Instructions to Authors

Manuscript categories

Articles published in Limnology and Oceanography: Methods fall into several categories.

Descriptions of new methods

Many manuscripts will fall into this category and will comply to a large extent with the basic structure of a manuscript as described under Manuscript Organization.

Comparisons and intercalibration studies

Studies dealing with comparison and intercalibration of alternative methods are welcome. Manuscripts should follow the general structure outlined below, emphasizing the assessment section, and discussing the impact of this assessment on any information acquired using one of the alternative methods. Care must be taken to describe the comparative or intercalibration study in reproducible detail. Details of individual methods must be provided, either in the manuscript or by reference to a previous publication with a sufficently detailed description.

Methods evaluations

Re-evaluations of existing methods will focus on testing the assumptions or the interpretation of existing methods. Manuscripts will generally include: 1) an abstract summarizing the problem addressed and the main conclusions; 2) an introduction arguing for the need to re-evaluate some aspect of an existing method; 3) for experimental work, the materials and procedures used; 4) an assessment describing the specific experiments and analyses that were employed to test the existing method, and the conclusions reached from the results of these tests; 5) a discussion focusing on the impact of these conclusions on past work based on the existing method, including 6) recommendations for changes to the existing method for future work.

Reviews and metaanalyses

Critical, objective reviews focused on an assessment of the methodology of a specific topic area are welcome. Reviews should be presented as syntheses of the state of knowledge, and should be directed primarily toward identifying areas in critical need of methods development in order to progress. The objective should be to advance the science by assessing the strengths and weaknesses of methods in a particular topical area. Reviews are published together with other articles, in the order of acceptance and completion of the composition process. Published reviews are labeled as such for the convenience of users, but in all other regards are treated identically to other articles.

Critical reviews will generally include: 1) an abstract summarizing the main conclusions; 2) an introduction arguing for the need to review a topical area; 3) a description of data sources, and the procedures used to select data for inclusion or exclusion; 4) an assessment of the topical area based on these data; and 5) discussion of the impact of these findings on the aquatic sciences.

Some reviews will have a strong metaanalytical component, where the source data are drawn from articles published in Limnology and Oceanography: Methods and elsewhere. Analytical reviews will generally require a more extensive discussion of data sources, data selection, and analytical procedures, but in other respects are similar in structure.

The organization of reviews may be modified as appropriate, in consultation with the Associate Editor handling the manuscript.


Comments are limited to articles published in Limnology and Oceanography: Methods, and are divided into substantive comments requiring peer review, and procedural comments that are limited to specific details of the method (e.g. suggesting a higher incubation temperature).

Substantive comments will be treated as standard submissions, except that their structure may be amended as approprate. Substantive comments that identify a problem or needed modification to a published method should include: 1) a very brief abstract; 2) an introduction describing the problem with reference to the previously published method; 3) data and analyses supporting the need for modification and if possible, demonstrating and supporting a solution to the problem; and 4) a discussion of the impact of the problem or modification on information acquired using the method. When possible, comments should clearly identify how the previously published, detailed procedure should be modified. The original author(s) are encouraged to respond. If warranted, a brief, peer-reviewed update to their original published method will be considered for publication.

Procedural comments are approved at the Editorial level and are not considered part of the peer-reviewed literature. These will be limited to one to a few paragraphs commenting on a specific element of a method published in the journal. Procedural comments will be posted on a web page linked from the original article, and should be submitted to the Editor-in-Chief by email.


Authors are invited to submit updates to methods that they previously published in Limnology and Oceanography: Methods. Updates to methods published elsewhere are specifically excluded from consideration and must be submitted as standard articles. Author updates are divided into substantive updates requiring peer review, and incremental updates identifying problems or recommending small changes to a method previously published in the journal.

Substantive updates are expected to be closely related to the previously published article, and therefore do not need to reiterate elements already covered in the previous article. Reviewers and Associate Editors will evaluate the submitted manuscript in the context of the earlier work. Following review and if necessary, revision, accepted updates are published in the order completed.

Incremental updates are approved at the Editorial level and are not considered part of the peer-reviewed literature. These will be limited to one to a few paragraphs commenting on a specific element of a method published in the journal. Incremental updates submitted by authors, if accepted, will be posted on the same web page as procedural comments submitted by others. They should be sent by email to the Editor-in-Chief, rather than submitting them through the online manuscript submission system.

Manuscript organization

A general scheme for the organization of a manuscript is given below. Authors should remain attentive to this basic organization (see the "Manuscript Preparation" link for additional detail), as modified for different categories of manuscript. Before you begin, read the Editorial for a discussion of the reasons for the manuscript structure used in this journal.

Title page
Contains the title, authors and addresses, and a running head.
Contains brief statements about granting agencies, notable aid from individuals and institutions, and potential conflicts of interest.
Briefly summarizes the method and its potential use.
Establishes the need for a new or improved method, and introduces the method in concept.
Materials and Procedures
Provides a detailed set of instructions for implementing the method, including both the materials required and the procedures to be followed.
Presents the critical experiments or studies that were conducted during methods testing, the results of those studies, and the interpretation of those results.
Discusses the degree to which the new method meets the need defined in the introduction, and the potential for this method to lead to new insight. Discusses whether existing data should be reinterpreted.
Comments and recommendations
Comments on particularly critical aspects of the procedure, and suggests adaptations needed for potential applications to other environments.
Figures and figure legends
Multimedia files and other appendices

Manuscript preparation

Articles published in the journal must provide all the information needed for readers to critically assess, adopt and successfully employ the methods described. Therefore, clarity of presentation, and a detailed description of the development and application of the method are all extremely important. Details on procedures for preparing manuscripts are provided under the Manuscript Preparation link.

Manuscript Submission

Original submissions

  1. The manuscript must not be an uninvited resubmission of a manuscript that was previously considered and rejected. Rejected manuscripts will not be considered further.
  2. If any of the data in the paper have been used previously, the extent of overlap must be clearly acknowledged and described. Related manuscripts that are in press or submitted elsewhere, and are cited in the submission, must be provided upon request.
  3. Your cover letter must clearly state that the manuscript contains only original data (i.e., no data in it is in a manuscript currently submitted to another journal).
  4. Before the manuscript can enter the review process, authors must agree to pay publication charges if their manuscript is accepted.


The Editor-in-Chief may decline to consider a manuscript for several reasons, including inadequate evidence that the method is substantially new and promising, poor preparation, an insufficiently clear and detailed presentation, and a lack of adherence to the journal's guidelines for manuscript preparation. Once a manuscript has been accepted for consideration, it will be assigned to an Associate Editor who will ultimately recommend one of three decisions.
  1. Conditionally accept. These manuscripts are likely to be accepted but require revision. If required revisions are minor in scope, they may be accepted at the Editorial level. Manuscripts requiring more substantial revision will usually undergo a second round of review, often by the same reviewers, to ensure that the reviewers' concerns have been addressed.
  2. Do not accept; resubmission is invited. These manuscripts are potentially worthy of publication, but very extensive revision is needed, and often new data must be obtained. Resubmissions are treated as new manuscripts, and a new round of review will be required.
  3. Do not accept; resubmission is not invited. These manuscripts may contain material worthy of publication but are unacceptable or unsuitable for Limnology and Oceanography: Methods.

Revised manuscripts

  1. Revised manuscripts must be accompanied by the author's detailed responses to the Reviewers and Associate Editor comments. It is extremely important to address all reviewer concerns, whether the author chooses to agree or disagree with them. If the Associate Editor is not convinced the author has made every effort to address the reviewers' concerns, either through suitable revision or by an effective argument that the revisions should not be made, the manuscript may be rejected without further consideration.
  2. With very few exceptions, a revised manuscript that is still not acceptable will not be considered further and resubmission will not be allowed.
  3. Please note that all materials that pertain to a revised manuscript must be resubmitted even if they have not changed from the original version.

Conditions of publication

Copyright of any material published in Limnology and Oceanography: Methods is held by ASLO (exceptions may be granted in some cases). Submissions may not contain material published elsewhere. Every person listed as an author of a submission must have: 1) contributed substantially to the study's conception, data acquisition, or analysis; 2) contributed substantially to drafting the manuscript; and 3) approved the final submitted manuscript. All three of these conditions must be met. Acquisition of funding, the collection of data, or general supervision of the research group are insuffient reasons to justify authorship. When a manuscript has many authors, the submitting author may be asked to provide details of the contributions made by each author.

Limnology and Oceanography: Methods places a high priority on repeatability, and the potential for independent verification. If a submission contains results obtained using a strain of microbe or unicellular alga isolated from nature, originating from the author's laboratory, and not available from a public collection, the author is expected to honor in a reasonable time all bona fide requests for samples of the culture or to deposit specimens in a public culture collection. Similar expectations apply to results obtained using new antibodies originating from the author's laboratory. Authors of submissions reporting research that includes new nucleotide or amino acid sequences must submit the sequence information to a publicly accessible archive (e.g., GenBank or EMBL) and provide the accession number(s) in the manuscript. Manuscripts that use existing sequences from GenBank/EMBL must cite accession numbers and original literature references to them (if they exist). Publication of an article implicitly binds the author to these conditions.

Authors are responsible for supplying complete and accurate bibliographic information. Editors do not perform library research. The Limnology and Oceanography: Methods Office is not liable for editorial or printing errors or errors in the technical content of the manuscript. Communication with the Office at all points of the publication process is encouraged.