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
Smaglik P. 2005 Cultivating black gold. Nature 433, 779.
A journal article with 2 authors
Minton DA, Malhotra R. 2009 A record of planet migration in the main asteroid belt. Nature 457, 1109–1111.
A journal article with 3 authors
Connors M, Wiegert P, Veillet C. 2011 Earth’s Trojan asteroid. Nature 475, 481–483.
A journal article with 11 or more authors
DiToro D et al. 2018 Differential IL-2 expression defines developmental fates of follicular versus nonfollicular helper T cells. Science 361.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Baker HK, English P. 2011 Capital Budgeting Valuation. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
An edited book
Dybkjær L, Minker W, editors. 2008 Recent Trends in Discourse and Dialogue. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands.
A chapter in an edited book
Klein J, Klein N. 2013 The Third Decade: The Vow. In Solitude of a Humble Genius - Gregor Johann Mendel: Volume 1: Formative Years (ed N Klein), pp. 191–266. 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 Royal Society Open Science.

Blog post
Andrew E. 2014 Why Do Human Children Stay So Small For So Long? IFLScience. See (accessed on 30 October 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. 2017 Health Care: Telehealth and Remote Patient Monitoring Use in Medicare and Selected Federal Programs.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Murray RW. 2010 The Florida Migrant Education Program: An analysis of programmatic and expenditure practices. Doctoral dissertation, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL.

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
(nyt) SK. 2004 World Briefing | Europe: Russia, Georgia: Tension Over Ossetia. New York Times, 8 July. , A6.

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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