Writing Guides, Style Manuals and the Publication Process in the Biological and Health Sciences

Style manuals, citation guides

Writing guides

Print and electronic resources available to current University of Minnesota students, staff and faculty


Internet resources

  • Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation
    • This popular book is an indispensable and entertaining guide for writers, proofreaders, editors, managers, clerical staff, teachers, and students. Use this site to find the answers to your questions concerning proper English grammar and punctuation.
  • Clinical Chemistry Guide to Scientific Writing
    • Series of educational articles on how to design and write scientific research papers for publication. These articles will help authors, educators, researchers, training program directors, and other professionals write more clearly and effectively, thereby improving their chances for success. Clinical Chemistry encourages educators and training program directors to use them as a teaching aid, and provide a link to them on their own Web sites.
  • Deadwood Phrases
  • EASE Guidelines for Authors and Translators of Scientific Articles to be Published in English.
    • The EASE Guidelines for Authors and Translators of Scientific Articles to be Published in English provide simple, clear advice aimed at making international scientific communication more efficient. They also draw attention to ethical issues such as authorship criteria, plagiarism, conflict of interests and more. This concise and readable set of editorial guidelines was first published by EASE in 2010 and updated annually until 2018.
  • Elements of Style Online
    • The electronic version of the classic work by William Strunk, Jr. that includes rules of grammar and usage, principles of composition, and commonly misused and misspelled words.
  • Grammar, punctuation, and capitalization: a handbook for technical writers and editors.
    • Mary K. McCaskill, Langley Research Center.
  • Guide to Grammar & Writing
    • An online textbook on basic writing sponsored by the Capital Community College Foundation. Developed by Dr. Charles Darling.
  • Harvard Guide to Using Sources
    • From the Expository Writing Program. Covers integrating sources into a paper; misuse of sources and when/when not to cite.
  • How to publish in top journals
    • This brief manual provides useful suggestions for today's authors. By Kwan Choi, Editor, RIE.
  • How To Write A paper in Scientific Journal Style and Format
    • Department of Biology, Bates College - Tutorial on writing scientific journal articles.
  • Improve Your Scientific Writing: A Short Guide.
    • Frederic D. Busman. (59 p.). University of Pennsylvania, Dept of Microbiology
  • Internet Grammar of English
    • An online course in English grammar.
  • Mayfield Handbook of Technical & Scientific Writing
    • Authors: Leslie C. Perelman, Edward Barrett, and James Paradis ; ESL Consultant: Erika Mitchell

      The Web-based version of The Mayfield Handbook of Scientific and Technical Writing is the result of more than ten years of collaborative development at MIT. The Handbook is the first hypertextual reference work designed specifically for technical and scientific writing. MIT authors Leslie Perelman, James Paradis, and Edward Barrett offer information and advice on grammar and usage, strategies for planning and producing documents, and common document formats and citation styles.

  • Online Grammar Handbook
    • University of Minnesota. "21 Chapters of Links about College Writing and Research with Videos, Literature, Arguments, and Sample Papers." 2012 edition.

  • Primary, secondary, and tertiary sources in the health sciences
    • Guide that describes the differences between primary, secondary and tertiary sources.
  • Publishing Your Research 101
    • The Publishing Your Research 101 video series helps authors and reviewers understand how to get a manuscript accepted, respond to reviewer comments, navigate ethical considerations, and improve their manuscript submission process experience.

      Based on American Chemical Society (ACS)on Campus' interactive sessions, the video series includes interviews with prominent authors and editors of ACS journals who provide insights and answers from their own perspectives, and the perspectives of their journals. (updated 2016)

      • Episode 1 - How to Write a Paper to Communicate Your Research
      • Episode 2 - Writing Your Cover Letter
      • Episode 3 - Selecting Peers to Suggest as Reviewers
      • Episode 4 - Submitting Your Manuscript Using the ACS Paragon Plus Environment
      • Episode 5 - Ethical Considerations for Authors and Reviewers
      • Episode 6 - The Review Process for Authors and Reviewers
      • Episode 7 - Open Access and ACS AuthorChoice
      • Episode 8 - Tips for English as a Second Language Speakers
      • Episode 9 - The Basics of Copyright and Fair Use
      • Episode 10: My Manuscript Has Been Accepted! Now What?
  • Scientific Writing Booklet
    • Complied by Marc E. Tischer, PhD. (25 p.). University of Arizona, Dept of Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics.
  • Scientific Writing Made Easy: a step-by-step guide to undergraduate writing in the biological sciences.
    • Turbek, S. P., Chock, T. M., Donahue, K., Havrilla, C. A., Oliverio, A. M., Polutchko, S. K., ... & Vimercati, L. (2016). The Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America, 97(4), 417-426.
  • Student Writing Guide: University of Minnesota
    • Center for Writing. Revised ed. 2010: -Reading, research & writing strategies; - U Writing requirements; - Writing resources & more
  • Lectures on Scientific Writing for Epidemiology and Public Health
    • 8 module online course. Modules take between 20-30 minutes to complete. Includes 128 p. course guide and each module has handouts to complete.
    • Dr. Paul Siegel, based on materials developed in collaboration with Dr. Richard A. Goodman. University of Cincinnati, Dept of Environmental and Public Health Sciences.
  • The Unofficial guide for authors (or how to produce research articles worth citing)
    • Guide by Tomislav Hengl & Mike Gould (2006). Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.

      Freely downloadable guide that covers in 54 pages all aspects of scientific writing.

  • Writing and presenting your thesis or dissertation
    • Guide by S. Joseph Levine, Michigan State University
  • Writing Guides
    • From Colorado State University. Covers the writing process, types of documents, researching sources and using sources.

Checklists and other tools

CONSORT: Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials

The main product of CONSORT is the CONSORT Statement, which is an evidence-based, minimum set of recommendations for reporting randomized trials. It offers a standard way for authors to prepare reports of trial findings, facilitating their complete and transparent reporting, and aiding their critical appraisal and interpretation.

The CONSORT Statement comprises a 25-item checklist and a flow diagram. The checklist items focus on reporting how the trial was designed, analyzed, and interpreted; the flow diagram displays the progress of all participants through the trial. The CONSORT "Explanation and Elaboration" document explains and illustrates the principles underlying the CONSORT Statement. We strongly recommend that it is used in conjunction with the CONSORT Statement. In addition, extensions of the CONSORT Statement have been developed to give additional guidance for RCTs with specific designs, data and interventions.

SAMPL Guidelines for Statistics Reports

The SAMPL guidelines are a useful succinct tool for authors of biomedical research papers, journal editors and peer reviewers and provide guiding principles for reporting statistical methods and results. SAMPL stands for Statistical Analyses and Methods in the Published Literature.

Style manuals for health sciences

ACS Style (American Chemical Society)

AMA Style (American Medical Association)

APA Style (American Psychological Association)

  • Books
    • Concise rules of APA style

      1. Concise and bias-free writing -- 2. Punctuation, spelling, and capitalization -- 3. Italicizing and abbreviating -- 4. Numbers, metrication, and statistics -- 5. Tables -- 6. Figures -- 7. Footnotes and appendixes -- 8. Quotations, reference citations in text, and reference list -- 9. Reference examples.

    • Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association
      • The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th edition) is the style manual of choice for writers, editors, students, educators, and professionals in psychology, sociology, business, economics, nursing, social work, and justice administration.
    • Writing with style: APA style made easy
      • Introduction: the laypeople and you -- Some generalizations about how psychologists write -- Preparing the introduction section and the literature review paper -- Preparing the method section -- Preparing the results section -- Preparing the discussion section -- Preparing the abstract -- Preparing the references section -- Preparing a title page and formatting your manuscript -- Grooming tips for psychology papers -- Preparing a presentation -- Wrapping it up.
  • Internet resources

CSE Style (Council of Science Editors)

Harvard Style

NLM Style (National Library of Medicine) Also Know as "Vancouver Style"

  • Internet resources
    • Citing Medicine: the NLM Style Guide for Authors, Editors, and Publishers.
      • Patrias K. Citing medicine: the NLM style guide for authors, editors, and publishers [Internet]. 2nd ed. Wendling DL, technical editor. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); 2007 - [updated 2011 Sep 15]

        "Citing Medicine gives information on constructing citations at three levels:

        1. Diagrammed Citation - Many people need to format a non-complex citation and want to know how to format a citation, without learning why it should be structured that way. The picture of the sample citation and the broad guidelines (what we're calling the Introduction) will be enough for many people in this group.
        2. General Rules and Examples - A smaller number of people will need to view the General Rules and Examples sections to get more information. They either will have a specific problem to solve or their work requires them to build a general knowledge of citation that they can later apply to specific cases. For this group we lay out why citations are structured the way they are and show them what types of citations exist (Examples) and what special, difficult cases they may encounter (Specific Rules).
        3. Specific Rules - A yet smaller number of people will need to enter the Specific Rules section to solve a specific problem, such as handling non-English citations.
    • Citing and Referencing: Vancouver
      • Monash University Library
    • ICMJE: Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals (ICMJE Recommendations)
      • The ICMJE has revised the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts (URMs). To better reflect its current content and purpose the document has been renamed, Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals (ICMJE Recommendations). Web-based version
    • Samples of Formatted References for Authors of Journal Articles
      • The recommended style for references is based on the National Information Standards Organization NISO Z39.29-2005 (R2010) Bibliographic References as adapted by the National Library of Medicine for its databases.
        Details, including fuller citations and explanations, are in Citing Medicine. (Note Appendix F which covers how citations in MEDLINE/PubMed differ from the advice in Citing Medicine.) For datasets and software on the Internet, simplified formats are also shown
    • Vancouver Citation Style (based on Citing Medicine)
      • University of Western Australia.

        A guide to using the Vancouver citation style for in text citations and reference lists.

Data Citation Guides

  • ANDS Guide: Data Citation
    • Australian National Data Service
    • The Guide covers: What we mean by data citation; How do you cite data?; Data citation styles and formats; Data citation for data repositories; Journals and data citation; Data citation elements for repository managers; Why include a DOI in data citations; How to count data citations; Connecting data and related citations; Implementing data citation at institutions
  • Data Citations 
    • U Libraries webpage on data citation.
  • Data Management
    • Supporting and enabling USGS data management - guidance, best practices, and tools for data management.
    • Data Citation
  • DataCite Metadata Schema  for the Publication and Citation of  Research Data  
    • The DataCite Metadata Schema is a list of core metadata properties chosen for the accurate and consistent identification of data for citation and retrieval purposes, along with recommended use instructions.
  •  How to Cite Datasets and Link to Publications 
    • Ball, Alex & Duke, Monica. (2015)

      DCC How-to-guides. Edinburgh: Digital Curation Centre

  • Joint Declaration of Data Citation Principles - FINAL 
    • Data Citation Synthesis Group: Joint Declaration of Data Citation Principles. Martone M. (ed.) San Diego CA: FORCE11; 2014 A set of guiding principles for data within scholarly literature, another dataset, or any other research object. The Data Citation Principles cover purpose, function and attributes of citations. These principles recognize the dual necessity of creating citation practices that are both human understandable and machine-actionable.
    • Examples 
      • Examples of how to cite data and data sets. (google slide set)
  • What is Data Citation? 
    • One page handout from DataOne on data citation.
  •  What to do if you suspect fabricated data 

Other Citation Guides & Styles

  • Citing OMIM 
    • How to cite Onine Mendelian Inheritance in Man references.
  • Chicago Manual of Style Online 
    • The standard work and most comprehensive of the style manuals. All chapters are written for the electronic age, with advice on how to prepare and edit manuscripts online, handle copyright and permissions issues raised by new technologies, use the latest methods of preparing mathematical copy, and cite electronic and online sources. The Libraries have access to 16th and 17th editions.   Web version available to current University of Minnesota students, staff and faculty.
  • Citing U.S. Government Documents
    • Florida State University
  • NIST Guide for the use of the International System of Units (SI) 
    • NIST Special Publication 811 2008 edition.

      Ambler Thompson and Barry N. Taylor

  • How to cite ACP Journal Club 
    • The citation styles reflect ACP Journal Club's inclusion into Annals of Internal Medicine as of the June 2012. Citation of material published in earlier issues should follow the guidelines published in those issues.
  • ISO 690:2010 Information and documentation -- Bibliographic references - Content, form and structure 
    • International Standard that specifies the elements to be included in bibliographic references to published monographs and serials, to chapters, articles, etc. in such publications and to patent documents. ISO 690-2 covers electronic resources.
    •  ISO 690:2010 
      • Guidelines for bibliographic references and citations to information resources
  •  National Center for Health Statistics 
  •  Technical Writing (Reports) 
  • University of Minnesota "Brand" 
    • Web-page that contains links to U of M logos, suggested style manual, templates and more.
  • Citing Our Internet Information
    • U.S. Census Bureau
  • U.S. Government Printing Office Style Manual 
    • 30th edition, 2008.

Instructions for Authors

  • Instructions to Authors in the Health Sciences. 
    • These pages provide links to Web sites which provide instructions to authors for over 3,500 journals in the health and life sciences. All links are to "primary sources" - that is, to publishers and organizations with editorial responsibilities for the titles. Maintained by the Raymon H. Mulford Library, Medical College of Ohio.
    • Publisher copyright policies and self-archiving.

      This site can be used to find a summary of permissions that are normally given as part of each publisher's copyright transfer agreement. Searchable by journal title or publisher name. Can also be browsed by RoMEO colors, which differentiate between different archiving policies.

      • white: archiving not formally supported
      • yellow: can archive pre-print
      • blue: can archive post-print
      • green: can archive pre-print and post-print
  • University of Minnesota: Authorship 

Peer Review

Quick Guide is intended for self-paced learning for novice researchers participating in a peer review of research proposals and scientific articles submitted for publication. The objectives of this Quick Guide are to:

  • Increase awareness of common mistakes and dilemmas that novice peer reviewers can face while reviewing either research proposals or scientific articles.
  • Offer strategies providing constructive criticism to the authors of these works.

Federal Agencies Public Access Policies

How do I submit my research paper to my funding agency?

  • Science.gov: If you have authored or co-authored a peer-reviewed scientific publication resulting from U.S. federal funding and the publication has not previously been submitted to the funding agency(ies), please use the links to your funding agency’s submission system.

NIH Public Access Policy  

  • Health Sciences Library resource page for NIH Public Access Policy & Compliance.

NSF Public Access Policy  

DOE (Department of Energy) Public Access Policy  

USGS Public Access Policy  

NASA Public Access Policy  

DOT (Department of Transportation) Public Access Policy

DoD (Department of Defense) Public Access Policy



Open Access Publishing

  • BioMed Central 
    • BioMed Central is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher of 257 peer-reviewed open access journals. The portfolio of journals spans all areas of biology, biomedicine and medicine.
  • Creative Commons
    • Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building a globally-accessible public commons of knowledge and culture.  Provides Creative Commons licenses and public domain tools that give every person and organization in the world a free, simple, and standardized way to grant copyright permissions for creative and academic works; ensure proper attribution; and allow others to copy, distribute, and make use of those works

  • DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals)
    • DOAJ is a community-curated online directory that indexes and provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals.
  • Open Access Overview 
    • by Peter Suber
      • Open Access (The Book) 
        • by Peter Suber. MIT Press 2012

          Peter Suber tells us what open access is and isn't, how it benefits authors and readers of research, how we pay for it, how it avoids copyright problems, how it has moved from the periphery to the mainstream, and what its future may hold. Distilling a decade of Suber's influential writing and thinking about open access, this is the indispensable book on the subject for researchers, librarians, administrators, funders, publishers, and policy makers.

  • Open Access at the University of Minnesota 
  • Public Library of Science (PLoS) 
    • Public Library of Science (PLOS) is a nonprofit publisher, membership, and advocacy organization with a mission to accelerate progress in science and medicine by leading a transformation in research communication.
  • Repositories, Federal Open Access
    • SHERPA is investigating issues in the future of scholarly communication. It is developing open-access institutional repositories in universities to facilitate the rapid and efficient worldwide dissemination of research.
  • SPARC: the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition 
    • An international alliance of academic and research libraries working to create a more open system of scholarly communication

Journal Information

  • Bioscience Journal Abbreviations
    • Berkeley Library, University of California
  • CAplus: Core Journal Coverage List
    • Chemical Abstracts Service
  • DOAJ : Directory of Open Access Journals 
  • Genamics JournalSeek: Medicine 
    • Genamics JournalSeek is the largest completely categorized database of freely available journal information available on the internet. Presently contains 60,458 titles. Journal information includes the description (aims and scope), journal abbreviation, journal homepage link, subject category and ISSN.
  • JANE: Journal/Author Name Estimator 
    • JANE helps authors find journals to submit articles to, similar papers to cite or helps editors locate potential reviewers.

      From the website: Just enter the title and/or abstract of the paper in the box, and click on 'Find journals', 'Find authors' or 'Find Articles'. Jane will then compare your document to millions of documents in Medline to find the best matching journals, authors or articles.

      JANE first searches for the 50 articles that are most similar to your input. For each of these articles, a similarity score between that article and your input is calculated. The similarity scores of all the articles belonging to a certain journal or author are summed to calculate the confidence score for that journal or author. The results are ranked by confidence score. Created by the Biosemantics Group (www.biosemantics.org)

  • List of Serials Indexed for Online Users 
    • National Library of Medicine MEDLINE journal list
  • List of Title Word Abbreviations (LTWA)
    • International Standard Serial Number International Centre
    • Contains all the standardised abbreviations used for words in scientific citations. It is based on ISO 4.  The ISSN Network creates the abbreviations in the List of Title Word Abbreviations. The ISSN National Centres abbreviate the words in their country’s languages.
  • PubMed Journal Database 
    • Search by title keyword or part of a word. Provides MEDLINE journal abbreviation, complete journal title, publisher and ISSN. Also has link to webpage containing list of PubMed journals that provide links to full text articles (all full-text, not just free full text)
  • SCImago Journal & Country Rank  
    • A portal that includes the journals and country scientific indicators developed from the information contained in the Scopus® database (Elsevier B.V.). These indicators can be used to assess and analyze scientific domains. This platform takes its name from the SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) indicator, developed by SCImago from the widely known algorithm Google PageRank. This indicator shows the visibility of the journals contained in the Scopus® database from 1996.
  • Ulrich's Periodicals Directory 
    • Lists information for over a quarter-million serial records such as newspapers, popular and trade magazines, and academic and scholarly journals. Includes active, ceased, and forthcoming publications. Search by title, subject and more.   Available to current University of Minnesota students, staff and faculty

Dictionaries / Acronyms / Abbreviations

  • Acronym Finder.com 
    • Searchable database of more than 317,000 abbreviations and acronyms about computers, technology, telecommunications, and military acronyms and abbreviations
  • Online Biology Dictionary 
    • Online Biology Dictionary is a free, concise, illustrated dictionary of biology and medicine.

      Macrovolution.net is a website focusing on biology and evolutionary theory.

  • Cancer.gov dictionary 
    • National Cancer Institute
  • CAS: standard acronyms and abbreviations 
  • A Dictionary of units of measurement. 
    • Besides metric and other units of measurement, covers Apgar scoring, Glasgow coma scale, SI units for medical data and nutritional daily values.
    • Written by: Russ Rowlett. Retired Professor of Education and Adjunct Professor of Mathematics. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

  • Industry Specific Dictionaries 
    • YourDictionary.com. Links to many general & industry specific dictionaries.
  • MedTerms.com Medical Dictionary 
    • From MedicineNet.com
  • Merrian Webster Medical Dictionary 
  • Multilingual glossary of technical and popular medical terms in nine european languages 
    • English dictionary of 1,830 medical terms, frequently used in written drug information - nine glossaries of 1830 scientific and popular medical terms, one in each of the nine official languages of the European Union. - an electronic database of the dictionary and glossaries - a user-friendly software interface as an Internet application, installed at the World-Wide Web server of the University of Gent, Belgium
  • Unified Medical Dictionary
    • The online multilingual Unified Medical Dictionary contains more than 200 000 clear and concise English–Arabic entries. Many of these entries are available also in French, German and Spanish. The dictionary provides users with access to search the most up-to-date and comprehensive medical terminology covering all aspects of medical science.   Maintained by the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean.
  • Veterinary abbreviations and acronyms 
    • This list focuses on abbreviations and acronyms commonly used in veterinary practice and supplements the standard and widely available reference sources such as Gale's Acronyms, Initialisms & Abbreviations Dictionary. It is intended for use by veterinary students, researchers, practitioners, and librarians. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Veterinary Medicine Library


Copyright Guidelines

  • Copyright Tools 
    • From the American Library Association's Office for Information Technology
      • Public Domain Slider
        • The Public Domain Slider is a tool to help determine the copyright status of a work that is first published in the U.S. Most of us know that any work published before 1923 is in the public domain, but the copyright status for copyrighted works after 1923 can be difficult to determine.
      • Section 108 Spinner 
        • Use your mouse to turn the wheel chart to the desired section. Helps determine whether or not a particular reproduction is covered by Section 108 (requires Adobe Flash)
      • Fair Use Evaluator
  • Creative Commons 
    • Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that offers flexible copyright licenses for creative works.
  • Copyright & Fair Use 
    • Prepared by Stanford University Libraries this is a very useful site.
  • Copyright Clearance Center 
    • Here you can get permission to reproduce copyrighted content such as articles and book chapters in your journals, photocopies, coursepacks, library reserves, Web sites, e-mail and more.
  • Copyright Crash Course 
    • The Copyright Crash Course Online Tutorial (LibGuide) will help you learn about how ownership of copyrighted materials works, what is fair use and when and how to get permission to use someone else's materials.  University of Texas.
  • Copyright Information and Education (U of M Libraries) 
  • Copyright: an overview
    • This is a section of a larger main site covering all aspects of the law from the Cornell Law School (http://www.law.cornell.edu/). It is from the "Law about. . . " section of the main site.
  • Copyright Permissions Service, University of Minnesota Libraries
    • The Copyright Permissions Service is here to assist faculty and staff at the University of Minnesota in acquiring permissions to use copyrighted items in their scholarship, course websites, course packs, Libraries Reserve and other University-related purposes. We can help with permissions if the item is not in the public domain, available under a Creative Commons license or already covered by an existing license. We can also obtain permissions if you don't think your use is covered by any of the exceptions or limitations, including fair use or you just feel unsure whether your use is a fair use.
  • A Fair(y) Use Tale 
    • YouTube video that uses clips from Disney films to illustrate the concept of "Fair Use."
  • United States Copyright Office 
    • Key publications, including informational circulars; application forms for copyright registration; links to the copyright law and to the homepages of other copyright-related organizations; news of what the Office is doing, including business-process reengineering plans, Congressional testimony and press releases, regulations; a link to online copyright records cataloged since 1978; and much more.
Last Updated: Mar 3, 2023 5:23 PM