies Making Progress on Efforts, but Inventories and Plans Need to Be Completed 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
Beeler MC (2010) Disordered Ultracold Two-Dimensional Bose Gases.

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
Hubbard B & Saad H (2017) Dozens Killed As Blast Hits Bus Convoy In Syria. New York Times: A7

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Grayson, 2012).
This sentence cites two references (Grayson, 2012; Charbonnel & Talon, 2007).

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

  • Two authors: (Charbonnel & Talon, 2007)
  • Three or more authors: (Okutsu et al, 2007)

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

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