How to format your references using the Royal Society Open Science citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for Royal Society Open Science. 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
Fukatsu T. 2010 Evolution. A fungal past to insect color. Science 328, 574–575.
A journal article with 2 authors
Süsstrunk R, Huber SD. 2015 PHYSICS. Observation of phononic helical edge states in a mechanical topological insulator. Science 349, 47–50.
A journal article with 3 authors
Huang N, Xu Y, Jiang D. 2014 High-performance heterogeneous catalysis with surface-exposed stable metal nanoparticles. Sci. Rep. 4, 7228.
A journal article with 11 or more authors
Astafiev O, Inomata K, Niskanen AO, Yamamoto T, Pashkin YA, Nakamura Y, Tsai JS. 2007 Single artificial-atom lasing. Nature 449, 588–590.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Leleux B, van Swaay H, Megally E. 2015 Private Equity 4.0. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
An edited book
Horváth Z, editor. 2006 Central European Functional Programming School: First Summer School, CEFP 2005, Budapest, Hungary, July 4-15, 2005, Revised Selected Lectures. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer.
A chapter in an edited book
Nakayama K. 2007 Novel functions of adhesins encoded by gingipain genes of Porphyromonas gingivalis. In Interface Oral Health Science 2007: Proceedings of the 2nd International Symposium for Interface Oral Health Science, Held in Sendai, Japan, Between 18 and 19 February, 2007 (eds M Watanabe, O Okuno, K Sasaki, N Takahashi, O Suzuki, H Takada), pp. 53–61. Tokyo: Springer Japan.

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 Royal Society Open Science.

Blog post
Taub B. 2016 South Africa Lifts Ban On Sale Of Rhino Horn. 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. 1992 NASA Procurement: Agencywide Action Needed to Improve Management of Contract Modifications.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Tickner A. 2009 Production and consumption at the hillfort site of Mont Dardon, France: An archeobotanical analysis. Doctoral dissertation, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC.

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
Vecsey G. 2010 Back-Scratching With a Global Reach. New York Times, 1 December. , B19.

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 titleRoyal Society Open Science
AbbreviationR. Soc. Open Sci.
ISSN (online)2054-5703

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