For Authors

To check on the status of your submission, please visit BioDesign Research’ manuscript submissions site

For general guidance on using the manuscript submission system, please read the tutorials for Authors, Editors, and Reviewers. For questions on specific functionality, explore the Editorial Manager video library.

Categories of Manuscripts

The journal BioDesign Research accepts submissions for original research articles, review articles, perspectives, responses, database/software articles, method guidelines, and editorials. Prior to submission, each author should review and be prepared to fulfill the submission requirements outlined in the Publication Ethics page and comply with following limitations. 

Research articles should present original research that advances a specific area of BioDesign Research as described in the journal scope. These articles must include an abstract of up to 250 words, an introduction and sections with brief and informative subheadings. Authors may include up to ten figures and/or tables and about 60 references. Total research article length should be under 15,000 words. Supplementary materials should be limited to information that is not essential for the general understanding of the research presented in the main text and can include data sets, figures, tables, videos or audio files. For ease in preparing your submission, please follow the manuscript templates in Word and LaTex

Review articles should describe and synthesize recent developments of interdisciplinary significance and highlight future directions. Reviews must include an abstract, an introduction that outlines the main theme, brief subheadings and an outline of important unresolved questions. Reviews should be no longer than 20,000 words, although longer manuscripts will be considered. Authors may include up to six figures and/or tables and up to 100 references. Most reviews are solicited by the editors. Unsolicited submissions will be considered, and authors are encouraged to contact the Editors first before writing a review paper.

Perspectives should present an innovative and personal point of view on measurements and/or interpretation methods or on new approaches to exploit the traits derived from plant phenotyping within particular applications. Perspectives may also highlight the importance of interdisciplinarity. Perspectives should have no more than three authors, no abstract, up to 1,500 words (excluding the list of references), up to two figures/tables, and no more than 20 references. Perspectives should not primarily discuss the author’s work but provide a much broader point of view. 

Responses should discuss in a non-polemic way the results/approaches presented in a published BioDesign Research paper. Response papers should present theoretical arguments and/or results/meta-analyses that support a contradictory point of view. Responses should have a limited set of authors, an abstract of up to 150 words followed by the main text of up to 2,000 words (excluding the list of references) with up to three figures/tables and no more than 20 references. 

Database/Software articles should focus on traits of importance within the plant phenotyping community. The database and/or software must be readily accessible and evaluable during the review process and after publication if the manuscript is accepted. Database/Software articles must include an abstract of up to 250 words, an introduction, and sections with brief and informative subheadings. It should include one or a few use cases of the database/software. The Database/Software article length should be no longer than 15,000 words (excluding the list of references), may include up to ten figures and/or tables and up to 20 references. Supplementary materials may be used to complement the database/software presented in the main text and can include source codes, data sets, figures, tables, videos, or audio files. 

Method guidelines should describe how to collect a large set of data on plant traits in an efficient, high-throughput repeatable and reliable way. These guidelines should be written by researchers belonging to different organizations to represent a sufficiently large consensus within the community. Guidelines are expected to become standard protocols for measuring the considered traits. They should guide the readers to proper, effective and efficient implementation of the proposed method. Method guidelines articles should include an abstract of up to 250 words, and the main text should be less than 15,000 words (excluding the list of references) with an introduction reviewing the past studies dedicated to the targeted traits, followed by sections describing the methods used, the advised observational conditions, the several steps from data acquisition to trait derivation, and attentions/cautions that should be paid. Authors may include up to 10 figures and/or tables and a maximum of 40 references. Supplementary materials should be limited to information that complements the main text and can include source codes, data sets, figures, tables, videos, or audio files. 

Editorials are short, invited opinion pieces that discuss an issue of immediate importance to the research community. Editorials should have fewer than 1,000 words total, no abstract, a minimal number of references (no more than five) and no figures or tables. Editorials are only solicited by the editors.

Preparation of Manuscripts

English Language Editing Services

Interested in English language assistance prior to submission? The Science Partner Journals publishing team has evaluated the work of the companies listed on the SPJ Author Services page and found their services to be effective for editing scientific English language in manuscripts prior to submission.

Experimental Design and Statistics Guidelines
Study Design Guidelines

In the first section of the Materials and Methods, we encourage authors to have the subtitle “Experimental and Technical Design,” which includes a diagram or flowchart to show the entire experimental design and illustrates the most significant elements: materials, treatments, measurements, data collection, methods of data analysis. This will facilitate the editors and reviewers to understand and follow the whole concept, design, and results.

Statistical Analysis Guidelines

Generally, authors should describe statistical methods with enough detail to enable a knowledgeable reader with access to the original data to verify the results.

Reporting Guidelines

Authors are encouraged to follow published standard reporting guidelines for the study discipline. Many of these can be found at the EQUATOR website.

Figure, Table, & Supplementary Material Guidelines

Creating Your Figures

It is best to create your figures as vector-based files such as those produced by Adobe Illustrator. Vector-based files will give us maximum flexibility for sizing your figures properly without losing resolution. These figure files can be saved at a lower resolution to minimize the file size at initial submission. 

Although we do not need the highest-resolution files for the initial submission, you will need to have these high-resolution files of your figures on hand so that they can be submitted with your revised manuscript for final publication production. Each figure or image must be in a separate editable file format at revision. Images may be in TIFF, GIF, JPEG, PNG, BMP, PS, EPS, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or PDF.

Figure Layout and Scaling

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.

Please follow these guidelines for creating and labeling your figures:

  • The figure’s title should be at the beginning of the figure legend, not within 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. Details can be put into the figure legend.
  • Use solid symbols for plotting data if possible (unless data overlap or there are multiple symbols). For legibility when figures are reduced, symbol sizes should be a minimum of 6 points and line widths should be a minimum of 0.5 points.
  • 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. All microscopic images should include scale bars, with their values shown either with the bar or in the figure legend. 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 to read the figure.
  • Do not use colors that are close to each other 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 serif font whenever possible.
  • Use simple solid or open symbols, as these reduce well.
  • Label graphs on the ordinate and abscissa with the parameter or variable being measured, the units of measure in parentheses and the scale. Scales with large or small numbers should be presented as powers of 10. (When an individual value must be presented as an exponential, use form: 6 × 10 –3, not 6e-03.).
  • 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, µ). Vectors should be set as roman boldface (rather than as italics with arrows above).
  • Type on top of color in a color figure should be in boldface. Avoid using color type.
  • When figures are assembled from multiple gels or micrographs, use a line or space to 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 small letters for part labels in multipart figures enclosed in brackets, (a), (b), (c), etc.
  • Avoid subpart labels within a figure part; instead, maintain the established sequence of part labels, using small or lower-case letters. 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.
Modification of Figures
  • BioDesign Research does not allow certain electronic enhancements or manipulations of micrographs, gels or other digital images.
  • Figures assembled from multiple photographs or images must indicate the separate parts with lines between them.
  • Linear adjustment of contrast, brightness or color must be applied to an entire image or plate equally. Nonlinear adjustments must be specified in the figure legend.
  • Selective enhancement or alteration of one part of an image is not acceptable.
  • In addition, BioDesign Research may ask authors of papers returned for revision to provide additional documentation of their primary data.
Acceptable file formats

We prefer that the initial submission be uploaded to the electronic submissions site as a Word file (PDFs are acceptable if LaTex source files are used) that contains all components of the paper. Create a single file consisting of the text, references, figures and their legends, tables and their legends, and Supplementary Materials. Supplementary Materials that cannot be incorporated into a Word file must be sent to the Editorial Office separately. 

Alternatively, you may upload your manuscript as one file that contains all of the textual material plus separate figure files (one for each figure) and separate Supplementary Material files. The text file should be a Word .docx (preferred) or .doc file (as stated before, PDFs are acceptable in the case of LaTex source files). 

Please use zipped files when necessary to upload unusually large supplementary files.


See the guidelines below for creating and formatting your original figures. For initial submission, the figure files should be incorporated into the main text .doc or .docx file if possible. All figures should be cited in the manuscript in a consecutive order. Figures should be supplied in TIFF, GIF, JPEG, PNG, BMP, PS, EPS, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or PDF. Bitmap images should be of 300 dpi resolution at least unless the resolution is intentionally set to a lower level for scientific reasons. If a bitmap image has labels, the image and labels should be embedded in separate layers.


Tables should be cited consecutively in the text. Every table must have a descriptive title and if numerical measurements are given, the units should be included in the column heading. Vertical rules should not be used.

Supplementary Materials

Text and figures. Include supporting text (including supplementary materials and methods, tables, and figures) at the end of the main manuscript file, in a separate section titled Supplementary Materials, if this can be easily done. Alternatively, Supplementary Materials can be included as a separate .docx file that can be uploaded. In that case, use one of the file types specified above (.doc or .docx preferred). 

Video files. Acceptable formats for videos are MP4, AVI, MOV, MPEG, and WMV. Keep videos short and the display window small to minimize the file size of the video. Supply caption information with the videos. Edit longer sequences into several small pieces with captions specific to each video sequence. 

Audio files. Please contact the editors regarding submission of such file types.

Submission of Manuscripts

All manuscripts should be prepared according to the guidelines above and submitted via Editorial Manager by following the link to Submit Manuscript

Additionally, if your manuscript is on bioRxiv, you can directly transfer it to our submission system.

Submission Requirements

Authors should submit papers to BioDesign Research in Microsoft Word .docx format (preferred), .doc or LaTex format. To submit, authors should use the BioDesign Research manuscript template, which will facilitate accurate preparation and processing. Please follow the guidelines in this document when formatting your manuscript. 

The body text of research articles must include the following sections:

  • Title
  • Authors and their affiliations
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Materials and Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Acknowledgments
  • References
  • Figures and Tables
  • Supplementary Materials
Submission Checklist

The following items are required for submission:

  • A cover letter, containing the following:
    • The title of the paper and a brief summary of the main point.
    • A statement that none of the material has been published or is under consideration elsewhere, including online, and that all authors listed on the paper have reviewed and agree to the journal’s Publication Ethics policies.
    • Names, email addresses and ORCID IDs for all authors, including selection of one to be corresponding author.
  • Names, affiliations and email addresses of potential referees.
  • Copies of any paper by you or your co-authors that is in press or under consideration elsewhere that relates to the work submitted to BioDesign Research should be uploaded as a related paper during submission.

During manuscript submission, the submitting author will be asked to confirm their understanding of and compliance with BioDesign Research’ policies on:

  • Authorship
  • Prior publication
  • Informed consent
  • Animal care and use
  • Related papers
  • Citation to personal communications and unpublished data
  • Data deposition and availability
  • License selection
  • Materials sharing
  • Third-part image reuse
  • Publication of accepted version

Citation Style

Authors may submit their references in any style. If accepted, BioDesign Research will reformat the references in Chicago style. Authors are responsible for ensuring that the information in each reference is complete and accurate. 

List all authors by first initial(s) and last name. Do not use op. cit., ibid., 3-m dashes, en dashes, or et al. (in place of the complete list of authors’ names). 

For journals that do not use page number ranges use the article number. 

All references should be numbered consecutively in the order of their first citation. Citations of references in the text should be identified using numbers in square brackets e.g., “as discussed by Liu [9]”; “as discussed elsewhere [9, 10]”. All references should be cited within the text and uncited references will be removed. 

DOIs, if available, should be included for each reference. 

Posted preprints may also be included in the References list with appropriate identification information and an independent persistent identifier such as a DOI.

Publication Forms

Each submission to BioDesign Research must be accompanied by Licenses to Publish and Conflict of Interest forms completed by each author prior to acceptance. Image Permission forms are required as needed for re-use of any third-party created figure, image, or other asset; permission is only needed if the copyright holder is not an author on the paper. 

These forms need to be completed prior to manuscript acceptance. They do not need to be completed prior to submission. 

Documents may be printed out, signed, and scanned or signed using an electronic signature. Once completed, please upload the files into Editorial Manager alongside your manuscript files. 

Download the Authorship and Conflict of Interest Form 

Download the License to Publish Form 

Download the Image Permission Form

Copyright and Licensing

BioDesign Research content is Open Access, published under a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) on a continuous basis. This means that content is freely available to all readers upon publication and content is published as soon as production is complete. Nanjing Agricultural University holds an exclusive license to the content, the author(s) hold copyright and retain the right to publish.

Appeal Process

Appeals will be considered on a case by case basis and must be submitted in writing to the editorial office ( Appeals on the basis on novelty or scope are not likely to be granted.

Contact us

Lucy Wang,, +86 177 0518 5080
5 Tongwei Road, Xuanwu District, Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China

© 2019-2023 BioDesign Research. All rights Reserved.  ISSN 2693-1257.

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