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Submissions should be made electronically through this website.
Please ensure that you consider the following guidelines when preparing your manuscript. Failure to do so may delay the processing of your submission.
A downloadable version of the style guide is available by clicking here.
Once a submission has been completed, the submitting author is able to fully track the status of the paper and complete requested revisions via their online profile.
Submissions should be between 6,000 and 8,500 words in length for Research, Methods, and Review papers, although submissions of all lengths will be considered. Engagement papers should be around 3,000 words in length. All submissions should include an abstract of no more than 250 words.
If accepted for publication, the journal would like to post a blog article summarising the work and linking back to the publication page. This will help draw readers to the publication, increase search engine results and provide an easy to read summary of the more complex and in-depth text of the publication to make it more accessible to the wider public.
Upon submission, please provide a lay summary of your paper, no longer than 400 words, explaining the concepts, terms and conclusions included in the paper, as well as wider implications or discussion, to people who do not have prior knowledge about the subject. This should be uploaded as a separate file along with your manuscript.
Providing such a lay summary gives permission to the journal to post the text on the Open Quaternary blog, which will credit the authors for the text and also provide a link back to the published article.
If you wish to ensure blind peer review, please only list the title and abstract on the submitted manuscript title page. If you do not wish peer review to be blind, author information may be added to the title page.
The names of all authors, affiliations, contact details, biography (optional) and the corresponding author details must be completed online as part of the submission process.
Author names should include a forename and a surname. Forenames cannot include only initials.
The affiliation should ideally include ‘Department, Institution, City, Country’, however only the Institution and Country are mandatory.
Research articles must have the main text prefaced by an abstract of no more than 250 words summarising the main arguments and conclusions of the article. This must have the heading ‘Abstract’ and be easily identified from the start of the main text.
Please include a list of 5-6 key words after the abstract.
The Abstract and Keywords should also be added to the metadata when making the initial online submission.
The body of the submission should be structured in a logical and easy to follow manner. A clear introduction section should be given that allows non-specialists in the subject an understanding of the publication and a background of the issue(s) involved. Methods, results, discussion and conclusion sections may then follow to clearly detail the information and research being presented.
Up to three level headings may be present and must be clearly identifiable using different font sizes, bold or italics. We suggest using Headings 1, 2 and 3 in MS-Word’s ‘Style’ section.
Supplementary Files (optional)
Any supplementary/additional files that should link to the main publication must be listed, with a corresponding number, title and option description. Ideally the supplementary files are also cited in the main text.
e.g. Supplementary file 1: Appendix. Scientific data related to the experiments.
Note: additional files will not be typeset so they must be provided in their final form. They will be assigned a DOI and linked to from the publication.
Data availability (if applicable)
If data used in the research project has been made available, a statement should be added to direct the reader on where to access these files.
If data used in the research project has not been made available, a statement confirming this should be added, along with reasoning why.
The journal's data policy is available on the Editorial Policies page.
Ethics and consent (if applicable)
Research involving human subjects, human material, or human data, must have been performed in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki. Where applicable, the studies must have been approved by an appropriate ethics committee and the authors should include a statement within the article text detailing this approval, including the name of the ethics committee and reference number of the approval. The identity of the research subject should be anonymised whenever possible. For research involving human subjects, informed consent to participate in the study must be obtained from participants (or their legal guardian).
Experiments using animals must follow national standards of care. For further information, click here.
Any acknowledgements must be headed and in a separate paragraph, placed after the main text but before the reference list.
Funding Information (optional)
Should the research have received a funding grant then the grant provider and grant number should be detailed.
If any of the authors have any competing interests then these must be declared. A short paragraph should be placed before the references. Guidelines for competing interests can be found here.
A sentence or a short paragraph detailing the roles that each author held to contribute to the authorship of the submission. Individuals listed must fit within the definition of an author, as per our authorship guidelines.
All references cited within the submission must be listed at the end of the main text file.
Submitting a data paper is quick and easy. If you are submitting a paper about data that is already public, you can start from step 3. Please note that the nature of using data repositories means that peer review will be single blind, not double blind.
Data paper submission process:
Please submit your completed template through the online submission system when ready for review.
For the submission title:
Capitalise all nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs and subordinate conjunctions (i.e. as, because, although). Use lowercase for all articles, coordinate conjunctions and prepositions.
Headings within the main text:
First level headings in the text should follow the same rule as the main title.
For lower-level subheadings, only capitalise first letter and proper nouns.
Submissions must be made in English. Authors are welcome to use American or British spellings as long as they are used consistently throughout the whole of the submission.
When referring to proper nouns and normal institutional titles, the official, original spelling must be used.
American or English grammar rules may be used as long as they are used consistently and match the spelling format (see above). For instance, you may use a serial comma or not.
The font used should be commonly available and in an easily readable size. This may be changed during the typesetting process and will not necessarily be the published font.
Underlined text should be avoided whenever possible.
Bold or italicised text to emphasise a point are permitted, although should be restricted to minimal occurrences to maximise their efficiency.
Use bullet points to denote a list without hierarchy or order of value. If the list indicates a specific sequence then a numbered list must be used.
Lists should be used sparingly to maximise their impact.
Use single quotation marks except for quotes within another speech, in which case double quotation marks are used.
Quotations that are longer than three lines in length must be in an indented paragraph separate from the main text.
The standard, non-italicised font must be used for all quotes.
It must be clear from the text and/or citation where the quote is sourced. If quoting from material that is under copyright then permission will need to be obtained from the copyright holder.
If some of the original quote is being omitted then an ellipsis with a space on either side must be used to break the text.
Words added to the original quote text, to enhance clarity, must be placed within square brackets
Acronyms & Abbreviations
With abbreviations, the crucial goal is to ensure that the reader – particularly one who may not be fully familiar with the topic or context being addressed – is able to follow along. Spell out almost all acronyms on first use, indicating the acronym in parentheses immediately thereafter. Use the acronym for all subsequent references.
A number of abbreviations are so common that they do not require the full text on the first instance. Examples of these can be found here.
Abbreviations should usually be in capital letters without full stops.
Common examples from Latin origin do not follow this rule and should be lower case and can include full stops.
To ensure impartiality, trade names should be avoided in favour of generic names, unless absolutely necessary. If a trade name is mentioned then its inclusion must be put in context and explained/justified.
Use of footnotes/endnotes
Use endnotes rather than footnotes (we refer to these as ‘Notes’ in the online publication). These appear at the end of the main text, before ‘References’.
All notes should be used only where crucial clarifying information needs to be conveyed.
Avoid using notes for purposes of referencing, with in-text citations used instead. If in-text citations cannot be used, a source can be cited as part of a note.
Please insert the endnote marker after the end punctuation.
Symbols are permitted within the main text and datasets as long as they are commonly in use or have explanatory definition on their first usage.
Hyphenation, em and en dashes
There is no set rule on the use of hyphenation between words, as long as they are consistently used.
Em dashes should be used sparingly. If they are present, they should denote emphasis, change of thought or interruption to the main sentence and can replace comas, parentheses, colons or semicolons.
En dashes can be used to replace ‘to’ when indicating a range. No space should be around the dash.
For numbers zero to nine please spell the whole words. Please use figures for numbers 10 or higher.
We are happy for authors to use either words or figures to represent large whole figures (i.e. one million or 1,000,000) as long as the usage is consistent throughout the text.
If the sentence includes a series of numbers then figures must be used in each instance.
If the number appears as part of a dataset, in conjunction with a symbol or as part of a table then the figure must be used.
If a number is presented with a symbol then the figure must be not separated from the unit by a space.
If a sentence starts with a number it must be spelt, or the sentence should be re-written so that it no longer starts with the number.
When a number consists of more than four digits it must be split by a comma after every three digits to the left of the decimal place.
Do not use a comma for a decimal place.
Numbers that are less that zero must have ‘0’ precede the decimal point.
When referring to dates within an article, conventions used should be consistent. The following guidelines are recommended.
Millard, A R 2014 Conventions for reporting radiocarbon determinations. Radiocarbon, 56(2): 1-5. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2458/56.17455
Mook W 1986 Business meeting: recommendations/resolutions adopted by the Twelfth International Radiocarbon Conference. Radiocarbon 28(2A):799.
Stuiver, M, and Polach, HA 1977 Discussion: reporting of 14C data. Radiocarbon, 25(2): 355-263.
Svensson, A et al. 2008 A 60 000 year Greenland stratigraphic ice core chronology. Climate of the Past, 4: 47-57
Units of measurement
Symbols following a figure to denote a unit of measurement must be taken from the latest SI brochure. See http://www.bipm.org/utils/common/pdf/si_brochure_8_en.pdf for the full brochure.
Formulae must be proofed carefully by the author. Editors will not edit formulae. If special software has been used to create formulae, the way it is laid out is the way they will appear in the publication.
When presented in the main text, fractions must be written in non-hyphenated words, not figures.
Figures, including graphs and diagrams, must be professionally and clearly presented. If a figure is not easy to understand or does not appear to be of a suitable quality, the editor may ask to re-render or omit it.
All figures must be cited within the main text, in consecutive order using Arabic numerals (e.g. Figure 1, Figure 2, etc.).
Each figure must have an accompanying descriptive main title. This should clearly and concisely summarise the content and/or use of the figure image. A short additional figure legend is optional to offer a further description.
Figure titles and legends should be placed as a list after the references.
The source of the image should be included, along with any relevant copyright information and a statement of authorisation (if needed). If using images from an archive then please provide the name of the archive, the collection and the acquisition number.
If your figure file includes text then please present the font as Ariel, Helvetica, or Verdana. This will mean that it matches the typeset text.
NOTE: All figures should be placed within the text file upon submission and during the review process. You do not need to upload individual figure files at the submission stage, although you have the opportunity to do so, should you wish to provide high-resolution files for review. If the submission is accepted for publication you will be asked to upload the files individually to ensure that the publication retains the highest quality. Images should be in colour and at a resolution of at least 300dpi. Each file should not be more than 20MB. Standard formats accepted are: JPG, TIFF, GIF, PNG, EPS. For line drawings, please provide the original vector file (e.g. .ai, or .eps).
Tables must be created using a word processor's table function, not tabbed text.
Tables should be included in the manuscript. The final layout will place the tables as close to their first citation as possible.
All tables must be cited within the main text, numbered with Arabic numerals in consecutive order (e.g. Table 1, Table 2, etc.). The shortened word ‘Tab’ should not be used to cite a table.
Each table must have an accompanying descriptive title. This should clearly and concisely summarise the content and/or use of the table. A short additional table legend is optional to offer a further description of the table. The table title and legend should be placed underneath the table.
Tables should not include:
NOTE: If there are more columns than can fit on a single page, then the table will be placed horizontally on the page. If it still can't fit horizontally on a page, the table will be broken into two.
Every use of information from other sources must be cited in the text so that it is clear that external material has been used.
If the author is already mentioned in the main text then the year should follow the name within parenthesis.
If the author name is not mentioned in the main text then the surname and year should be inserted, in parenthesis, after the relevant text. Multiple citations should be separated by semi-colon and follow alphabetical order.
If three or fewer authors are cited from the same citation then all should be listed. If four or more authors are part of the citation then ‘et al.’ should follow the first author name.
If citations are used from the same author and the same year, then a lowercase letter, starting from ‘a’, should be placed after the year.
If specific pages are being cited then the page number should follow the year, after a colon.
For publications authored and published by organisations, use the short form of the organisation’s name or its acronym in lieu of the full name.
Please do not include URLs in parenthetical citations, but rather cite the author or page title and include all details, including the URL, in the reference list.
All citations must be listed at the end of the text file, in alphabetical order of authors’ surnames.
All reading materials should be included in ‘References’ – works which have not been cited within the main text, but which the author wishes to share with the reader, must be cited as additional information in endnotes explaining the relevance of the work. This will ensure that all works within the reference list are cited within the text.
NOTE: If multiple works by the same author are being listed, please re-type the author’s name out for each entry, rather than using a long dash.
NOTE: DOIs should be included for all reference entries, where possible.
NOTE: If a source has been accepted for publication but is not yet published, include this in the reference list as 'in press' and have the in-text citation read '(Author, in press)'. If a source has not been accepted for publication/is not publicly available, please do not include this in the reference list. Instead please cite this in the main text as '(Author, unpublished).
This journal uses the Harvard system – see below for examples of how to format:
Author, AA. Year. Title. Place of publication: Publisher.
Barham, L. and Mitchell, P. 2008. The First Africans: African archaeology from the earliest toolmakers to most recent foragers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Maher, BA. and Thompson, R. (eds.) 1999. Quaternary Climates, Environments and Magnetism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Marchant, LF. and McGrew, WC. 2005. Percussive Technology: Chimpanzee Baobab Smashing and the Evolutionary Modelling of Hominin Knapping. In Roux, V and Bril, B (eds.) Stone knapping: the necessary conditions for a uniquely hominin behavior. Cambridge: McDonald Institute Monographs. 341-350.
NOTE: If multiple works by the same author are being listed, please re-type the author’s name out for each entry, rather than using a long dash.
Author, A. Year. Title. Journal name, vol(issue): page. DOI
Kingston, JD., Marino, BD., and Hill, A. 1994. Isotopic evidence for Neogene hominid paleoenvironments in the Kenya Rift Valley. Science, 264: 955-959. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.264.5161.955
NOTE: Please include DOIs for all journal articles where possible.
Author, A. Year. Title. Newspaper, date of publication, page [URL, if online].
Patel, SS. 2005. Climate; In a Marsh, Sifting the Past And Seeing the Future. The New York Times, 6 November [online access at http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9800EEDF173EF935A35752C1A9639C8B63 last accessed 28 April 2014]
Author, A. Year. Title of chaper. In: Title of conference proceedings, location, date, pp. page.
Carr, A. 2011. Late Quaternary palaeohydrology and palaeoecology of southern Africa revealed by lipid biomarker analysis of rock hyrax middens In: INQUA, Bern, Switzerland on 22 July 2011. pp24-53.
Author group. Year. Title. Place of publication: Publisher
World Health Organization. 2010. The world health report – Health systems financing: the path to universal coverage. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO.
Author, A. Year. Title. Unpublished thesis (PhD), institution.
Spry-Marques, VP. 2012. The Adriatic Plain: A Last Glacial Human Refugium? Epigravettian Subsistence Strategies at the Site of Vela Spila (Korčula, Croatia). Unpublished thesis (PhD), University of Cambridge.
Author, A. Year. Title, date of publication. Available at URL [Last accessed date month year].
Rincon, P. 2007. Freeze 'condemned Neanderthals'. 20 February 2007. Available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6341987.stm [last accessed 23 April 2014].
However, if following this particular system presents real difficulties then please contact the editor-in-chief so that we can consider your particular circumstances.
As part of the submission process, authors are required to check off their submission's compliance with all of the following items, and submissions may be returned to authors that do not adhere to these guidelines.
If your paper is accepted for publication, you will be asked to pay an Article Publication Charge (APC) to cover publications costs, which can normally be sourced from your funder or institution. This fee covers all publication costs (editorial processes; web hosting; indexing; marketing; archiving; DOI registration etc) and ensures that all of the content is fully open access. This approach maximises the potential readership of publications and allows the journal to be run in a sustainable way. For a breakdown of costs, please click here.
Many institutions are now making funds available to support open access publications by their staff.
If you do not know about your institution’s policy on open access funding, please contact your departmental/faculty administrators and institution library, as funds may be available to you.
A list of open access publication funds is available via the Open Access Directory (this is not an exhaustive list and you should still check with your institution and funder).
If published, you will receive an APC request email along with information on how payment can be arranged.
If you do not have funds available to pay the APC (eg because your institution/funder will not cover the fee) then we may be able to offer a discount or full waiver. Please ensure that you contact the editor as early as possible should you need to discuss waiver options or the APC in general. Editorial decisions are made independently from the ability to pay the APC.