The ACS Style Guide Effective Communication Of Scientific Information 3rd


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Style Guide
Style Guide
Effective Communication
of Scientific Information
Anne M. Coghill
Lorrin R. Garson
Oxford University Press
Oxford New York
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Berlin Idaban
Copyright © 2006 by the American Chemical Society, Washington, DC
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All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval
system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying,
recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the American Chemical Society.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
The ACS style guide : effective communication of scientific information.—3rd ed. /
Anne M. Coghill [and] Lorrin R. Garson, editors.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN-13: 978-0-8412-3999-9 (cloth : alk. paper)
1. Chemical literature—Authorship—Handbooks, manuals, etc. 2. Scientific literature—
Authorship—Handbooks, manuals, etc. 3. English language—Style—Handbooks, manuals,
etc. 4. Authorship—Style manuals.
I. Coghill, Anne M. II. Garson, Lorrin R. III. American Chemical Society
QD8.5.A25 2006
808'.06654—dc22 2006040668
1 3 5 7 9 8 6 4 2
Printed in the United States of America
on acid-free paper
Foreword. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vii
Madeleine Jacobs
Preface. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .ix
Contributors. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .xiii
Part 1. Scientific Communication
1. Ethics in Scientific Communication . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Gordon G. Hammes
appendix 1-1: Ethical Guidelines to Publication of Chemical Research. . . . . . .11
2. Scientific Papers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
3. The Editorial Process. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
appendix 3-1: Proofreaders Marks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36
4. Writing Style and Word Usage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
5. Electronic Submission of Manuscripts Using Web-Based Systems. . . . . . . 59
Sarah C. Blendermann
appendix 5-1: Online Submission at Selected Scientific Publishers
and Research Grant Agencies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .65
appendix 5-2: Key Features of Selected Online Submission Systems. . . . . . . . .68
6. Peer Review . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
Barbara A. Booth
7. Copyright Basics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77
Karen S. Buehler, C. Arleen Courtney, and Eric S. Slater
vi The ACS Style Guide
8. Markup Languages and the Datument . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87
Peter Murray-Rust and Henry S. Rzepa
appendix 8-1: The IUPAC International Chemical Identifier, InChI. . . . . . . .101
Stephen R. Heller and Alan D. McNaught
Part 2. Style Guidelines
9. Grammar, Punctuation, and Spelling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .105
appendix 9-1: Recommended Spelling List . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .129
10. Editorial Style . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .135
appendix 10-1: Computer and Internet Terms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .163
appendix 10-2: Abbreviations, Acronyms, and Symbols. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .169
11. Numbers, Mathematics, and Units of Measure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 203
appendix 11-1: The International System of Units (SI) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .228
12. Names and Numbers for Chemical Compounds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .233
appendix 12-1: End-of-Line Hyphenation of Chemical Names . . . . . . . . . . . .247
appendix 12-2: Representation of Combinatorial Chemistry . . . . . . . . . . . . .250
Derek Maclean
appendix 12-3: CAS Registry Numbers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .253
13. Conventions in Chemistry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .255
appendix 13-1: Symbols for Commonly Used Physical Quantities . . . . . . . . .277
appendix 13-2: The Crystallographic Information File. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .284
Frank H. Allen
14. References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .287
Janet S. Dodd, Leah Solla, and Paula M. Bérard
appendix 14-1: CASSI Abbreviations for the 1000+ Most Commonly
Cited Journals. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .328
appendix 14-2: A Sample CASSI Entry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .340
15. Figures. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .343
Betsy Kulamer
16. Tables. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 369
Betsy Kulamer
17. Chemical Structures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 375
Antony Williams
18. Selected Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .385
Index. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .389
fell in love with chemistry when I was 13. I fell in love with
writing at the age of four when I learned to read. Indeed, my
love of writing, and of writing well, was inspired by my love of reading. Perhaps
that is true for all writers.
Fortunately for me, I have been able to combine my love of chemistry with
my love of reading and writing in a long career as a science communicator and
journalist. Most recently, I served for eight and a half years as editor-in-chief
of Chemical & Engineering News, the flagship newsmagazine of the American
Chemical Society. This gave me ample opportunity to read all of the stories in
C&EN every week, not once but twice and sometimes three times; write weekly
editorials and occasionally longer stories; and indulge my love of chemistry
vicariously, as I read the scientific papers we highlighted in C&EN.
But writing is not as easy as reading. Writing and communicating take a great
deal of skill and effort. One of my favorite quotations on the subject of writing
comes from the novelist John Irving, who observed in The World According to
Garp that a writer never reads for fun. Its true for me. When I read a sentence
that is well crafted or even better, a scientific paper that is full of well-crafted
sentences, I am always trying to figure out how the author managed to express a
complicated idea with such ease and grace.
The goal of The ACS Style Guide is to help authors and editors achieve that
ease and grace in all of their communications. To my mind, theres no reason
why scientific papers should not be as easy to read as a good novel. That’s a tall
order, I realize, but if you read through this style guide, you will have all the tools
Copyright 2006 American Chemical Society
viii The ACS Style Guide
you need to help you achieve that goal. It’s a wonderful reference book that I
keep on my bookshelf and refer to often. I hope you will as well.
Madeleine Jacobs
Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer
American Chemical Society
Since publication of the second edition of The ACS Style
Guide in 1997, much has changed in the world of scientific
communication—and yet, many things remain the same.
During the past eight years, electronic dissemination of scientific, technical,
and medical (STM) information has come to fruition. In chemistry, both the
American Chemical Society and the Royal Society of Chemistry have made their
scientific journals available on the World Wide Web and have digitized their
respective publications back to the 19th century. Commercial publishers, who
publish most of the world’s chemical information, have likewise made their pub-
lications available on the Web. Publications in other scientific disciplines, engi-
neering, and medicine have also taken this digital pathway. Whereas traditional
journals continue to be printed and used, electronic delivery has greatly expanded
the availability and reading of STM information far beyond what could have ever
been envisioned with paper journals. Most manuscripts are now written with de
facto standard word-processing software and adhere to formats developed for
electronic creation and processing. Most manuscripts are submitted electroni-
cally, principally via the Internet on the Web. Communications among editors,
reviewers, and authors are now largely electronic, as is communication between
editors and production facilities and printers.
Regardless of the mode of information creation and delivery, the necessity for
accurate information communicated in a clear, unambiguous manner, coupled
with the ethical behavior of all participants, remains the same. As Janet Dodd
wrote in the preface to the second edition, “In the midst of all this change, the
comforting thought is that one goal of authors and editors has not changed: to
communicate information in the most understandable and expedient fashion in
Copyright 2006 American Chemical Society
x The ACS Style Guide
publications of the highest quality. To accomplish that goal, we need guidelines.
This book is intended to guide and answer questions for authors and editors, to
save them time, and to ensure clarity and consistency.
Third Edition
The third edition aims to continue such guidance while broadening the scope
of the book to accommodate changes in technology and the homogenization of
international scientific publishing. New topics in the third edition include chap-
ters on
ethics in scientific communication;
submitting manuscripts via the Web;
preparing and submitting publisher-ready figures, tables, and chemical
structures, including information about various software programs to
create artwork;
formatting manuscript references to electronic resources and informa-
tion on reference-management software; and
markup languages, in anticipation of the classification and capture of sci-
entific information in yet-to-be-defined structures.
The chapters on peer review, copyright, the editorial process, and writing
style and word choice have been extensively rewritten. Although language cer-
tainly evolves with time, there have not been substantial changes in English dur-
ing the past seven years. The chapters on grammar, punctuation, spelling, and
conventions in chemistry remain largely the same as in the second edition. The
use of typefaces, superscripts and subscripts, Greek letters, special symbols, num-
bers, mathematics, units of measure, and names and numbers for chemical com-
pounds are generally unchanged, although some of the existing rules have been
clarified. Some new rules and examples have been added to reflect new fields in
chemistry, such as combinatorial chemistry and chemical biology. In all chap-
ters, errors have been corrected (and almost certainly new errors inadvertently
introduced!), and some changes have been made to reflect changes in practice,
particularly as related to electronic issues.
Several features have been added to the third edition to improve the readers
ease of use:
The contents are reorganized into two sections. The first section, “Scien-
tific Communication, contains chapters giving readers information on
broad topics such as ethics in scientific communication, writing style and
word usage, and submission of manuscripts using a Web-based system.
The second section, “Style Guidelines, contains chapters that give specific
rules and examples. For instance, in these chapters readers will find infor-
mation on such topics as grammar, punctuation, and spelling; format-
ting numbers and specialized chemical conventions; when to use special
typefaces; how to format references; and how to create figures, tables, and
chemical structures.
Throughout the book, the arrowlike icon () precedes rules. These rules
may refer to grammar, word usage, or punctuation rules. Also, the icon
may precede rules for creating publisher-ready artwork, rules about styl-
ing chemical terms, or rules about formatting names and chemical com-
pounds. Examples are given under the rule to further illustrate it.
Attention is drawn to particularly important topics by the use of remind-
ers and boxes. Reminders are bounded by horizontal rules and are identi-
fied with a small pencil icon (); they contain a brief note on a single
topic. Boxes are numbered sequentially within each chapter and contain
more extensive information on a specific topic. Reminders and boxes that
contain ACS-specific information are identified by a small ACS phoenix
icon ( ). We believe that identification of these key issues in this man-
ner will be helpful to readers.
Because of the desire on the part of the publisher to increase the use of the
third edition of The ACS Style Guide, it is being made available on the World
Wide Web. It is expected that periodic updates will be made to the electronic edi-
tion, which would not be feasible for the printed version. Additionally, if readers
would like to request clarification of rules, they may do so by contacting the pub-
lisher at or by addressing correspondence to The ACS Style
Guide, Books Department, American Chemical Society, 1155 Sixteenth Street,
NW, Washington, DC 20036.
Although The ACS Style Guide is written with an emphasis on chemistry and,
to some extent, a focus on ACS journals, we believe that it has wide applicabil-
ity to the sciences, engineering, medicine, and other disciplines. Chemistry is a
mature science that cuts across virtually all basic and applied sciences.
Science in its broadest sense has always been an international activity. How-
ever, there is an increasing trend toward internationalization of scientific com-
munication. For example, for the past several years, the majority of authors pub-
lishing in ACS journals reside outside North America. English has become the
lingua franca of science in the same way that French once was the international
language of diplomacy and commerce. The venerated Beilsteins Handbuch der
Organischen Chemie has been published in English for a number of years. The
prestigious journal Angewandte Chemie: International Edition in English conveys
internationalization and the English language merely by its title. The premier
publications Science and Nature, both published in English, have broad inter-
national authorship and readership. We believe that The ACS Style Guide will
be a useful tool for the international scientific community using this common
Preface xi
xii The ACS Style Guide
The editors would like to thank all the chapter authors and reviewers who con-
tributed to this project. In particular, we would like to thank our colleagues in
Columbus who provided assistance with all the style guidelines in the book,
namely, Toddmichael Janiszewski, Diane Needham, “Ram Ramaswami Ravi,
Teresa Schleifer, and Joe Yurvati. A special thank you goes to Betsy Kulamer and
Paula M. Bérard for their skilled editorial efforts. We certainly could not have
completed this project without their capable assistance. We want to thank Sue
Nedrow, who prepared an in-depth index that we think will be very useful to the
readers. We also wish to express our appreciation to Bob Hauserman at the ACS
for his suggestions and help.
Finally, we would like to express our indebtedness to Janet S. Dodd, who
edited the first and second editions of The ACS Style Guide. Janet was more than
the editor; she wrote much of the first two editions. Her contributions persist in
the third edition.
Anne M. Coghill
Lorrin R. Garson
April 2006
Frank H. Allen
Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre
Paula M. Bérard
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Sarah C. Blendermann
ACS Publications Division, Office of Journal
Support Services
American Chemical Society
Barbara A. Booth
Department of Civil and Environmental
University of Iowa
Karen S. Buehler
ACS Publications Division, Copyright Office
American Chemical Society
C. Arleen Courtney
ACS Publications Division, Copyright Office
American Chemical Society
Janet S. Dodd
Chemical & Engineering News
American Chemical Society
Gordon G. Hammes
Department of Biochemistry
Duke University
Stephen R. Heller
Division of Chemical Nomenclature and
Structure Representation
International Union of Pure and Applied
Betsy Kulamer
Kulamer Publishing Services
Derek Maclean
KAI Pharmaceuticals
Alan D. McNaught
Division of Chemical Nomenclature and
Structure Representation
International Union of Pure and Applied
Peter Murray-Rust
Unilever Centre for Molecular Informatics
Department of Chemistry
University of Cambridge
Copyright 2006 American Chemical Society
xiv The ACS Style Guide
Henry S. Rzepa
Department of Chemistry
Imperial College London
Eric S. Slater
ACS Publications Division, Copyright Office
American Chemical Society
Leah Solla
Physical Sciences Library
Cornell University
Antony Williams
Advanced Chemistry Development, Inc.
Part 1
Scientific Communication
Ethics in Scientific
Gordon G. Hammes
The principles that govern the ethics of scientific publica-
tion are no different than for any other endeavor: complete
and accurate reporting and appropriate attribution to the contributions of oth-
ers. However, as always, “the devil is in the details. The ethical responsibilities
of authors and reviewers are sufficiently important and complex that the editors
of the American Chemical Society journals have developed a detailed document
outlining these responsibilities. (This document, “Ethical Guidelines to Pub-
lication of Chemical Research is presented in Appendix 1-1.) The purpose of
this chapter is not to duplicate this document, but rather to discuss some of the
important underlying principles and situations that often arise.
Scientific research, perhaps more than most professions, crucially depends
on the integrity of the investigators. Most research consists of a series of com-
plex experiments or theoretical calculations that cannot (or will not) be dupli-
cated easily elsewhere. Moreover, it is usually extremely difficult to determine
in detail if the results are correct and can be trusted. Published results generally
are accepted at face value. Very often related work eventually may be done by
others that tests the results, so that checks and balances exist within the system.
This is usually a long process, however, and the advance of science may be sig-
nificantly delayed if published results are not correct. The bottom line is that we
depend on the integrity of the investigators reporting the results. We assume that
the description of the work is accurate and honest unless proven otherwise. This
places a considerable burden on the authors to ensure that the system works.
Research is by its nature exploratory, and honest mistakes may occur. Errors
due to human fallibility are unfortunate, but not unethical. Research inevitably
Copyright 2006 American Chemical Society
4 The ACS Style Guide
pushes the boundaries of existing methodology and theory, so that errors in
judgment and interpretation are bound to occur. This is a normal part of the sci-
entific establishment. An often-quoted adage is that the only way never to make
a mistake in print is never to publish. Errors due to carelessness or haste are poor
science; they represent irresponsible, but not unethical, behavior.
Errors due to fabrication and falsification clearly are unethical and cannot be
tolerated under any circumstances. Breakdowns in the system that are not honest
mistakes have occurred; some examples are published by the Office of Research
Integrity of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at http://ori. Fortunately, these breakdowns seem to be relatively few.
It is the responsibility of each author to ensure the quality and integrity of the
research that is reported. The ethical principles governing the conduct of science
should be well understood by all participants. This chapter considers only some
aspects of this subject. An excellent introductory publication is available online
from the National Academy of Sciences; see “On Being a Scientist: Responsible
Conduct in Research at
When To Publish: Significance and Timeliness
When is it time to publish? Research is open-ended, so the answer to this ques-
tion is not always obvious and requires authors to balance significance and time-
liness to arrive at a high-quality manuscript.
Reminder: Research should be published in a timely manner when
enough work has been done to yield significant results.
Researchers must decide when enough work has been done to make a signifi-
cant contribution to a field. “Significant” is in the eye of the beholder, and some-
times reviewers and authors will differ markedly with regard to this judgment.
The give and take between authors and reviewers is part of the normal process of
science and undoubtedly improves the quality of published work. Clearly neither
science nor scientific publishing are enhanced by a continual stream of short,
incomplete descriptions of a research project. A publication should describe a
project that is complete unto itself and represents a true advance in the field.
(An exception to this rule occurs when a very unusual result is obtained that is
of great interest and significance—in this case, publication as a preliminary note
may be justified.)
Scientists also have an obligation to publish their research results in a timely
manner. Unpublished research results constitute research not done in the eyes of
other scientists. Unnecessary delays can result in duplication of efforts and may
hinder the advancement of science. Under no circumstances should a manuscript
Chapter 1: Ethics in Scientific Publication 5
be submitted and then held up in the revision or page proof stage for reasons not
directly related to the research—for example, because of patent considerations.
Given the “publish or perish mentality that sometimes exists, researchers
may be tempted to maximize their number of publications by publishing many
short, somewhat repetitive research reports. This practice serves no useful pur-
pose for science or the investigator. In truth, the reputation of an investigator is
ultimately determined by the quality of research done over an extended time.
Beginning independent investigators are often told that a research reputation
can be thought of as a product of quantity times quality of published work. If
only one publication appears every 10 years, they may be advised, it had better
be a good one. On the other hand, a large number of low-quality publications is
not of benefit to the individual or the profession.
Investigators may be tempted to publish the same material, or material only
slightly different, multiple times. This practice is unethical. The manuscript should
clearly describe prior work that has been done by the authors. It is the obligation
of the corresponding author to inform the journal editor of any related manu-
scripts that have been submitted and/or published elsewhere, including prelimi-
nary communications and symposium volumes. There are no exceptions. More-
over, although the review process can be lengthy, under no circumstances should a
manuscript be submitted simultaneously to multiple journals.
What To Publish: Full Disclosure
Unfortunately, because of space limitations, the trend in publishing research
results is to provide less and less detail. Although brevity is admirable, it is impor-
tant that the results be described fully and accurately. Moreover, all of the results
should be reported, not just those supporting the underlying hypotheses of the
research. If necessary, most journals allow the possibility of submitting support-
ing documentation as supplementary information. Although this material does
not appear in the printed version, it is readily available online. The rule of thumb
is that sufficient information should be provided so that other investigators could
repeat the experiments if they so desired. The necessity for providing sufficient
detail has to be balanced with the need to conserve publication space. As might
be expected, considerable variation exists in practice as to what this entails. The
manuscript review process plays a tempering role, balancing these two factors.
Representative data and/or calculations are an important part of any scien-
tific presentation. Obviously, not all of the data, derivations, and calculations can
be presented. It is acceptable for the “typical data and/or calculations” that are
presented to be among the best, but all the data should be included in the analy-
ses. The reproducibility of the results is an implicit assumption for published
work. However, first-rate research often involves difficult measurements at the
edge of existing methodology, and the difference between signal and noise may
6 The ACS Style Guide
be hard to distinguish. It is acceptable to report results for which this is the case,
as long as the appropriate qualifications are clearly stated. A critical assessment
of the research should be made by the investigator, including an error analysis.
No one should be more critical of the research that is reported than the authors.
Who Are Authors?
Generally speaking, all authors of a publication should have made significant and
substantial intellectual contributions to the work being reported. Unfortunately,
this principle is often breached, as evidenced by manuscripts with tens, even hun-
dreds, of authors. Some laboratories put the names of everyone in the laboratory
on the published work, and some individuals put their names on every publica-
tion coming out of a laboratory, even if their participation was only nominal.
If a colleague prepared buffers or did routine computer programming, these
contributions should be acknowledged, but they are not sufficient contributions
for authorship. General discussion with colleagues or within research groups is
rarely sufficient for inclusion in authorship. Despite some arbitrariness in defin-
ing what constitutes a significant intellectual contribution, the guiding ethical
principle is clear and should be adhered to. Usually the question of authorship
can be decided by discussion among the participants in the research. Occasion-
ally, a third party may be required to adjudicate this issue. In any event, this mat-
ter should be fully resolved before submission of a manuscript.
A question that often arises concerns the order of the authors names. This
is not really an ethical issue, and practice varies from place to place. Most often
the first author is assumed to have made the major contribution to the work, and
the senior and/or corresponding author is listed last. However, many variations
to this theme exist, such as putting the authors in alphabetical order. In some
cases, the specific contributions of each author are described. Ideally, the order
of authorship should be decided amicably among the authors, but perceptions
sometimes differ between the individuals involved. Authors should not become
obsessed with this matter. Ultimately, a researcher’s scientific reputation rests on
the totality of publications and the significance of contributions to the field.
It is often said that all authors are responsible for the entire content of a
manuscript. This is a meritorious ideal, but unrealistic. Most manuscripts have
multiple authors, and very often, a single author is responsible for only a portion
of the work being presented. For example, the manuscript may contain a crystal
structure, determined by an expert crystallographer; spectral data, determined
by an expert spectroscopist; kinetic data, determined by an expert kineticist; etc.
In cases such as this, a single author cannot be held responsible for all of the
results presented. A more realistic assessment of what authorship implies is that
each author should have read the manuscript carefully and understood the find-
ings, but the technical responsibility is only for the area in which a given author
Chapter 1: Ethics in Scientific Publication 7
has the appropriate expertise. The responsibility of the corresponding author is
to ensure that all authors have approved the manuscript before submission and
for all subsequent revisions.
What Went Before: Attribution and Context
Every scientific publication must include the proper attribution of the contribu-
tions of others by appropriate referencing and the placement of results within
the context of the research field.
Referencing is a complex subject (see Chapter 14 of this volume). Every ref-
erence in the field cannot be cited, or the reference list would become intoler-
ably long. However, important ideas and experiments must be cited. The intro-
duction and discussion sections of a manuscript should be absolutely clear as
to what the work of others has contributed to the research being reported. If
data are presented that have been previously published, this should be clearly
indicated. Direct quotations of more than a few words should be indicated by
quotation marks and referenced. Paraphrases of quotations also should be refer-
enced. Plagiarism—taking the writings or ideas of another and passing them off
as one’s own—of any type represents unethical conduct.
Occasionally, the attribution of an idea or fact may be to a “private commu-
nication of a colleague or fellow scientist. In such cases, permission must be
obtained from the individual in question before the citation is made. Reference
to unpublished material should be avoided if possible because it generally will
not be available to interested readers.
Reminder: Every manuscript must reference the contributions of others
and place results in the context of the research field.
The results and conclusions sections of a manuscript should be placed within
the context of the research area. What was known before the research being pre-
sented? What has this research contributed that is new and significant? It should
also be clear what conclusions are based on the work presented and which are
speculations. It is appropriate to speculate—in fact, this is a stimulus to the
field—as long as speculations are labeled as such. In this regard, the values and
judgments of the authors and current thinking appropriately come into play.
Not all attributions to previous work cite supportive data. In some cases,
results under discussion may differ from previous work, or authors may make
critical comments about earlier research. Differences between the work reported
and previous results must be discussed and reconciled. Criticism of previous
work should be presented carefully and objectively, in terms of the facts only.
This is part of normal scientific discourse. Criticism should never be directed at
8 The ACS Style Guide
individuals or laboratories; it is essential to consider only the facts that have been
Acknowledgments should be made to people who have assisted in the project,
but not sufficiently for authorship, and to sponsoring agencies. It is also impera-
tive to acknowledge potential conflicts of interest that may exist. For example,
if the research being reported concerns drug XYZ and one of the authors has a
substantial financial interest in a company that makes drug XYZ or is conducting
clinical trials with drug XYZ, these facts should be explicitly stated.
What Next: After Publication
An author’s obligations do not stop with publication. If errors are found in the
published work, they should be corrected with the publication of errata. If other
investigators request more information or more complete data, the requests
should be fulfilled without delay.
A trickier issue concerns the distribution of special materials used in the
research. The rule of thumb is that the authors should be willing to provide others
with a reasonable supply of special materials that have been used in the research.
However, some common sense should be applied to this rule. For example, if
two years have been spent cloning a specific protein and it will be used in future
research, it is unreasonable to expect researchers to give this clone to competi-
tors who are planning similar experiments. Similarly, if a complex substance has
been synthesized and only a small supply is available, it would be unreasonable
to expect the material to be given away. However, the publication should provide
sufficient detail so that other researchers can develop the clone themselves or
synthesize the compound in question. Although ethical behavior in this area is
not always clear, the general rule is that all aspects of the research should be fully
disclosed and reasonable assistance should be given to other researchers. Prog-
ress in science depends greatly on open communication and cooperation.
Obligations of a Reviewer
Scientific discourse depends on critical review of manuscripts before publica-
tion. (Peer review—including ethical considerations—is discussed in greater
detail in Chapter 6 of this volume.) The primary obligation of reviewers is to
provide a rational, objective review of the science. This requires a careful reading
of the manuscript and a careful preparation of the review. The review process is
anonymous for most journals, but this does not mean that the reviewer has free
rein to criticize. Any criticism must be logically and objectively delineated, and it
should never be directed at the authors personally. Reviewers also should place
the work within the context of the field: is it a major contribution, minor contri-
Chapter 1: Ethics in Scientific Publication 9
bution, or an insufficient contribution to merit publication? Promptness in car-
rying out reviews is important and an ethical issue. Delaying a publication could
be costly to an author, especially in a competitive field. The usual golden rule
applies: review with the care and speed you expect for your own manuscripts. If
a reviewer cannot meet a deadline, he or she should inform the publisher as soon
as possible.
Manuscripts sent to reviewers are confidential documents. Unfortunately,
a significant number of reviewers interpret the word “confidential” incorrectly.
Confidential does not mean that reviewers can expand the scope of confidential-
ity, for example, within their research groups, by including a few colleagues, and
so on. Confidential documents should not be shared or discussed with anybody
without the explicit consent of the journal editor, the editorial board member
handling the manuscript, or both. For example, senior investigators sometimes
have graduate students or postdoctorals review manuscripts. This is accept-
able only if the permission of the editor or editorial board member has been
obtained. In some cases, a reviewer may discuss the results with a colleague; this
also is forbidden if permission has not been obtained. Although breaches of con-
fidentiality do not usually do any harm and are not intended to do so, they are
unethical and should be avoided.
If reviewers have conflicts of interest with regard to a given manuscript, the
manuscript should be returned as quickly as possible to the editor. Conflicts of
interest vary. Perhaps similar research is being carried out in the reviewer’s labo-
ratory, or the reviewer may be privy to confidential information that conflicts
with the results reported. Conflicts of interest can be more personal in nature:
perhaps a reviewer has had personal difficulties with or is a close friend of one
of the authors. When in doubt, the usual rule is not to review or read the manu-
script. If you are unsure, ask the editor handling the manuscript. The editor may
want your expert opinion even if some level of apparent conflict exists.
Finally, the results in a manuscript under review cannot be quoted or incor-
porated into a reviewer’s own research program. After the work is published, a
reviewer may use the ideas and data presented (with proper attribution), but the
reviewer should not do so based on the review process. Such behavior is akin to
insider trading in the purchase of stocks. Although a prison term is unlikely for
this breach of conduct, the ethical principle is quite clear.
Obligations as a Reader
Not all errors are found before publication by authors and reviewers; some are
discovered by readers. If the errors involve serious misinterpretation or mis-
quotation of the literature, the most straightforward procedure is to contact the
author(s) directly. If this is awkward, the editor can be informed. It is not worth-
while, however, to create a fuss for nonsubstantive errors. Self-serving com-
10 The ACS Style Guide
plaints, such as not quoting the reader’s own work enough, seldom have much
In rare situations, a scientist may have evidence that published material con-
tains falsification, fabrication, or plagiarism. It is the obligation of every scientist
to report such cases immediately to the editor of the journal. Institutions receiv-
ing financial support from the National Institutes of Health and the National
Science Foundation are required to have mechanisms in place to investigate such
occurrences, and direct reporting to the appropriate institutional office may be
more expedient. Accusations must be supported by fact, not suspicions, because
academic misconduct is a serious matter with career-threatening implications.
Unpleasant as this situation may be, it should not be ignored.
For the Health of Research
This chapter has emphasized the global ethics of the publication process. Eth-
ics are not complicated, and the practices and rules are mainly common sense.
Adherence to ethical standards in research and publication is not optional; rather,
it is essential for the health of scientific research.
➤ ➤ ➤ ➤ ➤
Ethical Guidelines to Publication
of Chemical Research
The guidelines embodied in this document were revised by the Editors of the
Publications Division of the American Chemical Society in January 2000.
The American Chemical Society serves the chemistry profession and society at
large in many ways, among them by publishing journals which present the results
of scientific and engineering research. Every editor of a Society journal has the
responsibility to establish and maintain guidelines for selecting and accepting
papers submitted to that journal. In the main, these guidelines derive from the
Society’s definition of the scope of the journal and from the editor’s perception
of standards of quality for scientific work and its presentation.
An essential feature of a profession is the acceptance by its members of a code
that outlines desirable behavior and specifies obligations of members to each
other and to the public. Such a code derives from a desire to maximize perceived
benefits to society and to the profession as a whole and to limit actions that
might serve the narrow self-interests of individuals. The advancement of science
requires the sharing of knowledge between individuals, even though doing so
may sometimes entail forgoing some immediate personal advantage.
With these thoughts in mind, the editors of journals published by the American
Chemical Society now present a set of ethical guidelines for persons engaged in the
publication of chemical research, specifically, for editors, authors, and manuscript
reviewers. These guidelines are offered not in the sense that there is any immediate
crisis in ethical behavior, but rather from a conviction that the observance of high
ethical standards is so vital to the whole scientific enterprise that a definition of
those standards should be brought to the attention of all concerned.
We believe that most of the guidelines now offered are already understood
and subscribed to by the majority of experienced research chemists. They may,
however, be of substantial help to those who are relatively new to research. Even
The ethical guidelines are also available in their most recent version on the Web at https://
12 The ACS Style Guide
well-established scientists may appreciate an opportunity to review matters so
significant to the practice of science.
A. Ethical Obligations of Editors of Scientific Journals
1. An editor should give unbiased consideration to all manuscripts offered
for publication, judging each on its merits without regard to race, religion,
nationality, sex, seniority, or institutional affiliation of the author(s). An edi-
tor may, however, take into account relationships of a manuscript immedi-
ately under consideration to others previously or concurrently offered by the
same author(s).
2. An editor should consider manuscripts submitted for publication with all
reasonable speed.
3. The sole responsibility for acceptance or rejection of a manuscript rests with
the editor. Responsible and prudent exercise of this duty normally requires
that the editor seek advice from reviewers, chosen for their expertise and
good judgment, as to the quality and reliability of manuscripts submitted for
publication. However, manuscripts may be rejected without review if consid-
ered inappropriate for the journal.
4. The editor and members of the editor’s staff should not disclose any infor-
mation about a manuscript under consideration to anyone other than those
from whom professional advice is sought. (However, an editor who solicits,
or otherwise arranges beforehand, the submission of manuscripts may need
to disclose to a prospective author the fact that a relevant manuscript by
another author has been received or is in preparation.) After a decision has
been made about a manuscript, the editor and members of the editor’s staff
may disclose or publish manuscript titles and authors’ names of papers that
have been accepted for publication, but no more than that unless the author’s
permission has been obtained.
5. An editor should respect the intellectual independence of authors.
6. Editorial responsibility and authority for any manuscript authored by an edi-
tor and submitted to the editor’s journal should be delegated to some other
qualified person, such as another editor of that journal or a member of its
Editorial Advisory Board. Editorial consideration of the manuscript in any
way or form by the author-editor would constitute a conflict of interest, and
is therefore improper.
7. Unpublished information, arguments, or interpretations disclosed in a sub-
mitted manuscript should not be used in an editor’s own research except
with the consent of the author. However, if such information indicates that
some of the editor’s own research is unlikely to be profitable, the editor could
Chapter 1: Ethics in Scientific Publication 13
ethically discontinue the work. When a manuscript is so closely related to
the current or past research of an editor as to create a conflict of interest,
the editor should arrange for some other qualified person to take editorial
responsibility for that manuscript. In some cases, it may be appropriate to tell
an author about the editor’s research and plans in that area.
8. If an editor is presented with convincing evidence that the main substance
or conclusions of a report published in an editor’s journal are erroneous, the
editor should facilitate publication of an appropriate report pointing out the
error and, if possible, correcting it. The report may be written by the person
who discovered the error or by an original author.
9. An author may request that the editor not use certain reviewers in consider-
ation of a manuscript. However, the editor may decide to use one or more of
these reviewers, if the editor feels their opinions are important in the fair con-
sideration of a manuscript. This might be the case, for example, when a man-
uscript seriously disagrees with the previous work of a potential reviewer.
B. Ethical Obligations of Authors
1. An author’s central obligation is to present an accurate account of the
research performed as well as an objective discussion of its significance.
2. An author should recognize that journal space is a precious resource created
at considerable cost. An author therefore has an obligation to use it wisely
and economically.
3. A primary research report should contain sufficient detail and reference to
public sources of information to permit the author’s peers to repeat the work.
When requested, the authors should make a reasonable effort to provide sam-
ples of unusual materials unavailable elsewhere, such as clones, microorgan-
ism strains, antibodies, etc., to other researchers, with appropriate material
transfer agreements to restrict the field of use of the materials so as to protect
the legitimate interests of the authors.
4. An author should cite those publications that have been influential in deter-
mining the nature of the reported work and that will guide the reader quickly
to the earlier work that is essential for understanding the present investiga-
tion. Except in a review, citation of work that will not be referred to in the
reported research should be minimized. An author is obligated to perform a
literature search to find, and then cite, the original publications that describe
closely related work. For critical materials used in the work, proper citation
to sources should also be made when these were supplied by a nonauthor.
5. Any unusual hazards inherent in the chemicals, equipment, or procedures
used in an investigation should be clearly identified in a manuscript report-
ing the work.
6. Fragmentation of research reports should be avoided. A scientist who has
done extensive work on a system or group of related systems should organize
14 The ACS Style Guide
publication so that each report gives a well-rounded account of a particu-
lar aspect of the general study. Fragmentation consumes journal space exces-
sively and unduly complicates literature searches. The convenience of readers
is served if reports on related studies are published in the same journal, or in
a small number of journals.
7. In submitting a manuscript for publication, an author should inform the edi-
tor of related manuscripts that the author has under editorial consideration or
in press. Copies of those manuscripts should be supplied to the editor, and the
relationships of such manuscripts to the one submitted should be indicated.
8. It is improper for an author to submit manuscripts describing essentially the
same research to more than one journal of primary publication, unless it is
a resubmission of a manuscript rejected for or withdrawn from publication.
It is generally permissible to submit a manuscript for a full paper expanding
on a previously published brief preliminary account (a “communication or
“letter”) of the same work. However, at the time of submission, the editor
should be made aware of the earlier communication, and the preliminary
communication should be cited in the manuscript.
9. An author should identify the source of all information quoted or offered,
except that which is common knowledge. Information obtained privately, as
in conversation, correspondence, or discussion with third parties, should not
be used or reported in the author’s work without explicit permission from the
investigator with whom the information originated. Information obtained in
the course of confidential services, such as refereeing manuscripts or grant
applications, should be treated similarly.
10. An experimental or theoretical study may sometimes justify criticism, even
severe criticism, of the work of another scientist. When appropriate, such
criticism may be offered in published papers. However, in no case is personal
criticism considered to be appropriate.
11. The coauthors of a paper should be all those persons who have made sig-
nificant scientific contributions to the work reported and who share respon-
sibility and accountability for the results. Other contributions should be
indicated in a footnote or an Acknowledgments section. An administra-
tive relationship to the investigation does not of itself qualify a person for
coauthorship (but occasionally it may be appropriate to acknowledge major
administrative assistance). Deceased persons who meet the criterion for
inclusion as coauthors should be so included, with a footnote reporting date
of death. No fictitious name should be listed as an author or coauthor. The
author who submits a manuscript for publication accepts the responsibility
of having included as coauthors all persons appropriate and none inappro-
priate. The submitting author should have sent each living coauthor a draft
copy of the manuscript and have obtained the coauthor’s assent to coauthor-
ship of it.
Chapter 1: Ethics in Scientific Publication 15
12. The authors should reveal to the editor any potential conflict of interest, e.g.,
a consulting or financial interest in a company, that might be affected by pub-
lication of the results contained in a manuscript. The authors should ensure
that no contractual relations or proprietary considerations exist that would
affect the publication of information in a submitted manuscript.
C. Ethical Obligations of Reviewers of Manuscripts
1. Inasmuch as the reviewing of manuscripts is an essential step in the publica-
tion process, and therefore in the operation of the scientific method, every
scientist has an obligation to do a fair share of reviewing.
2. A chosen reviewer who feels inadequately qualified to judge the research
reported in a manuscript should return it promptly to the editor.
3. A reviewer (or referee) of a manuscript should judge objectively the quality
of the manuscript, of its experimental and theoretical work, of its interpreta-
tions and its exposition, with due regard to the maintenance of high scientific
and literary standards. A reviewer should respect the intellectual indepen-
dence of the authors.
4. A reviewer should be sensitive to the appearance of a conflict of interest
when the manuscript under review is closely related to the reviewer’s work
in progress or published. If in doubt, the reviewer should return the manu-
script promptly without review, advising the editor of the conflict of interest
or bias. Alternatively, the reviewer may wish to furnish a signed review stat-
ing the reviewer’s interest in the work, with the understanding that it may, at
the editor’s discretion, be transmitted to the author.
5. A reviewer should not evaluate a manuscript authored or coauthored by a
person with whom the reviewer has a personal or professional connection if
the relationship would bias judgment of the manuscript.
6. A reviewer should treat a manuscript sent for review as a confidential docu-
ment. It should neither be shown to nor discussed with others except, in spe-
cial cases, to persons from whom specific advice may be sought; in that event,
the identities of those consulted should be disclosed to the editor.
7. Reviewers should explain and support their judgments adequately so that
editors and authors may understand the basis of their comments. Any state-
ment that an observation, derivation, or argument had been previously
reported should be accompanied by the relevant citation. Unsupported asser-
tions by reviewers (or by authors in rebuttal) are of little value and should be
8. A reviewer should be alert to failure of authors to cite relevant work by other
scientists, bearing in mind that complaints that the reviewer’s own research
was insufficiently cited may seem self-serving. A reviewer should call to the
editor’s attention any substantial similarity between the manuscript under
16 The ACS Style Guide
consideration and any published paper or any manuscript submitted concur-
rently to another journal.
9. A reviewer should act promptly, submitting a report in a timely manner.
Should a reviewer receive a manuscript at a time when circumstances pre-
clude prompt attention to it, the unreviewed manuscript should be returned
immediately to the editor. Alternatively, the reviewer might notify the editor
of probable delays and propose a revised review date.
10. Reviewers should not use or disclose unpublished information, arguments,
or interpretations contained in a manuscript under consideration, except
with the consent of the author. If this information indicates that some of
the reviewer’s work is unlikely to be profitable, the reviewer, however, could
ethically discontinue the work. In some cases, it may be appropriate for the
reviewer to write the author, with copy to the editor, about the reviewer’s
research and plans in that area.
11. The review of a submitted manuscript may sometimes justify criticism, even
severe criticism, from a reviewer. When appropriate, such criticism may be
offered in published papers. However, in no case is personal criticism of the
author considered to be appropriate.
D. Ethical Obligations of Scientists Publishing
outside the Scientific Literature
1. A scientist publishing in the popular literature has the same basic obligation
to be accurate in reporting observations and unbiased in interpreting them
as when publishing in a scientific journal.
2. Inasmuch as laymen may not understand scientific terminology, the scientist
may find it necessary to use common words of lesser precision to increase
public comprehension. In view of the importance of scientists’ communi-
cating with the general public, some loss of accuracy in that sense can be
condoned. The scientist should, however, strive to keep public writing,
remarks, and interviews as accurate as possible consistent with effective com-
3. A scientist should not proclaim a discovery to the public unless the experi-
mental, statistical, or theoretical support for it is of strength sufficient to war-
rant publication in the scientific literature. An account of the experimental
work and results that support a public pronouncement should be submitted
as quickly as possible for publication in a scientific journal. Scientists should,
however, be aware that disclosure of research results in the public press or in
an electronic database or bulletin board might be considered by a journal edi-
tor as equivalent to a preliminary communication in the scientific literature.
Scientific Papers
The chemistry community, like other scientific communi-
ties, depends on the communication of scientific results.
Scientists communicate in a variety of ways, but much of the communication is
through publication in books and journals. In this chapter, the different types of
book and journal presentations are described, along with the components of the
standard format for reporting original research.
Types of Books
Books for the professional scientific community fall into one of three categories:
proceedings volumes, monographs, and handbooks.
Proceedings Volumes
Books based on meetings are called proceedings volumes. These are multiau-
thored volumes. The chapters in proceedings volumes may be accounts of origi-
nal research or literature reviews. Generally, the chapters are developed and
expanded from presentations given at symposia, but additional chapters may be
written especially for the book to make sure that the coverage of the topic is
complete. Proceedings volumes should contain at least one chapter that reviews
the subject and also provides an overview of the book to unify the chapters into a
coherent treatment of the subject. In a longer book that is divided into sections,
each section may need a short overview chapter.
Copyright 2006 American Chemical Society
18 The ACS Style Guide
Monographs are books that examine a single topic in detail. They are written by
one author or collaboratively by more than one author. Each chapter treats one
subdivision of the broader topic.
Handbooks are large, multiauthored volumes that discuss a field in depth. Gen-
erally, the individual submissions are short, about three or four pages. Each sub-
mission is written by one or two authors and provides a detailed discussion of a
narrow topic within the scope of the book.
Journal Presentations
There are four general types of presentations published in journals: articles,
notes, communications, and reviews.
Articles, also called full papers, are definitive accounts of significant, original
studies. They present important new data or provide a fresh approach to an
established subject. The organization and length of an article should be deter-
mined by the amount of new information to be presented and by space restric-
tions within the publication.
Notes are concise accounts of original research of a limited scope. They may also
be preliminary reports of special significance. The material reported must be
definitive and may not be published again later. Appropriate subjects for notes
include improved procedures of wide applicability or interest, accounts of novel
observations or of compounds of special interest, and development of new tech-
niques. Notes are subject to the same editorial appraisal as full-length articles.
Communications, called “letters or “correspondence in some publications, are
usually preliminary reports of special significance and urgency that are given
expedited publication. They are accepted if the editor believes that their rapid
publication will be a service to the scientific community. Communications are
generally subject to strict length limitations; they must contain specific results to
support their conclusions, but they may not contain nonessential experimental
Chapter 2: Scientific Papers 19
The same rigorous standards of acceptance that apply to full-length articles
also apply to communications. Like all types of presentations in journals, com-
munications are submitted to review. In many cases, authors are expected to
publish complete details (not necessarily in the same journal) after their com-
munications have been published. Acceptance of a communication, however,
does not guarantee acceptance of the detailed manuscript.
Reviews integrate, correlate, and evaluate results from published literature on
a particular subject. They seldom report new experimental findings. Effective
review articles have a well-defined theme, are usually critical, and may present
novel theoretical interpretations. Ordinarily, reviews do not give experimental
details, but in special cases (as when a technique is of central interest), experi-
mental procedures may be included. An important function of reviews is to serve
as a guide to the original literature; for this reason, accuracy and completeness of
references cited are essential.
Standard Format for Reporting Original Research
The main text of scientific papers presenting original research is generally orga-
nized into a standard format: abstract, introduction, experimental details or
theoretical basis, results, discussion, and conclusions, although not necessarily
in this order. This format has become standard because it is suitable for most
reports of original research, it is basically logical, and it is easy to use. The reason
it accommodates most reports of original research is that it parallels the scientific
method of deductive reasoning: define the problem, create a hypothesis, devise
an experiment to test the hypothesis, conduct the experiment, and draw conclu-
sions. Furthermore, this format enables the reader to understand quickly what is
being presented and to find specific information easily. This ability is crucial now
more than ever because scientists, if not all professionals, must read much more
material than in the past.
Reminder: Journal articles and proceedings chapters are usually orga-
nized with an abstract, introduction, experimental details or theoretical
basis, results, discussion, and conclusions.
Use the standard form for reports of original research whether the report is
published in a journal or proceedings volume. Even if the information is more
suited to one of the shorter types of presentations, the logic of the standard
format applies, although some headings or sections may be omitted or other
sections and subsections added. Manuscripts for monographs, handbooks,
20 The ACS Style Guide
literature reviews, or theoretical papers generally do not follow the standard
form. Consult author guidelines for information on how to organize these
types of presentations or look at previously published work. Regardless of the
type of presentation, be sure to present all parts of the paper as concisely as
An extremely important step is to check the specific requirements of the
publication targeted and follow them. Some publishers provide templates that
help authors produce manuscripts in the requested format. Templates are also
useful in making sure that the manuscript is not too long. Most editors require
revisions of manuscripts that are not in their requested format. Thus, not fol-
lowing a publications requirements can delay publication and make more work
for authors.
The best time to determine the title is after the text is written, so that the title will
reflect the paper’s content and emphasis accurately and clearly. The title must
be brief and grammatically correct but accurate and complete enough to stand
alone. A two- or three-word title may be too vague, but a 14- or 15-word title
is unnecessarily long. If the title is too long, consider breaking it into title and
The title serves two main purposes: to attract the potential audience and to
aid retrieval and indexing. Therefore, include several keywords. The title should
provide the maximum information for a computerized title search.
Choose terms that are as specific as the text permits, e.g., a vanadium–iron
alloy” rather than a magnetic alloy”. Avoid phrases such as “on the”, a study
of, research on, “report on, “regarding”, and “use of. In most cases, omit “the”
at the beginning of the title. Avoid nonquantitative, meaningless words such as
“rapid” and “new”.
Spell out all terms in the title, and avoid jargon, symbols, formulas, and abbre-
viations. Whenever possible, use words rather than expressions containing super-
scripts, subscripts, or other special notations. Do not cite company names, spe-
cific trademarks, or brand names of chemicals, drugs, materials, or instruments.
Series titles are of little value. Some publications do not permit them at all.
If consecutive papers in a series are published simultaneously, a series title may
be relevant, but in a long series, paper 42 probably bears so limited a relation-
ship to paper 1 that they do not warrant a common title. In addition, an editor
or reviewer seeing the same title repeatedly may reject it on the grounds that it is
only one more publication on a general topic that has already been discussed at
Chapter 2: Scientific Papers 21
Byline and Affiliation
Include in the byline all those, and only those, who made substantial contri-
butions to the work, even if the paper was actually written by only one person.
Chapter 1 and Appendix 1-1 in this book are more explicit on this topic.
Many ACS publications specifically request at least one full given name for
each author, rather than only initials. Use your first name, initial, and surname
(e.g., John R. Smith) or your first initial, second name, and surname (e.g., J. Rob-
ert Smith). Whatever byline is used, be consistent. Papers by John R. Smith, Jr., J.
Smith, J. R. Smith, Jack Smith, and J. R. Smith, Jr., will not be indexed in the same
manner; the bibliographic citations may be listed in five different locations, and
ascribing the work to a single author will therefore be difficult if not impossible.
Do not include professional, religious, or official titles or academic degrees.
The affiliation is the institution (or institutions) at which the work was
conducted. If the author has moved to another institution since the work was
done, many publications include a footnote giving the current address. Contact
the editor about this.
If there is more than one author, use an asterisk or superscript (check the
specific publications style) to indicate the author or authors to whom corre-
spondence should be addressed. Clarify all corresponding authors’ addresses by
accompanying footnotes if they are not apparent from the affiliation line. E-mail
addresses may be included in corresponding author footnotes.
Most publications require an informative abstract for every paper, even if they
do not publish abstracts. For a research paper, briefly state the problem or the
purpose of the research, indicate the theoretical or experimental plan used, sum-
marize the principal findings, and point out major conclusions. Include chemical
safety information when applicable. Do not supplement or evaluate the conclu-
sions in the abstract. For a review paper, the abstract describes the topic, scope,
sources reviewed, and conclusions. Write the abstract last to be sure that it accu-
rately reflects the content of the paper.
Reminder: The abstract allows the reader to determine the nature and
scope of the paper and helps technical editors identify key features for
indexing and retrieval.
Although an abstract is not a substitute for the article itself, it must be con-
cise, self-contained, and complete enough to appear separately in abstract pub-
lications. Often, authors’ abstracts are used with little change in abstract pub-
22 The ACS Style Guide
lications. The optimal length is one paragraph, but it could be as short as two
sentences. The length of the abstract depends on the subject matter and the
length of the paper. Between 80 and 200 words is usually adequate.
Do not cite references, tables, figures, or sections of the paper in the abstract.
Do not include equations, schemes, or structures that require display on a line
separate from the text.
Use abbreviations and acronyms only when it is necessary to prevent awk-
ward construction or needless repetition. Define abbreviations at first use in the
abstract (and again at first use in the text).
A good introduction is a clear statement of the problem or project and the rea-
sons for studying it. This information should be contained in the first few sen-
tences. Give a concise and appropriate background discussion of the problem
and the significance, scope, and limits of the work. Outline what has been done
before by citing truly pertinent literature, but do not include a general survey of
semirelevant literature. State how your work differs from or is related to work
previously published. Demonstrate the continuity from the previous work to
yours. The introduction can be one or two paragraphs long. Often, the head-
ing “Introduction is not used because it is superfluous; opening paragraphs are
usually introductory.
Experimental Details or Theoretical Basis
In research reports, this section can also be called “Experimental Methods”,
“Experimental Section, or “Materials and Methods”. Be sure to check the specific
publication for the correct title of this section. For experimental work, give suf-
ficient detail about the materials and methods so that other experienced work-
ers can repeat the work and obtain comparable results. When using a standard
method, cite the appropriate literature and give only the details needed.
Identify the materials used and give information on the degree of and criteria
for purity, but do not reference standard laboratory reagents. Give the chemical
names of all compounds and the chemical formulas of compounds that are new or
uncommon. Use meaningful nomenclature; that is, use standard systematic nomen-
clature where specificity and complexity require, or use trivial nomenclature where
it will adequately and unambiguously define a well-established compound.
Describe apparatus only if it is not standard or not commercially available.
Giving a company name and model number in parentheses is nondistracting
and adequate to identify standard equipment.
Chapter 2: Scientific Papers 23
Avoid using trademarks and brand names of equipment and reagents. Use
generic names; include the trademark in parentheses after the generic name only
if the material or product used is somehow different from others. Remember
that trademarks often are recognized and available as such only in the country of
origin. In ACS publications, do not use trademark (™) and registered trademark
(®) symbols.
Describe the procedures used, unless they are established and standard.
Note and emphasize any hazards, such as explosive or pyrophoric tendencies
and toxicity, in a separate paragraph introduced by the heading “Caution:”.
Include precautionary handling procedures, special waste disposal procedures,
and any other safety considerations in adequate detail so that workers repeating
the experiments can take appropriate safety measures. Some ACS journals also
indicate hazards as footnotes on their contents pages.
In theoretical reports, this section is called, for example,Theoretical Basis”
or Theoretical Calculations instead of “Experimental Details and includes suf-
ficient mathematical detail to enable other researchers to reproduce derivations
and verify numerical results. Include all background data, equations, and for-
mulas necessary to the arguments, but lengthy derivations are best presented as
supporting information.
Summarize the data collected and their statistical treatment. Include only rel-
evant data, but give sufficient detail to justify the conclusions. Use equations,
figures, and tables only where necessary for clarity and brevity. Extensive but rel-
evant data should be included in supporting information.
The purpose of the discussion is to interpret and compare the results. Be objec-
tive; point out the features and limitations of the work. Relate your results to cur-
rent knowledge in the field and to the original purpose in undertaking the project:
Was the problem resolved? What has been contributed? Briefly state the logical
implications of the results. Suggest further study or applications if warranted.
Present the results and discussion either as two separate sections or as one
combined section if it is more logical to do so. Do not repeat information given
elsewhere in the manuscript.
The purpose of the conclusions section is to put the interpretation into the con-
text of the original problem. Do not repeat discussion points or include irrele-
vant material. Conclusions should be based on the evidence presented.
24 The ACS Style Guide
A summary is unnecessary in most papers. In long papers, a summary of the
main points can be helpful, but be sure to stick to the main points. If the sum-
mary itself is too long, its purpose is defeated.
Generally, the last paragraph of the paper is the place to acknowledge people,
organizations, and financing. As simply as possible, thank those persons, other
than coauthors, who added substantially to the work, provided advice or techni-
cal assistance, or aided materially by providing equipment or supplies. Do not
include their titles. If applicable, state grant numbers and sponsors here, as well
as auspices under which the work was done, including permission to publish if
Follow the publications guidelines on what to include in the acknowledg-
ments section. Some journals permit financial aid to be mentioned in acknowl-
edgments, but not meeting references. Some journals put financial aid and meet-
ing references together, but not in the acknowledgments section.
In many books and journals, references are placed at the end of the article or
chapter; in others, they are treated as footnotes. In any case, place the list of refer-
ences at the end of the manuscript.
In ACS books and most journals, the style and content of references are stan-
dard regardless of where they are located. Follow the reference style presented in
Chapter 14.
The accuracy of the references is the author’s responsibility. Errors in refer-
ences are one of the most common errors found in scientific publications and
are a source of frustration to readers. Increasingly, hypertext links are automati-
cally generated in Web-based publications, but this cannot be done for references
containing errors. If citations are copied from another source, check the original
reference for accuracy and appropriate content.
Reminder: The accuracy of the references is the authors responsibility.
Special Sections
This discussion on format applies to most manuscripts, but it is not a set of
rigid rules and headings. If the paper is well organized, scientifically sound,
and appropriate to the publication, adding other sections and subsections
may be helpful to readers. For example, an appendix contains material that
Chapter 2: Scientific Papers 25
is not critical to understanding the text but provides important background
Supporting Information
Material that may be essential to the specialized reader but not require elab-
oration in the paper itself is published as supporting information, usually on
the journal’s Web page. Examples of supporting information include large tables,
extensive figures, lengthy experimental procedures, mathematical derivations,
analytical and spectral characterization data, biological test data for a series,
molecular modeling coordinates, modeling programs, crystallographic informa-
tion files, instrument and circuit diagrams, and expanded discussions of periph-
eral findings.
More journals are encouraging this type of publishing to keep printed papers
shorter. For ACS journals, supporting information is available immediately by
linking to it from the citing paper on the Web. For example, for the article “Vana-
dium-Based, Extended Catalytic Lifetime Catechol Dioxygenases: Evidence for
a Common Catalyst” by Cindy-Xing Yin and Richard G. Finke in The Journal
of the American Chemical Society 2005, 127, 9003–9013, the supporting infor-
mation consists of two files, ja051594esi20050517_053152.pdf (453 K) and
ja051594erom20050320_064528.cif (24 K).
When including supporting information, place a statement to that effect at
the end of the paper, using the format specified in the author instructions for the
specific journal. For complete instructions on how to prepare this material for
publication, check the author instructions for the publication.
Web-Enhanced Objects
Some publishers, including ACS, have started exploring various Web-based tech-
nologies to enhance the way that information in a research article is conveyed.
Selected papers in Web editions may contain Web-enhanced objects (WEOs)
to supplement a reader’s understanding of the research being reported. These
types of files include color figures (including three-dimensional, rotatable fig-
ures), chemical structures, animations, spectra, video, and sound files. Links to
WEOs will appear in the Web edition of the paper. These objects, although not
essential to the understanding of the science, should help to augment a read-
er’s understanding of the research being reported. The types of objects suitable
for this form of publication should be viewable with commonly available plug-
ins (e.g., Chime) or helper applications (e.g., WebLab Viewer, RasMol), which
allow viewing and manipulating these objects within the HTML file itself or in
a separate window. For example, a figure in the journal article “Orientation and
Phase Transitions of Fat Crystals under Shear” by Gianfranco Mazzanti, Sarah
E. Guthrie, Eric B. Sirota, Alejandro G. Marangoni, and Stefan H. J. Idziak, in
26 The ACS Style Guide
Crystal Growth & Design 2003, 3, 721–725, is supplemented by a movie WEO (in
.mov format) depicting the time sequence of synchrotron X-ray diffraction pat-
terns for the crystallization of cocoa butter in chocolate (see
As with other types of special information, authors should check the author
guidelines for the publication for instructions on how to prepare and submit
The Editorial
Publishing a manuscript, whether intended for a journal or
a book, is a process. It has four stages: the draft manuscript,
manuscript review, the final manuscript, and processing of accepted manuscripts.
Along the way, responsibility for the different stages passes from the author, to
the journal or book editor, back to the author, and finally to the technical editor.
This chapter provides an overview of each of these stages as they evolve in scien-
tific, technical, and medical (STM) publishing.
The Draft Manuscript
Getting Started
Before beginning to write, authors should review the ethical principles of scien-
tific publication (see Chapter 1). The editorial process is supported by the ethi-
cal obligations of authors, editors, reviewers, and readers. Author integrity and
adherence to the principles that guide scientific publications—such as deciding
when it is the appropriate time to publish, determining who should author the
manuscript, and providing the proper attribution and context for the research—
are as integral to the success of scientific publication as providing science that is
sound and of high quality.
Although there is no fixed set of “writing rules” to be followed like a cook-
book recipe or an experimental procedure, some guidelines can be helpful. Start
by considering the questions in Box 3-1; answering these questions will clarify
your goals and make it easier to write the manuscript with the proper amount of
detail. It will also make it easier for the book or journal editor to determine the
Copyright 2006 American Chemical Society
28 The ACS Style Guide
manuscript’s suitability for the publication. Writing is like so many other things:
once the goal is identified, the details fall into place.
After you have determined the function of the manuscript and identified
the audience, review your material for completeness or excess. Reports of origi-
nal research, whether intended for a journal or a book, can be organized in the
standard format: abstract, introduction, experimental details or theoretical basis,
results, discussion, and conclusions. These sections are discussed in Chapter 2.
Keep in mind that scientific writing is not literary writing. Scientific writ-
ing serves a purpose completely different from that of literary writing, and it
must therefore be precise and unambiguous. You and your colleagues probably
have been discussing the project for months, so the words seem familiar, com-
mon, and clear to you. However, the readers will not have been part of these
discussions. Many words are clear when speaking because you can amplify the
meaning with gestures, expressions, and vocal inflections—but when these same
words are written, they may be clear only to you. Chapter 4 presents strategies
on how to write clearly and concisely as well as to select words that convey the
meaning intended.
If English is not your first language, ask an English-speaking colleague—if
possible, a native English speakerfor help with grammar and diction.
Publishers’ Requirements
An extremely important step is to check the specific requirements of the publica-
tion and to follow them. Journals often specify a format, the number of pages,
Box 3-1. Questions for Drafting Your Manuscript
What is the function or purpose of this manuscript? Are you describing
original and significant research results? Are you reviewing the liter-
ature? Are you providing an overview of the topic? Something else?
Who is the audience? Why would they want to read your manuscript?
What will you need to tell them to help them understand your work?
How is your work different from that described in other reports on the
same subject? (Unless you are writing a review, be sure that your manu-
script will make an original contribution. Most STM publishers, including
ACS, do not publish previously published material.)
What is the best format for publishing this manuscript—as a journal
article, book, or book chapter? If you choose a journal article, which
journal is most appropriate? (Links to ACS journals can be found at
Chapter 3: The Editorial Process 29
what software packages or file formats are acceptable, how to cite references, and
many other aspects of manuscript preparation. Requirements can vary from
journal to journal even if the same publisher publishes them. Author guidelines
for journals are generally posted on the Web at the journal’s Web site, and they
are also typically published in the first issue of each year. Book publishers also
have author guidelines that need to be followed to expedite publication. Under-
standing the requirements for the manuscript cannot be overemphasized.
Publishing with ACS: The author guidelines for ACS journals can be
seen at (see Author Informa-
tion”). The author guidelines for ACS books can be found at http://pubs. (see “Info for Authors”).
Some publishers provide templates for authors to use when preparing their
manuscripts. Use of a template makes it easier for authors to control margins,
fonts, and paragraph styles, as well as the length of the manuscript. It also facili-
tates peer review by placing tabular and graphical material near the discussion in
the text and providing journal and book editors with a single file to work with.
Templates are generally available for Windows and Macintosh platforms, and
they can be downloaded from a publisher’s or journal’s Web page.
Publishing with ACS: For ACS journals, templates can be accessed at (see “Download Manuscript
Templates”). For ACS proceedings books, templates are available at (see “Request instructions
on how to prepare your camera-ready manuscript”).
As you write your draft manuscript, consider where structures, schemes, figures,
and tables could be used appropriately to illustrate or support the material. Well-
placed and well-designed artwork communicates information effectively, but too
much artwork can be distracting.
Few scientists have access to graphic arts professionals. Consequently, chemi-
cal professionals need to know how to prepare art for manuscripts. Fortunately,
software packages are available that can be easily mastered to produce good-
looking graphs, charts, schemes, and structures. Chapters 15, 16, and 17 provide
guidelines on when to use artwork and how to create figures, tables, or chemical
structures and schemes that publishers can use effortlessly. These chapters also
describe how to number figures, tables, structures, and schemes.
Sometimes you may wish to use artwork that has been previously published,
whether from your own publications or from those of other authors. To use pre-
30 The ACS Style Guide
viously published artwork, you must get permission from the copyright holder,
which is generally the publisher, even if you wrote the manuscript. Because it can
take some time to secure reprint permission, it is a good idea to start obtaining
permissions as you prepare your draft manuscript. If you wait until your manu-
script is accepted for publication to initiate any permissions correspondence, pub-
lication of your manuscript may be delayed because publishers generally will not
begin working on a manuscript when permissions are missing. Chapter 7 discusses
how to get permission to reprint figures that have been previously published. Pub-
lishers policies, and forms if required, are generally posted on their Web sites.
Publishing with ACS: Authors can reprint artwork previously published
in ACS books and journals in other ACS publications without permission,
provided that ACS is the original copyright holder. ACS’s copyright policy
and procedures can be found at
Journals vary in their requirements about where tables and figures are placed
in the manuscript. Some journals permit tables and figures to be inserted into
the text for the draft but require that the tables and figures be submitted sepa-
rately in the final manuscript. Other journals request that the tables and figures
be embedded in the text. Some publishers accept figures prepared in a wide range
of software packages, whereas others specify use of certain drawing programs.
Check the specific requirements of the publication targeted before submitting
the draft manuscript.
Publishing with ACS: Placement of artwork submitted to ACS journals
depends on whether the manuscript is submitted through Paragon or
the Paragon Plus environment. Be sure to check the author guidelines for
the specific journal.
References are an important component of every scholarly manuscript. Having
complete and accurate references is the author’s responsibility. Errors in refer-
ences are one of the most common mistakes authors make. Although correct
citations have always been important, the increasing number of hypertext links
in Web-based publications makes correct citations more important than ever.
Given the volume of manuscripts that publishers produce yearly, technical edi-
tors cannot verify each reference in each manuscript.
The citation of references in text is a subject that varies widely from journal
to journal and publisher to publisher. There are three ways to cite references in
text in ACS publications: superscript numbers, italic numbers in parentheses,
or author name and year of publication. Authors are encouraged to check the
Chapter 3: The Editorial Process 31
author guidelines for a specific publication to find information on citing refer-
ences. Chapter 14 explains how to cite references in ACS publications and how
to format references from a variety of publications, in both print and electronic
Reminder: Although correct citations have always been important, the
increasing number of hypertext links in Web-based publications makes
correct citations more important than ever.
Revising the Draft Manuscript
Once you have written your initial draft, the next step is a careful revision
with an eye to organization, content, and editorial style, beginning with the
questions in Box 3-2. Several chapters in this book are designed to help you
communicate clearly. Chapter 9 reviews grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
Chapter 10 provides guidelines on stylistic and editorial conventions, such as
hyphenation and capitalization. Chapter 10 also includes a large appendix with
abbreviations, acronyms, and symbols. Guidelines for using numbers, mathe-
matics, and units of measure are given in Chapter 11. Two other chapters focus
on more specific issues related to chemistry. Chapter 12 examines the use of
proper chemical nomenclature. It provides rules for general chemistry nomen-
clature, as well as nomenclature in several specialized areas, such as polymer
chemistry, biological chemistry, and combinatorial chemistry. Chapter 13
presents a quick reference guide for the use of typefaces, Greek letters, super-
scripts and subscripts, and special symbols that are commonly used in chem-
istry. Chapter 13 also includes an appendix containing symbols for commonly
used physical quantities.
Manuscript Review
When your draft manuscript is complete, check the journal or book author
guidelines again for information on how and where to submit your draft. Some
editors request that authors suggest possible reviewers. Some journals require
that multiple copies of a draft manuscript be submitted and only accept manu-
scripts through the mail. Other journals request that the manuscript be submit-
ted electronically via e-mail. Still others, like ACS, are using a Web-based system
where authors submit a word-processing file or a PDF. For more information on
submitting manuscripts using a Web-based system, see Chapter 5.
Once the editor has reviewed the manuscript and determined that it is appro-
priate for the publication, the peer-review process begins. Chapter 6 describes
peer review and the responsibilities of reviewers and authors.
32 The ACS Style Guide
The Final Manuscript
If your manuscript is accepted, the editor of the book or journal will return the
peer-reviewed manuscript with a cover letter synthesizing the reviewers’ com-
ments and indicating what changes must be made for the final manuscript to
be accepted. You, the author, then revise the manuscript accordingly. When you
submit your final manuscript, include a cover letter indicating what changes
you made. If you decide not to make some of the requested changes, you should
write a rebuttal and send it with your final manuscript. For more information,
see Chapter 6.
Authors are encouraged to submit all the paperwork with the final, revised
manuscript. This includes all necessary permissions correspondence and, if
required, a signed form transferring copyright from the author to the publisher.
Chapter 7 gives a general introduction to copyright. If the manuscript is transmit-
ted electronically, mail the forms separately.
Box 3-2. Questions for Revising Your Manuscript
Does your manuscript as it is written perform the function—new research,
literature review, or topic overview—that you identified before you
began your draft? Do you still think the format you selected—journal
article, book, book chapter—is the best choice?
Have you explained terms, concepts, and procedures in a way that is ap-
propriate to the audience you identified at the start?
Is your material presented in a logical fashion, so that a reader can easily
follow your reasoning?
Is the manuscript too long? If so, what sections could be eliminated or
possibly used as supporting information?
Do some sections need to be expanded to further clarify the material?
Are the sentences clear and unambiguous?
Are all the words spelled correctly and technical terms used appropriately?
Did you follow generally accepted conventions—such as those in this
book—for communicating math and chemistry?
Could you use another opinion? You may find it helpful to ask a col-
league, preferably one who is not closely involved with the research
on which the manuscript is based, and preferably a native English
speaker, to read and comment on your draft.
Chapter 3: The Editorial Process 33
Reminder: When you submit your final manuscript, you should include
the final versions of text, tables, and illustrations, as well as any neces-
sary permissions correspondence and a signed copyright transfer form.
Finally, keep a copy of the revised manuscript and all permissions correspon-
dence. You will need the revised manuscript to check against the proofs that your
publisher sends. Copies of the permissions correspondence can save you time
and effort if the permissions correspondence gets lost or separated from your
Processing of Accepted Manuscripts
Journal editors and multiauthored book editors send accepted manuscripts
directly to the publisher. Authors of monographs interact directly with the
publisher, generally through an acquisitions editor. Accepted manuscripts go
through three phases before publication: technical editing, proofing and review
by the author, and correction by the publisher.
Technical Editing
During the process of creating a book or journal issue, authors’ electronic word-
processing files are manipulated in a variety of ways. Files are tagged to iden-
tify data elements for print production and links for online products. Artwork
is prepared for both publication media. The manuscript is copyedited to ensure
consistency, clarity, and grammatical accuracy; changes are introduced to ensure
the use of standard chemical conventions, graphics presentation, and tabular
format. Copy editors often contact authors or query them at the proof stage for
clarification of material.
Author’s Proof
One author, generally the author to whom correspondence should be addressed,
receives a proof of the manuscript for final approval before publication. Papers
are not generally released for printing until the author’s proof or other approval
has been received. Hence, proofs should be checked and returned promptly
according to individual journal or book instructions.
Publishing with ACS: ACS journals request that proofs be returned
within 48 hours of receipt.
Authors should check proofs very carefully and submit all of the corrections
at one time; see Box 3-3 and Appendix 3-1 for information about reviewing
34 The ACS Style Guide
proofs. Only corrections and necessary changes can be made to proofs. Although
all authors may look at the proofs, only the corresponding author should submit
corrections. Extensive changes may require editorial approval, which delays pub-
lication. Printer’s errors are corrected at no cost to authors, but some publishers
charge authors the cost of extensive production work made necessary by their
own alterations.
After you return your corrected proofs, the technical editor will review them and
ensure that the corrections are made properly.
ASAP (As Soon As Publishable) Articles
Many STM publishers, including ACS, publish journal articles on the Web before
publishing them in print. Papers accepted for publication in ACS journals will be
posted on the “Articles ASAP” page on the journal Web site as soon as they are
ready for publication; that is, when the proofs are corrected and all author con-
cerns are resolved. Publication on the Web usually occurs within four working
days of receipt of proof corrections; this can be any time from three to six weeks
before the date of the printed issue. Once a paper appears on the Web, ACS and
the scientific community consider it published.
Box 3-3. Tips for Checking Proofs
If you are instructed to return changes via the Web, list all corrections,
revisions, and additions and clearly identify their location.
If you are instructed to return changes in hard copy (paper print-
outs), mark corrections legibly in the margins of the proofs as instructed
by the publisher. Do not erase or obliterate type; instead, strike one line
through copy to be deleted and write the change in the margin.
Clarify complicated corrections by rewriting the entire phrase or sen-
Check all text, data, and references against the original manuscript.
Pay particular attention to equations; formulas; tables; captions; spelling
of proper names; and numbering of equations, illustrations, tables and
Answer explicitly all queries made by the technical editor.
Proofreaders marks and a sample of marked manuscript are given in
Appendix 3-1.
Chapter 3: The Editorial Process 35
Article Reprints and Complimentary Copies
Generally, authors receive a form for reprint orders with the author proof.
Authors should follow the instructions on the form. Some publishers provide
electronic reprints, as well as paper reprints. Customarily, there is a charge for
paper reprints, and reprints with color artwork cost more.
Book authors sometimes also receive complimentary copies of the volume in
which their chapter appears. On contributions with more than one author, the
number of complimentary copies is generally limited; that is, not all authors will
receive complimentary copies.
Corrections to Published Manuscripts
Corrections of consequence to a paper that has already been published should
be sent to the editor. Most journals publish corrections soon after they have been
received. Some journals have a specific format for additions or corrections; check
the author guidelines. In books, errata sheets will be printed and included in
every book, and the book itself will be corrected before reprinting. However,
additions and corrections generally reflect poorly on the authors, and careful
manuscript preparation and attention to detail in the entire publication process
can prevent the necessity for subsequent corrections.
➤ ➤ ➤ ➤ ➤
Proofreaders Marks
Publishers long ago established conventions for marking changes to manuscripts
and proofs. These conventions, known as proofreaders’ marks, evolved as an eco-
nomical and precise shorthand for indicating on paper various types of changes.
Changes to double-spaced manuscript are marked one way (Figure 3A-1).
Authors may be called on to interpret these proofreaders’ marks if the publisher
has copyediting done by hand, on paper. Common proofreaders marks for man-
uscripts are presented in Figure 3A-2. Note that corrections to manuscripts are
made in place (not in the margins) and usually need no additional explanation.
Changes to typeset proofs are marked somewhat differently (Figure 3A-3).
Authors may be called on to use this proofreading method if the publisher sup-
plies hard-copy (paper) proofs. Common proofreaders marks for proofs (also
called galleys or page proofs) are presented in Figure 3A-4. Note that corrections
to proofs are made in two places: a minimal mark is made in the typeset text,
to indicate where a change is being made, and an explanatory mark is made in
the margin to describe the exact change. For example, a carat mark (^) in the
typeset text indicates where new words are to be inserted; the words themselves
are written in the margin. If there is more than one change to a typeset line, the
changes in the margin are separated by slashes. (If you want to insert a slash, you
should write out the word “slash and circle it in the margin.) Two slashes in a
row indicate that the first correction should be repeated. Try not to black out or
obliterate the typeset characters. Avoid using arrows and lines to indicate where
corrections go because more than one or two on a page breed confusion.
Chapter 3: The Editorial Process 37
Figure 3A-1. Sample of a manuscript copyedited by hand.
38 The ACS Style Guide
Strike through to delete a word or words.
Triple underline to capitalize the “w.
Slash to make the “w lowercase.
Transpose two letters.
Transpose two words.
Double underline to make ord” small capitals
Draw a wavy line to indicate bold face.
Underline to indicate italic type.
Draw an inverted carat to indicate superscript.
Draw a carat to indicate subscript.
Put dots or short dashes under copy that you wish to retain as it originally
Figure 3A-2. Common proofreaders marks for copyediting manuscripts.
Figure 3A-3. Sample of a marked proof.
Chapter 3: The Editorial Process 39
Operational Signs Typographical Signs
Delete Lowercase a capital letter
Close up; delete space Capitalize a lowercase letter
Delete and close up Set in small capitals
Insert space Set in italic type
Begin new paragraph Set in roman type
Run paragraphs together Set in boldface type
One em space Wrong font; set in correct type
Move right Superscript
Move left Subscript
Center Punctuation Marks
Move up Insert comma
Move down Insert apostrophe (or single
quotation mark)
Align horizontally Insert quotation marks
Align vertically Insert period
Transpose Insert question mark
Spell out Insert semicolon
Let it stand Insert colon
Flush left Insert hyphen
Flush right Insert em dash
Center Insert en dash
Figure 3A-4. Common proofreaders marks for marking proofs.
Writing Style and
Word Usage
Every writer has a personal style, but all good writing tends
to observe guidelines and conventions that communicate
meaning clearly and exactly to readers. Scientific writing, in particular, must be
precise and unambiguous to be effective.
This chapter presents guidelines for correct sentence structure and word
usage. Other chapters of this book present topics also related to good writing
style. Chapter 2 discusses the parts of a scientific paper; Chapter 3 presents an
overview of the editorial process. Chapters in Part 2 address more specialized
rules for usage; see, especially, Chapter 9 on grammar, punctuation, and spelling
and Chapter 10 on editorial style.
Correct Sentence Structure
Good organization (see Chapter 2) and sentence structure are an author’s pri-
mary tools for conveying information in a logical, persuasive manner. When the
words in a sentence are placed so that the reader follows easily from one fact
or point to the next, then the reader is best able to comprehend the author’s
intended meaning. Poorly structured or ordered sentences create confusion for
readers, who are then unable to understand accurately the author’s meaning.
Short, simple declarative sentences—that is, sentences that make statements,
rather than pose questions, issue commands, or exclaim—are the easiest to write
and the easiest to read. They are also usually clear. However, too many short sen-
tences in a row can sound abrupt or monotonous. They also can place too heavy
a burden on the reader to connect the ideas from one sentence to the next. To
Copyright 2006 American Chemical Society
42 The ACS Style Guide
add sentence variety and to enhance the flow of ideas, it is better to start with
simple declarative sentences and then combine some of them, rather than to start
with long rambling sentences and then try to shorten them. Two or more simple
sentences (sentences with one independent clause and no subordinate clauses)
can be combined to form a compound sentence. A complex sentence is created by
adding one or more subordinate clauses to a simple sentence. A clause is a group
of words that has a subject and a verb. If a clause can stand all by itself, it is an
independent clause. If a clause cannot stand alone, it is a dependent or subordinate
A sentence is said to be in active voice when the subject of the sentence is the
doer of the action indicated by the verb. The subject of an active verb is doing
the action of the verb. In passive voice, the subject is the receiver of the action
indicated by the verb.
Use the active voice when it is less wordy and more direct than the passive.
The fact that such processes are under strict stereoelectronic control is demon-
strated by our work in this area.
Our work in this area demonstrates that such processes are under strict stereo-
electronic control.
Use the passive voice when the doer of the action is unknown or not impor-
tant or when you would prefer not to specify the doer of the action.
The solution is shaken until the precipitate forms.
Melting points and boiling points have been approximated.
Identity specifications and tests are not included in the monographs for reagent
Using the appropriate verb tense helps to orient the reader as to the nature of the
Simple past tense is correct for stating what was done, either by others or
by you.
The solutions were heated to boiling.
Chapter 4: Writing Style and Word Usage 43
Jones reviewed the literature and gathered much of this information.
We found that relativistic effects enhance the bond strength.
The structures were determined by neutron diffraction methods.
Present tense is correct for statements of fact.
Absolute rate constants for a wide variety of reactions are available.
Hyperbranched compounds are macromolecular compounds that contain a
branching point in each structural repeat unit.
Present and simple past tenses may both be correct for results, discussion,
and conclusions.
The characteristics of the voltammetric wave indicate that electron transfer
occurs spontaneously.
The absence of substitution was confirmed by preparative-scale electrolysis.
IR spectroscopy shows that nitrates are adsorbed and are not removed by wash-
ing with distilled water.
However, the use of present or simple past tense for results, discussion, and con-
clusions should be consistent within a paper.
Other Forms
It is acceptable to use split infinitives to avoid awkwardness or ambiguity.
The program is designed to assist financially the student who is considering a
career in chemistry.
The program is designed to financially assist the student who is considering a
career in chemistry.
The bonded phases allowed us to investigate fully permanent gases.
The bonded phases allowed us to fully investigate permanent gases.
Subjects and Subject–Verb Agreement
Use first person when it helps to keep your meaning clear and to express a
purpose or a decision.
Jones reported xyz, but I (or we) found ….
44 The ACS Style Guide
I (or we) present here a detailed study ….
My (or our) recent work demonstrated ….
To determine the effects of structure on photophysics, I (or we) ….
However, avoid clauses such as “we believe”, “we feel”, and “we can see”, as well as
personal opinions.
Subjects and verbs must agree in person and number; this important point is
discussed in detail in Chapter 9.
Sentence Modifiers
Modifiers made up of phrases or dependent clauses can be added to sim-
ple sentences to indicate, for example, cause and effect, or time sequence, or
A restrictive phrase or clause is one that is essential to the meaning of the sen-
tence. Restrictive modifiers are not set off by commas.
Only doctoral students who have completed their coursework may apply for this
Several systems that take advantage of this catalysis can be used to create new pal-
ladium compounds.
A nonrestrictive phrase or clause is one that adds meaning to the sentence but
is not essential; in other words, the meaning of the basic sentence would be the
same without it. Nonrestrictive modifiers are set off by commas.
Doctoral students, who often have completed their coursework, apply for this
teaching fellowship.
Several systems, which will be discussed below, take advantage of this catalytic
A misplaced modifier is one that is placed next to the wrong word in the sen-
tence, so it inadvertently misrepresents the author’s intended meaning.
We commenced a new round of experiments unable to point to meaningful con-
Unable to point to meaningful conclusions, we commenced a new round of
Chapter 4: Writing Style and Word Usage 45
A dangling modifier is one that lacks a word in the sentence to modify in a
logical or sensible way. It should not be confused with an absolute construction,
which modifies an entire sentence. (See also the discussion of dangling modifiers
in Chapter 9.)
Adding 2 mL of indicator solution, the end point for the titration was reached.
Adding 2 mL of indicator solution, we reached the end point for the titration.
When we added 2 mL of indicator solution, the end point for the titration was
Sentence Construction and Word Order
Use an affirmative sentence rather than a double negative.
instead of consider using
This reaction is not uncommon. This reaction is common.
This reaction is not rare.
This reaction occurs about 40%
of the time.
This transition was not unexpected. This transition was expected.
We knew that such transitions
were possible.
This strategy is not infrequently used. This strategy is frequently used.
This strategy is occasionally used.
This result is not unlikely to occur. This result is likely to occur.
This result is possible.
Watch the placement of the word “only”. It has different meanings in differ-
ent places in the sentence.
Only the largest group was injected with the test compound. (Meaning: and no
other group)
The largest group was only injected with the test compound. (Meaning: and not
given the compound in any other way)
The largest group was injected with only the test compound. (Meaning: and no
other compounds)
The largest group was injected with the only test compound. (Meaning: there
were no other test compounds)
Be sure that the antecedents of pronouns are clear; in other words, when you
use a pronoun (for example, “he”, “she, “it”, or “they”), the noun to which the
pronoun refers should be obvious (for example, “Isaac Newton, “Marie Curie”,
46 The ACS Style Guide
“the compound”, or “the research team”). This is particularly true for the pro-
nouns “this” and “that”. If there is a chance of ambiguity, use a noun to clarify
your meaning.
The photochemistry of transition-metal carbonyl complexes has been the focus
of many investigations. This is due to the central role that metal carbonyl com-
plexes play in various reactions.
The photochemistry of transition-metal carbonyl complexes has been the focus
of many investigations. This interest is due to the central role that metal carbonyl
complexes play in various reactions.
Use the proper subordinating conjunctions. (Conjunctions join parts of a sen-
tence; subordinating conjunctions join subordinate clauses to the main sentence.)
“While” and “since have strong connotations of time. Do not use them where
you mean although, “because”, or “whereas.
Since solvent reorganization is a potential contributor, the selection of data is
very important.
Because solvent reorganization is a potential contributor, the selection of data is
very important.
While the reactions of the anion were solvent-dependent, the corresponding
reactions of the substituted derivatives were not.
Although the reactions of the anion were solvent-dependent, the corresponding
reactions of the substituted derivatives were not.
The reactions of the anion were solvent-dependent, but (or whereas) the corre-
sponding reactions of the substituted derivatives were not.
Parallelism, or parallel construction, is the use of words or groups of words of
equal grammatical rank. Equal grammatical rank means that words are con-
nected only to words, phrases only to phrases, subordinate clauses only to other
subordinate clauses, and sentences only to other sentences. Establish parallel
construction by using coordinating conjunctions, correlative conjunctions, and
correlative constructions.
Chapter 4: Writing Style and Word Usage 47
A coordinating conjunction is a single word, such as “and”, “but”, “or”, “nor”,
“yet, “for”, and sometimes “so.
Compound 12 was prepared analogously and by Lees method (5).
Compound 12 was prepared in an analogous manner and by Lees method (5).
A correlative conjunction is a pairing of words, such as either … or”; “neither
… nor”; “both … and”; “not only … but also”; and “not … but.
The product was washed either with alcohol or acetone.
The product was washed with either alcohol or acetone.
The product was washed either with alcohol or with acetone.
It is best to use alternative methods both because of the condensation reaction
and because the amount of water in the solvent increases with time.
It is best to use alternative methods both because of the condensation reaction
and because of the increase in the amount of water in the solvent with time.
Not only was the NiH functionality active toward the C-donor derivatives but
also toward the N donors.
The NiH functionality was active not only toward the C-donor derivatives but
also toward the N donors.
The NiH functionality was not only active toward the C-donor derivatives but
also active toward the N donors.
Not only was the NiH functionality active toward the C-donor derivatives, but it
was also active toward the N donors.
A correlative construction is a sentence structure that uses “as as” (for
example, “as well as”).
He performed the experiment as well as I could have done it.
48 The ACS Style Guide
Do not try to use parallel construction around the word but” when it is not
used as a coordinating conjunction.
Increasing the number of fluorine atoms on the adjacent boron atom decreases
the chemical shift, but only by a small amount.
The reaction proceeded readily, but with some decomposition of the product.
Use parallel constructions in series and lists, including section headings and
subheadings in text and tables and listings in figure captions.
Introductory phrases that imply comparisons should refer to the subject of
the sentence and be followed by a comma.
Unlike alkali-metal or alkaline-earth-metal cations, hydrolysis of trivalent lan-
thanides proceeds significantly at this pH.
Unlike that of alkali-metal or alkaline-earth-metal cations, hydrolysis of trivalent
lanthanides proceeds significantly at this pH.
Unlike alkali-metal or alkaline-earth-metal cations, trivalent lanthanides hydro-
lyze significantly at this pH.
In contrast to the bromide anion, there is strong distortion of the free fluoride
anion on the vibrational spectroscopy time scale.
In contrast to the bromide anion, the free fluoride anion is strongly distorted on
the vibrational spectroscopy time scale.
Use the verb “compare followed by the preposition “to when similarities are
being noted. Use compare” followed by the preposition “with when differences
are being noted. Only things of the same class should be compared.
Compared to compound 3, compound 4 shows an NMR spectrum with cor-
responding peaks.
Compared with compound 3, compound 4 shows a more complex NMR spectrum.
Do not omit words needed to complete comparisons, and do not use con-
fusing word order. The subordinating conjunction “than is often used to intro-
duce the second element in a comparison, following an adjective or adverb in the
comparative degree.
Chapter 4: Writing Style and Word Usage 49
The alkyne stretching bands for the complexes are all lower than the uncoordi-
nated alkyne ligands.
The alkyne stretching bands for the complexes are all lower than those for the
uncoordinated alkyne ligands.
The alkyne stretching bands are all lower for the complexes than for the uncoor-
dinated alkyne ligands.
The decrease in isomer shift for compound 1 is greater in a given pressure incre-
ment than for compound 2.
The decrease in isomer shift for compound 1 is greater in a given pressure incre-
ment than that for compound 2.
The decrease in isomer shift in a given pressure increment is greater for com-
pound 1 than for compound 2.
Idioms often used in comparisons are “different from, “similar to, “identical
to, and “identical with. Generally these idioms should not be split.
The complex shows a significantly different NMR resonance from that of com-
pound 1.
The complex shows an NMR resonance significantly different from that of com-
pound 1.
Compound 5 does not catalyze hydrogenation under similar conditions to com-
pound 6.
Compound 5 does not catalyze hydrogenation under conditions similar to those
for compound 6.
exception These idioms can be split if an intervening prepositional phrase
modifies the first word in the idiom.
The single crystals are all similar in structure to the crystals of compound 7.
Solution A is identical in appearance with solution B.
50 The ACS Style Guide
Phrases such as “relative to, “as compared to, and “as compared with and
words such as “versus” are also used to introduce the second element in a com-
parison. The things being compared must be parallel.
The greater acidity of nitric acid relative to nitrous acid is due to the initial-state
charge distribution in the molecules.
The lowering of the vibronic coupling constants for Ni as compared with Cu is
due to configuration interaction.
This behavior is analogous to the reduced Wittig-like reactivity in thiolate versus
phenoxide complexes.
Correct Word Usage
The words chosen by a writer are one of the defining characteristics of that
author’s style; however, word choice is not governed by style alone. The audience
for a paper (as discussed in Chapter 3) must influence a writer’s choice of words
so that the writer can select words that are likely to be known to the audience
and define the words that are not. The type of document also may influence a
writer’s word choices because some documents, such as scientific papers, journal
articles, and books, tend to more formal word usage, whereas other documents,
such as e-mails, allow less formality.
The choice of the correct word to express meaning begins with a good dic-
tionary, but it also extends to understanding small differences in meaning
between two words or phrases that are almost synonymous or that are spelled
similarly but have significant differences in meaning. It is best to use words in
their primary meanings and to avoid using a word to express a thought if such
usage is uncommon, informal, or primarily literary. Many words are clear when
you are speaking because you can amplify your meaning with gestures, expres-
sions, and vocal inflections—but when these same words are written, they may
be clear only to you.
This chapter presents only a few words and phrases that are commonly mis-
used in scientific writing; consult a good reference on word usage for more com-
prehensive assistance. (Several such references are listed under the heading “Ref-
erences on Scientific Communication in Chapter 18.)
Grouping and Comparison Words
Use “respectively” to relate two or more sequences in the same sentence.
The excitation and emission were measured at 360 and 440 nm, respectively.
(That is, the excitation was measured at 360 nm, and the emission was measured
at 440 nm.)
Chapter 4: Writing Style and Word Usage 51
Use the more accurate terms “greater than or “more than rather than the
imprecise over” or “in excess of.
greater than 50% (not in excess of 50%)
more than 100 samples (not over 100 samples)
more than 25 mg (not in excess of 25 mg, not over 25 mg)
Use “fewer” to refer to number; use “less” to refer to quantity.
fewer than 50 animals
fewer than 100 samples
less product
less time
less work
However, use “less” with number and unit of measure combinations because
they are regarded as singular.
less than 5 mg
less than 3 days
Use between with two named objects; use “among with three or more
named or implied objects.
Communication between scientists and the public is essential.
Communication among scientists, educators, and the public is essential.
Communication among scientists is essential.
Commonly Confused Words and Phrases
Choose “myself and “me depending on your meaning. “Myself is a reflex-
ive pronoun that is used only in sentences in which “I” is the subject, whereas
“me is used as a direct or indirect object or the object of a preposition. “Myself
is never a substitute for “me.
Please give a copy of the agenda to Anne and me. (not to Anne and myself)
I myself checked the agenda.
Cheryl and I checked the agenda. (not Cheryl and myself)
The agenda was checked by Barbara and me. (not by Barbara and myself)
Choose “due to”, which means “attributable to”, only to modify a noun or
pronoun directly preceding it in the sentence or following a form of the verb
“to be”.
Cutbacks due to decreased funding have left us without basic reference books.
The accuracy of the prediction is due to a superior computer program.
52 The ACS Style Guide
Choose “based on and on the basis of depending on your meaning.
Phrases starting with “based on must modify a noun or pronoun that usually
immediately precedes or follows the phrase. Use phrases starting with on the
basis of to modify a verb.
The doctors new methods in brain surgery were based on Ben Carsons work.
On the basis of the molecular orbital calculations, we propose a mechanism that
can account for all the major features of alkali and alkaline earth catalyzed gasifi-
cation reactions. (not Based on …)
Choose assure, “ensure”, and “insure” depending on your meaning. To
assure is to affirm; to ensure is to make certain; to insure is to indemnify for
He assured me that the work had been completed.
The procedure ensures that clear guidelines have been established.
You cannot get a mortgage unless you insure your home.
Choose “affect”, “effect, and “impact” depending on your meaning. When
affect” is used as a verb, it means to influence, modify, or change. When effect
is used as a verb, it means to bring about, but as a noun it means consequence,
outcome, or result. “Impact” is a noun meaning a significant effect.
The increased use of pesticides affects agricultural productivity.
The use of polychlorinated benzenes has an effect on the cancer rate.
The effect of the added acid was negligible.
The new procedure effected a 50% increase in yield.
The impact of pesticide use on health is felt throughout the world.
The acid did not have a great impact on the reaction rate.
Use “whether” to introduce at least two alternatives, either stated or implied.
I am not sure whether I should repeat the experiment.
I am not sure whether I should repeat the experiment or use a different statistical
I am going to repeat the experiment whether the results are positive or negative.
Use “whether or not” to mean “regardless of whether”.
I am not sure whether or not to repeat the experiment.
Chapter 4: Writing Style and Word Usage 53
I am not sure whether to repeat the experiment.
Whether or not the results are positive, I will repeat the experiment.
Whether or not I repeat the experiment, I will probably leave the laboratory late
Use “to comprise” to mean “to contain or “to consist of”; it is not a synonym
for “to compose. The whole comprises the parts, or the whole is composed of the
parts, but the whole is not comprised of the parts. Never use “is comprised of.
A book is comprised of chapters.
A book comprises chapters.
A book is composed of chapters.
Our research was comprised of three stages.
Our research comprised three stages.
Use of A and An
Choose the articles a and “an according to the pronunciation of the words
or abbreviations they precede. See pp 257 and 264 for the use of a and an
with chemical elements and isotopes.
a nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer
an NMR spectrometer
Use a before an aspirated “h”; use “an before the vowel sounds of a, e, i, o,
“soft or “short” u, and y.
a house, a history (but an hour, an honor)
a union, a U-14C (but an ultimate)
a yard (but an ylide, an yttrium compound)
Choose the proper article to precede B.A., B.S., M.A., M.S., and Ph.D., accord-
ing to pronunciation of the first letter.
a B.S. degree
an M.S. degree
a Ph.D.
54 The ACS Style Guide
Words and Phrases To Avoid
Avoid slang and jargon.
Be brief. Wordiness obscures your message and annoys your readers.
Omit empty phrases such as
As already stated
It has been found that
It has long been known that
It is interesting to note that
It is worth mentioning at this point
It may be said that
It was demonstrated that
Omit excess words.
instead of consider using
It is a procedure that is often used. This procedure is often used.
There are seven steps that must be completed. Seven steps must be completed.
This is a problem that is …. This problem is ….
These results are preliminary in nature. These results are preliminary.
Write economically (and usually more precisely) by using single words
instead of phrases.
instead of consider using
a number of many, several
a small number of a few
are found to be are
are in agreement agree
are known to be are
at present now
at the present time now
based on the fact that because
by means of by
despite the fact that although
due to the fact that because
during that time while
fewer in number fewer
for the reason that because
has been shown to be is
if it is assumed that if
in color, e.g., red in color just state the color, e.g., red
in consequence of this fact therefore, consequently
in length long
in order to to
in shape, e.g., round in shape just state the shape, e.g., round
in size, e.g., small in size just state the size, e.g., small
Chapter 4: Writing Style and Word Usage 55
instead of consider using
in spite of the fact that although
in the case of in …, for …
in the near future soon
in view of the fact that because
is known to be is
it appears that apparently
it is clear that clearly
it is likely that likely
it is possible that possibly
it would appear that apparently
of great importance important
on the order of about
owing to the fact that because
prior to before
reported in the literature reported
subsequent to after
Do not use contractions in scientific papers.
The identification wasnt confirmed by mass spectrometry.
The identification was not confirmed by mass spectrometry.
Do not use the word “plus or the plus sign as a synonym for and”.
Two bacterial enzymes were used in a linked-enzyme assay for heroin plus metab-
Two bacterial enzymes were used in a linked-enzyme assay for heroin and its
Do not use “respectively” when you mean “separately” or “independently”.
The electrochemical oxidations of chromium and tungsten tricarbonyl com-
plexes, respectively, were studied.
The electrochemical oxidations of chromium and tungsten tricarbonyl com-
plexes were studied separately.
56 The ACS Style Guide
Avoid misuse of prepositional phrases introduced by “with.
Nine deaths from leukemia occurred, with six expected.
Nine deaths from leukemia occurred, and six had been expected.
Of the 20 compounds tested, 12 gave positive reactions, with three being greater
than 75%.
Of the 20 compounds tested, 12 gave positive reactions; three of these were
greater than 75%.
Two weeks later, six more animals died, with the total rising to 25.
Two weeks later, six more animals died, and the total was then 25.
Do not use a slash to mean and” or or”.
Hot/cold extremes will damage the samples.
Hot and cold extremes will damage the samples.
Replace “and/or” with either “and” or “or”, depending on your meaning.
Our goal was to confirm the presence of the alkaloid in the leaves and/or roots.
Our goal was to confirm the presence of the alkaloid in the leaves and roots.
Our goal was to confirm the presence of the alkaloid in either the leaves or the
Our goal was to confirm the presence of the alkaloid in the leaves, the roots, or
If you have already presented your results at a symposium or other meeting
and are now writing the paper for publication in a book or journal, delete all
references to the meeting or symposium, such as “Good afternoon, ladies and
gentlemen, “This morning we heard”, “in this symposium, “at this meeting”, and
Chapter 4: Writing Style and Word Usage 57
“I am pleased to be here. Such phrases would be appropriate only if you were
asked to provide an exact transcript of a speech.
Avoid using the word “recently”. Your article or book may be available for a
long time. This word will make it look dated in little time.
It was recently found that these effects enhance the bond strength.
Harris and Harris (2006) found that these effects enhance the bond strength.
Gender-Neutral Language
The U.S. government and many publishers have gone to great effort to encourage
the use of gender-neutral language in their publications. Gender-neutral language
is also a goal of many chemists. Recent style guides and writing guides urge copy
editors and writers to choose terms that do not reinforce outdated sex roles. Gen-
der-neutral language can be accurate and unbiased and not necessarily awkward.
The most problematic words are the noun “man and the pronouns “he and
“his, but there are usually several satisfactory gender-neutral alternatives for these
words. Choose an alternative carefully and keep it consistent with the context.
Instead of “man, use “people, humans”, human beings”, or “human spe-
cies”, depending on your meaning.
The effects of compounds I–X were studied in rats and man.
The effects of compounds I–X were studied in rats and humans.
Men working in hazardous environments are often unaware of their rights and
People working in hazardous environments are often unaware of their rights and
Mans search for beauty and truth has resulted in some of his greatest accom-
The search for beauty and truth has resulted in some of our greatest accomplish-
58 The ACS Style Guide
Instead of “manpower”, use “workers, “staff, “work force, labor”, crew”,
employees”, or “personnel”, depending on your meaning.
Instead of “man-made, use “synthetic”,artificial”, “built,constructed”,
“manufactured”, or even “factory-made”.
Instead of “he” and “his”, change the construction to a plural form (“they”
and “theirs”) or first person (“we, “us”, and ours”). Alternatively, delete “his”
and replace it with “a, “the”, or nothing at all. “His or her”, if not overused, is also
acceptable. Using passive voice or second person (“you, “your”, and “yours”) also
works sometimes.
The principal investigator should place an asterisk after his name.
Principal investigators should place asterisks after their names.
If you are the principal investigator, place an asterisk after your name.
The name of the principal investigator should be followed by an asterisk.
Do not use a plural pronoun with a singular antecedent.
The principal investigator should place an asterisk after their name.
The principal investigators should place asterisks after their names.
Instead of “wife”, use “family” or spouse” where appropriate.
The work of professionals such as chemists and doctors is often so time-consum-
ing that their wives are neglected.
The work of professionals such as chemists and doctors is often so time-consum-
ing that their families are neglected.
the society member and his wife
the society member and spouse
Electronic Submission
of Manuscripts Using
Web-Based Systems
Sarah C. Blendermann
Electronic submission of manuscripts to journals is under-
going significant change as publishers respond to mount-
ing pressure to publish faster, better, and more efficiently. The use of the Web and
e-mail enables the peer-review process to move more rapidly, speeding review
and decision cycles. And although scientific research has always been an interna-
tional activity, journal publishing is increasingly global, with authors, reviewers,
and editors contributing from numerous countries and all participants benefit-
ing from electronic communications.
Reminder: Good practices and appropriate file creation start early in
the manuscript preparation process. If author source files are not of
adequate quality for production, then the publication process will be
delayed. Authors should be mindful of publishers’ requirements early in
the writing process.
This chapter covers the major systems used by dominant commercial pub-
lishers and professional societies to manage the submission, review, and accep-
tance of scholarly manuscripts, and it endeavors to guide authors through the
routine tasks associated with submitting a manuscript online. It is important
to acknowledge that publishers will revise their systems and add new features
quickly, so the information that follows will likely age rapidly. However, authors
can rely on this chapter to guide them through the general process of online
Proprietary and commercial editorial systems are frequently designed to
accommodate both electronic and paper publication processes. Capabilities vary,
Copyright 2006 American Chemical Society
60 The ACS Style Guide
but many systems have become similar as publishers establish parallel mecha-
nisms for managing the peer-review process. Leading commercial software
packages currently include Bench>Press from HighWire Press, Editorial Man-
ager from Aries Systems, EJPress from eJournal Press, ScholarOne Manuscript
Central, and Rapid Review from Cadmus Systems. Other Web-based commer-
cial products include EdiKit from Berkeley Electronic Press; myICAAP, EPRESS,
ESPERE, Fontisworks, and Open Journal Systems from University of British
Columbia; PublishASAP; Temple Peer Review Manager; and Xpress Track. Each
package provides authors, reviewers, and editors with submission acknowledg-
ments, decision letters, and review documents transmitted using e-mail; no
paper correspondence is needed.
Several publishers have opted to develop proprietary programs rather than
purchase services from a third party. Examples include the American Chemi-
cal Society’s ACS Paragon System and the American Institute of Physics’ Peer
X-Press. These packages offer features and workflow similar to those contained
in commercial editorial packages.
Appendix 5-1 matches selected scientific publishers and research grant agen-
cies with the manuscript submission software they use and manuscript submis-
sion sites.
Preparing Materials
The author guidelines for each journal contain generic and journal-specific
instructions concerning manuscript preparation. They indicate the types of
components that are required for online submissions, such as the cover letter,
abstract, manuscript document, supporting information, figures, and proposed
reviewers. Publishers require these items to be submitted in common word-pro-
cessing or graphics formats, and author guidelines provide the technical details
for preparing these manuscript components. Assembling and organizing elec-
tronic components of a manuscript in advance will streamline the process and
reduce the possibility of errors in submission.
The author guidelines will indicate if there are word-processing templates
available for authors to download and will specify if there are requirements
about their use. Template files contain all the necessary formatting for a particu-
lar journal and are provided by the publisher from its Web site. Templates make
it easier to format submissions to meet the publisher’s specifications.
It is important to understand why authors are asked to provide manuscripts
as both word-processing and PDF files. These versions of the manuscript are
used in different ways; the PDF version of a manuscript is more suitable for peer
review because it is easily transferred among authors, editors, and reviewers and
is readable with the ubiquitous free Adobe Acrobat Reader. PDF files are portable
Chapter 5: Electronic Submission of Manuscripts 61
across computer platforms, whereas original word-processing files may not be
compatible with the system of an editor or reviewer. Publishers may require that
authors submit a PDF file, or they may automatically generate one as part of the
online submission process. A PDF file assists in maintaining control of versions
of the manuscript because editors, authors, and reviewers can insert comments
and notes for correction without altering the original text. Most publishers will
require word-processing (or TeX or its derivatives) files for production purposes.
These versions of the manuscript are manipulated during the final electronic
creation of a journal for publication online or in print.
Reminder: Most publishers require both PDF and word-processing
versions of a manuscript to be used for peer review and publication
production, respectively.
Another critical element of your submission is the figures associated with the
manuscript. Graphics should be high-resolution and of good quality to ensure
clarity and accuracy in the final published copy and to facilitate any needed
reduction required in the print publication (see Chapter 15 for more detail on
preparing illustrations). Many software programs—including PowerPoint, Word,
Excel, and WordPerfect—do not create high-resolution images suitable for pub-
lication. For that reason, it is recommended that authors create graphics using
applications that can prepare figures in TIFF or EPS formats. Figures should
have clear, sharp lines, should be clearly labeled, and should be at a high enough
resolution that they can be used to compose the print journal.
Appendix 5-2 presents the text and image formats accepted by seven major
manuscript peer-review and submission systems.
Beginning Your Submission
Depending on the publisher, authors may be asked to e-mail the prepared manu-
script to the editor, to upload it via an FTP server, or to upload files through the
publisher’s Web browser to a secure Web site using HTTP protocol. It is extremely
important to submit manuscripts in the method designated for that particular
journal because submission mechanisms may vary, even within one publisher’s
journals. If the journal requires online manuscript submission, submit all files
to that Web site. Similarly, if the journal uses FTP or e-mail, follow the instruc-
tions carefully and send all manuscript components via the same route, unless
indicated otherwise.
When authors are asked to e-mail the manuscript directly to an editor, pay
particular attention to the type of files authors are asked to provide, and note
62 The ACS Style Guide
if the manuscript should be provided in the body of the e-mail or as an attach-
ment. Publishers offering an FTP server for author use will have detailed instruc-
tions on how to access the FTP server. Authors may be asked to compress files
when transmitting manuscripts by e-mail, FTP, or as part of an online submis-
sion system. If so, the publisher’s Web site will detail the acceptable formats for
compressed files. These may include zipped, tarred, uuencoded, or BinHex files.
Under some circumstances, Web uploads will automatically invoke a compres-
sion process.
Leading online submission packages Bench>Press, Editorial Manager, EJPress,
Manuscript Central, and Rapid Review, as well as the ACS Paragon System and
the American Institute of Physics Peer X-Press all use the author home page.
This simple online profile contains the author’s contact details and establishes
a user name and password. The e-mail address entered here must be correct; a
typo could delay important e-mail notifications about acceptance or requests for
revision. If the author has already established an account, future submissions can
begin with the author login.
Several publishers have adopted the concept of a submitting agent or a second
author if someone other than the author is submitting the manuscript on the
author’s behalf. This person is responsible for the tasks associated with submis-
sion, but correspondence and requests for further changes are made to the party
designated as the corresponding or primary author of the manuscript. Submitting
agent accounts are created similarly to author accounts, but they require informa-
tion about the primary author also to be added to the user account profile.
Passwords to either author accounts or submitting agent accounts should not
be shared. Doing so leaves the account holder at risk of incomplete submissions
being changed or new submissions being created under his or her name.
The Author Home Page
After logging in, the author is presented with his or her home page. Typically,
the author home page is divided into several areas; from this location, authors
can begin a new submission, check the status of a previous submission, continue
a submission begun earlier, or submit a revised manuscript. The author home
page also shows the progress of accepted manuscripts through the production
cycle to publication. As publishers increasingly recognize the value of this author
home page, new features are likely to be added. In the case of the Cadmus Rapid
Review software, the author home page has already evolved to include a scien-
tist’s activities as both a referee and an author.
Reminder: If an author home page is available, use it to submit new
articles and to track the status of current submissions.
Chapter 5: Electronic Submission of Manuscripts 63
Submitting Your Manuscript
Preparing materials in advance allows the authors either to complete their full
submissions in one sitting or to partially complete the process, depending on
individual preferences and the requirements of the publisher. E-mail and FTP
submissions require the submission to be completed at one time. However, more
publishers with online submission sites allow authors to interrupt their online
submissions and to complete them later. During a partial submission, each step
must be completed for the information pertaining to that submission step to be
saved. The author can complete the submission by logging into the journal site
and accessing his or her author home page. After selecting the link for that man-
uscript, the submission process can be resumed, beginning with the first incom-
plete step. Before the manuscript is submitted, authors are asked to review all the
component parts and make any final changes.
Supplemental information should also be reviewed and validated. Crystallo-
graphic information files (CIFs) in particular can be verified using the free Check-
CIF utility, which is available from the International Union of Crystallography.
Usually in the cases of e-mail, FTP, or online submission, no additional changes
to the manuscript or associated documents are permitted after submission unless
an editor requests a revision or the publisher contacts the author to fix a problem.
Submitted Manuscripts
After the submission is complete, the author typically receives an e-mail acknowl-
edging the submission from either the editor or the submission system. If the pub-
lisher offers an author home page, the status of the manuscript can be tracked from
that site. These sites also notify authors by e-mail as the status of the manuscript
changes. If the publisher makes use of an online system for submission, the editors
for that publisher may be able to use features available only to them to shepherd
the manuscript through the peer-review process. In these cases, the system notifies
the editor of newly arrived manuscripts, allows the editor to view all associated
files and details of the submission, and allows for the manuscript to be assigned to
the appropriate editors and reviewers. Many systems generate the correspondence
that accompanies the notification of editors, reviewers, and authors. As decisions
are made and correspondence is sent, the corresponding status changes for the
manuscript are displayed on the author home page. Additional details about the
peer-review process can be found in Chapter 6.
Stops Along the Way (Revisions)
When a revision of the paper is requested, an e-mail from the editor will detail
the necessary changes. Where FTP or direct-to-editor e-mail is the preferred sub-
64 The ACS Style Guide
mission mechanism, the author will send revised files directly to the indicated
e-mail address or FTP location. For publishers with author home pages, authors
can view the status of submitted manuscripts and determine that a revision has
been requested. From the author home page, authors access the submission and
upload revised manuscript documents, images, and associated files. During
the submission of the revision, authors may also provide rebuttal information
or revision details to clarify how the manuscript has been altered. If an author
determines that a revision is necessary before a request is made by the editor,
authors using Web-based submission systems must contact the appropriate edi-
tor and request that the status of the manuscript be changed within the system
to indicate that a revision is needed. This step will allow the author to adjust
and replace files and then to submit a revision. Once the revision is received,
an acknowledgment is sent by e-mail, and the author will not be able to make
further changes to the paper unless the editor requests another revision to the
Authors can expect to be notified of their manuscripts’ acceptance by e-mail.
Accepted manuscripts are copyedited and formatted according to specific jour-
nal style, using the original word-processing files from the author’s online sub-
mission. As the manuscript progresses through the various stages of production,
the status on the author home page changes to reflect each new step.
➤ ➤ ➤ ➤ ➤
Online Submission at Selected
Scientific Publishers and
Research Grant Agencies
This appendix contains a list of scientific publishers and research grant agen-
cies, along with the software they use for online manuscript submission and the
manuscript submission site, if there is one.
Table 5A-1. Scientific Publishers
Publisher Software URL
American Academy of
Forensic Science
Information and
forms only
No electronic submission
American Association
for Clinical Chemistry
American Association
of Pharmaceutical
Editorial Manager Pharmaceutical Research submissions at
American Chemical
ACS Paragon System
American Geophysical
Geophysical Elec-
tronic Manuscript
American Institute for
Chemical Engineers
Rapid Review
American Institute of
Some journals use
Peer X-Press
After acceptance, you will be asked to use
their FTP or e-mail site at http://www.aip.
American Mathematical
Information and
forms only
No electronic submission
American Peptide
ScholarOne Manu-
script Central
American Pharmacists
ScholarOne Manu-
script Central
Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences sub-
missions at http://jpharmsci-wiley.
American Physical
American Society for
Biochemistry and
Molecular Biology
The Journal of Biological Chemistry submis-
sions at
Continued on next page
66 The ACS Style Guide
Table 5A-1. Scientific Publishers—Continued
Publisher Software URL
American Society for
Cell Biology
American Society for
Mass Spectrometry
Elsevier author
American Society for
Rapid Review
Biophysical Society Bench>Press
Blackwell Publishing Information and
forms only
No electronic submission
Cambridge University
Information and
forms only
No electronic submission
Electrochemical Society Peer X-Press
Elsevier Elsevier author
Each journal has its own instructions for
submitting work. Go to the home page of
your journal of interest at http://authors.
Institute of Electrical &
Electronics Engineers
Each journal has its own instructions for
submitting work. Go to the home page of
your journal of interest at
Institute of Food
ScholarOne Manu-
script Central
Materials Research
ScholarOne Manu-
script Central
Nature EJPress
Oxford University Press Some journals use
ScholarOne Manu-
script Central
Each journal has its own instructions for sub-
mitting work. Go to the home page of your
journal of interest at http://www3.oup.
Royal Society of
Science Submit to Science
Society of Plastics
Information and
forms only
No electronic submission
Society of Toxicology ScholarOne Manu-
script Central
Taylor & Francis Information and
forms only
No electronic submission
Wiley-VCH Some journals use
Each journal has its own instructions for sub-
mitting work. Go to the home page of your
journal of interest.
Wolters Kluwer/Springer ScholarOne Manu-
script Central
Each journal has its own instructions for
submitting work. Go to the home page
of your journal of interest at http://www.
World Scientific Each journal has its own instructions for
submitting work. Go to the home page
of your journal of interest at http://www.
Chapter 5: Electronic Submission of Manuscripts 67
Table 5A-2. Research Grant Agencies
Research Grant Agency Software URL
Alexander von Humboldt
Information and forms
No electronic submission
American Chemical Society
Petroleum Research Fund
Electronic submission only.
American Heart Association Electronic submission only.
Australian Research Council Grant Application
Management System
Electronic submission only.
Camille and Henry Dreyfus
Limited online
Ford Foundation Diversity
NASA NASA Solicitation and
Proposal Integrated
Review and Evalua-
tion System (NSPIRES)
The National Academies,
Research Associateship
National Institutes of Health,
Office of Extramural
Information and forms
No electronic submission
National Science Foundation FastLane
Office of Naval Research Information only No electronic submission
proposalCENTRAL Research and Manage-
ment System (RAMS)
U.S. Air Force Office of Scien-
tific Research
Information and forms
No electronic submission
U.S. Department of Energy,
Office of Science
Welch Foundation Information and forms
No electronic submission
Wellcome Trust eGrants
html or
➤ ➤ ➤ ➤ ➤
Key Features of Selected
Online Submission Systems
The following systems are entirely Internet-based and incorporate all elements of
submission, review, and manuscript management, unless otherwise noted. They
operate with standard browsers and require that authors, editors, and review-
ers have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view PDF documents. Authors, reviewers, and
editors are offered a secure, password-protected login. Each system incorporates
an author home page for the submission, revision, and tracking of manuscripts.
Similarly, each system allows referees to submit reviews of manuscripts online.
Publishers modify these systems in varying degrees to reflect different work-
flows. For this reason, journals using the same software may have slightly differ-
ent features. This list indicates acceptable submission file types for each system
and highlights the systems distinctive features. As technology changes and new
features become available, publishers will amend submission sites and systems.
Therefore, authors should check regularly for current requirements with the
journal before beginning a manuscript submission.
Table 5A-3 catalogs a variety of scientific publishers and the systems they cur-
rently use to accept manuscripts online. This table is not all-encompassing, but
it is intended to be representative of publishing organizations that contribute to
the peer-review literature used by ACS members.
Chapter 5: Electronic Submission of Manuscripts 69
Table 5A-3. Text and Image Formats Acceptable to Different Web-Based
Manuscript Submission Systems
Manager EJPress
Text Formats
MS Word (.DOC) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
WordPerfect (.WPD) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Encapsulated PostScript
(.EPS) Yes — Yes Yes Yes Yes
PostScript (.PS) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Text—ASCII (.TXT) Yes Yes
Rich text format (.RTF) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
TeX Yes — Yes Yes — —
LaTeX Yes — Yes Yes — —
Portable document format
(.PDF) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes —
Image Formats
Graphics interchange for-
mat (.GIF) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Joint Photographic
Experts Group (.JPEG) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Tagged image file (.TIF) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Encapsulated PostScript
(.EPS) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
PostScript (.PS) Yes Yes Yes
MS PowerPoint (.PPT) Yes
Other Acceptable Formats a b b a b a b
Chemical markup lan-
guage (.CML) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Chemical structures,
such as those created
by ChemDraw, Chem-
Sketch, ISIS/Draw Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
DrawIt (formerly
Chemwindow) Yes Yes Yes Yes — Yes
Crystallographic informa-
tion file (.CIF) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Executable (.EXE) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
MS Excel (.XLS) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
MOL Yes Yes Yes Yes — Yes
Video files, such as Quick-
Time (.AVI, .MPEG) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Protein Data Bank (.PDB) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Windows metafile (.WMF) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Winzip file (.ZIP) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Note: The systems and their developers are as follows: ACS Paragon System, American Chemical Society;
Bench>Press, HighWire Press; Editorial Manager, Aries Systems; EJPress, eJournal Press; Manuscript Central,
ScholarOne; Peer X-Press, American Institute of Physics; and Rapid Review, Cadmus Systems.
aThese systems allow a variety of designated file types to be uploaded as supplemental information.
bThese systems allow any file type to be uploaded as supplemental information.
Peer Review
Barbara A. Booth
Peer review is a process used by scientific publications to
assist editors in evaluating manuscripts, particularly for
scientific merit. It is not the only system used to evaluate manuscripts, and it is
not perfect. Editors of peer-reviewed books and journals send manuscripts to
several reviewers and request their opinions on originality and scientific impor-
tance of the topic, the quality of the work performed, and the appropriateness
for the specific journal. Reviewers may also comment on language usage, clarity
of figures and tables, manuscript length, and anything that they find relevant to
effective communication. Although not every editor uses peer review in the same
manner, this chapter presents a summary of many common attributes of the
peer-review process. (For a broader discussion of peer review, see “Peer Review
and the Acceptance of New Scientific Ideas at http://www.senseaboutscience.
Purpose of Peer Review
When a manuscript is submitted for consideration, peer review provides the edi-
tor with advice on whether to accept the manuscript for publication. Reviewers
also provide suggestions for improving the manuscript. The decision on whether
to accept the manuscript for publication rests solely with the editor. Reviewers
provide additional expertise and have perspectives that may complement that of
the editor. Customarily, peer review is anonymous: the identities of reviewers are
not revealed by editors. Some journals also hold authors names and affiliations
in confidence, a double-blind review approach. Occasionally, reviewers request
Copyright 2006 American Chemical Society
72 The ACS Style Guide
that the editor disclose their names to authors; this is allowed at the discretion of
the editor, based on the policy of the individual publication. In one variation of
the peer-review process, review is not anonymous; all reviewers are identified.
Peer review is also intended to help authors. External review can help improve
the presentation and interpretation of data alike, and ultimately, the research.
Clearly and succinctly describing a scientific study is challenging, and review-
ers provide valuable feedback. Few manuscripts are so well written that they are
accepted without revision. Data and interpretation that seem clear to authors
are not always comprehensible to readers. Scientific research is both competitive
and cooperative; at its best, peer review is a part of the cooperative process. For
example, after evaluating data, a reviewer may suggest an alternative explanation
or additional experiments that trigger ideas for further research. Also, a reviewer
pointing out an error can save an author the embarrassment of subsequently
publishing a correction.
The Peer-Review Process
When the editor receives a manuscript, he or she examines it and determines
whether the manuscript fits within the scope of the journal, whether it meets
the specific requirements of the journal, and whether it is of sufficient scien-
tific merit for consideration. Not all manuscripts are transmitted to reviewers.
In some cases, the editor decides to reject a manuscript without review, or rarely,
to accept it for publication. Manuscripts are rejected without review for various
reasons, including the following: the topic is inappropriate for the journal; the
concept or the data are not novel; the format is incorrect; the writing is so poor
that the manuscript is unreadable; or the authors have previously published
overly similar papers. If a manuscript is rejected without review, the editor will
usually briefly inform the author of the reason. Some editors offer suggestions to
help authors with future submissions.
If the editor decides to send the manuscript for peer review, customarily
two to four individuals with appropriate expertise—training or research experi-
ence—are asked to review the manuscript. The editor may identify reviewers in
a number of ways. Many editors ask authors to recommend reviewers; some do
not. Author-recommended reviewers may or may not be used. Most editors will
not send manuscripts to specific reviewers if an author so requests. Other poten-
tial reviewers may be authors cited in the manuscript, acknowledged experts
in the field, or other active researchers in the field. Editors often use scientific
search services (such as SciFinder or SciFinder Scholar for chemists) to identify
qualified potential reviewers. Reviewers may or may not be known personally to
the editor. Most journals maintain records on thousands of reviewers, including
their expertise, manuscripts they have reviewed, performance, and so on.
Chapter 6: Peer Review 73
Usually, reviewers are asked whether they are willing to review a manuscript.
If they agree, the manuscript is provided in either hard copy or electronically,
often with an accompanying review form. Editors generally ask reviewers to sub-
mit their reviews in two or three weeks. When a review is overdue, the editor
usually sends a reminder to the reviewer.
Once reviews are returned, the editor reads the reviews in conjunction with the
relevant manuscript, evaluating both the manuscript and the reviews, and then
makes a decision whether to accept the manuscript, request revisions, reject the
manuscript, or send it for additional review. In some cases of conflicting advice or
opinions of reviewers, editors may seek advice from others. Editors are not obli-
gated to follow the recommendations of reviewers. Reviewer ratings are not aver-
aged; often, a single cogent negative review leads to rejection of a manuscript.
Responsibilities of Reviewers
Peer review is a critical component of formal scientific communication, and
every scientist has an obligation to do a fair share of reviewing.
Reminder: Manuscripts should be reviewed in a timely and balanced
manner and should be kept confidential until publication.
When a manuscript is under review, it is a confidential document and it
should not be discussed or shown to others. After reading a manuscript, a
reviewer may conclude that a better review could be accomplished with assis-
tance from a colleague. In this circumstance, the reviewer should inform the edi-
tor before engaging the colleague. Reviewers are expected to provide reviews that
are thorough and unbiased. A reviewer in direct competition with the authors of
a manuscript should inform the editor that there is a potential conflict of interest
and discuss the issue with the editor. In addition, if reviewers are asked to review
the work of someone at the same institution or the work of a previous student or
co-worker, the reviewer should inform the editor. In some cases, the editor will
excuse the reviewer from doing the review; in other cases, the editor will con-
sider the relationship when evaluating the review.
Reviewers are expected to submit their reviews on time. Most reviewers are
also authors and expect reviews of their manuscripts to be handled expedi-
tiously. If circumstances arise that prevent or delay a review, the editor should be
informed as soon as possible.
The entire manuscript should be read carefully and critically. Most reviewers
read a manuscript more than once. Manuscripts should be rated on technical
quality, significance of the work, importance to the research field, and adequacy
of expression. Often a standard form is provided for this portion of the review.
74 The ACS Style Guide
Reviewers should feel free to comment on the suitability of the manuscript for
the particular publication. Sometimes first-rate manuscripts are submitted to an
inappropriate publication. In addition to the actual review, some editors allow
reviewers to submit confidential comments about the manuscript. These are not
forwarded to the author. If suspicions of abuse, plagiarism, or fraud arise, the
editor should be informed immediately.
Many reviewers divide their reviews into general comments and specific,
detailed comments. In the general section, reviewers should draw attention to
both the strong and the weak points of the manuscript, the concepts, the objec-