Guidelines for Authors

Substantive recommendations

The reader at the center. Please write your manuscript with your potential readership in mind. How to persuade a reader to continue reading beyond the abstract and the first paragraph? How to catch his or her attention; how to keep it? Isis has the entire length and breadth of the history of science for its province, so it is not to be expected that your essay will appeal equally to every reader. But do not confine your audience to your fellow specialists. Please strive to give the reader a sense of the wider significance of the point or points you are seeking to make. Also, keep in mind that the average Isis reader, although in most cases a professional historian of science, will need somewhat more background and context than your fellow specialists would require.


Title and abstract. Think hard about a title that gets across the gist of your argument while also being attractive to your potential readership. Be sure to include a summary of your argument in an abstract of approximately 150 words.


Minimal criteria for judgment. Cultivation of the history of science involves certain scholarly standards, expressive of such tools of the historian’s trade as have been developed and maintained over more than a hundred years. Referees will minimally hold each contribution to such basic professional standards.


“Text” and “context.” Every conceptual or observational development in the history of science has taken place in some historically situated context. Therefore, Isis is open in principle both to contributions in which developments “internal” to science are being emphasized (albeit never exclusively so) and to those in which their context is the primary (yet never exclusive) concern.


Length and writing style. The length of Isis articles varies. The average length is about 10,500 words, including notes. The maximum length is 15,000 words, including notes. This unusual maximum length is meant to give needed space to arguments of considerable complexity and substantive breadth, not to encourage repetitiveness. Please express yourself as clearly, distinctly, crisply, and energetically as you can and avoid all needless technical vocabulary.


For proposals for a Focus section, click these Guidelines.


Letters to the editor should be written in an objective, matter-of-fact style. They are restricted to no more than 500 words.


Copyright. Manuscripts should be submitted to Isis with the understanding that upon publication copyright will be transferred to the owner of Isis, the History of Science Society. That understanding precludes Isis from considering material that has been submitted or accepted for publication elsewhere.


Publisher’s open access policies. The University of Chicago Press permits authors to post an electronic version of their manuscript to a personal or institutional website after it has appeared in print in Isis, under the following conditions: the site is noncommercial and appropriate credit is given to the journal. Authors also have the nonexclusive right of republication of their paper, in whole or in part, in any book for which they are an author or an editor, provided that they give credit to the journal. See further the Guidelines for Journal Authors’ Rights.”

Format requirements

File. Your manuscript should have the format of a Word document or equivalent (no pdf, please). Make sure to include title and author’s name in the file name.


Layout. Please take care to make your manuscript easy reading for the editor and the referees. Factors to consider include letter font, letter size, spacing, page numbers, a wide left margin for comments, and a ragged (not justified) right margin.


Typos, botched sentences. Please ensure prior to submission that your manuscript contains no ungrammatical sentences or typos. Sloppily prepared manuscripts will be returned for correction.


Special features. Please mark clearly for the typesetter all unusual alphabets, special characters, mathematics, and chemical formulas and include all diacritical marks. For guidance in preparing mathematical elements see “Manuscript Preparation—Math.”


Figures. A small number of figures may be used to illustrate an article. See “Manuscript Preparation—Artwork” for requirements. It is the responsibility of the author to assure that copyright permission has been obtained whenever applicable.


Tables. Prepare tables with the Word (or equivalent) table editor only; because they must be edited, they cannot be pasted into the paper as image files. See “Manuscript Preparation—Tables” for further requirements.


Bibliographic information should be given in endnotes, typed separately from the main body of the manuscript, numbered consecutively throughout the article, and keyed to reference numbers typed above the line in the text.


a. References to books should include author’s or authors’ full name or names; complete title of the book in italics; place of publication and publisher’s name for books published after 1900; date of publication, including the original date when a reprint is being cited; page numbers cited. Example: Joseph Needham, Science and Civilisation in China, 5 vols., Vol. 1: Introductory Orientations (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1954), p. 7.


b. References to articles in periodicals should include author’s name; title of article, in quotes; title of periodical, italicized; year; volume number, Arabic and italicized; number of issue if pagination requires it; page numbers of article; number of particular page cited. Journal titles are spelled out in full on first citation and abbreviated subsequently according to the list provided in the annual Current Bibliography. Example: John C. Greene, “Reflections on the Progress of Darwin Studies,” Journal of the History of Biology, 1975, 8:243–273, on p. 270; Dov Ospovat, “God and Natural Selection: The Darwinian Idea of Design,” J. Hist. Biol., 1980, 13:169–174, on p. 171.



c. Succeeding citations of books and articles should use an abbreviated version of the title with the author’s last name. Example: Ospovat, “God and Natural Selection,” p. 170.

How to submit your manuscript

Preliminary blinding of manuscripts. Isis uses double-blind refereeing; therefore we want to receive your manuscript in two versions, one “blinded,” one not. Please follow the easy guidelines listed below under “Ensuring a Blind Review”. Make sure that the file names you give to each version contain the expression “blinded” or “not blinded,” respectively.


Corresponding author. If there are several authors, please appoint one of them as corresponding author, responsible for all exchanges with the Isis office.


Submission procedure. To upload your manuscript, please go to the website of our submission & tracking system: If you are a first-time user, please register first; if not, just log in as ‘Author’. Submission requires a couple of easy steps, and none of the information entered will get lost if you have to interrupt the procedure. If you nonetheless run into problems that strike you as insurmountable, just send an email message to the editorial office:, and we will respond as quickly as we can. Once you have successfully uploaded your manuscript, the system will confirm receipt.

Ensuring a Blind Review

How to Remove Identifying Information from Your Manuscript


Authors are responsible for removing any information from their manuscripts that might lead a reviewer to discern their identities or affiliations. We suggest the following masking procedures. Identifying information that will require masking is typically found on the title page, in location names, in IRB statements, and in authors’ self-citations of prior work.


1. Mask the Title Page Attached to Manuscript


Masking the title page is simply a matter of omitting identifying information.


2. Mask Location and University Affiliation


Referring to the research site or the university’s review board by proper names is likely to be second nature for most researchers/writers; therefore, we suggest that authors perform a word search of their manuscript for location, and when found, make revisions accordingly.


3. Mask University Affiliation in Statements of IRB Approval


For example, instead of writing “This research was approved by the University of North Carolina Institutional Review Board,” give the region of the university or research site:


“This research was approved by the Institutional Review Board of a large Southeastern public university.”


4. Mask Authors’ Self-Citations of Published Work


Most researchers’ current work builds from previous investigations, requiring self-citation of published findings. Self-citations are best masked by leaving the names but ensuring that you use third person to discuss the work.


5. Mask Authors’ Self-Citation of Unpublished Findings, Manuscripts, or Conference Presentations


Authors rarely have access to materials that are “in press,” “under review,” “unpublished, on file with author,” or a “manuscript in preparation” unless they are affiliated with the research in some way. In cases when you are citing unpublished materials, masking follows the standard course of replacing your name or co-authors’ names with “Author” in both the in-text citation and the reference entry.

Open Access Policy

Isis authors have the option to make their accepted paper freely available online immediately upon publication. The fee for Open Access is $2,500. Contact for more information. UK authors should note that this option cannot be used to comply with RCUK regulations for gold OA, as the University of Chicago Press requires permission for commercial reuse. UCP does comply with the RCUK regulations for green OA.

"Green" Open Access

The University of Chicago Press supports Green Open Access for all articles, as defined by the RCUK Open Access Policy, under the Press’s Guidelines for Journal Authors’ Rights.