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Preparing your manuscript

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Article types
The editorial process
Preparation of manuscripts

Authors should submit manuscripts via the journal’s online submission site . Submissions should include a cover letter that explains the significance of the work being reported and indicates why the authors feel their paper should be published in the journal. The cover letter may suggest potential reviewers who have expertise in the subject of the manuscript (with email addresses) and may also list up to three people whom the authors would like to exclude as potential reviewers. The journal office will acknowledge receipt of submitted manuscripts with email messages to all of the coauthors.

Instructions for online submission are available here .

Article Types

Our priorities are first clarity, then concision. In the following list of article types, the suggestions for number of words, display items, and references are guidelines. The framework they establish can be adjusted in negotiation with editors and reviewers. Manuscripts that exceed the stated limits should be accompanied by a statement in the cover letter that justifies that decision. Do not submit papers that are any longer than clarity demands.

  1. Editorials are contributions (suggested 1000 words) invited by the Editor-in-Chief to discuss policy issues affecting the entire evolution and medicine community.
  2. Commentaries are in-depth essays that advance a personal view on or a hypothesis about an important topic. A commentary may be used to establish the plausibility of an important new hypothesis and to suggest how to test it. Commentaries are commissioned by the Editor-in-Chief and may be suggested by members of the Advisory Board and Editorial Board: unsolicited submissions will not be considered. Commentaries should have a 150-word abstract and around 3500 words of text, up to 50 references, and 4 display items (graphics, tables, or explanatory boxes*).
  3. Reviews should discuss progress and prospects in a specific area of research or practice relevant to the journal’s scope. Reviews may be commissioned by the Reviews Editor or be unsolicited. They should have an unstructured abstract of up to 250 words and about 5000 words in the main text, up to 150 references, and 6 display items. Authors of Reviews are encouraged to include explanatory boxes* and a running glossary of key terms to ensure that the article is accessible to the whole journal readership.
  4. Occasionally the Reviews Editor in consultation with the Editor-in-Chief may commission a Targeted Review on a particularly timely or controversial issue, which will be accompanied by solicited responses. Responses are reactions to target reviews solicited by the Editor-in-Chief or by the Reviews Editor. They may be up to 1000 words in length with up to 10 references and should have a title of no more than 10 words.
  5. Interpretive essays in ‘News and Views’ style may be commissioned by the Editor-in-Chief to accompany selected papers. They might have 1500 words, 10 references, and 1 display item. No abstract is required.
  6. Original research articles should present the outcomes of well-planned and rigorously executed research in any field relevant to the journal’s scope. Typically they will contain 4000 words, up to 50 references, and 5 display items (figures or tables). Articles should be preceded by an abstract (about 250 words) structured as follows: Background and objectives; Methodology; Results; Conclusions and implications. The text of the article itself should be structured the same way.
  7. Brevia : high-priority results with the nature of rapid-breaking news may be communicated in brief articles of about 1500 words, 10 references and one display item preceded by an unstructured abstract of about 100 words. Brevia are given priority reviewing.
  8. Correspondence comprises substantive reactions (around 1000 words and 5 references) to published articles. Correspondence will be reviewed by the Editor-in-Chief and by the Associate Editor who handled the article to which it reacts. Authors of the original article will see any accepted correspondence and have the opportunity to reply in the same format. The interchange will normally be limited to one submission of Correspondence and one reply from the author(s) of the published article.
  9. Case studies should take an educational approach by highlighting the value of evolutionary insights to medical practice in a particular patient. They are suggested to have a 100 word abstract, 2000 words of text, 2 display items, and 20 references. Case studies should be structured as follows: Introduction, (very brief, making clear the evolutionary motivation), Case Presentation, Case Management and Outcome, Discussion (which may contain subheadings). Useful guidelines for writing case studies can be found here . The audience for case studies published in EMPH is likely to include medical and science students as well as clinicians and evolutionary biologists. Medical terms, abbreviations and practice need to be explained in greater depth than is typical for case studies published in clinical journals. Likewise, evolutionary concepts will often need to be defined and explained more thoroughly than is typical in research papers in evolutionary biology. Citations to introductory literature will often be helpful.
  10. Book reviews are of two types, short and long. Short reviews are about 1000 words and make a concrete recommendation to a specific audience. Long reviews (about 3500 words) are structured like the essays in the New York Review of Books: they open by stating the general issues and state of play in the area that the book addresses and then go into a fairly detailed discussion of how the book does or does not advance the field. The decision to publish a long review is not taken lightly and is made by the Book Review Editor in consultation with the Editor-in-Chief. Abstracts are not required for book reviews. Suggestions of books to review may be directed to the Book Review Editor . All book reviews should include the following details in the manuscript file: author, editor, title, edition, name and city of publisher, price, ISBN, number of pages.
  11. Meeting reports are about 1500 words, 10 references, and 1 display item. No abstract is required.
  12. Clinical briefs are one-page, summary contributions aimed at a clinical audience that are of two types: standard and foundational: • Foundational clinical briefs describe a core evolutionary concept (e.g. mismatch, antagonistic pleiotropy) relevant to medicine or public health. These should include sections on Definitions and Background, and Examples in Clinical Medicine and Public Health. • Standard clinical briefs describe a particular pathology or condition (e.g. inflammatory bowel disease, fever) from an evolutionary perspective. These should include sections on Description of the Condition, Evolutionary Perspectives, and Future Implications.
  13. The writing style should be clear and accessible, the use of tables and figures is encouraged and up to 8 references are permitted. Contributors must conform to the templates provided. The total word limit is 600 words. Each figure should have a label, e.g. Figure 1, that is referred to in the text, with a short, informative caption.
  14. Clinical Briefs can be submitted by using the Clinical Brief template which can be found at Overleaf . Alternatively word doc templates are also available for the Standard layout.
  15. Please note that although it may be possible to fit more than 600 words on the page in either the Overleaf template or standard template, 600 words is the upper limit for this content type.

The editorial process

Original submission

The Editor-in-Chief will assign the manuscript to a member of the editorial board who will act as handling editor and will be responsible for overseeing the review and decision process. The handling editor may decide to reject a manuscript without review, either because it does not fall within the scope of the journal or because the quality or significance of the work does not seem high enough to warrant further consideration. Editors will notify authors within a week after submission if they are rejecting the manuscript without review. Authors may appeal these decisions to the Editor-in-Chief but should understand that the likelihood that the decisions will be reversed is low.

Manuscripts that are sent for peer review will normally be sent to two reviewers. These reviewers may be members of the editorial board but the handling editor will not also serve as a reviewer. Unless reviewers ask to be identified to the authors, reviews will be anonymous. The average time from submission to first decision is 3-4 weeks. Editorial decisions will be sent to all of the co-authors.

Prior publication

Electronic posting of experimental results using online preprint servers will be considered as prior publication if these are permanent citable records that are associated with electronic DOI identifiers. Such posting are therefore not appropriate for subsequent submission to EMPH . Authors are encouraged to contact the Managing Editor Editorial Office if they are in any doubt about prior submission.


If the handling editor asks authors to revise their manuscript, the revised manuscript should be submitted within 60 days of the initial decision. Authors will receive an automatic reminder if this does not occur. If the revised version of a manuscript is not uploaded within six months of the decision email, the manuscript will be withdrawn from the system, unless the editor agrees to extend the deadline. Revised manuscripts should be accompanied by a cover letter that includes a point-by-point response to the reviewers’ comments and outlines the ways in which the manuscript has been changed in response to these comments and those of the handling editor. Authors must highlight their revisions in the revised manuscript file . Revised manuscripts will normally be returned to both of the reviewers of the original submission. We anticipate that a high percentage of revised manuscripts will be accepted for publication. If, however, a revised manuscript is not accepted, it will not be considered further; authors will be given only one opportunity to revise their manuscripts.

Authors may also appeal rejections to the Editor-in-Chief, again with the understanding that, unless the reviewers and handling editor made a significant error, the likelihood of a successful appeal is low.


The Editor will inform the authors of final acceptance by email. Copyright licence form, Author Charges form (both to be filled in online, OUP will provide instructions after acceptance) and any permission letters must then be submitted promptly to Oxford Journals by the corresponding author. Please note that publication of your manuscript may be delayed or prevented without receipt of these forms.

The proof, with corrected typographical errors, should be returned preferably as an annotated PDF within 48 hours. A corresponding author likely to be absent during this time must provide the email address of a co-author who can assume responsibility for the manuscript. Any substantial changes and notes added in proof necessitate approval of the Editor responsible. In general, corrections to figures are not permitted at this stage. The corresponding author must ensure that all co-authors agree with any corrections made.

Preparation of manuscripts

Manuscripts should be prepared according to journal style, details of which can be found in our mini style checklist .


Papers should be clearly and concisely written in English with consistent use of either US (Webster) or British (Oxford) spelling. It is not the role of reviewers to spend time correcting papers written in poor English; commercial services exist to help authors for whom English is not their first language ( http://www.oxfordjournals.org/for_authors/language_services.html ). The Editors reserve the right to reject without review manuscripts that cannot adequately be assessed because of a poor standard of English.

Text – files and format

Manuscripts (including references, figure legends and simple tables) should be submitted initially in .pdf, .doc, .docx or .rtf formats; a .doc, .docx or .rtf file of the final version will be required if the contribution is accepted for publication.

Original Research Articles should be structured as follows: Title Page, Structured Abstract, Introduction, Methodology, Results, Discussion, Conclusions and Implications, Declarations of Funding and Conflicts of Interest, Acknowledgements, References, Tables, Figure Legends. Other types of article should follow a simpler structure appropriate to their content and as indicated under Scope and Purpose . Pages should be numbered sequentially with the title page as page 1. Line numbers will be applied automatically to the version of the manuscript sent out for peer review and should not be added prior to submission.

Title page

The title page should include the following:

  1. The title of the article (maximum 120 characters including spaces) should be free from jargon and intelligible to non-specialists. The use of abbreviations, except for the most commonly used ones such as DNA, is not permitted.
  2. Full names (given name, middle initial if used and family name) must be provided for all authors, together with their institutional affiliations (with full postal addresses) at the time the work was performed. Titles and positions are not required. Authors and their affiliations should be linked by superscript Arabic numerals. Groups and consortia may be included as part of the author list. The name, address, telephone and email address of the corresponding author, and the email addresses of all other authors, should be listed.
  3. A page heading title of no more than 60 characters (including spaces).
  4. Original Research Articles, Brevia and Case Studies should also include a 50-word lay summary of the article’s main point. Try to make the first 140 characters a tweetable unit.
  5. Any recent changes in author affiliations.
  6. The word count of (i) the abstract and (ii) the text of the article (not including the abstract, references, tables and figure legends) , the numbers of tables and figures, and the numbers of explanatory boxes where applicable.


For Original Research Articles, the Abstract (maximum 250 words) should be structured under the following headings, with each item of the structure beginning on a new line and preceded by the name of the heading in bold followed by a colon.

  • Background and objectives : A brief summary of the state of the field and the research question to be addressed.
  • Methodology : Description of the study design, experimental approach, data collection and analysis.
  • Results : The principal findings.
  • Conclusions and implications : What conclusions can be drawn from the results, and the implications for research or practice.

For other types of article, Abstracts ( where required ) should be presented as a single paragraph observing the appropriate word limit.

Abstracts should not contain references, and should not contain abbreviations apart from the most commonly used ones.

Text of article

Because there are limits on the time of our over-committed audience, writing must be disciplined. We have therefore limited the length of articles, the number of display items, and the number of references. For all sections of an article, a well-crafted lead paragraph is essential. Make it immediately clear to your readers why your topic is important by opening the paragraph with a connection to a major issue; by the end of the paragraph, state what new insight or progress can be experienced by reading further. In your article, be sure to use signposts and logical bridges to connect topics. Think explicitly about the sequence in which you present things and consider alternatives. Pose questions at the beginning and give answers by the end. Use subtitles as milestones to structure your topic and mark your progress through it.

Explanatory boxes

Authors of Review papers are encouraged to include explanatory boxes. An explanatory box may have one display item - either a figure or a table. Explanatory boxes should be submitted separately, one per page, individually numbered like figures.

Running Glossary

Authors of Review articles are encouraged to include a running glossary of key terms to ensure that the article is accessible to the whole journal readership. Glossary terms will be suggested by the Editors and Referees after review and should therefore only be included with the submission of the revised manuscript. The running glossary should be submitted as a numbered list with pointers in the text ([Glossary Term 1] etc.) to where each entry should be placed in the margin. Text items that have marginal definitions should be bold and italicized both in the submitted and in the printed text.

Funding and conflicts of interest

Here you should list the sources of funding for the work described in the article, with grant numbers if applicable. You should also disclose any affiliations or potential conflicts of interest that might be perceived as affecting your objectivity with respect to the material discussed in your article. Such issues are discussed under the Journal Policies .

Crossref Funding Data Registry

In order to meet your funding requirements authors are required to name their funding sources, or state if there are none, during the submission process. For further information on this process or to find out more about the CHORUS initiative please click here.


This section should be used to acknowledge individuals or organizations who have assisted the study (for example by provision of materials or advice) in a way that does not qualify them for authorship or listing as a source of funding. Professional science writers who have aided the drafting and/or revision of the manuscript, without making a contribution to study design or data collection, analysis and interpretation, should also be mentioned here.


EMPH uses Oxford SciMed style, details and examples of which can be found in the mini style checklist , and below.

The EMPH Endnote Output Style is available for download here .

  • Journal articles:
    Kennedy T, Jones R. Effect of obesity on esophageal transit. Am J Surg 1985; 149 :177–81. doi: 10.1093/amsurg/ams001.
  • Online journal articles:
    Chandras, C, Zouberakis, M, Salimova, E et al . CreZOO—the European virtual repository of Cre and other targeted conditional driver strains. Database 2012. doi: 10.1093/database/bas029.
  • Books:
    Long HC, Blatt MA, Higgins MC et al . Medical Decision Making . Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann, 1997.
  • Chapters:
    Manners T, Jones R, Riley M. Relationship of overweight to haitus hernia and reflux oesophagitis. In: Newman W (ed). The Obesity Conundrum . Amsterdam: Elsevier Science, 1997, 352–74.
  • Websites:
    Public Health Laboratory Service. Antimicrobial Resistance in 2000: England and Wales . http://www.hpa.org.uk./infections/topics_az/antimicrobial_resistance/amr.pdf (7 January 2004, date last accessed).

References should be cited in the text, tables and figures legends by sequential number only, in order of appearance, and listed numerically in the References section. The sequence of references cited in tables and figure legends is established by the first mention of that table or figure in the text. References should be denoted by Arabic numerals within square brackets, separated as necessary by a comma followed by a space, or by a hyphen for a range, and placed within punctuation – for example [1, 3, 5-7].

The authors’ own unpublished work and personal communications from other investigators should be cited in the text, not in the reference list. For example:

“… we are aware (our unpublished work) that …”


“… we are aware (personal communication from Dr RM Nesse, University of Michigan) that …”

Authors should hold, and make available to the Editor-in-Chief on request, written permission from the person cited as the source of a “personal communication” for that information to be cited.


Tabular material can be prepared in Excel or Word as long as the files are editable. All tables should have a brief title and an explanatory legend (maximum 150 words in total) placed above the table body that allows interpretation of the table without reference to the main text. Abbreviations used in tables should be defined in the legend, even if also used and defined in the text. Footnotes in tables should only be used to convey information specific to particular cells; they should be identified by superscript lower case letters a,b and placed below the table body. All tables should be referenced in the text, using the style “(Table 1)”.


Authors are required to submit high-resolution images, preferably with the initial submission but no later than revision stage. Electronic images (figures and schemes) must be at a minimum resolution of 600 d.p.i. for line drawings (black and white) and 300 d.p.i. for colour or greyscale. Colour figures must be supplied in CMYK not RGB colours. Please ensure that the prepared electronic image files print at a legible size (with lettering of at least 2 mm).

A number of different file formats are acceptable, including: PowerPoint (.ppt, .pptx), Tagged Image File Format (.tif), Encapsulated PostScript (.eps), Joint Photographic Experts Group (.jpg), Graphics Interchange Format (.gif), Adobe Illustrator (.ai) (please save your files in Illustrator's EPS format), Portable Network Graphics (.png), Microsoft Word (.doc, .docx), Rich Text Format (.rtf), Excel (.xls, .xlsx) and editable Portable Document Format (PDF).

For further information on figure submission, please click here .

  • Size and layout: The area of the journal’s PDF page is 230 mm (height); 84 mm (single) or 178 mm (double) (column width). Figures should not exceed these dimensions and ideally should fit either a single or double column. Lettering should be of a consistent size within each figure.
  • Colour figures: The use of colour in figures where it improves understanding of the science is encouraged. There is no charge for the use of colour.
  • Use of colour combinations: Please note that the use of red and green in figures is particularly problematic for approximately 5% of the male population. Advice on the preparation of colour-friendly figures is provided at http://jfly.iam.u-tokyo.ac.jp/html/color_blind/ .
  • Representation of experimental data as computer images: If primary experimental data are presented in the form of a computer-generated image (such as those from a PhosphorImager or digital camera), any editing must be described in detail. A linear (rather than sigmoidal) relationship between signal and image intensity is assumed. Unless stated, it is assumed that the image is unedited.
    Inappropriate manipulation of images to highlight desired results is not allowed. As you prepare your figures, please adhere to the following guidelines to accurately present your data:

    • No specific feature within an image may be enhanced, obscured, moved, removed, or introduced.
    • The grouping of images from different parts of the same gel, or from different gels, fields, or exposures (i.e. the creation of a "composite image") must be made absolutely explicit by the arrangement of the figure (i.e., using dividing lines) and by the text of the figure legend.
    • Adjustments of brightness, contrast, or colour balance are acceptable if they are applied to the whole image and as long as they do not obscure, eliminate, or misrepresent any information present in the original, including the background. Non-linear adjustments (e.g., changes to gamma settings) must be disclosed in the figure legend. Alteration of brightness or contrast that results in the disappearance of any features in a gel (either bands or cosmetic blemishes) or similar alterations in other experimental images is strictly forbidden.

All figures should have a brief title and an explanatory legend (maximum 150 words in total) that allows interpretation of the figure without reference to the main text. Abbreviations used in figures should be defined in the legend, even if also used and defined in the text. All figures should be referenced in the text, using the style “(Fig. 1)”.

Third-Party Content in Open Access papers

If you will be publishing your paper under an Open Access licence but it contains material for which you do not have Open Access re-use permissions, please state this clearly by supplying the following credit line alongside the material:

Title of content
Author, Original publication, year of original publication, by permission of [rights holder]

This image/content is not covered by the terms of the Creative Commons licence of this publication. For permission to reuse, please contact the rights holder.

Units, symbols and abbreviations

SI units and the corresponding symbols should be used where possible for all physical quantities, and should be recorded as the numerical value followed by a space and then the symbol for the unit (for example 1.8 m, 70 kg, 120 mmHg).
Commonly used abbreviations such as DNA may be used without definition in the article title and text. Use of all other abbreviations should be kept to a minimum compatible with clarity and conciseness. Such abbreviations should be defined at first mention in the text, and should also be defined in table and figure legends even if previously used and defined in the main article text.

Other nomenclature

Disease states should be recorded according to the most recent edition of the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Disease (currently ICD-10) or of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (currently DSM-IV-TR).

Medicines should be identified by their International Nonproprietary Name (INN) and by their US Adopted Name (USAN) if different, as well as by their proprietary name if a specific preparation is being discussed (for example paracetamol, acetaminophen; Tylenol®).

In papers taking experimental or ecological approaches to non-human organisms, with the exception of common model species, full binomial (genus and species) names should be provided at first mention in the text; thereafter, common or abbreviated names should be used. Strains should be specified where relevant. For example, Sprague-Dawley rats, Escherichia coli O157:H7, Anopheles gambiae complex.

Genetic nomenclature should follow the recommendations for the particular organism under consideration, for example the HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee for human genes or FlyBase for Drosophila melanogaster . Gene symbols should be printed in italics (for example CYP2A , SLC24A5 ).

Supplementary Information

Manuscripts may include supplementary information that supports, but is not essential to, the conclusions of the main manuscript. Supplementary information might include additional figures or tables beyond those allowed by the particular type of article, or additional video or sound clips. Supplementary data should be referred to at an appropriate point in the main manuscript. Such data should consist of electronic files and should not merely be a link to another web site.

Supplementary information files should be uploaded at the time of submission of the article so that they are available to the reviewers of the article. For further information on the preparation and submission of supplementary information, click here .

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