Philosophy & Theory in Biology - Instructions for Authors

Philosophy & Theory in Biology (P&TB) is a peer-reviewed, open-access, online journal that aims to publish work from philosophers of science and theoretically-inclined biologists, and to encourage interactions across disciplinary boundaries. Our goal is to foster a broader conception of what it means to reflect on and analyze biological theory and method, both scientifically and philosophically. This, in turn, will benefit both research communities as they engage in ongoing scholarship.

There are no strict limits imposed on length for submitted papers, but we do suggest that authors aim for standard reading lengths, e.g., 8,000–10,000 words for a regular article. We do not expect to publish book-length entries. We accept four kinds of submissions:

  1. Scholarly papers on a specific aspect of philosophy of biology or biology;
  2. In-depth “trend” review papers on topics of current interest within the areas covered by the journal;
  3. Extended (essay style) reviews of a book or books pertinent to the journal;
  4. Proposals for special issues on specific themes from potential guest-editors.

P&TB does not charge fees to authors for either submission or publication.

Initial submission

Manuscripts should be submitted via email attachment to The email itself will serve as cover letter and must include the authors’ contact information. Manuscripts can be submitted in any of the following document formats: PDF, Word (.doc,.docx), Rich Text (.rtf), and Markdown (.md/.txt). Figures, when necessary, can be embedded in the manuscript or submitted separately as .jpg, .tiff, or PDF files.

Initial submissions need not conform in every way to the journal’s style, though accepted manuscripts will need to be edited to conform with the journal’s guidelines below. Initial submissions should do at least the following: pages should be numbered; the title page should include a short abstract (~150–300 words); in-text citations should be in author-date format, and bibliographic information should appear in a references list at the end. Footnotes or endnotes may be used, if desired.

To facilitate our doubly-anonymous review process, no identifying information about authors may be present anywhere in submitted manuscripts. Thus, any self-citations must be in the third person or, as appropriate, removed and replaced with ‘suppressed for review.’

Preparing accepted manuscripts

Formatting, production, and minor copy-editing of articles published in P&TB are handled by the editors themselves. Outsourcing these services would mean paying for them, and we prioritize publication in P&TB being free of charge for authors. Therefore, we appreciate authors’ assistance in copy-editing and preparing their accepted manuscripts.

In cases where manuscripts require extensive copy-editing, the journal will ask authors to take responsibility for it, and may make final acceptance contingent on its completion. When authors are unable to repair grammar and usage on their own, we will recommend they engage an independent copy-editor.

Spelling may adhere to either American or British standards, but should follow one or the other consistently.

Final manuscripts must include a short abstract (~150–300 words) and a small set of descriptive keywords. They may include footnotes or endnotes; notes will be formatted as footnotes in the published PDF version and as endnotes in the HTML version.


In-text references will mention author and year, separated by a space and enclosed in parentheses. Page numbers and page ranges should be separated from years by a comma, without “p.” or “pp.”

(Darwin 1859)
(Darwin 1859, 25–29)
(Earl and Deem 2004)
(Laland et al. 2005)
(Lloyd 1988, 2008; Sober 1984)

Full citations at the end of the paper should be headed by “Literature cited” and adhere to the style of the following examples. This style conforms to the author-date style of the Chicago Manual of Style (16th ed.), except that article-titles are not enclosed in quotation marks. Authors’ given names may be abbreviated as shown or spelled out. Issue numbers and publication locations are optional when they are not necessary for identifying the source. We will print Digital Object Identifiers (doi) for online sources when they are available.

Here are some examples of references:

Journal Articles:

Peck, S. L. 2004. Simulation as Experiment: A Philosophical Reassessment for Biological Modeling. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 19(10):530–534.


Sterelny, K. and P. E. Griffiths. 1999. Sex and Death: An Introduction to Philosophy of Biology. University of Chicago Press.

Book Chapters:

Mitchell, S. 2009. Complexity and Explanation in the Social Sciences. In Philosophy of the Social Sciences: Philosophical Theory and Scientific Practice, edited by C. Mantzavinos. Cambridge University Press.

Online Sources:

Ereshefsky, M. Species. 2010. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Spring 2016 edition.

Manuscript file-types

The journal can accept final manuscripts in Microsoft Word (.docx), LaTeX (.tex), Markdown (.md/.txt), and Rich Text (.rtf) formats, or any other format that can be read by Pandoc. Formats with structured markup like Markdown and LaTeX are easiest for us to work with, because we convert manuscripts to LaTeX (specifically XeTeX) for production. Word (.docx) is next best, because we can automatically process some document features like headers and footnotes. Rich Text is acceptable, but least desirable because it is structureless.

Considerations for specific file-types:

Microsoft Word

Please consider using Word’s standard Style functions for document elements like section headings, lists, tables, and block quotations, instead of formatting each instance manually. Similarly, please use the footnotes or endnotes function for notes. If you can save your submission as .docx, that is preferable to .doc.


Though strict Markdown does not include a syntax for footnotes, Pandoc’s Markdown, Multimarkdown, and PHP Markdown Extra each enable footnotes with the syntax described here, and you may use that syntax. We can work with other flavors of Markdown, but note that some like GitHub-Flavored Markdown do not allow footnotes, should you need them. If your manuscript employs MultiMarkdown, GitHub-Flavored Markdown, or PHP Markdown Extra, please let us know.

We will process Markdown submissions with Pandoc. If you feel comfortable inserting a YAML metadata block at the top, including title, author(s), affiliation(s), tags (i.e. keywords), and abstract, we would welcome that.


LaTeX manuscripts may use Unicode characters such as em-dashes, curly quotes, and accented characters, because we typeset in XeLaTeX. Strict LaTeX works equally well.

If you generate formatted citations, include them in the body of the .tex file. Otherwise, we can generate them from your .bib file with BibLaTeX. We use the biblatex-chicago package’s author-date style with a few manual modifications. If you have biblatex-chicago on your system, through TeX Live or otherwise, you can generate citations in our style by loading BibLaTeX with this code at GitHub.

For production, we wrap LaTeX-formatted submissions in a custom class-file which loads its own packages. So, to avoid conflicts, please load only those packages your text requires. We use the latest version of TeX Live, so its packages are available to you, but please consider what you really need for content, as opposed to styling. Packages we load when processing files include at least geometry, enumitem, sectsty, xcolor, hyperref, fontspec, fancyhdr, graphicx, fnpct, booktabs, academicons, and titling.


The intellectual copyright for accepted papers is retained by the authors, although P&TB reserves the right to republish papers in whatever format or venue it deems appropriate. Published articles are distributed open-access under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs license, which permits anyone to download, copy, distribute, or display the full text without asking for permission, provided that the creator(s) are given full credit, no derivative works are created, and the work is not used for commercial purposes.