< Submission Guidelines

Manuscript Format & Content

Formatting Guidelines for Initial Submission

As of January 2022, all new submissions to JEI must be submitted on our manuscript template. This template is designed to help our student authors address commonly seen mistakes in manuscripts before they have even submitted!

Sections of a Manuscript

Title Page

The title page should include:

  • A title with a character count of 110 or less (including spaces)
    • The title should succinctly describe your research.
      • We suggest using your title to paraphrase either the question you asked or the main results of your research
    • Test out some options to see if they will fit on our final PDF template using Arial, 19pt font with 0.75 inch margins. If your title does not fit on two lines or less then it will likely not fit on the final template
    • Titles should be written in sentence case, with only the first word and proper nouns capitalized. For example, “Water from Lake Lowell contains greater levels of common contaminants than the Snake River”
  • All of the authors listed in the order in which they contributed, with the teacher or college/university mentor listed last
    • Each author should have a superscript number immediately following their name, indicating their affiliation, which will appear below the author list
    • If multiple authors made the same contribution to the manuscript, place an asterisk next to the students’ names and add a note below the author affiliations
  • Each authors’ institution/school affiliations
    • School, city, state or country if outside the United States
    • A number should appear before each affiliation, corresponding with the superscript appearing by author names affiliated with that institution

Summary (Abstract)

An abstract should be a short (under 250 words) summary on a separate page, after the title page but before the remainder of the manuscript. This should include:

  • The problem that prompted the study or the reason why the study is valuable
  • The research question or purpose of the study
  • The main hypothesis
  • A summary of the results with some context on the methods but not too much detail
  • Conclusions and implications of the findings


The article must provide an appropriate and sufficient background on the subject matter and must include references. The introduction provides context for the manuscript. The introduction should:

  • briefly describe the overarching scientific topic of the paper
  • provide background information on that scientific question (including references) such that the audience understands the question being asked AND why this question is of interest
  • contain a clearly-stated purpose/hypothesis related to a scientific question
  • briefly summarize the conclusions drawn from the authors’ research


The authors must describe in paragraph format how they test the scientific question with well-designed scientific experiments. It is important to discuss experimental controls and statistical analysis when appropriate and to draw appropriate and reasonable conclusions from experimental data. For each experiment, the authors must:

  • describe the rationale for the experiment
  • briefly explain how the experiment was performed (additional or lengthy details should be included only in the Materials and Methods section)
  • interpret the scientific data, referencing the figures that contain the results (graphs, charts, tables, equations, etc).

Please review our stats guide for helpful advice on performing statistical analysis, including links to free online calculators that can be used

Presenting figures, tables, and statistics in the Results section

Data figures/tables and statistical analysis are important for making the argument for the conclusions of a manuscript. Through these things, the reader can see the data and information that led to the conclusions, and they can make decisions about whether they believe the conclusions the authors make. First-time authors often make mistakes in how they present this information in the results section by putting too much focus on the figure or statistic itself and not putting the result in the context of the study. Instead, we recommend that authors reference their figures and statistics similar to citing literature in the introduction to support the claims or conclusions drawn from the data.


  • On average, plants grown in X-containing soil grew to be 10∓2 inches tall compared to 5∓1 inches for control plants (Figure 1).
  • Seeds planted in soil containing X grew significantly taller than plants in regular potting soil (p = 0.01).


In the discussion section, the authors should discuss the results and their interpretation of the results. It is important that the authors draw appropriate and reasonable conclusions from their scientific data. The authors should:

  • summarize the experimental results and draw conclusions from the experimental data
    • All results discussed here should be mentioned in the Results section first
    • Be careful not to overstate conclusions (i.e. make conclusions beyond what your experiments show). Authors can speculate or propose reasons for the observed results, but if the experiment did not specifically address that concept, it must be clear to the reader that such statements are speculation
  • discuss factors or limitations that could have influenced the results, such as sources of error or bias in interpretation
    • Human error is assumed and does not need to be the primary focus of the discussion of limitations. It is important to point out if a particular type of error was more likely than others and why.
  • address the significance of the results
  • discuss remaining scientific questions and/or potential future experiments. Have fun with this! Future directions is where you can propose essentially limitless experiments. It is also important to address what further studies would be needed in order to apply the findings from the current study. For example, studies testing novel pharmaceutical drugs as treatment for a disease should describe what would need to be done to get such a drug into clinical trials (in vitro studies demonstrating mechanism of action, in vivo studies demonstrating safety and efficacy in animal models, etc).

Materials and Methods

The authors should describe the methods in enough detail such that a different scientist could perform the same experiments and obtain the same results. Materials should not be listed out but should be mentioned within the context of the respective experiment that the materials were used. For example, when explaining a method within this section, the author could state the materials used: “bacteria were grown in standard LB media (FisherSci) for 24 hours at 37°C while shaking.”


Information on choosing and citing references can be found here.


This is a section to acknowledge people who have made minor contributions to the manuscript. For example, people who have read and commented on your manuscript before submission should be acknowledged. This is also the section to state your funding sources (if any). Authors (such as the mentor, teacher, or professor) should not be acknowledged as outside help because they help write the manuscript. Authorship on the manuscript is in itself an acknowledgement of the work each author put into the project and manuscript.

Figures, Tables, and Captions

Figures and tables are important components of scientific articles as a way of visualizing the data. A comprehensive guide for how to make figures for publication can be found here. All figures submitted with the manuscript should be referenced somewhere in the body of the manuscript, probably in the Results or Introduction.

Background and methods diagrams

Authors often want to include a diagram depicting an important concept included in their background information or showing their experimental setup. It is important to note that JEI cannot legally publish figures from another source, like a textbook or another article, without proper permissions from the creator of the figure. As an alternative, we suggest that authors make their own diagrams or explain the important concepts in the text, citing a source where readers can find an already published diagram.

Data figures

Figures showing original data should all be referenced for the first time in the results section. All figures need a descriptive caption located together at the end of the manuscript in a separate section for figure and table captions. Each caption should include the figure number, title, and a description of what the figure shows and any important information necessary to interpret the figure (color coding, what symbols mean, how many replicates the data represents, etc).


Like figures, tables should be placed at the end of the manuscript document above their caption. Tables should be in a format that is editable in Word (i.e., not an image of a table) and do not need to be uploaded separately in Editorial Manager. Table captions should include the table number, title, and a description of what the table shows, including definitions of any abbreviations used in the table. More guidance on making tables for JEI publication can be found here.

Making and submitting figures

Data must be presented in individually numbered figures with a title and descriptive caption listed at the end of the manuscript. Each figure should be an individual, high-resolution (1000x1000 pixels) JPEG, TIFF or PNG file with each file named clearly with the figure number (e.g. Fig1.jpg). Figures should be numbered in the order in which they are referenced in the text[CO8] . As a manuscript goes through the revision process, the order of figures may change, so make sure to update file names and ensure corresponding figure legends describe the correct figure in the re-submission!

To convert an Excel graph, table or chart into a JPEG, TIFF or PNG, the easiest option is to “right click” on the graph, chart, or table and click “save as picture”. Alternatively, you can “copy” the graph, chart or table and “paste” it into Preview or an Adobe application such as Photoshop. Powerpoint is also a useful tool for making figures, especially ones with multiple components or panels. More information on how to make figures, including important considerations can be found here.

For the purposes of submission, figure captions should appear at the end of the article, after the references. If the article is accepted by JEI for publication, editors will place the figure caption with the appropriate figure during the proofing stage. If you need guidance putting together graphs, charts or tables in Excel, check out this tutorial.


JEI allows appendices on a case-by-case basis depending on the type of research being presented in a manuscript.

  • Any code/programming scripts should be included as an appendix or uploaded to a GitHub page (we do not accept links to GoogleDrive or similar cloud-storage services).
  • If you conducted a survey-based study it is common to provide the full-text of your survey questions in the appendix as it allows readers to review the questions asked to participants and their phrasing
  • If the material you wish to include in an appendix falls outside of the two situations mentioned above, you may submit your manuscript with an appendix; however, you must provide a statement with the appendix telling the editors why you believe the inclusion of the material is needed in the appendix rather than the main manuscript text.