Instructions for Authors

Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology (PTPBio) 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. PTPBio does not charge fees or processing charges to authors for either submission or publication. 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. Whatever their approach, submissions should substantively engage biology.

No strict limits are imposed on length for submitted papers, and the journal's format permits it to consider a wide range of lengths, roughly 2,000–12,000 words. We do not expect to publish book-length entries. We consider six kinds of submissions:

  1. Research articles: scholarly papers on a specific aspect of philosophy of biology or biology;
  2. Position papers: statements and defenses of positions with less context than research articles;
  3. Trends: in-depth review papers on topics of current interest within the areas covered by the journal;
  4. Comments: brief replies to articles published in the journal;
  5. Essay reviews: extended, essay-style reviews of a book or books pertinent to the journal;
  6. Special issue proposals: proposals from potential guest-editors for collections of articles on specific themes.

All published items are externally peer-reviewed through a doubly-anonymous process; authors must anonymize submissions, and the journal does not identify reviewers to authors (unless reviewers specifically ask to reveal their identities). All published items other than standard research articles are labeled by type in a color tab on their first pages.

Research articles should develop sustained, original arguments engaging relevant literature.

Position papers may introduce new support for a position or may aim to definitively state existing arguments in an accessible way. Position papers may provide less context for an argument than a research article normally would, but they should provide an accessible introduction to a position and an argument for it, explain why readers should care about it, and bring together threads in a way not easily accessible elsewhere.

Comments may treat any piece published in the journal as a “target article,” offering a reply and commentary.

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, .png, 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: their 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

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.

Formatting, production, and minor copy-editing of articles published in PTPBio are handled by the editors themselves. Outsourcing these services would mean paying for them, and we prioritize publication in PTPBio 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.

Style and format

Spelling and punctuation may adhere to either American or British standards, but should follow one or the other consistently. To resolve questions about grammar and usage, we refer to The Chicago Manual of Style, Garner’s Modern English Usage, and Scientific Style and Format.

Section headings, if any, will be title-case and numbered. Subsection headings, if any, may be title-case or sentence-case, and may be numbered or unnumbered.

Acknowledgments, if any, may be included in a separate section after the main text and before the reference list.


Citations and in-text references should conform to the Author-Date style described in The Chicago Manual of Style. Authors of accepted manuscripts may either edit their references to conform to that style or supply a bibliographic file containing all and only the references to be included in the reference list.

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.” Sequential citations to different authors are separated by semicolons. For example:

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

Full citations listed at the end of the paper should be headed by “Literature cited.” Authors’ given names may be consistently spelled out or abbreviated. We will print Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) for online sources when they are provided.

Here are some examples of references:

Journal Article:

Peck, Steven 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. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Book Chapters:

Mitchell, Sandra. 2009. “Complexity and Explanation in the Social Sciences.” In Philosophy of the Social Sciences: Philosophical Theory and Scientific Practice, edited by Chrysostomos Mantzavinos, 130–145. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Online Sources:

Ereshefsky, Marc. 2016. “Species.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Summer 2016 Edition, edited by Edward N. Zalta. Accessed September 15, 2016.

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 XeLaTeX) 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.

Please note these 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 flavors 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 which one.

We will process Markdown submissions with Pandoc. If you feel comfortable inserting a YAML metadata block at the top, including title, author(s), address(es), email(s), tags (that is, descriptive 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 in Chicago style, 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.

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, graphicx, hyperref, booktabs, fontspec, fancyhdr, fnpct, and titling.


The intellectual copyright for papers published in PTPBio is retained by the authors. Published articles are distributed open-access under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) 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. Permission for other uses is managed by the authors, who retain copyright in their work.