Skip to main content Accessibility help
Instructions for authors
Instructions for Authors

Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS) is a unique scientific communication medium, providing the service of Open Peer Commentary for reports of significant current work in psychology, neuroscience, behavioral biology or cognitive science. If a manuscript is judged by BBS referees and editors to be appropriate for Commentary (see Criteria below), it is circulated electronically to a large number of potential commentators selected (with the aid of systematic bibliographic searches and e-mail Calls for Commentators) from the BBS Associateship and the worldwide biobehavioral science community, including individuals recommended by the author. If you are not a BBS Associate and wish to enquire about joining, please see the Instructions for BBS Associate Membership.

Submitted target articles: Authors should upload their manuscripts (double spaced) to the BBS Editorial Manager peer review system at

Once the Commentary stage of the process has begun, the author can no longer alter the article, but can respond formally to all commentaries accepted for publication. The target article, commentaries, and authors' responses then co-appear in BBS.

Criteria for acceptance: To be eligible for publication, a paper should not only meet the standards of a journal such as Psychological Review or the International Review of Neurobiology in terms of conceptual rigor, empirical grounding, and clarity of style, but the author should also offer an explicit 500 word rationale for soliciting Commentary, and a list of suggested commentators (complete with e-mail addresses).

A BBS target article can be: (i) the report and discussion of empirical research that the author judges to have broader scope and implications than might be more appropriately reported in a specialty journal; (ii) an unusually significant theoretical article that formally models or systematizes a body of research; or (iii) a novel interpretation, synthesis, or critique of existing experimental or theoretical work. Occasionally, articles dealing with social or philosophical aspects of the behavioral and brain sciences will be considered.

Multiple Book Reviews: The service of Open Peer Commentary will be primarily devoted to original unpublished manuscripts written specifically for BBS treatment. However, a recently published book whose contents meet the standards outlined above spontaneously and multiply nominated by the BBS Associateship may also be eligible for Commentary. In such a BBS Multiple Book Review, a comprehensive, article-length précis by the author is published together with the commentaries and the author's response. In special cases, Commentary will also be extended to a position paper or an already published article that deals with particularly influential or controversial research or that has itself proven to be especially important or controversial. In normal cases however, BBS submissions may not be already published (either in part or whole) or be under consideration for publication elsewhere and submission of an article is considered expressly to imply this. Multiple book reviews and previously published articles appear by invitation only. Self-nominations cannot be considered, neither can non-spontaneous (i.e. author elicited) nominations. However, the BBS Associateship and professional readership of BBS are encouraged to submit book review and special issue proposals to the Editors.

Style and format for target articles: Target Articles must not exceed 14,000 words (and should ordinarily be considerably shorter); commentaries should not exceed 1,000 words, excluding references. Spelling, capitalization, and punctuation should be consistent within each article and commentary and should follow the style recommended in the latest edition of The Chicago Manual of Style. It is advisable to examine a recent issue of BBS as a model.

Target article proposals should be submitted (double spaced) in Word or RTF format to the BBS Editorial Manager peer review system at

Figures should appear in the body of the text, not at the end of the paper, and must be supplied as separate TIFF, EPS, JPEG, or GIF files. However, if your article is accepted, TIFF or EPS format will be requested for publication.

Please make sure your target article file has ALL of the following in this order: 

  • Four Separate Word Counts (for the abstract, main text, references, and entire text—total + addresses etc.)
  • Indexable Title
  • Full Name(s), Institutional Address(es), E-mail Address(es) and Homepage URL(s) for all authors (where available)
  • Short Abstract (100 words)
  • Long Abstract (250 words)
  • 5-10 Keywords (in alphabetical order)
  • approx. 12,000 word Main Text (with paragraphs separated by full blank lines, not tab indents)
  • Acknowledgements (optional)
  • Funding statement
  • Conflicts of Interest statement
  • Alphabetical Reference List

Target article authors must also provide numbered headings and subheadings to facilitate cross-reference by commentators. Tables and figures (i.e., photographs, graphs, charts, or other artwork) should be numbered consecutively and should appear in its appropriate location. Every table should have a title; every figure, a caption. Endnotes and appendices should be grouped together at the end of the paper and should ideally be locally linked to in the text to facilitate the reader (and of course the referee's task). Acknowledgements should be placed at the end of the paper. The short abstract will appear by way of an advertisement, one issue in advance of the publication issue. The long abstract will be circulated to referees and then potential commentators should the paper be accepted, and will appear with the published article. BBS's rigorous timetable constraints (requiring the coordination of target articles, commentaries and author's responses within the publishing queue) make it extremely difficult for us to process follow-up drafts of your submission. Please make sure that the paper you submit is the carefully checked final draft to which you wish the referees to address.

Please also ensure that your submission has been proofread by a native English speaker before submission. This, of course, greatly improves its chances at the refereeing stage.

References: Bibliographic citations in the text must include the author's last name and the date of publication and may include page references. Complete bibliographic information for each citation should be included in the list of references. Please also include and link to the WWW URL for any paper for which it exists. Examples of correct styles are: Brown (1973); (Brown 1973); Brown 1973; 1978); (Brown 1973; Jones 1976); (Brown & Jones 1978); (Brown et al. 1978). References should be in alphabetical order in the style of the following examples. Do not abbreviate journal titles:

Freeman, W. J. (1958) Distribution in time and space of prepyriform electrical activity. Journal of Neurophysiology 2:644-66.

Dennet, D. C. (1991) Two contrasts: Folk craft versus folk science and belief versus opinion. In: The future of folk psychology: Intentionality and cognitive science, ed. J. D. Greenwood, [page numbers]. Cambridge University Press.

Bateson, P. P. G. & Hinde, R. A., eds. (1978) Growing points in ethology. Cambridge University Press.

Acknowledgements: Authors can use this section to acknowledge and thank colleagues, institutions, workshop organizers, family members, etc that have helped with the research and/or writing process. It is important that that any type of funding information or financial support listed under ‘Financial Support’ rather than Acknowledgements so that it can easily be tagged and captured separately. 

Financial Support / Funding Statement: Within this section please provide details of the sources of financial support for all authors, including grant numbers, for example: 

“This work was supported by the Medical Research Council (grant number XXXXXXX)”. 

Multiple grant numbers should be separated by a comma and space, and where research was funded by more than one agency the different agencies should be separated by a semi-colon, with “and” before the final funder. Grants held by different authors should be identified as belonging to individual authors by the authors’ initials, for example:

“This work was supported by the Wellcome Trust (AB, grant numbers XXXX, YYYY), (CD, grant number ZZZZ); the Natural Environment Research Council (EF, grant number FFFF); and the National Institutes of Health (AB, grant number GGGG), (EF, grant number HHHH).”

Where no specific funding has been provided for research, please provide the following statement: “This research received no specific grant from any funding agency, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.”

Conflicts of Interest: Authors must include a Conflicts of Interest declaration in their manuscript when they submit, which should be published in their article. These include any situation that could be perceived to exert an undue influence on an author’s presentation of their work. They may include, but are not limited to, financial, professional, contractual or personal relationships or situations.

If the manuscript has multiple authors, the Conflicts of Interest declarations should list all contributing authors, e.g. “Conflicts of Interest. Author A is employed at company B. Author C owns shares in company D, is on the Board of company E and is a member of organisation F. Author G has received grants from company H in the past.” 

If an author wishes to state they have no Conflicts of Interest, their declaration should say “Conflicts of Interest. None”.

ORCID: Behavioral and Brain Sciences now requires that all corresponding authors identify themselves using their ORCID iD when submitting a manuscript to the journal. ORCID provides a unique identifier for researchers and, through integration in key research workflows such as manuscript submission and grant applications, provides the following benefits: 

  1. Discoverability: ORCID increases the discoverability of your publications, by enabling smarter publisher systems and by helping readers to reliably find work that you’ve authored. 

  1. Convenience: As more institutions, funders and publishers use ORCID, providing your iD or using it to register for services will automatically link activities to your ORCID record, and will enable you to share this information with other systems and platforms you use, saving you re-keying information multiple times. 

  • Keeping track: Your ORCID record is a neat place to store and (if you choose) share validated information about your research activities and affiliations. 

If you don’t already have an iD, you’ll need to create one if you decide to submit a manuscript to Behavioral and Brain Sciences. You can register for one directly from your user account on Editorial Manager or via

If you already have an iD, please use this when submitting, either by linking it to your Editorial Manager account or supplying it during submission by using the “Link to ORCID record” button. 

Editing: The publishers reserve the right to edit and proof all articles and commentaries accepted for publication. Authors of target articles will be given the opportunity to review the copyedited manuscript and page proofs. Commentators will be asked to review copyediting only when changes have been substantial; commentators will not see proofs. Both authors and commentators should notify the editorial office of all corrections within 48 hours or approval will be assumed.

If your target article is accepted, the precopyedited final draft will be archived publicly for potential commentators. The copyedited final draft will be only be available for the invited commentators.

Author response to commentaries: All invited commentaries received before the deadline are posted as they are received and are only accessible to the Authors and Editors. Please note that no commentary is officially accepted until the Editor in charge has formally reviewed it and notified both the authors and editorial staff. Please follow exactly the BBS Commentary Response Instructions before submitting your response.

If you have any questions or problems please email

Instructions for Invited Commentators

General Information: The purpose of the BBS Open Peer Commentary service is to provide a concentrated constructive interaction between authors and commentators on a topic judged to be of broad significance to the biobehavioral science community. Commentators should provide substantive criticism, interpretation, and elaboration as well as any pertinent complementary or supplementary material, such as illustrations; all original data will be refereed in order to assure the archival validity of BBS commentaries. Commentaries and articles should be free of hyperbole and remarks ad hominem.Commentary articles appear by invitation only. Please follow these instructions before submitting your invited commentary.

Once the Commentary stage of the process has begun, the author can no longer alter the article, but can respond formally to all commentaries accepted for publication. The target article, commentaries, and authors' responses then co-appear in BBS.

General Format of Commentaries: Accepted commentaries received in time will be copublished with the target article and the authors' response. (Please note that although commentaries are solicited and most will appear, they are subject to editorial review and acceptance cannot be guaranteed in advance.)

Please do not devote the limited space in your commentary to repeating the contents of the accompanying target article. Portions of commentaries redundant with the target article or with other accepted commentaries may have to be deleted by the editor. BBS also reserves the right to edit commentaries for relevance and style. In the interests of speed, commentators will only be sent the edited copy for review when there have been major editorial changes. (All commentaries are editorially reviewed; where necessary, they may also be formally refereed.)

Please provide an informative, indexable title for your commentary. As many commentators will address the same general topic, your title should be a distinctive one that reflects the gist of your specific contribution and that is suitable for the kind of keyword indexing used in modern bibliographic retrieval systems. With around many active commentaries at any one time, it is also extremely helpful to us if you indicate at the very top of your commentary the name of the targetarticle authors on whom your are commenting. (There is no need to cite the entire target article, just the name of the authors will do.)

Step by Step Guide to Required Commentary Format: Editorial Manager is the medium by which BBS transfers and processes all of its material, from the first draft of the target article, through open peer commentary, to the author's response and final publication. We do not process new submissions via email attachments to the editorial office.

Invited commentaries can only be accepted in the following format:

A. Word or RTF file submitted through the new BBS Editorial Manager peer review system.
B. Figures may be in JPEG, GIF, TIFF or EPS format. However, TIFF or EPS format may be required for publication.
C. All figures, tables and equations must be placed where you would like them to appear in the final article, at the proper location in the document with the corresponding figure captions below (or above the tables).

In addition, please make sure your commentary has all of the following in this order:

  1. The name of the author(s) of the target article
  2. Four separate word counts (abstract, main text, references, entire text (total + addresses etc.)
  3. An indexable and informative commentary title
  4. Full name(s)
  5. Institution
  6. Full institutional mailing address(s)
  7. Institutional telephone number(s) (for correspondence)
  8. One email address each
  9. One home page url each (where available)
  10. 60 word abstract
  11. 1000 word main text (with paragraphs separated by full blank lines, not tab indents) (2000 word main text for Multiple Book Reviews)
  12. Acknowledgements (optional)
  13. Funding statement (see above in Target Article instructions)
  14. Conflicts of Interest statement (see above in Target Article instructions)
  15. Alphabetical reference list (APA standard)

Except for BBS Special Issues and Multiple Book Reviews, commentaries should be no more than 1000 words. Multiple Book Review commentators are permitted 2000 words for the main text. Special Issue commentators are permitted an extra 400 words for each additional commentary on which they write (i.e. a commentary on three Special Issue papers would have a limit of 1000 + 400 + 400 = 1800).

BBS's rigorous timetable constraints (requiring the coordination of target articles, commentaries, and authors' responses within the publishing queue) make it extremely difficult for us to process follow-up drafts of your submission. Please make sure that the paper you submit is the carefully checked final draft which you wish the authors to respond. Small non-substantive corrections, not affecting the author's response, are possible at a later stage, when you are sent the edited copy to review, but not before.

Please also ensure that your submission has been proof-read by a native English speaker before submission.

Please do not write a commentary unless you have received an official invitation!

If you have any questions or problems please email

Commentary Response Instructions

Authors should upload their response articles (double spaced) to the BBS Editorial Manager peer review system at

All submitted commentaries on your target article will only be accessible to the Authors and Editors. Please note that even though all commentaries are posted, no commentary is officially accepted until the Editor in charge has formally reviewed it and notified both you and the Editorial Coordinator that it has been accepted. This will be done after the grace period for late commentaries has expired. We invite you to use the interval until the final commentary acceptance to begin to compose your response, with the caution that some commentaries may be rejected, some may undergo substantial editing, and some may be added right up until the final date. In addition, you may feel that some of the commentaries should not be accepted for some reason (e.g., quality, relevance) or should perhaps have particular sections scrutinized by the Editor. You are encouraged to communicate any such concerns to the Editor, but with the understanding that the final decision must rest with BBS.

Organization of the formal Response: Clearly, the authors must be allowed the liberty to express and defend themselves as they see fit, but out of consideration for the reader (who must assimilate all this material), and in order to derive benefit from BBS experience so far, we make the following suggestions:

(a) The multiple commentaries, appearing alphabetically rather than in terms of subject matter, present the reader with the problem of integration. Optimally, this should be provided by the author's formal response. Many authors have found it useful to organize their responses around specific topics that have suggested themselves in the commentary. A table classifying the commentaries according to these topics as well as informative section headings has often been found to be most useful. In addition, any general and integrative observations that suggest themselves are very helpful to the reader and help to place the author back in the central locus that he is meant to occupy in an Open Peer Commentary. A serene tone is best; do not trade barbs. Rather than matching the tone of a response you find intemperate, personal or offensive, notify the Editor of your concerns as described above.

(b) The commentaries tend to place the reader in a position of waiting for the other shoe (or, more properly, shoes) to drop. It is highly advisable therefore not to leave any specific nontrivial queries or criticisms unanswered. We would ask that you cite every commentary at least once, for example, to rebut some specific claim, to answer with an extended argument, or simply to classify it into a set of responses raising similar points.

(c) The response should provide an integration and an overview. It should avoid becoming a haphazard pastiche of replies to random points, but it is nevertheless important that specific replies should be addressed to specific commentators. To aid the reader in cross-referring, you should put the first instance of any commentator's name in each paragraph of the response in boldface. This way the reader impatient to hear a particularly profound shoe drop can cross-refer directly from the commentary he is reading to a quick scan of the response to determine whether the author has replied to his satisfaction.

In summary, the optimally organized response will represent an appropriate balance, integrating the general themes in the commentaries and providing specific, thorough replies to the substantive points made, each point prominently identified by indicating the names of the commentators who made them.

The preferred length of a BBS Response is about 6,000-9,000 words; it should never exceed half the length of the target article. Please supply a distinctive and representative (keyword-indexable) title and an abstract of approximately 60 words, summarizing as specifically as possible the content of your contribution.

Style and Format for the Response to Commentaries:

A. Your response submitted in Word or RTF format.
B. Figures may be in JPEG, GIF, TIFF or EPS format. Depending on the quality of the images, TIFF or EPS format may be required.
C. All figures, tables and equations must be placed where you would like them to appear in the final article, at the proper location in the document with the corresponding figure captions below (or above the tables).

If you have any questions or problems please email

Commentary Proposal Instructions

In order to nominate yourself for commentary invitation, follow the instructions below and submit a Commentary Proposal via the BBS Editorial Manager site:

Information on recently accepted target articles or books which are currently open for Commentary Proposal submission are available at "Target Articles Under Commentary".

If you have received the Call for Commentary Proposals, your username and password should have been included inside the email. At the Editorial Manager (EM) site you can register a new user account, update your existing information, or retrieve your username and password.

Commentary proposals must include the following:

  1. All authors, including any possible co-authors, listed at the top of your submission document.
  2. What aspect of the target article or book you would anticipate commenting upon.
  3. The relevant expertise you would bring to bear on the target article or book.

Note: Please include names and affiliations of your potential co-authors if applicable.

Suggesting commentators and nominating BBS associates:

To suggest others as possible Commentators, or to nominate others for BBS Associateship status, please email

How to submit a commentary proposal:

1. Log-in to your BBS Editorial Manager account as an author:

If you do not have an account, please visit the site and register. You can also submit a request for missing username and password information if you have an existing account.

2. Within your author main menu please select Submit New Manuscript.

3. Choose the article type of your manuscript from the pull-down menu. Commentary Proposal article types are temporarily created for each accepted target article or book. Only select the Commentary Proposal article type that you wish to submit a proposal on. For example; "Commentary Proposal (Henrich et al.)"

4. Please title your proposal submission by indicating the relevant first author name of the target article or book. For example; "Commentary Proposal on Henrich et al."

5. Add co-authors: If you are proposing to write a commentary with any co-authors, the system will not allow you to enter their information here. Instead, include their names at the top of the commentary proposal document you upload. These potential co-authors need not contribute to the commentary proposal itself.

6. Attach Files: The only required submission Item is your Commentary Proposal in Word or RTF format. In the Description field please add the first author name of the target article or book. For example; "Commentary Proposal on Henrich et al."

7. Approve Your Submission: Editorial Manager will process your Commentary Proposal submission and will create a PDF for your approval. On the Submissions Waiting for Author's Approval page, you can view your PDF, edit, approve, or remove the submission. Once you have Approved the Submission, the PDF will be sent to the editorial office.

Note: Only the Corresponding Author will have access to the PDF and must log-in to the system in order to approve the PDF.

At the conclusion of the Commentary Proposal period, the editors will review all the submitted Commentary Proposals. An undetermined number of Commentary Proposals will be approved and those author names will be added to the final commentary invitation list. At that time you will be notified of the decision. If you are formally invited to submit a commentary, you will be asked to confirm your intention to submit by the commentary deadline.

Note: Before the commentary invitations are sent, the copy-edited and revised target article will be posted for invitees. In the case of Multiple Book Review, invitees will be sent a copy of the book to be commented upon if requested. With Multiple Book Reviews, it is the book, not the Précis article that is the target of commentary.

Please do not write a commentary unless you have received an official invitation!

If you have any questions or problems please email

Instructions for BBS Associate Membership


Because of the extensive commentary and review process each BBS article undergoes, it is critical that the journal maintain an active list of those qualified for and interested in participating in this process. We call this list "BBS Associates" and it is one of the resources we consult when undertaking new articles, from solicitation, to review, to commentary.

The following automatically become BBS Associates:

  • Anyone who has had a target article accepted for publication in BBS
  • Anyone who has had a commentary accepted for publication in BBS
  • Anyone who has refereed for BBS

If you have done none of these things as yet and you would like to add yourself to this list, you may nominate yourself, or have a current BBS Associate nominate you. Such nominations often occur during the "Call for Commentary Proposals" process. A nominating email from a current Associate should indicate the candidate's general qualifications as well as their basis for wishing to serve as commentator for the particular target article in question. If self-nominating, please send your request to, with your qualifications to show that you are an academically trained professional contributor to one of the disciplines mentioned earlier, or to related academic disciplines. A Curriculum Vitae can be enclosed, but is not essential.

Please email for all BBS Associate correspondence, including opt-out if your interests have changed, if you would like your name to be hidden from the public list, or if you would like your affiliation or interests updated.

Language Editing Services

Contributions written in English are welcomed from all countries. Authors, particularly those whose first language is not English, may wish to have their English-language manuscripts checked by a native speaker before submission. This is optional, but may help to ensure that the academic content of the paper is fully understood by the editor and any reviewers. Cambridge offers a service which authors can learn about here. Please note that the use of any of these services is voluntary, and at the author's own expense. Use of these services does not guarantee that the manuscript will be accepted for publication, nor does it restrict the author to submitting to a Cambridge published journal.

Open Access Policies

Please visit our open access page for information on our open access policies, compliance with major finding bodies, and guidelines on depositing your manuscript in an institutional repository.

Publication Ethics

Please visit for information on our ethical guidelines.

Last updated 31 January 2020