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Forensic Science Communications
July 2009—Volume 11—Number 3

Instructions for Authors

The following guidelines (revised May 2008) supersede all previously published guidelines.

Submissions to Forensic Science Communications must be the authors’ original, unpublished work and should not be under consideration elsewhere. This prohibition does not include published abstracts or papers presented at meetings or conferences if the proceedings were not published. 

Manuscripts must be written in English using clear and concise language. The information should be logically organized, progressing from a statement of purpose, through analysis of procedures or evidence, to conclusions and implications. Manuscripts are evaluated according to the following criteria: significance of contribution, technical accuracy, appropriateness for the journal audience, clarity, effectiveness of presentation, and pertinent references. The Managing Editor will reject obviously unsuitable manuscripts without submitting them for peer review.

Forensic Science Communications is published quarterly, in January, April, July, and October. Authors who submit manuscripts cannot be promised a publication date; however, every effort will be made to publish manuscripts in a timely manner. Authors can generally expect a three-month lead time between acceptance and publication. This time frame does not include peer review or, if required, revision by the authors.

Manuscripts will be reviewed by at least two subject-matter experts. Reviewers remain anonymous, whereas the authors’ identities are revealed to the reviewers. However, authors may suggest the names of potential reviewers. The review process may take up to 90 days or longer, depending on the length and complexity of the manuscript. The Managing Editor, in consultation with the reviewers, makes the final decision as to whether to accept or reject the manuscript. When rejecting a manuscript, the Managing Editor may provide reviewer comments to the corresponding author but reserves the right to summarize the results of the review without providing exact comments. Requests for revision will include the reviewers’ comments and suggestions for revising the manuscript. Authors then have three months to complete the revisions and resubmit the manuscript for further consideration.

All manuscripts are edited for format, grammar, style, accuracy, clarity, and readability. The corresponding author will receive the edited version to approve prior to publication. The Managing Editor may make additional corrections, if required, prior to final publication and without the authors’ consent. Generally, such corrections are minor and limited to changes in grammar, style, and punctuation.

The journal staff uses the most recent editions of The Gregg Reference Manual by William A. Sabin and Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary as its primary guides for grammar, style, spelling, and punctuation. The format for references is not based on any particular style guide. Authors should refer to the examples below when preparing their reference lists.

Inclusion of a manuscript in Forensic Science Communications does not represent an endorsement or recommendation by the U.S. Government, the U.S. Department of Justice, or the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Authors are responsible for the completeness and accuracy of their work, including references. The Managing Editor assumes that authors have obtained all necessary permissions and followed appropriate internal review procedures prior to submitting their work.

Contributors should send manuscripts and other information relating to the journal to the Managing Editor at labfsc@ic.fbi.gov.

Submissions may be in the following forms:

  • Research Paper or Feature Article: An in-depth discussion of current methods and specific aspects of various procedures or instrumentation.
  • Review Article: A basic introduction and overview of new scientific methods and areas of forensic research or interest.
  • Technical Article: A step-by-step description of specific analytical procedures, detailing the materials and methods used and evaluating the results.
  • Technical Note or Case Report: A new application of an existing technique or instructive findings on an unusual case.
  • Under the Microscope: A forum to discuss issues of concern to the forensic science community.
  • Short Communication: Short notable or newsworthy items pertinent to the forensic community. Examples include symposia announcements, calls for papers, and descriptions of training or research tools and techniques.
  • Letter to the Editor: A brief communication presenting new technical information, discussing a previously published paper, or requesting information.

All manuscript submissions must adhere to the following guidelines. Manuscripts may be returned to the contributing authors to conform to these guidelines prior to being sent to peer reviewers. To view the format of recently published manuscripts, authors should click on the following link: www.fbi.gov/hq/lab/fsc/current/index.htm.

  • The title page must include a concise title; the complete names, position titles, and current affiliations with city, state, and country of all authors; and the name, complete address, telephone number, fax number, and e-mail address of the corresponding author.
  • Authors should submit their manuscripts in electronic form using Microsoft Word. Manuscripts should be double-spaced. The title, author information, headings, and the text of the article should be flush with the left margin. The text of the article should be 10-point Arial type with 16-point bold for the title and 14-point bold for the headings. Authors should limit unnecessary formatting codes and use italic and bold typeface only when necessary.
  • Only well-known abbreviations, acronyms, and initialisms (e.g., FBI, DNA) should be used in the manuscript. All others should be spelled out. Authors also should not use unnecessary jargon.
  • Images (e.g., photographs, charts, graphs, tables, audio, video) must be submitted in separate, labeled (Figure 1, Figure 2) files. The following formats are acceptable: Word (e.g., for charts, graphs, and tables), JPEG (for photographs and similar images), GIF, PDF, HTML, MPEG, RealAudio, and RealMedia. All images must be referred to in the text, but should not be embedded in the text. Image resolution should not exceed 96 pixels per inch, and image size should be limited to 800 by 600 pixels. Image captions should be descriptive but concise and should be included on a separate page following the references, not embedded in the image. All images will be edited to conform to the journal’s style. Images created in a format that cannot be edited by the journal’s staff will be returned to the author for editing.
  • As an online publication of the U.S. Government, Forensic Science Communications must conform to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Doing so helps to make the journal accessible to individuals with disabilities. Although much of the work in making the journal accessible occurs behind the scenes, authors may be asked to assist in this process. To expedite the process, authors should prepare their manuscripts according to the following guidelines:
  • Although concise captions will suffice for basic images (including photographs, charts, graphs, tables, audio, and video), they may not adequately describe more complicated images for readers with disabilities. Accordingly, complicated tables, charts, and graphs require a detailed explanation of the data and the significance of that data. Such descriptions allow individuals using assistive technologies, such as screen readers, to both hear and understand the significance of the information being presented. Audio and video recordings should also include a text version. Authors should include long descriptions on the same page as their image captions.
  • Color should not be used as the sole means of communicating content. Color may be used if the colors show sufficient contrast and if the information is also communicated using other means, for example, shape, size, pattern, or position. A detailed description of the data and a summary of their significance should still be submitted for complex images.
  • Portable Document Format (PDF) files have special requirements. Authors who create PDF files should use the most recent available version of Adobe Acrobat Professional software and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for creating accessible documents (see http://www.adobe.com/accessibility). At a minimum, all PDF files must be “tagged” and follow a logical reading order. 
  • If the manuscript contains images or other material obtained from copyrighted works, the authors must obtain written permission from the copyright holder and credit the source in the manuscript. As a publication of the U.S. Government, Forensic Science Communications is not copyrighted. Accordingly, all authors except U.S. and foreign government employees who have prepared their manuscripts during the course of their employment retain the copyright to their work. However, all authors must complete a copyright release and submit it with their manuscripts.
  • Authors must properly cite their own previously published work and the work of others. A reference citation must be included when quoting a source exactly; citing, summarizing, or paraphrasing another individual’s work or ideas; or referring to information that is not generally well known. Using another person’s work without providing proper credit is considered plagiarism and may also be a violation of copyright law. Simply put, plagiarism, whether purposeful or inadvertent, will not be tolerated. The editors will reject the work of authors who do not properly cite their sources, and such authors may be banned from submitting subsequent work to the journal. Authors whose native language is not English should seek assistance from a professional editor or another individual fluent in English and well versed in the subject matter in order to ensure that they have properly cited their sources without plagiarizing. 
  • When reference is made to a specific product, the name of the manufacturer and the city, state, and country of the manufacturer's headquarters must be included in parentheses in the text at the first reference of the product.
  • Authors may include a short acknowledgment section at the end of the text, prior to the reference list. Authors should seek permission from contributors before naming them. Financial support also should be acknowledged in this section.
  • A short list of keywords should be included with the article. These may be placed between the reference page and the list of image captions.
  • All references in the reference list must be referred to in the text. References in the text must be in parentheses and include the author's last name and year of publication (Anderson and Brown 1993). The citation for a paper written by three or more authors should contain the name of the first author and et al. (Anderson et al. 1992; Brown et al. 1991). The authors should be listed alphabetically in the parentheses. Different works by the same author should be ordered chronologically, from the oldest to the most recent. Punctuation and spacing must adhere to the standard.
  • All references must be complete and accurate. The Managing Editor may request a copy of the full text of the referenced document to confirm its accuracy. The reference section must be arranged alphabetically by author's last name. Different works by the same author should be ordered chronologically, from the oldest to the most recent. The complete journal title must be listed. Issue numbers should be included only for those journals whose pages are not numbered consecutively throughout each volume. Page numbers should be included for all works not cited in their entirety. Punctuation, spacing, and the use of italics must adhere to the standard outlined below.  

•  Journal Article, Single Author

    Richards, G. B. The application of electronic video techniques to infrared and ultraviolet examinations, Journal of Forensic Sciences (1977) 22:53–60.

•  Journal Article, Two Authors

    Verdú Pascual, F. A. and Gisbert Grifo, M. S. Investigation of bloodstains: False negative results of the benzedrine test, Forensic Science International (1995) 71:85–86.

•  Journal Article, Multiple Authors

    Giles, R. E., Blanc, H., Cann, H. M., and Wallace, D. C. Maternal inheritance of human mitochondrial DNA, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (1980) 77:6715–6719.

•  Journal Article, No Author

    Special report: A buying guide to products and services for the textile wet processing industry, Textile Chemist and Colorist, July 1998.

•  Journal Article, in Press

    Budowle, B., Moretti, T. R., Baumstark, A. L., Defenbaugh, D. A., and Keys, K. M. Population data on the thirteen CODIS core short tandem repeat loci in African Americans, U.S. Caucasians, Hispanics, Bahamians, Jamaicans, and Trinidadians, Journal of Forensic Sciences (in press).

•  Multipart Journal Article

    Biermann, T. W. and Grieve, M. C. A computerized data base of mail order garments: A contribution toward estimating the frequency of fibre types found in clothing. Part 1: The system and its operation, Forensic Science International (1996) 77:65–73.

    Biermann, T. W. and Grieve, M. C. A computerized data base of mail order garments: A contribution toward estimating the frequency of fibre types found in clothing. Part 2: The content of the data bank and its statistical evaluation, Forensic Science International (1996) 77:75–91.

•  Newspaper Articles

    Warrick, P. King County Sheriff's Latent Lab assist in Akron PD homicide investigation, Pacific NW IAI Examiner, July-December 1999, pp. 12–13.

•  Article in Published Meeting Proceedings

    Kidd, G. J. What quality means to an R&D organization. In: 41st Annual Quality Congress Transactions. American Society for Quality Control, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, May 4–6, 1987.

•  Unpublished Presentation (Meeting)

    Houck, M. M. The Limits of Computing in Forensic Science. Presented at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Seattle, Washington, 1995.

•  Published Report, No Author

    Report of a Symposium on the Practice of Forensic Serology, Method Evaluation (Topic 4). Sponsored by the California Department of Justice Bureau of Forensic Services, California Association of Criminalists, and the UNISYS Corporation, 1996.

•  Book or Entire Volume, Single Author

    White, T. D. Human Osteology. Academic Press, San Diego, California, 1991.

•  Book or Entire Volume, Two Authors

    Billmeyer, F. W. and Saltzman, M. Principles of Color Technology. John Wiley, New York, 1981.

•  Book or Entire Volume, Multiple Authors

    Windholz, M., Budavari, S., Stroumtsos, L. Y., and Fertig, M. N. The Merck Index. 9th ed., Elsevier, Rahway, New Jersey, 1996.

•  Book or Entire Volume, No Author

    RN and WPL Encyclopedia. Salesman's Guide Press, Richmond, Virginia, 1999.

•  Handbook with Editors

    Bicking, C. A. and Gryna, F. M. Process control by statistical methods. In: Quality Control Handbook. 3d ed., J. M. Juran, ed., Section 23. McGraw-Hill, New York, 1979.

•  Article or Chapter in a Book or Collective Work

    Monson, K. L. and Budowle, B. A system for semi-automated analysis of DNA autoradiograms. In: Proceedings of the International Symposium on the Forensic Aspects of DNA Analysis. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1989, pp. 127–132.

•  Article or Chapter in a Book or Collective Work with Editors

    Landfield, P. W. Stress theory of aging. In: The Encyclopedia of Aging. 2nd ed., G. L. Maddox, ed. Springer, New York, 1995.

    Neave, R. Age changes to the face in adulthood. In: Craniofacial Identification in Forensic Medicine. J. G. Clement and D. L. Ranson, eds. Oxford University Press, New York, 1998, Part 3, pp. 225–234.

•  Article or Chapter in a Book or Collective Work, in Press

    Budowle, B., Moretti, T. R., Niezgoda, S. J., and Brown, B. L. CODIS and PCR-based short tandem repeat loci: Law enforcement tools. In: Second European Symposium on Human Identification 1998. Promega Corporation, Madison, Wisconsin (in press).

•  Online Article

    Kolb, S. E. Facial rejuvenation: Prevention and treatment of facial aging due to gravity, expression lines, inherited facial features, and stress, Panorama of Plastic Surgery [Online]. (March 24, 1998). Available: http://plastikos.com/art-facegrav.htm.

•  Organization as Author

    AABB Standards Committee. P7.000 DNA polymorphism testing. In: Standards for Parentage Testing Laboratories. 1st ed., American Association of Blood Banks, Arlington, Virginia, 1990.

•  Scientific Working Group (SWG) as Author

    Scientific Working Group on DNA Analysis Methods. Guidelines for a proficiency testing program for DNA restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis, Crime Laboratory Digest (1990) 17:59–64.

•  Government Publications

    Bond, W. W. Safety in the forensic immunology laboratory. In: Proceedings of the International Symposium on Forensic Immunology. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1987, pp. 101–109.

•  User's Guides, Equipment Manuals, Company Materials

    Perkin-Elmer Applied Biosystems. AmpFLSTR® Profiler Plus™ PCR Amplification Kit User's Manual. Perkin-Elmer Corporation, Foster City, California, 1997.

•  Federal Codes, Laws, Rules, and Regulations

    Federal Trade Commission Rules and Regulations under the Textile Products Identification Act, Title 15, U.S. Code section 70, et seq. 16 CFR 303.7.

•  Legal Cases

    Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 US, 579 (1993).

    Frye v. United States, 54 App. D.C. 46, 293 F. 1013, 1014 (1923).

•  Personal Communications

    Knoop, D. Allied Signal, personal communication, March 22, 1999.

•  Thesis

    Castelló, P. A. Critical review of presumptive tests in bloodstain investigations: False negatives in Adler's test—An application of forensic chemistry. Doctoral thesis, University of Valencia, Spain, 1997.

•  Thesis, in preparation

    Bailey-Darland, C. M. Validation of polymerase chain reaction analysis of short tandem repeat loci for casework within the Oregon State Police Forensic Laboratory. Master's thesis in preparation, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, 2000.

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