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
Henrich J. 2014 Psychology. Rice, psychology, and innovation. Science 344, 593–594.
A journal article with 2 authors
Schmitz L, Motani R. 2011 Nocturnality in dinosaurs inferred from scleral ring and orbit morphology. Science 332, 705–708.
A journal article with 3 authors
Butler SJ, Vickery JA, Norris K. 2007 Farmland biodiversity and the footprint of agriculture. Science 315, 381–384.
A journal article with 11 or more authors
Vanhollebeke B, De Muylder G, Nielsen MJ, Pays A, Tebabi P, Dieu M, Raes M, Moestrup SK, Pays E. 2008 A haptoglobin-hemoglobin receptor conveys innate immunity to Trypanosoma brucei in humans. Science 320, 677–681.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Wei J. 2012 Great Inventions that Changed the World. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
An edited book
Freeman A, Felgoise SH, Nezu CM, Nezu AM, Reinecke MA, editors. 2005 Encyclopedia of Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Boston, MA: Springer US.
A chapter in an edited book
Seegenschmiedt MH, Panizzon RG. 2015 Radiation Therapy of Nonmalignant Skin Disorders. In Radiation Treatment and Radiation Reactions in Dermatology (eds RG Panizzon, MH Seegenschmiedt), pp. 43–71. 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
Hale T. 2016 Can Humans Sense A ‘Force Field’ Around Their Body? 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. 2003 Airport Passenger Screening: Preliminary Observations on Progress Made and Challenges Remaining.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Altebarmakian T. 2012 Salt of the Skin. Doctoral dissertation, California State University, Long Beach, Long Beach, CA.

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
Patterson MJO. 2012 Nature in All Its Lushness, From an Urbanite’s Mind. New York Times, 20 May. , NJ12.

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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