How to format your references using the Systematic Biology citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for Systematic 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
Fishell G. 2013. Hurricane Sandy: After the deluge. Nature. 496:421–422.
A journal article with 2 authors
Li X., Xu J. 2014. Meta-analysis of the association between dietary lycopene intake and ovarian cancer risk in postmenopausal women. Sci. Rep. 4:4885.
A journal article with 3 authors
Otterbein L.R., Graceffa P., Dominguez R. 2001. The crystal structure of uncomplexed actin in the ADP state. Science. 293:708–711.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
Scott I.C., Blitz I.L., Pappano W.N., Maas S.A., Cho K.W., Greenspan D.S. 2001. Homologues of Twisted gastrulation are extracellular cofactors in antagonism of BMP signalling. Nature. 410:475–478.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Beecken W.H., Beecken C.A. 2017. Fraud Examination Casebook with Documents. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
An edited book
Nakasato Y., Yung R.L., editors. 2011. Geriatric Rheumatology: A Comprehensive Approach. New York, NY: Springer.
A chapter in an edited book
Bolton M.L., Bass E.J. 2013. Evaluating Human-Human Communication Protocols with Miscommunication Generation and Model Checking. In: Brat G., Rungta N., Venet A., editors. NASA Formal Methods: 5th International Symposium, NFM 2013, Moffett Field, CA, USA, May 14-16, 2013. Proceedings. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer. p. 48–62.

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 Systematic Biology.

Blog post
Andrew E. 2015. The Metropolis And Mental Health: Are Big Cities Making Us Sick? Available from


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. 2005. Internet Protocol Version 6: Federal Agencies Need to Plan for Transition and Manage Security Risks. .

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Catalini M. 2012. Intrinsic rewards increase job performance within an organization. .

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
Crow K. 2001. Columbia Roils Neighbors Again, Now Over an Elementary School. New York Times.:144.

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Fishell 2013).
This sentence cites two references (Fishell 2013; Li and Xu 2014).

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

  • Two authors: (Li and Xu 2014)
  • Three or more authors: (Scott et al. 2001)

About the journal

Full journal titleSystematic Biology
AbbreviationSyst. Biol.
ISSN (print)1063-5157
ISSN (online)1076-836X
ScopeEcology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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