Instructions for authors of reviews

(Initial Submission)


Most Reviews for Science Translational Medicine are invited by the editors. We will accept unsolicited contributions if they fit in to one of the two categories below. Ideally, Reviews should be comprehensive (but not specialized), current, and instructive. They should be rooted in a balanced view of the preceding literature. Science Translational Medicine publishes Reviews of two types:

State-of-the-Art Reviews should provide a balanced overview of current knowledge about a disease or health condition, including basic understanding of disease etiology and existing and developing treatment options. These reviews should clearly identify bottlenecks in the translational system that are preventing progress in combating the disease.

Standard Reviews should be a new synthesis of an active area of translational research or provide a balanced overview of current knowledge about an approach or methodology useful for translational medicine. The authors should clearly cover the science underlying the methodology and explain best practices and their rationale.

Back to Top

Criteria and process for evaluation

Reviews at Science Translational Medicine are evaluated by peer review, even if solicited by the editors, to ensure consistency and quality. They are assessed on the basis of the following criteria:

1. Significance. Please evaluate how well the Review describes the state of knowledge for the disease or research area and whether it clearly identifies bottlenecks in disease prevention, cure, or treatment. For Reviews that synthesize a current research area, evaluate how well it provides the reader with a balanced, up-to-date overview.

2. Technical Merit. The data cited or presented and the arguments made should justify the conclusions and inferences. The Review should correctly cite important discoveries in the field and should be set in the context of, and acknowledge, work done by others, whether or not they have conflicting views.

3. Comprehensibility. The Review should be written in a broadly accessible style. Readers from other areas of translational medicine should be able to learn from the article what has been firmly established and what are significant unresolved questions and obstacles to progress.

Back to Top

Editorial Policies

Authors of Reviews should familiarize themselves with the [Editorial Policies] (Editorial Policies) for Science Translational Medicine before submitting their paper. These policies spell out the rights and responsibilities that authors agree to when submitting and publishing their papers, although some of these apply only to authors of original research papers.

Back to Top

Format and Style

Reviews should be 8,000 words or shorter (including references and notes and legends), with the precise length dictated by the requirements of the topic. There should be about 6 display items (figures and tables).\ All Reviews should include an Abstract and the following sections: Introduction, Subsections, Conclusions, References and Notes. Supplementary Materials are permitted (*see the section on SM below).

Use double spacing throughout the text, tables, figure legends, and references and notes. Electronic files should be formatted for U.S. letter paper. Technical terms should be defined. Symbols, abbreviations, and acronyms should be defined the first time they are used. All tables and figures should be cited in numerical order. For best results use Times and Symbol fonts only.

The manuscript should be assembled in the following order:

Titles should be no more than 135 characters (including spaces).

One-sentence summaries capturing the most important point should be submitted for all papers.

Authors and their affiliated institutions, linked by superscript numbers, should be listed beneath the title on the opening page of the manuscript.

Abstracts explain to the general reader the topics covered in the Review. The Abstract is distinct from the main body of the text, and thus should not be the only source of background information critical to understanding the manuscript. Please do not include citations or undefined abbreviations in the Abstract. The preferred length of abstracts is 125 words or fewer, but a 250-word maximum is allowed for submission.

Text This section should contain the bulk of your analysis, as described above.

List of Supplementary Materials List your Supplementary Materials items, if any, including a titles for each of the supplementary figures, tables, videos, audio files, or other files.

References and Notes are numbered in the order in which they are cited, first through the text, then through the figure and table legends and Supplementary Material. List a reference only once. Each reference should have a unique number; do not combine references or embed references in notes. Any references to in-press manuscripts or personal communications should be given a number in the text and placed, in correct sequence, in the references and notes. Such references should not, however, be used to support important claims or conclusions. Do not use op. cit., ibid., or et al. (in place of the complete list of authors' names). Journal article references should be complete, including the complete list of authors, the full titles, and the inclusive pagination. See Science Translational Medicine Citation Style below for details of citation style.

Acknowledgments should be gathered into the final numbered reference. This section should also include complete funding information, a description of each authors contribution to the paper, a listing of any competing interests of any of the authors (all authors must also fill out the Conflict of Interest form).

Tables should be included after the references and should supplement, not duplicate, the text. They should be called out within the text and numbered in the order of their citation in the text. The first sentence of the table legend should be a brief descriptive title. Every vertical column should have a heading, consisting of a title with the unit of measure in parentheses. Units should not change within a column. Centered headings of the body of the table can be used to break the entries into groups. Footnotes should contain information relevant to specific entries or parts of the table.

Figure legends should be double-spaced in numerical order and included in the text file immediately after any tables. A short figure title should be given as the first line of the legend. All figure titles should be phrases or sentences; do not mix the two styles. No single legend should be longer than ~200 words. Nomenclature, abbreviations, symbols, and units used in a figure should match those used in the text.

Figures should be called out within the text. Figures should be numbered in the order of their citation in the text. They should be submitted as part of the online submission or, if necessary for large files only, on a CD. See below for detailed instructions on preparation of and preferred formats for your figures.

Supplementary Materials (SM) can accommodate various types of auxiliary information of use to the reader, including material not presentable in a text format. We can host supplementary figures and legends, detailed materials and methods, detailed discussion, video files, audio files, original data files, and large data sets. All SM should be accompanied by a brief text description, similar to a caption. The first sentence of this caption should be a title, and the titles of the SM items should be listed immediately before the References section. The SM should not be essential to the general understanding of the research presented in the main text of the paper. More information about preferred file formats and file sizes can be obtained in the Science Information for Authors

Units of measure should be given in SI units. If measurements were made in English units, give metric equivalents.

Back to Top

Preparation of Figures

Creating your figures The professional illustrators on Science Translational Medicine's staff can help to create your figures and diagrams. This will be done after your paper is reviewed, so you should provide a version of your figure with your initial submission for review purposes. It is best to create your figures as vector-based files such as those produced by Adobe Illustrator. These figure files can be saved at a lower resolution to minimize the file size at initial submission.

Figure layout and scaling Electronic figures should be sized to fit on single 8.5" × 11" or A4 paper, preferably at 1(3.5 in), 1.5 (5.0 in) or 2 (7.3 in) columns wide. In laying out information in a figure, the objective is to maximize the space given to presentation of the data. Avoid wasted white space and clutter.

  • The figure's title should be at the beginning of the figure legend, not in the figure itself.

  • Include the figure's identifying number (e.g., "Fig. 1") on the same manuscript page that includes the figure.

  • Keys to symbols, if needed, should be kept as simple as possible and be positioned so they do not needlessly enlarge the figure. Details can be put into the captions.

  • Use solid symbols for plotting data if possible (unless data overlap or there are multiple symbols). Size symbols so that they will be distinguishable when the figure is reduced (6 pt minimum). Line widths should be legible upon reduction (minimum of 0.5 pt at the final reduced size).

  • Panels should be set close to each other, and common axis labels should not be repeated.

  • Scales or axes should not extend beyond the range of the data plotted.

  • Use scale bars in place of, or in addition to, magnifications. Do not use minor tick marks in scales or grid lines. Avoid using y-axis labels on the right that repeat those on the left.

Color-mix and contrast considerations

  • Avoid using red and green together. Color blind individuals will not be able read the figure

  • Please do not use colors that are close in hue to identify different parts of a figure.

  • Avoid using grayscale.

  • Use white type and scale bars over darker areas of images.

Typefaces and labels

  • Please observe the following guidelines for labels on graphs and figures:

  • Use a sans-serif font whenever possible (we prefer Myriad).

  • Simple solid or open symbols reduce well.

  • Label graphs on the ordinate and abscissa with the parameter or variable being measured, the units of measure, and the scale. Scales with large or small numbers should be presented as powers of 10.

  • Avoid the use of light lines and screen shading. Instead, use black-and-white, hatched, and cross-hatched designs for emphasis.

  • Capitalize the first letter in a label only, not every word (and proper nouns, of course).

  • Units should be included in parentheses. Use SI notation. If there is room, write out variables -- e.g., Pressure (MPa), Temperature (K).

  • Variables are always set in italics or as plain Greek letters (e.g., P, T, m). The rest of the text in the figure should be plain or bold text.

  • Type on top of color in a color figure should be in bold face. Avoid using color type.

  • When figures are assembled from multiple gels or micrographs, a line or space should indicate the border between two original images.

  • Use leading zeros on all decimals -- e.g., 0.3, 0.55 -- and only report significant digits.

  • Use capital letters for part labels in multipart figures -- A, B, C, etc. These should be 9 pt and bold in the final figure. When possible, place part labels at the upper left-hand corner of each figure part; if a part is an image, set labels inside the perimeter so as not to waste space.

  • Avoid subpart labels within a figure part; instead, maintain the established sequence of part labels [e.g., use A, B, C, D, E instead of A, B, C(a), C(b), C(c)]. If use of subpart labels is unavoidable, use lowercase letters (a, b, c). Use numbers (1, 2, 3) only to represent a time sequence of images.

  • When reproducing images that include labels with illegible computer-generated type (e.g., units for scale bars), omit such labels and present the information in the legend instead.

Saving your figures files for initial submission To keep file sizes small, please save your figures at a resolution of 150 to 300 dots per inch (dpi) for initial submission. (A higher resolution and a different suite of acceptable file formats applies for revised figures submitted after peer review.) In some cases, higher resolution files are necessary to properly represent data (for example, micrographs or immunocytochemistry). Contact us with questions or for further information at

Back to Top


Initial submissions must be uploaded to our electronic submission website as a Microsoft Word .docx file that contains all components of the paper, including the figures. Create one Word .docx file consisting of the text (title through materials and methods; see above for correct order), references, tables and table legends, figure legends, and embedded figures. Supplementary Materials are not required but if they are needed they should be prepared as a separate Word .docx file that includes embedded supplementary figures and captions, as well as supplementary tables. Other Supplementary Materials with file types that cannot be incorporated into a Word .docx document can be uploaded separately to a designated section of the submission site.


See above instructions for creating your original figures. For initial submission, the figure files must be incorporated into the main text .docx file, with the legend below the figure.

Supplementary Materials

Text and figures. Supplementary Materials (supplementary tables and figures plus captions) should be prepared as a separate .docx file. Figures should be embedded in the file.

Video and audio files and other files types. All other file types can be uploaded as Auxiliary Supplementary Materials on our submission site. Our system can handle files up to 25 MB.

Back to Top

Submission of your Review

Submission Checklist

The following items are required for submission:

  • Cover letter, containing:

  • The title of the paper and a statement of its main points

  • Any information needed to ensure a fair review process

  • Names of colleagues who have reviewed the paper

  • A statement that none of the material has been published or is under consideration elsewhere, including the Internet.

  • Names, telephone, and e-mail addresses for all authors, including selection of one to be corresponding author

  • Names, affiliations, and e-mail addresses of five potential referees.

  • Any suggested cover illustrations.

  • Written permission from any author who is not an author of your manuscript but whose work is cited as a personal communication or in press. Permission must allow distribution of in press manuscripts or relevant data to reviewers or any interested reader upon publication. A copy of an email is sufficient.

  • Copies of any paper by you or your coauthors that is in press or under consideration elsewhere that relates to the work submitted to Science Translational Medicine, or of any paper that is cited in your paper as in press. These materials should be uploaded as Reference Material in the Supporting File section of our submission site.

  • Within the paper:

  • For investigations on humans, a statement indicating that informed consent was obtained after the nature and possible consequences of the studies were explained.

  • For authors using experimental animals, a statement that the animals' care was in accordance with institutional guidelines.

  • A one-sentence summary of your paper

  • An Abstract that does not include any cited references

  • Definitions of all symbols, abbreviations, and acronyms

  • Legends for all figures and tables

  • All data (no data not shown and no citations to unpublished results)

  • Descriptions of all statistical tests

  • Complete references. Each citation should include all authors, full article title, journal title, journal volume, year of publication, and first and last page. Please include all authors (do not use et al.).

Back to Top

Citation style

Science Translational Medicine uses a complete citation format that includes all authors, full titles of journal articles, the journal abbreviation, the volume, the first and last page, and the year of publication. The absolute formatting (what is bold and what is italic) is less important than having a complete citation for each journal article cited.

References and notes are numbered in the order in which they are cited, first through the text, then through the table and figure legends. List a reference only one time. Any references to in-press manuscripts or personal communications should be given a number in the text and placed, in correct sequence, in the references and notes. Such references should not, however, be used to support claims or conclusions. We do not allow references to unpublished data in support of significant claims or conclusions; necessary data should be included in the manuscript, its Supplementary Material, or an approved archival database. The abbreviations for journal names are taken from the Bibliographic Guide for Editors and Authors (BGEA) or Serial Sources for the BIOSIS Data Base (BIOSIS), a more recent publication. When in doubt, provide the journal's complete name. Spell out cities that are listed after a journal name: Acta Zool. (Stockholm). Do not use op. cit., ibid., 3-m dashes, en dashes, or et al. (in place of the complete list of authors' names). For author names with Jr. or 2nd, etc. see example number 4 in the Journals section. Publisher's names are given in shortened form. "Press" and the like are usually dropped, except Academic Press ( "Academic" is an adjective), University Park Press, CRC Press, MIT Press, and Cambridge Univ. Press (for university presses, to distinguish them from the university itself). Only one publisher's location is needed. A few world-renowned cities (for example, Amsterdam, London, Philadelphia, Chicago, New York, Baltimore) can be listed without state or country; less well-known cities and those with names that could be confused take state abbreviations (Cambridge alone for the city in the U.K., but Cambridge, MA). Inclusive pages numbers or chapter number must be given when specific articles are referred to within an edited volume.

Please use full citations in the following format:


  1. E. J. Neer, T. Kozasa, Sites for Gα binding on the G protein β subunit overlap with sites for regulation of phospholipase Cb and adenylyl cyclase. J. Biol. Chem. 273, 16265-16272 (1998).
  2. D. J. Mangelsdorf, C. Thummel, M. Beato, P. Herrlich, G. Schutz, K. Umesono, B. Blumberg, P. Kastner, M. Mark, P. Chambon, R. M. Evans, The nuclear receptor superfamily: The second decade. Cell 83, 835-839 (1995).
  3. J. J. Tesmer, R. K. Sunahara, A. G. Gilman, S. R. Sprang, Crystal structure of the catalytic domains of adenylyl cyclase in a complex with Gs·GTP-γ-S. Science 278, 1907-1916 (1997).
  4. J. D. Brown, M. R. DiChiara, K. R. Anderson, M. A. Gimbrone, Jr., J. N. Topper, MEKK-1, a component of the stress (stress-activated protein kinase/c-Jun N-terminal kinase) pathway, can selectively activate Smad2-mediated transcriptional activation in endothelial cells. J. Biol. Chem. 274, 8797-8805 (1999).
  5. J. Burton, C. K. Goldman, P. Rao, M. Moos, T. A. Waldmann, Association of intercellular adhesion molecule 1 with the multichain high-affinity interleukin 2 receptor. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 87, 7329-7333 (1990).
  6. A. Miyawaki, R. Tsien, Monitoring protein conformations and interactions by fluorescence resonance energy transfer between mutants of green fluorescent protein. Methods Enzymol., in press.
  7. F. Watson, R. S. Kiernan, D. G. Deavall, A. Varro, R. Dimaline, Transcriptional activation of the rat vesicular monoamine transporter 2 promoter in gastric epithelial cells: Regulation by gastrin. J. Biol. Chem. Papers in Press, published 2000 as 10.1074/jbc.M006697200.
  8. K. L. Clark, P. B. Larsen, X. Wang, C. Chang, Association of the Arabidopsis CTR1 Raf-like kinase with the ETR1 and ERS ethylene receptors. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 95, 5401-5406 (1998) [published erratum appears in Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 95, 9060 (1998)]. [style for published erratum]
  9. L. C. Cantley, PI3K pathway. Sci. Signal. (Connections Map in the Database of Cell Signaling, as seen February 2001), [style for citing a pathway in the Database of Cell Signaling at Science Signaling]
  10. H. R. de Jonge, B. Hogema, B. C. Tilly, Protein N-myristoylation: Critical role in apoptosis and salt tolerance. Sci. STKE 2000, pe1 (2000). [style for citing a Science's STKE paper; note: volume and year are the same]
  11. E. Canalis, Notch signaling in osteoblasts. Sci. Signal. 1, pe17 (2008). [style for citing a Science Signaling article published following title change in January 2008]

*When published in Science Express but not yet in print:*

  1. W. Jones, B. Smith, Location and function of DNA binding proteins. Science 20 December 2000 (10.4444/science.1054678).

*When published in Science Express and in print:*

  1. W. Jones, B. Smith, Location and function of DNA binding proteins. Science 252, 1056 (2001); published online 20 December 2000 (10.4444/science.1054678).

Technical reports

  1. D. E. Shaw, Technical Report CUCS-29-82 (Columbia University, New York, 1982).
  2. F. Press, A Report on the Computational Needs for Physics (National Science Foundation, Washington, DC, 1981). [unpublished or access by title]
  3. Assessment of the Carcinogenicity and Mutagenicity of Chemicals (WHO Technical Report Series No. 556, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, 1974).


  1. Title of Symposium Published as a Book, sponsoring organization, city and state of meeting, inclusive dates and year (publisher, publisher's city and state, year).

Paper presented at a meeting (not published)

  1. M. Konishi, paper presented at the 14th Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, Anaheim, CA, 10 to 14 October 1984. [sponsoring organization should be mentioned if it is not part of the meeting name]

Theses and unpublished material

  1. B. Smith, thesis, Georgetown University, Washington, DC (1973).
  2. J. A. Norton, unpublished material.


  1. A. M. Lister, Fundamentals of Operating Systems (Springer-Verlag, New York, ed. 3, 1984). [third edition]
  2. J. B. Carroll, Ed., Language, Thought and Reality, Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf (MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1956).
  3. R. Davis, J. King, in Machine Intelligence, E. Acock and R. Michie, Eds. (Wiley, New York, 1976), vol. 8, chap. 3.
  4. D. Curtis, in Clinical Neurology of Development, B. Walters, Ed. (Oxford Univ. Press, New York, 1983), pp. 60-73.
  5. Principles and Procedures for Evaluating the Toxicity of Household Substances (National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC, 1977). [organization as author and publisher]

Back to Top