Guide for Student Authors:

Modified from the Animal Behaviour writing guidelines.


Scientific Integrity

Animal Behaviour publishes papers by scientists conducting research at locations around the globe. Publication is, therefore, based upon mutual trust between publisher and authors. Professional integrity in the conduct and reporting of research is an absolute requirement as is a willingness to share information with other members of the scientific community. Consequently, as a condition of publication in Animal Behaviour, authors must agree both to honour any reasonable request for materials or methods needed to verify or replicate experiments reported in the journal and to make available, upon request, any data sets upon which published studies are based. Students failing to meet ethical standards of science can face failing grades in the course for which the work is presented.

Instructions for Authors

  • Use British spelling and grammar conventions throughout, except in non-British quotations and references.

Animal Welfare

If ethical considerations arose in the course of the study, the author should describe in the manuscript (see Methods) how those considerations were addressed. For example, information needs to be provided on the following areas: housing and general maintenance, disposal of animals including release of wild-caught animals, culling of litters, techniques causing desertion, aggression, predation, use of live animals as food, parasitism, techniques or manipulations (e.g. physiological, pharmacological, genetic, blood and tissue sampling, use of anaesthetics and restraints, plumage alterations), trapping, marking, radiotagging, food or water deprivation, manipulation of diets and access to food, social deprivation, brood manipulations, environmental manipulations, conservation implications, details of licenses/permissions obtained for the study. If authors fail to include relevant information, we shall request a revision and resubmission of the paper. In exceptional cases, where unresolved ethical questions remain, the manuscript may be sent to review by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. In such cases, the decision as to whether the manuscript is accepted for publication remains with the Editor or, in the final instance, the Executive Editor.

Formatting of Text

    • Type all manuscripts with double line spacing and aligned left, including the abstract, references, figure legends and tables.
    • Use a font size of 11 or larger.
    • Print pages on one side only for editing purposes.
    • Manuscripts should have page numbers and wide margins throughout (including the abstract, references, figure legends and tables).
    • Indent each new paragraph, except for the first paragraph of the main text and the paragraph immediately after each main heading.
    • Use consistent punctuation; insert only a single space between words and after punctuation.
    • Type text without end-of-line hyphenation, except for compound words.
    • Use initial capitals only for proper names (e.g. names of people, places or proprietary products), not for animals or for words such as 'experiment' or 'group'. Initial capitals may be used to label categories of behaviour or specifically defined measures. Do not use italics for these, for emphasis or for foreign words.
    • Use two returns to end headings and paragraphs.
    • Do not use lower-case 'l' (el) for '1' (one) or 'O'(oh) for '0' (zero); they have different typesetting values.


Headings in the body of the manuscript should be brief. The usual main headings for Research papers are: Methods, Results, Discussion, Acknowledgments and References (Introduction is not used). Papers should not be forced to fit into this pattern of headings, however, if they do not naturally do so. Type main headings in capitals on a separate line and centre them on the page (note that Commentaries and Forum articles lack this heading type). Type subheadings at the left of the page and on a separate line, and begin the main words with a capital letter. Start sub-subheadings on a new line, aligned full left, and underline them. Start the text on a new line after subheadings and sub-subheadings. When presenting multiple experiments, authors may use main headings for the titles of each experiment, with the Methods and Results of each experiment listed as subheadings. Try to keep subheadings short enough to fit within a single column.

Parts of the Manuscript

Arrange manuscripts in the following order: title page, abstract, text, acknowledgments, references, appendices, tables, figure legends, figures.

Title page

The title page must include the following information.

    • Title. This should be brief and informative, and should not exceed 120 characters. Avoid abbreviations, as well as part numbers unless the papers are to be published consecutively in the same issue of the Journal.
    • Running headline. Provide a short title that does not exceed 50 spaces, including the author's name(s) (using 'et al.' for three or more authors) and all punctuation marks.
    • Authors' names (in capitals) and academic affiliations below the title. Affiliations should not include street, box number, postal (zip) code, country (when that is obvious) or city, state, province, etc., when that is redundant with the University name.
    • Correspondence. At the bottom of the page, give the full postal address and email address (if desired) of the corresponding author and the present postal addresses of all authors.
    • A word count for the text.


The Abstract should describe the purpose of the study, outline the major findings and state the main conclusions. It should be concise, informative, explicit and intelligible without reference to the text. Abstracts should usually be limited to 250 words. Use both common and scientific names of animals at first mention in the Abstract unless they are given in the title. Avoid using references; if used, give the journal name, volume and page numbers.


The Introduction should be brief, not normally exceeding two manuscript pages. It should explicitly state the aims of the study and place it within the context of existing work. Keep references to a minimum by citing reviews rather than primary research papers where appropriate.


The Methods should be sufficiently detailed to allow someone else to replicate the study. Repetition of methodological details can sometimes be avoided by referring to previous studies, however. Give the names and addresses of companies providing trademarked products. Always state sample sizes (the number of animals used in the study) and the age, sex, breed/strain and source of animals. Full details of testing or observational regimes should be given. If captive animals were used, include details of housing conditions relevant to the study (e.g. cage size and type, bedding, group size and composition, lighting, temperature, ambient noise conditions, maintenance diets) both during the study and during any period before the study that might bear on the results. The Methods section may also contain a description of the kinds of statistics used and the activities that were recorded.

    • Ethical note. Where ethical considerations arise from the study, these should be addressed in the Methods, either in the main Methods section itself (where the additional discussion is relatively minor), or in a separate subsection of the Methods headed Ethical note. Any ethical implications of the experimental design and procedures should be identified, and any licenses acquired to carry out the work specified. Procedures that were taken to minimize the welfare impact on subjects, including choice of sample sizes, use of pilot tests and predetermined rules for intervention, should be described. Any steps taken to enhance the welfare of subjects (e.g. through 'environmental enrichment') should also be indicated. If the study involved keeping wild animals in captivity, state for how long the animals were captive and whether, where and how they were returned to the wild at the end of the study.


This section should include only results that are relevant to the hypotheses outlined in the Introduction and considered in the Discussion. The text should complement material given in Tables or Figures but should not directly repeat it. Give full details of statistical analysis either in the text or in Tables or Figure legends. Include the type of test, the precise data to which it was applied, the value of the relevant statistic, the sample size and/or degrees of freedom, and the probability level. Number Tables and Figures in the order to which they are referred in the text.


It is often helpful to begin the Discussion with a summary of the main results. The main purpose of the Discussion, however, is to comment on the significance of the results and set them in the context of previous work. The Discussion should be concise and not excessively speculative, and references should be kept to a minimum by citing review articles as much as possible.


For references in the text, give full surnames for papers by one or two authors, but only the surname of the first author, followed by 'et al.' for three or more (note that 'et al.' is not underlined). Check that all references in the text are in the reference list and vice versa, that their dates and spellings match, and that complete bibliographical details are given, including page numbers, names of editors, name of publisher and full place of publication if the article is published in a book. Check foreign language references particularly carefully for accuracy of diacritical marks such as accents and umlauts.

Cite references in the text as, for example, Fagen & Young (1978) or, if in parentheses, as (Murton 1963). Do not use commas to separate the author's name from the date. Use lower-case letters to distinguish between two papers by the same authors in the same year (e.g. Packer 1979a). List multiple citations in chronological order (e.g. Zahavi 1972; Halliday 1978; Arnold 1981a, b), using a semicolon to separate each reference. Cite references in the reference list in alphabetical, and then chronological, order according to the authors' surname and date. To help readers locate 'et al.' citations with the same first authors in the reference list, list references with three (or more) names after those with two, by date, as in the following sequence:

Marin & Silva 1992

Marin, Silva & Lopez 1986

Marin, Lopez & Silva 1989

Type references in the following form:

Bailey, N. J. 1981. Statistical Methods in Biology. 2nd edn. London: Unibooks.

Emlen, S. T. 1978. The evolution of cooperative behaviour in birds. In: Behavioural Ecology (Ed. by J. R. Krebs & N. B. Davies), pp. 245-281. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific.

Robinson, M. H. & Robinson, B. 1970. The stabilimentum of the orb web spider, Argiope argentata: an improbable defense against predators. Canadian Entomologist, 102, 641-645.

Smith, J. K. 1985. Investigations on a freshwater crab. Ph.D. thesis, University of Durham.

Forum articles should include volume and part number and Web site address and be cited as:

Johnson, A. R. 1999. Scent marking in hyaenas: reply to Jones. Animal Behaviour, 57, F41-F43:

Because of the ephemeral nature of many Web sites, other Web citations will be reviewed by the Editors to ensure they are appropriate.

For papers in the course of publication, use 'in press' to replace the date and give the journal name in the references. Cite unpublished manuscripts (including those in preparation or submitted), talks and abstracts of talks in the text as 'unpublished data' following a list of all authors' initials and surnames. Do not include these in the reference list.

Digital Object Identifiers

To facilitate cross-referencing of articles on the Web, the digital object identifier (DOI) for papers in Elsevier journals will now be included in their reference citation as follows:

Bradbury, J. W. & Vehrencamp, S. L. In press. Economic models of animal communication. Animal Behaviour, doi: 10.1006/anbe.1999.1330.

Jirotkul, M. 1999. Population density influences male-male competition in guppies. Animal Behaviour, 58, 1169-1175. doi: 10.1006/anbe.1999.1248.

The DOI of a cited paper can be found at the top of its title page. If authors are aware of a paper's DOI, it would be helpful if they could include it in their citation list.


Keep Tables as simple as possible and make them understandable without reference to the text. Type each table on a separate page. In addition:

    • Use Arabic numerals to number Tables.
    • Give brief titles above the table with no punctuation at the end.
    • Give extra information (e.g. the results of statistical tests) as a footnote below the table.
    • Do not divide tables into two or more parts.


    • A figure and its legend should be sufficiently informative that the results can be understood without reference to the text. Figure legends should not appear on the same page as figures.
    • Colour figures should only be employed when colour is integral to useful illustration of the data.
    • Figures should be large enough to allow for reproduction.
    • The preferred point symbols are open circle, open square, open triangle, filled circle, filled square, filled triangle. The preferred shadings are white, black and bold hatching. Avoid stippling, which does not reproduce well.
    • Ticks should be drawn inside the figure axes; they should not be extended to form lines across the whole figure.
    • Give keys and other explanations either in the legend or on the figure itself.
    • Number figures consecutively in Arabic numerals.
    • Abbreviate 'Figure' to 'Fig.' and 'Figures' to 'Figs' except when starting a sentence.


Electronic supplementary material

Material that aids in the understanding or clarification of the printed article, such as video clips (AVI or MPEG), colour photographs (GIF or JPEG), sound recordings (WAV), or large data tables, may be provided to the professor with electronic access details provided in the text. The material will be considered to be part of a manuscript and will be reviewed as such.


Use footnotes only to add information below the body of a Table.


Write numbers of 10 or more as numerals except at the beginning of a sentence. Write the numbers one to nine in words, unless they precede units of measure or are used as designators. Quote times of day using the 24-hour clock without a break or point in the middle and followed by 'hours'; e.g. '1515 hours'. Give years in full; e.g. '1986-1987' and dates as 1 January 2000.


Units and abbreviations should conform to the Systeme International d'Unites. Avoid acronyms.

Statistical conventions

Means and standard errors/standard deviations (and medians and interquartile ranges/confidence limits), with their associated sample sizes, are given in the format X SE = 10.20 1.01 g, N = 15, not X = 10.20, SE = 1.01, N = 15.

For significance tests, give the name of the test followed by a colon, the test statistic and its value, the degrees of freedom or sample size (whichever is the convention for the test) and the P value (note that F values have two degrees of freedom). The different parts of the statistical quotation are separated by a comma.

If the test statistic is conventionally quoted with degrees of freedom, these are presented as a subscript to the test statistic. For example:

ANOVA: F1,11 = 7.89, P = 0.017

Kruskal-Wallis test: H11 = 287.8, P = 0.001

Chi-square test: x22 = 0.19, P=0.91

Paired t test: t12 = 1.99, P=0.07

If the test is conventionally quoted with the sample size, this should follow the test statistic value. For example:

Spearman rank correlation: rS = 0.80, N = 11, P 0.01

Wilcoxon signed-ranks test: T = 6, N = 14, P < 0.01

Mann-Whitney U test: U = 74, N1 = N2 = 17, P < 0.02

P values for significant outcomes can be quoted as below a threshold significance value (e.g. P < 0.05, 0.01, 0.001), but wherever possible should be quoted as an exact probability value. Departure from a significance threshold of 0.05 should be stated and justified in the Methods. Nonsignificant outcomes should be indicated with an exact probability value, not as NS or P 0.05. Marginally nonsignificant outcomes can be indicated as exact probability values or as P < 0.1.
State whether a test is one tailed or two tailed (or specific or nonspecific in the case of Meddis' nonparametric ANOVAs). One-tailed (or specific) tests should be used with caution. Their use is justified only when there are strong a priori reasons for predicting the direction of a difference or trend and results in the opposite direction can reasonably be regarded as equivalent to no difference or trend at all. Authors are referred to Kimmel (1957, Psychological Bulletin, 54, 315-353).

Do not quote decimals with naked points, for example quote 0.01, not .01, or normally to more than three decimal places (the exception being P values for significance tests, which may be quoted to four decimal places where appropriate, e.g. 0.0001).

Regressions and analyses of variance. The significance of regressions should be tested with F or t but not the correlation coefficient r. R2 should be quoted with both regressions and parametric analyses of variance.

Multiple range tests. Unplanned multiple range tests following ANOVA should be avoided unless their appropriateness for the comparisons in question is verified explicitly. Authors are referred to the review by Day & Quinn (1989, Ecological Monographs, 59, 433-463).

Power tests. Where a significance test based on a small sample size yields a nonsignificant result, explicit consideration should be given to the power of the data for accepting the null hypothesis. Authors are referred to Thomas & Juanes (1996, Animal Behaviour, 52, 856-859) and Colegrave & Ruxton (2003, Behavioral Ecology, 14, 446-447) for guidance on the appropriate use of power tests. Providing a value for power based on a priori tests is preferred. Values of observed power are not appropriate. Authors should consider effect sizes and their confidence intervals in drawing conclusions regarding the null hypothesis.

Transformations. Where data have been transformed for parametric significance tests, the nature of the transformation and the reason for its selection (e.g. log x, x2, arcsine) should be stated.