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Writing Instructions

Before submitting a digest to Evolution, please review the following instructions. You can read the digests from the current issue for free here.

Purpose of Digests

  • To improve accessibility of research published in Evolution to evolutionary biologists outside of the original article’s subfield of specialization.
  • To provide added value by i) placing the research in a broader context than described in the original paper, ii) adding figures or diagrams illustrating the methods or findings, and/or iii) offering new insights on other implications/applications of the research or avenues of further study.

We anticipate that successful digest submissions will have at least two of the “added value” points listed above. Since we are still aiming for an audience of evolutionary biologists, we do not expect general introductions about the broader subfield, but the “context” above refers to, for example, specific areas of contention and arguments used by the opposing viewpoints. Adding broader context or insight may also mean citing and briefly describing other studies not mentioned in the original research paper (but not just ones by the digest author). New, explanatory figures are very welcome and encouraged. We recommend that authors submit a cover letter along with their digest explaining how their digest provides additional context or insight.


Questions you may consider when writing the digest include:

  • What is the context of this research? What previous research has been conducted on this topic? The digest should expand upon the information provided in the original article’s Introduction and Discussion sections, and not simply restate information already included in the original article.
  • How does this research present new ideas or build on previous hypotheses?
  • What questions does this research address?
  • What methods do the authors use to answer these questions?
  • What are the main findings of this research?
  • What are the potential applications of this research? (practical or for research purposes)

Style Guidelines

  • No contractions.
  • No slang or colloquialisms.
  • Analogies may be useful to help explain difficult concepts.
  • Digests do not need to be completely jargon-free. However, they should be understandable to researchers outside the original article’s area of specialization. If you use jargon, be sure to explain the terms in plainer language.
  • Digests may include your personal input on the importance or significance of the original research. However, avoid use of the first person.
  • Be extremely careful to avoid duplication of verbiage from the original article or any other published material in your digest. If you wish to include exact text from any source, use quotation marks and proper citations.


Please include “Digest:” in your title. Example: “Digest: Genetic drift and mutational hazard in the evolution of salamander genomic gigantism.” Please limit the title to 70 characters or fewer.


Please include, in the main document and when prompted in ScholarOne, an abstract that very briefly describes (1) the broad question the original research aimed to address and (2) the research findings with respect to that question. Please limit the abstract to 75 words or fewer. View a sample abstract here.


Please include the original article and up to five additional references.


We welcome original figures. To avoid copyright issues, you may only submit figures or images you have created yourself. This also applies to any photos that are included in the figure. You may not use figures from the original paper.

Formatting requirements

  • Digests should be approximately 500 words.
  • Text should be submitted as a Word document with line numbers.
  • Please do not include your name in the main document.
  • Cover page should include: author name, affiliation, and email address, title of the original article, title of digest, and word count.
  • File name should be original article’s first author last name, “Digest”, and the date the digest is submitted. Example: Noor Digest 10-4-2016.