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Instructions for Authors

Guidelines S.A.P.I.EN.S v2.6

© S.A.P.I.EN.S 2014

S.A.P.I.EN.S welcomes manuscript submissions on any aspect of sustainability.

S.A.P.I.EN.S publishes multidisciplinary review articles (Surveys, Analyses, Introductions) and evidence-based opinions (Perspectives, Views).

Please note that S.A.P.I.EN.S does not publish original research articles.

Authors who are uncertain about the suitability of a prospective article are encouraged to send a short synopsis to the managing editor.

File submission

Manuscripts must be submitted electronically, as a single Microsoft Word document containing the complete text as well as all tables and figures.

Authors who are unable to submit their manuscript in Microsoft Word format are invited to contact the managing editor.

Note that S.A.P.I.EN.S does not charge APCs or submission charges.

General Guidelines

Manuscripts must be written in clear and concise English and be intelligible to a broad readership. Articles must not only summarize advances in a field, but must do so in a way that is both accessible and relevant to those working in other disciplines. Jargon should be avoided as much as possible and authors are encouraged make use of diagrams and illustrations to communicate their ideas.

To create an environment conducive to interdisciplinary dialogue, technical items specific to a particular field such as equations, software descriptions and the like should be avoided as much as possible. When need be, such items should be presented in an appendix (which will appear in the manuscript as a box).

Articles should strive to represent fairly all significant views that have been published by reliable sources. Hypotheses, research designs, data, uncertainties and interpretations should be clearly stated and delineated. We encourage authors to discuss biases, study limitations and potential confounding factors.

The pages of an article should be placed in the following order: title page, abstract, table of contents, text, acknowledgements, references, appendices (optional), glossary (optional). Tables and figures should be included in the text with appropriate titles and legends.

Categories of paper


Peer-reviewed. 2,500-7,500 words excluding references; up to eight figures or tables.

Analyses summarize a voluminous contribution, such as a report or a book, and provide a critical analysis of its content, methodology and conclusions, noting points of consensus or contention within scientific communities. Articles must be accessible and relevant to those working in other disciplines.

Example: The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change: contents, insights and assessment of the critical debate


Peer-reviewed. Fewer than 5,000 words excluding references; up to five figures or tables.

Depending on context or discipline, a single word may refer to numerous different phenomena. Disambiguations define and illustrate the different meanings of such polysemantic terms.

Example: What is the Price of Carbon? Five definitions


Peer-reviewed. Fewer than 5,000 words excluding references; up to three figures or tables.

Initiatives present an innovative program or organisation that has been implemented to address a key sustainability issue. These articles should present the issue, the rationale for undertaking such an endeavor and its expected outcomes. Authors are encouraged to discuss any potential pitfalls and limitations of the initiative.

Example: China’s Urban Energy Challenge


Peer-reviewed. Fewer than 5,000 words excluding references; up to three figures or tables.

Introductions relate a pioneering intellectual trajectory and analyze its influence on contemporary research. These articles may present the seminal work of an individual, a research team or a school of thought. The context and significance of key theories, operative concepts and/or crucial experiments should be described.

Example: Darwinian Storied Residence. An introduction to the Work of Holmes Rolston III


Peer-reviewed. Fewer than 5,000 words excluding references; up to eight figures or tables.

These articles describe how recent technical and methodological developments have modified the way research is conducted in a particular area of research and/or hold potential for other disciplines. A description of the method must be illustrated by its application(s) to an important scientific issue and its performance should be compared to other available approaches. Potential applications in other disciplines should be described.

Example: 3D Dynamic Representation for Urban Sprawl Modelling: Example of India’s Delhi-Mumbai corridor


Peer-reviewed. Fewer than 5,000 words excluding references; up to three figures or tables.

Perspectives provide insight on the future of a particular scientific research area. These articles typically present imminent groundbreaking research, new hypotheses or speculation. Personal opinion is encouraged as long as distinction from or convergence with generally accepted views is clearly articulated.

Example: Safety standards: An urgent need for Evidence-Based Regulation


Peer-reviewed. 5,000-10,000 words excluding references; up to ten figures or tables.

Surveys are in-depth reviews of the literature on a particular topic that present: (i) major discoveries and recent advances; (ii) significant gaps and uncertainties; (iii) current debates; (iv) future directions for research. Cross-disciplinary comparisons of concepts are eligible. Surveys must not only summarize advances in a field, but must do so in a way that is both accessible and relevant to those working in other disciplines. Brevity is strongly encouraged.

Example: Sustainable development indicators: a scientific challenge, a democratic issue


Not peer-reviewed. Fewer than 2,500 words excluding references; up to two figures or tables; up to ten references. No abstract.

Views are brief, visionary articles that present issues and/or approaches from a highly integrative perspective. Viewsmay describe holistic approaches to multidisciplinary problems; may compare the efficacy of a given approach under different scenarios; or may be somewhat speculative, for example predicting benefits and impacts of new technologies. The style should be informative, clear, concise and entertaining, more similar to a science magazine article than a traditional scientific paper. Views are edited in-house and are not peer-reviewed, although editors may ask colleagues for advice and guidance.

Example: Cities are at the center of our environmental future

Manuscript organisation

Manuscripts should be set out as follows, with different sections beginning on separate sheets: title page, duplicate title page, abstract, table of contents, text, acknowledgements, references, appendices (optional), glossary (optional). All pages should be numbered consecutively. Tables and figures with their respective titles and legends should appear in the text at the appropriate location.

Please note that as manuscripts are sent for anonymous review, the document should not contain any information that might reveal the identity of authors. Thus, the authors’ names should not appear in any headers or footers; the name and affiliation of the file’s author should be erased (under File – Properties); and obvious self-referencing within the manuscript should be avoided.

Title page

All submitted material should have a title page giving the following information:

  1. Title - This should convey the conceptual significance of the paper to a broad readership, and should not include abbreviations.

  2. The name and initial of each author.

  3. The full institutional addresses of all authors.

  4. The name, address, e-mail and telephone number of the author to whom correspondence should be addressed.

  5. A list of appropriate key words.

  6. A running title of no more than 50 characters including spaces.

Duplicate title page

As manuscripts are sent for anonymous review, a second copy of the title page without names and affiliations must be provided.


The abstract (200-500 words) should be intelligible to the general reader without reference to the text. After a brief introduction to the topic, the abstract should summarize the key points of the article and its potential interest to other disciplines. It should contain neither reference citations nor non-standard abbreviations.

Table of contents

The Table of Contents, or Plan, is a numbered list of all headings and subheadings as they appear in the manuscript (see example below). It should be generated automatically in Microsoft Word using the “Insert a Table of Contents” function. (Please note that for the automatic generation to work, you must make use of the standard styles throughout your document – “Heading 1”, “Heading 2”, and “Heading 3” for headings and subheadings, and “Normal” for paragraphs.)

Example – Table of Contents from Lefèvre B. (2009) Urban transport energy consumption: determinants and strategies for its reduction. S.A.P.I.EN.S 2(3)



Headings should be appropriate to the nature of the paper, and may be subdivided as the author desires. As indicated above, all headings and subheadings in the text should be formatted using the standard Microsoft Word heading styles (Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3), and the text body should be formatted using the Normal style.


Depending on the nature of the article, the text may include a section describing a methodology. This is particularly encouraged in technical disciplines. A typical methodology section should provide answers to: What is measured? How? With what precision? In accordance with which model(s)? Generally speaking, authors should aim to give non-specialist readers a sense of how conclusions are drawn without overwhelming them with too much technical detail.


The text should avoid verbosity, as illustrated in the following examples:

Example 1: Numerous studies in recent years, such as those by Smith (1994) and Wesson and colleagues (2001), have shown that the concept of intentional injury perpetuates an oversimplified view of both injurer and injured.

Preferred version: The concept of intentional injury perpetuates an oversimplified view of both injurer and injured (Smith 1994, Wesson et al, 2001).

Example 2: This frequency of tomatic stimulation was chosen because past studies have shown this to slightly enhance the response of the yelling Prima Donna (Cantatrix Baldus) (Chou & Lai, 1927, Perec, 1984).

Preferred version: This frequency of tomatic stimulation slightly enhances the response of the yelling Prima Donna (Cantatrix Baldus) (Chou & Lai, 1927, Perec, 1984).


Annexes, which will appear in the manuscript as Boxes, should be labelled alphabetically. Typically, annexes contain information that is highly detailed or technical, which would interrupt the flow if it appeared within the main body of text.

For example, see: Grosse F (2010) Is recycling “part of the solution”? The role of recycling in an expanding society and a world of finite resources.


To facilitate an interdisciplinary understanding of the text, authors may submit a list of definitions of concepts central to their manuscript. This glossary should be fully referenced. Reviewers and editors may request that additional terms be added to the glossary.

An example glossary entry might be:

Quality of life: the extent to which human needs are fulfilled in relation to personal or group perceptions of subjective well-being (Costanza et al, 2008).


Footnotes should be avoided as much as possible. Where essential (for example, if citing a website; see References), they should be numbered in consecutive Arabic numerals. (Except footnotes to tables: see Tables.)


References in S.A.P.I.EN.S are based on the APA Style.


Printed material

Citations in the text use parenthetical referencing. Mostly, this involves enclosing the first author’s surname and the year of publication in parentheses; in the case of two authors, both authors’ surnames are given, and in the case of three or more authors only the first author’s name is given followed by “et al.”. Where the author or authors are the subject of the sentence, only the year of publication is parenthesised.

e.g. Illiteracy approaches 90% in some villages (Ruiz 2005).

Wollenberg et al. (1999) identified future scenarios as a tool that could be adapted to the community forest context.

Forest devolution advocates have developed methods for facilitating collaborative forest management (Holman and Devane 1999).


Where a reference is a website, it should be cited using a footnote. To ensure that cited material will remain available to readers in the future, we recommend webpages be permanently archived using WebCite and referenced in the footnote as follows: see

Reference list

Works published or accepted for publication are listed alphabetically at the end of the paper under the first author's name. Works "submitted to" or "in preparation" or "in review" must be referred to as "private communication"



(Author, year)

(Author, year: page) (for direct quotations)

(Author1, year; Author2, year)

(Author, year1, year2)

(Author1 & Author2, year)

(Author1 et al., year) [three or more authors]

References – for articles with more than five authors use “et al.” after first four author names.

Journal article

Author, I. & I. Author (Year). Title in normal caps. Journal name XX: pp-pp.


Author, I. & I. Secondauthor (Year). Title in Italics and Caps. City: Publisher.

Book Section

Author, I. & I. Secondauthor (Year). Title in normal caps. In: Editor, I. & I. Editor (Eds.) Title of Book in Italics and Caps, pp. xx-yy. City: Publisher.


Agency (Year). Title in italics. Extra details, Report number. City: Publisher. URL: http://xxx

Conference proceedings

 Author (Year). Title of paper. In: Editor (first initial, last name) (Ed.) Title of conference

proceedings (page numbers). Place of publication: Publisher. doi:xxx.xxxxxxx

Conference presentation

 Author, I. & I. Author (Year, Month). Title of paper in italics. Paper presented at Conference name, Date, City, Country.


 Rosenberg, S. (1999, June 2). What is to be done about Microsoft? Salon.. Retrieved from


As indicated above, websites should not appear in the reference list, but rather as a footnote.

Highlighting references

If the authors so desire, they may highlight up to ten key papers within the reference list. This should be done by annotating a paper's entry in the reference list with a brief comment in red or bold explaining its importance.


The following examples of reference highlighting are taken from Bray, F. and B. Moller (2006). Predicting the future burden of cancer. Nature Reviews Cancer (6) 63-74.


Hakulinen, T.(1996). The future cancer burden as a study subject. Acta Oncologica 35, 665–670

The author, a longstanding authority on predictions, sets out the objectives and difficulties that need to be confronted, and provides examples of the use of predictions.

Hakulinen T. & E. Pukkala (1981). Future incidence of lung cancer: forecasts based on hypothetical changes in the smoking habits of males. Int. J. Epidemiol. 10, 233–240

One of the first papers to apply scenario-based predictions to test the impact of starting and stopping smoking on future lung cancer burden.

Tables and figures


When creating a table, please use the Microsoft Word table function — do not place an Excel table in a Word document. The Microsoft Word table format “Simple 1” should be used; that is, horizontal lines should only appear above and below the table, and as a separator between the head and the main body of the table; vertical lines should be avoided (see example below).

Tables should be self-explanatory and include a brief descriptive title. Any additional information should be provided in a legend below the table. This legend must include the source of the data presented in the table. If authors wish to use footnotes within a table, these should be referenced with lowercase letters and should also appear in the legend.

Example – Table 1 from Lietaer, B. et al. (2009) Options for managing a systemic bank crisis. S.A.P.I.EN.S 2(1).

Table 1: Cost of bank bailouts



Cost of Bank Bailout































South Korea



Some examples of the cost of bailing out banks as a percent of the corresponding countries’ annual GNP, as estimated by the World Bank

Source: (Caprio & Klingebiel, 1996) and The Economist September 27, 2008, p79


It is essential to the publication process that the correct format be used for figures. Please adhere to the following guidelines.

General comments

Care should be taken to design figures so that they are clear and uncluttered. figures should be numbered consecutively. If a figure has multiple panels, these should be labelled alphabetically (A, B, C…). Where appropriate, a scale bar should be used, rather than a magnification factor, and its length given in the legend.


Each figure should be introduced by a brief title which should be descriptive without citing specific panels.


A legend should appear below the figure, containing enough information for the content to be understood without reference to the text. All symbols and abbreviations used in the figure must be defined, and the length of any scale bar used. The source of the figure should also be attributed.

Format for initial submission

In the initial submission of a manuscript, figures should be inserted in the text as JPG images and labelled in consecutive numerals (Figure 1, Figure 2…).

In Microsoft Word, use Insert → Picture to insert a figure, then select the figure and use Insert → Caption with label = “figure” and position = “above selected item” to add a title above the figure. The Insert → Caption may also be used to add a legend below the figure, but this will require creating a new label. It is perfectly acceptable to simply type the legend into the text below the figure.

Format for publication

Upon acceptance of the manuscript, all figures should be sent as separate files with a resolution of at least 300 dpi and a maximum width of 17.8 cm (7.7 in). The file format should be one of the following: PDF, JPG, TIFF or EPS. Colour files may be either RGB or CMYK. Composite figures comprising multiple panels must be submitted as a single file. Legends should be submitted as a separate text file.


Upon acceptance of their manuscript, authors should state that they have the appropriate rights to use all of the material in their publication.

Legal issues


The corresponding author is responsible for ensuring that the author list accurately acknowledges all contributors to the manuscript. The corresponding author must also affirm that all authors have approved the content of the manuscript and have agreed to its submission to S.A.P.I.EN.S.

Conflict of interest

Authors are obliged to disclose any financial conflict of interest that could be viewed as having prejudiced the views expressed in their manuscript. Any such conflict should be made explicit both in the cover letter accompanying the manuscript and in the Acknowledgments section of the manuscript itself. Authors who are in any doubt are invited to contact the managing editor for clarification.

Examples of statements of disclosure include:

  • This work was supported in part by a grant from COMPANY.

  • AUTHOR is an employee and shareholder of COMPANY.

  • AUTHOR is a founder of COMPANY and a member of its scientific advisory board.


S.A.P.I.EN.S articles are distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Users are free to read, download, copy, distribute and adapt S.A.P.I.EN.S articles as long as authors are properly acknowledged and cited.

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