Guide to Authors

To download our complete Guide to Authors, please click here


What is Heredity?

And why should you submit your next article to Heredity? What sort of material does Heredity cover and what makes it stand out from other genetics journals?

Take a look at our 'About the Journal' page or Tune in to this mini Heredity podcast and hear from the Editors behind the official  journal of The Genetics Society.


We have recently abolished colour page charges so publishing in Heredity is FREE, unless full Open Access is selected as an option.

Article Type Specifications

Article: An Article is a substantial, in-depth, novel basic or clinical research study of interest to the readership of the journal. The structure an Article should follow is detailed below. Heredity strongly encourages authors adhere to the reporting guidelines relevant to their specific research design. Any clinical trials submitted to Heredity must adhere to the registration requirements listed in the journal Editorial Policies.
Specifications: Unstructured abstract max. 250 words; Main body of text (excluding abstract, tables/figures, and references) not to exceed 7,000 words; Max 8 tables or figures; Max 100 references

Computer Note: Heredity publishes notes of new or substantial updates to existing computer programs addressing an important problem in Heredity's broad range of topics within the field of genetics. The note should describe clearly the aim, design, main functions, as well as a brief summary of the input (data) and output (results) of the program. The authors may also include a section exemplifying the use of the software by analysing an empirical dataset, and/or a section comparing the performances of the new and existing software by analysing some simulated or empirical data. The software package should include executables for at least one computer platform (Windows, Mac, Linux) or source code, a user's manual, and one or more test datasets. At submission time, the package should be either deposited in a public domain to enable online access or submitted together with the computer note for assessment by referees.
Specifications: Unstructured abstract max. 250 words; Main body of text (excluding abstract, tables/figures, and references) not to exceed 7,000 words; Max 8 tables or figures; Max 100 references

Review Article: A Review Article is an authoritative, balanced survey of recent developments in a research field. Review Articles should be structured around a clear and topical question/aim, plus incorporate a review of previously published literature from the past 5-10 years, describing the pros and cons of these studies. Normally, the review article will also present the author’s opinion on how to approach the issue/situation being discussed and their thoughts on what is necessary to move the field forward in the future.  Authors interested in submitting review articles to Heredity are encouraged to contact the editorial office in advance of submission to discuss their idea.
Specifications: Unstructured abstract max. 250 words; Main body of text (excluding abstract, tables/figures, and references) not to exceed 7,000 words; Max 8 tables or figures; Max 120 references

Perspective: A Perspective is intended to provide a forum for authors to discuss models and ideas from a personal viewpoint. They are more forward looking and/or speculative than Review Articles and may take a narrower field of view. They may be opinionated but should remain balanced and are intended to stimulate discussion and new experimental approaches.  Perspectives are regularly commissioned, however pre-submission enquiries are also welcome.  Please contact the editorial office to propose an idea.
Specifications: No abstract required; Main body of text (excluding tables/figures, and references) not to exceed 3,000 words; Max 8 tables or figures; Max 100 references

Editorial:  (by Editor invitation only) Proposals for Editorials may be submitted; however, authors should only send an outline of the proposed paper for initial consideration. 
Specifications: No abstract required; Main body of text (excluding tables/figures, and references) not to exceed 1,500 words; Max 1 table or figure; Max 10 references

Comment: Comment articles draw attention to recent advances in the field and may be based on papers published in Heredity or elsewhere. As with Reviews, most pieces are commissioned but the Editorial Office is happy to consider suggestions.
Specifications: No abstract required; Main body of text (excluding tables/figures, and references) not to exceed 1,500 words; Max 1 table or figure; Max 10 references

Special Issues
Special issues are comprised of a group of high quality, peer-reviewed manuscripts about a single specific theme / topic. Although the individual manuscripts are stand alone, they collectively make an important point by offering a comprehensive view, or by providing a diverse perspective. The number of manuscripts in a special issue is determined on a case by case basis. Special Issues are commissioned only by invitation or upon consultation with Heredity editorial staff. Please contact the Editorial Office for preliminary inquiries about special issues. Usually, a person willing to be the Guest Editor of a special issue should initiate this process. This Guest Editor will act as the point of contact between Heredity and the individual authors submitting manuscripts.  

Preparation of Articles

Please note:

  • Manuscripts should be double-spaced, with all margins at least 4 cm in width.
  • Pages and lines should be continually numbered to aid cross-referencing.
  • Any manuscript cited as ‘in press’ should be uploaded if possible.
  • Papers based on thesis chapters normally require rewriting and drastic abbreviation before submission.
  • All manuscripts are subject to editorial review.
  • Papers must be submitted exclusively to Heredity and are accepted on the understanding that they have not been, and will not be, published elsewhere - for further details see the journal Editorial Policies.
  • If accepted, papers become the property of The Genetics Society. Authors should ensure that a full copy of all submitted material, including illustrations, is retained.
  • It is the author’s responsibility to obtain permission to reproduce illustrations, tables, etc. from other publications - for further details see the journal Editorial Policies.

Articles must contain the following components. Please see below for further details.

  • Cover letter
  • Title page (excluding acknowledgements)
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Materials and Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Acknowledgements
  • Conflict of Interest
  • Data archiving
  • References
  • Figure legends
  • Tables and/or Figures (uploaded separately)

Cover Letter: Authors must provide a cover letter to accompany their submission.  Authors should briefly discuss the importance of the work and explain why it is considered appropriate for the diverse readership of the journal. 
The cover letter should confirm the material is original research, has not been previously published and has not been submitted for publication elsewhere while under consideration. If the manuscript has been previously considered for publication in another journal, please include the previous reviewer comments, to help expedite the decision by the Editorial team.
If your manuscript is a resubmission to Heredity, please state the original manuscript number.
We encourage suggestions for reviewers but ask that these are included in the ‘Manuscript Comment’ during submission. Requests to exclude referees should also be made via this route.
Please also include a Competing Interests statement - see Editorial Policies for more details.

Title Page: The title page should contain:

  • Title of the paper - succinct, informative, of 150 characters or less and should not make a statement or conclusion
  • Full names of all authors and their affiliations, together with the e-mail address of the corresponding author. If authors regard it as essential to indicate that two or more co-authors are equal in status, they may be identified by an asterisk symbol with the caption ‘These authors contributed equally to this work’ immediately under the address list.
  • Word count for main text (excluding references, tables and figures)

Abstract:  This should not exceed 250 words and should be provided on a separate page in the file, as well as on the online submission form. It is particularly important that the Abstract identifies the conceptual issue(s) addressed in the paper, as well as outlining the approach and the main findings. Please ensure that the conclusions consider a broad general message in addition to specific conclusions about the focal study system. 

Introduction: The Introduction should be concise but provide an overview of previous research to motivate each of the objectives.  It should clearly specify gaps in knowledge that make the novelty of the study clear.  The objectives should be clearly stated in the final paragraph of the introduction.

Materials/Subjects and Methods:  This section should contain sufficient detail, so that all experimental procedures can be reproduced, and include references. Methods, however, that have been published in detail elsewhere should not be described in detail. Authors should provide the name of the manufacturer and their location for any specifically named medical equipment and instruments.

Results:  The Results section should briefly present the experimental data in text, tables or figures. Tables and figures should not be described extensively in the text but all should be cited and captions used to clearly describe what they indicate, including pointing out what the reader should notice that is relevant to the objectives.

Discussion:  The Discussion should focus on the interpretation and the significance of the findings with concise objective comments that describe their relation to other work in the area. It should not repeat information in the results. The final paragraph should highlight the main conclusion(s), and provide some indication of the direction that future research should take. 

Acknowledgements: These should be brief, and should include sources of support including sponsorship (e.g. university, charity, commercial organisation) and sources of material (e.g. novel drugs) not available commercially.

Competing Interests:  Authors must declare whether or not there are any competing financial interests in relation to the work described. This information must be included at this stage and will be published as part of the paper, but should also be noted in the cover letter. Please see the Competing Interests definition in the Editorial Policies section for detailed information.

Data Archiving: Heredity subscribes to the Joint Data Archiving Policy which mandates that the primary data on which a study is based is archived in a public repository. We strongly believe that the free availability of data to other research scientists is beneficial to the development of our field of study and that electronic archiving now makes this goal attainable. The data archived should be sufficient for another scientist to repeat your analyses or conduct new analyses of their own. For a population genetics survey, for example, this would mean archiving genotypes of individuals but not raw data such as sequencer spectrograms or gel photographs. Similarly, for a QTL analysis individual genotypes and phenotypes would be archived.  Sequence data must be submitted to an appropriate public repository (e.g. National Centre for Biotechnology Information) and accession numbers provided.  
Authors are strongly encouraged to follow established minimum guidelines for the reporting of biological data, wherever appropriate. Guidelines for many relevant data types are available from MIBBI: Minimum Information for Biological and Biomedical Investigations. Advice on good practice in data archiving is provided by Whitlock (2011). DNA sequences published in Heredity must be deposited in a publicly available database, usually EMBL/GenBank/DDBJ, and accession numbers must be included in the final version of the manuscript. Where public databases exist for other data types, such as microarray data (see, for example), they must be used and the relevant reference should be included in the manuscript. Where no public database exists, authors must submit their data to the Dryad data repository. On acceptance of an Original Article, the corresponding author will automatically receive an email with details of the steps necessary for submission to Dryad. 
Dryad can accept data of any type. The data should be formatted for use in a relevant, readily available software package, ideally one which allows data export in a variety of formats (such as CREATE for population genetic data. It is the corresponding author’s responsibility to ensure that sufficient metadata (such as sample locations, individual identities etc.) are provided to allow easy repetition of analyses presented in the manuscript. We recognise that some information may be sensitive (such as identities of subjects or locations of endangered species). Such information can be excluded from the submission provided that this does not prejudice re-analysis of the data. 

Articles must contain a section entitled ‘Data Archiving’ which specifies where the data used in the paper can be accessed. See the section under Format of Papers for details. Authors will be asked about data archiving during the manuscript submission process but data archiving is not mandatory until the paper has been accepted for publication. At that stage, the corresponding author will be asked to confirm that all relevant data have been appropriately archived; the manuscript will not be published until this confirmation, and relevant accession numbers or other data identifiers, have been received. 
Where a paper describes new simulations or analytical methods, Heredity requires authors to make any relevant software publicly available, wherever possible. The Dryad repository can accept code. We recognise that software may utilise proprietary code which the authors are not free to distribute and in such cases the requirement to submit code may be waived. Authors should consult the Editorial Office if in doubt. 
We recognise that, in some cases, authors may wish to restrict access to their data while they perform additional analyses. Where the relevant database supports the use of embargoes on data access, Heredity will allow an access restriction of up to one year from the date of publication of the article. In exceptional circumstances, longer embargoes may be possible, at the discretion of the Managing Editor. 
Except in very exceptional circumstances, the journal will not accept RAPD based studies for publication, and authors wishing to submit papers on this subject should contact the Editorial Office beforehand for advice. 

References:  There should normally be no more than 100 references. These should be indicated chronologically in the text by the surnames of the authors with the year of publication. Citation by name and year can be given entirely in parentheses or by citing the year in parentheses after an author's name used in the text. Adhere to the following usage:
– One author: Miller (1998) or (Miller 1998)
– Two authors: Miller and Smith (2001) or (Miller and Smith 2001)
– More than two authors: Miller et al. (1999) or (Miller et al. 1999)
– Letters are used to distinguish references whose citations would otherwise be identical (e.g., Miller 1998a, b).
– Do not repeat the names of authors of multiple citations (e.g., Miller 1998a, 2001; Miller and Smith 2001). 

The full list of references should be given in alphabetical order at the end of the article, double-spaced, in the form of the examples below. Journal titles should be abbreviated according to Medline. All authors up to the first six should be listed, followed by et al. for seven or more authors. 

Dickinson WJ (1991) The evolution of regulatory genes and patterns in Drosophila. In: Hecht MK, Wallace B, Maclntyre RJ (eds) Evolutionary Biology , Plenum Press: New York. Vol 25, pp 127–173. 

Falconer DS (1989) Introduction to Quantitative Genetics , 3rd edn. John Wiley and Sons: New York.  

Latta RG (1992) Inbreeding Depression and Mixed Mating Systems in Mimulus. MSc Thesis, University of Toronto.  

Sano Y, Sano R (1990) Variation of the intergenic spacer region of ribosomal DNA in cultivated and wild rice species. Genome 3: 209–218. 
Swofford DL, Selander RB (1989) BIOSYS - 1. A computer program for the analysis of allelic variation in population genetics and biochemical systematics . Release 1.7. University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois.

Wilde J, Waugh R, Powell W (1992) Genetic fingerprinting of Theobroma clones using randomly amplified polymorphic DNA markers. Theor Appl Genet 83: 871–877. 

Figure Legends:  These should be brief, specific and appear on a separate manuscript page after the References section.

Tables:  Tables should only be used to present essential data; they should not duplicate what is written in the text. It is imperative that any tables used are editable, ideally presented in Excel.  Each must be uploaded as a separate workbook with a title or caption and be clearly labelled, sequentially. Please make sure each table is cited within the text and in the correct order, e.g. (Table 3).  Please save the files with extensions .xls / .xlsx / .ods / or .doc or .docx. Please ensure that you provide a 'flat' file, with single values in each cell with no macros or links to other workbooks or worksheets and no calculations or functions.

Figures:  Figures and images should be labelled sequentially and cited in the text. Figures should not be embedded within the text but rather uploaded as separate files. The use of three-dimensional histograms is strongly discouraged unless the addition of the third dimension is important for conveying the results.
Please note: Composite figures containing more than three individual figures will count as two figures. All parts of a figure should be grouped together.  Where possible large figures and tables should be included as supplementary material.

Detailed guidelines for submitting artwork can be found by downloading our Artwork Guidelines. Using the guidelines, please submit production quality artwork with your initial online submission. If you have followed the guidelines, we will not require the artwork to be resubmitted following the peer-review process, if your paper is accepted for publication.

Reuse of Display Items: See the Editorial Policy section for information on using previously published tables or figures.  

Supplementary Information: Supplementary information is material directly relevant to the conclusion of an article that cannot be included in the printed version owing to space or format constraints. The article must be complete and self-explanatory without the Supplementary Information, which is posted on the journal's website and linked to the article. Supplementary Information may consist of data files, graphics, movies or extensive tables.

Please submit supplementary figures, small tables and text as a single combined PDF document. Tables longer than one page should be provided as an Excel or similar file type. Please refer to the journal’s Data Policies, outlined in the Editorial Policies section of these guidelines for additional options for such files, and which provides guidance on alternatives to supplementary files for data deposition, linking, preservation, and storage.

For optimal quality video files, please use H.264 encoding, the standard aspect ratio of 16:9 (4:3 is second best) and do not compress the video. Important: Supplementary information is not copyedited, so please ensure that it is clearly and succinctly presented, that the style and terminology conform to the rest of the manuscript, and that any tracked-changes or review mark-ups are removed.

Authors should submit supplementary information files in the FINAL format as they are not edited, typeset or changed, and will appear online exactly as submitted. When submitting Supplementary Information, authors are required to: 

  • Include a text summary (no more than 50 words) to describe the contents of each file.
  • Identify the types of files (file formats) submitted.

Please note: We do not allow the resupplying of Supplementary Information files for style reasons after a paper has been exported in production, unless there is a serious error that affects the science and, if by not replacing, it would lead to a formal correction once the paper has been published. In these cases we would make an exception and replace the file; however there are very few instances where a Supplementary Information file would be corrected post publication.

House Style
As the electronic submission will provide the basic material for typesetting, it is important that papers are prepared in the general editorial style of the journal. 

  • Manuscripts should be double-spaced, with all margins at least 4 cm in width.
  • Pages and lines should be continually numbered to aid cross-referencing.
  • Do not make rules thinner than 1pt (0.36mm).
  • Use a coarse hatching pattern rather than shading for tints in graphs.
  • Colour should be distinct when being used as an identifying tool.
  • Spaces, not commas should be used to separate thousands.
  • At first mention of a manufacturer, the town (and state if USA) and country should be provided.   
  • Statistical methods: For normally distributed data, mean (SD) is the preferred summary statistic. Relative risks should be expressed as odds ratios with 95% confidence interval. To compare two methods for measuring a variable the method of Bland & Altman (1986, Lancet 1, 307–310) should be used; for this, calculation of P only is not appropriate.
  • Units: Use metric units (SI units) as fully as possible. Preferably give measurements of energy in kiloJoules or MegaJoules with kilocalories in parentheses (1 kcal = 4.186kJ). Use % throughout.   
  • Abbreviations: On first using an abbreviation place it in parentheses after the full item. Very common abbreviations such as DNA, RNA, need not be defined. Note these abbreviations: gram g; litre l; milligram mg; kilogram kg; kilojoule kJ; megajoule MJ; weight wt; seconds s; minutes min; hours h. Do not add s for plural units. 

File Formats
File formats for manuscript files, figures and tables that are acceptable for our electronic manuscript submission process are given on the online forms. Article files should be submitted in either Word or LaTex format. Further advice on file types is also available from the Author Tips webpage. Either embed tables converted into images at the end of your Word document, or as separate files in which ever program you used to generate them. If you submit raw data, this can be done in Excel, or tab/comma delimited format. 

Subject Ontology 
Upon submission authors will be asked to select a series of subject terms relevant to the topic of their manuscript from our subject ontology. Providing these terms will ensure your article is more discoverable and will appear on appropriate subject specific pages on, in addition to the journal’s own pages. Your article should be indexed with at least one, and up to four unique subject terms that describe the key subjects and concepts in your manuscript. Click here for help with this.