Author Guidelines

The Bulletin of the Society of Systematic Biologists (BSSB) is a publication of the Society of Systematic Biologists. BSSB is currently published as one volume and two issues annually. The objective of the Society of Systematic Biologists is the advancement of the science of systematic biology in all aspects of theory, principles, methodology, and practice, for both living and fossil organisms, with emphasis on areas of common interest to all systematic biologists regardless of individual speculation.

Systematics is the study of biological diversity and its origins. It focuses on understanding evolutionary relationships among organisms, species, higher taxa, or other biological entities such as genes, and the evolution of properties of taxa including intrinsic traits, ecological interactions, and geographic distributions. An important part of systematics is the development of methods for various aspects of phylogenetic inference and biological nomenclature/classification.

The Bulletin of the Society of Systematic Biologists will publish manuscripts that advance our understanding of the Earth's biodiversity, with a special focus on investigations that describe how species are related (i.e., phylogeny), identified (i.e., species delimitation or taxonomic practice) or have evolved (e.g., phylogeography, biogeography, or phylogenetic comparative methods). BSSB will also publish manuscripts that advance the theory or methods used in data analysis. Manuscripts will be evaluated on two criteria: the quality of the science and their contribution to our collective understanding of the focal species or clade. BSSB aims to publish investigations that utilize state of the art data analyses and high-quality data sets to achieve these goals.

Manuscripts are solicited in five categories:

  • Investigations are research studies at any scale that collect genetic, morphological, behavioral, or other data and use these data to further our understanding of the phylogeny, evolution, biogeography, and/or species limits of the focal clade.
  • Applications are manuscripts that are primarily concerned with some aspect of the theory and methodology that are used by systematic biologists. These may range from descriptions of R packages to comparative tests of existing methods, packages, or approaches to data analysis.
  • Descriptions contain all of the components of our research studies, but also include a formal taxonomic proposal. This proposal could take the form of a species description, for example as a component of a species delimitation investigation, or propose a new higher level category, for example as a component of a phylogenetic investigation.
  • Monographs are detailed and lengthy taxonomic treatments of any clade. They are distinguished from Descriptions by their comprehensiveness in considering all existing data that are relevant to the taxonomy of the focal clade.
  • Reviews are a scholarly syntheses of a major topic or research area in systematic biology. Reviews may include a limited amount of new analyses or data, but their focus should be on the synthesis of the existing literature and interpretation of the available data. Generally, treatments related to the phylogeny of an organismal clade are best presented as Monographs rather than Reviews.

Submission of Manuscripts for Review

Our instructions to authors should be followed carefully before submitting a manuscript. Manuscripts not conforming to the instructions will be returned to the author(s) for adjustments before the review process can begin. The text can be submitted as either a PDF file or a Word document using the templates available below:

MS Word Template
LaTeX Template

Data and Supplementary Materials

The inclusion of a Data Availability Statement is a requirement for articles published in Bulletin of the Society of Systematic Biologists. Data Availability Statements provide a standardised format for readers to understand the availability of data underlying the research results described in the article. The statement may refer to original data generated in the course of the study or to third-party data analysed in the article. The statement should describe and provide means of access, where possible, by linking to the data or providing the required unique identifier.

Bulletin of the Society of Systematic Biologists supports the Force 11 Data Citation Principles and requires that all publicly available datasets be fully referenced in the reference list with an accession number or unique identifier such as a digital object identifier (DOI). Data citations should include the minimum information recommended by DataCite:

[dataset]* Authors, Year, Title, Publisher (repository name), Identifier.

*The inclusion of the [dataset] tag at the beginning of the citation helps us to correctly identify and tag the citation. This tag will be removed from the citation published in the reference list.

All datasets used in the research for the manuscript must be made available to reviewers unless the data are already published elsewhere. For manuscripts involving phylogenetic analyses, electronic copies of data sets (e.g. nucleotide sequence data and new alignments of previously published data), in nexus format, must be supplied. Data files should also be provided for morphological analyses. All data files and online-only appendices should be uploaded to Dryad using the confidential link you will receive via email immediately after submitting the other manuscript files through Manuscript Central.

Alternative arrangements may be made for very large data files associated with studies using simulations.

Dryad is a platform for the underlying data (i.e. raw data tables, matrices, etc.) that were used to support the conclusions presented in your paper. It is recommended that you upload non-proprietary, open file formats to ensure your data will be accessible by most people. Visit this link to view a BSSB published dataset:

To upload your data to Dryad:


Page 1:

  • Go to and click the ‘Submit Now’ button
  • Login or create an ORCID iD to access the Dryad submission site
  • Select ‘Start New Dataset’

Page 2:

  • Upload a README file and at least 1 raw data file to the “Data” category
  • The “Software” category is reserved for scripts, code, or software packages for hosting by Zenodo.
  • The “Supplemental information” category can include figures, supporting tables, appendices, etc. related to your research article and will be hosted by Zenodo.

Page 3:

  • At the bottom of the page, select the check box for ‘Private for Peer Review’. When selected, your submission will not enter the curation process or publish until your paper is accepted by the journal for publication. Your submission will be assigned a private, unique URL that we can use to allow our referees access to your data files while your paper is in peer review. If your paper is accepted for publication, we will inform Dryad that they can proceed to publish the data submission.

Because data archived in Dryad are publicly available, submissions with species-related data must be appropriately prepared to eliminate any unintended risk to the species or adverse impact to conservation efforts. Please review additional guidance provided here:

For more information on Dryad guidelines and requirements for submission, please review this FAQ:

Additional guidance on best practices for creating reusable data publications is available here:

Finally, please use the following text under the heading Supplementary Material when linking to data hosted on Dryad in the article:

Data available from the Dryad Digital Repository:[NNNN]

Note that the data publication fee charged by Dryad is covered by the Society of Systematic Biologists.

Manuscript Formatting

All manuscripts must be submitted using either a LaTeX or Microsoft Word template. Please refrain from changing the template formatting. Manuscripts should be exactly as long as necessary to describe the research in a comprehensive manner. While no formal page limits are in place, we urge authors to respect the time of editors, reviewers, and readers by making the work as succinct as possible. All figures and tables must be mentioned in the order of their appearance and should be imbedded in the text. The word "Figure" should be spelled out if it appears in a sentence, but abbreviated "(Fig.)" if it appears in parentheses. Figure portions should always be referred to using lowercase letters, for example, (Fig. 1a). When an acronym or symbol is used in table or figure captions, it must be defined (even if it is also defined in the text) in the first table caption and first figure caption in which it is used. Once a paper is accepted the separate figure and table files will be required.

Scientific names of organisms are to be given the first time the organisms are mentioned, and the authority that described the species should be cited. Genus and species names in the text, abstract, tables, and figures must be italicized. Guidelines for nomenclature and abbreviations of proteins and protein-encoding loci should be followed. Our abbreviation for millions of years ago is Ma; our abbreviation for millions of years duration (not necessarily in the past) is Myr. "et al." is not italicized.

Contributions should be in English and clearly written. Papers not clearly written may be returned for rewriting prior to review. Manuscripts should follow Scientific Style and Format: The CSE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers, 8th Edition.

Figures. For highest figure quality we prefer figures in vector format rather than bitmap. Figures must be submitted as .tif, .eps, .gif, or .jpg files in separate files once a manuscript is accepted for publication. If bitmapped figures are necessary, such as photographs, the resolution should be 600 ppi. At the end of the submission sequence you will be asked to view the PDF file. Please check the figures, and enlarge them if necessary for easy legibility; for example, if a figure has two portions it might be best to make each portion into separate figures.

When writing text on figures use only common sans-serif fonts, such as Geneva, Helvetica, or Arial. Make the text as large as possible. Figures should be completely labeled, each graph axis should be labeled and include units. No box should be drawn around a graph or other figure. All line weights should be 1 pt thick or close to it (0.5 is the minimum, reserved for cases in which thin lines are necessary to the legibility of the figure).

If a figure has multiple portions they should be referred to in the caption, the text of the paper, and on the figure using lowercase letters. On the figure these letters should be placed in the upper left corner of each portion of the figure, and should be followed by a single parenthesis, e.g., "a)" rather than enclosed in double parentheses.

For initial submissions please embed figures in the manuscript and use continuous line numbers; for any revised versions please submit the figures and tables as separate files. When designing figures, please keep in mind that each figure will be made either single or double column width. Abbreviations used on figures must be defined in the figure caption even if already defined in the text. If the same abbreviations are used in subsequent figures it may be acceptable to define them only on first occurrence.