Guidelines for Authors


Guidelines for Authors

The Club’s Mission Statement is ‘To encourage the study and protection of the Natural Environment’.

One way in which this is achieved is through publication of the Club’s scientific journal, The Western Australian Naturalist. This journal publishes original data on all branches of natural history pertaining to Western Australia. Each volume contains four parts published over a two-year period. There are two main types of papers: full-length scientific papers which are refereed, and shorter observations and notes from the field, together with other articles such as obituaries, which are of interest to members.

Past issues (apart from the most recent 5 years) of The Western Australian Naturalist are globally accessible through the Biodiversity Heritage Library. This is part of a free, globally accessible, searchable, digital library of biodiversity literature as part of the Encyclopedia of Life project. Club members receive the journal; authors who are not already members are encouraged to join.

The preparation, submission and refereeing of manuscripts can be an arduous and complex process. This is necessary, however, to ensure that each paper results in a lasting contribution to Western Australian biological knowledge. The following guidelines aim to explain what is required when writing and submitting a manuscript, and how you, the author, can ensure this process proceeds as smoothly as possible.

Manuscripts should be submitted to the editor electronically ( in Microsoft Word (.doc, .docx) in a relatively simple style with line numbers. Tables and figures (including photos/plates) are best appended to the end of the text, or submitted as separate files. Authors do not need to try to emulate the style of the printed journal.

Preparing a scientific paper for publication in The Western Australian Naturalist

Preparing a scientific paper can be daunting for someone who is new to this form of writing. These guidelines are intended to assist with crafting your observations or experimental results into an acceptable form, that covers the why, how, where, when and what you have done and found out.

Title: this should be accurate and concise.

Authors and contact details: list the authors, their affiliations (if appropriate), addresses, and the email of the corresponding author.

Abstract: this summarises the aim(s) and main findings, all in less than 100 words. The abstract should encourage someone to read the whole paper if they find the abstract informative and of interest.

Introduction: this important section sets the scene. The Introduction explains why the work was done; and puts the specific research or observations into the context of what is already known from the literature. The aims should be clearly stated, e.g. a survey of the vegetation of a specific area, or a comparison of the abundance of birds in areas with different management histories. A discussion of the advantages of different methods may be presented with a justification of why the method used was chosen. Capitalise common names and italicise Latin names, e.g. Bush Rat (Rattus fuscipes).

Materials and Methods: describe how, where and when you did the work. Ideally the description needs to be presented in sufficient detail for someone else to repeat the work; however, it is not necessary to describe standard techniques. Sub-headings may be helpful to break up complex methods into smaller units; for example, to describe study sites or statistical analyses.

Results: here you present what you measured and observed. If you have used sub-headings in the Materials and Methods section, use the same headings in the Results, if appropriate. Drawings, graphs (Fig. 1 and Fig. 2) and tables (Table 1) are a useful way to summarise the information. These may be all the reader sees, so they should be simple and self-explanatory with informative headings. Tables and figures need to be referred to in the text. Be particularly careful to be consistent with units of measurement. Statistical summaries, analyses and calculations are presented in the Results, usually in the form of an easy to read table or figure. The Results section is just the facts only – any interpretation goes into the next section: Discussion.

Discussion: this section is where you interpret your results or observations in the light of other people’s work; do not just repeat what was presented in the Results. You need to go back to the aims outlined in the Introduction and indicate whether they were achieved and if not, why not. You should indicate whether your results agree or not with the work of others or consider why and how they differ and how they relate to the broader picture. The conclusions you have reached are in the final paragraph of the Discussion, including future directions for the area of research. Alternatively, these can be presented under a separate heading.

Acknowledgements: here you mention by name those who have assisted with the work, whether financially, with in-kind support or by any other means.

References: the references cited in the text are listed here in alphabetical order; examples are given below.

Brooker, M. (2001). Birds of Gooseberry Hill. Western Australian Naturalist 23: 62–106.

Higgins, P.J., Peter, J.M. & Steele, W.K. (2001). Editors. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Vol. 5. Oxford University Press: Melbourne.

McGregor, F. & Wells, R.T. (1998). Population status of the southern hairy-nosed wombat Lasiorhinus latifrons in the Murraylands of South Australia. In: Wombats (eds Wells, R.T. & Pridmore, P.A.), pp. 218–227. Surrey Beatty & Sons: Sydney.

When citing web pages in the text, cite in an abbreviated form with date, in a similar way to biographical references e.g. Department of the Environment 2013; in the References cite web pages in the form: Author or Organisation Date. Title. Web-address [accessed: date], e.g. Department of the Environment (2013). Australia’s Bioregions (IBRA), IBRA7, Commonwealth of Australia. Available at [accessed 19 July 2019].

When citing on-line databases in the text, cite in an abbreviated form in the form requested by the owner, or by: Abridged name Date. Title. Institution. Web-address [accessed: date]., e.g. Bureau of Meteorology (continuously updated); in the References cite databases in the form: Author or Organisation Date. Title. Web-address [accessed: date] e.g. Bureau of Meteorology (continuously updated). Bureau of Meteorology. Available at [accessed 4 February 2018].

Refereeing your manuscript

After your manuscript has been submitted, an editor will assess it for suitability for the journal. Editors may work with you to improve the formatting of the paper before sending it off for formal review. The manuscript is sent out to two independent subject area referees who are asked to assess the scientific quality of the work using the guidelines given in the Appendix.

Next stage in the publication of your manuscript

Refereeing usually takes 6 to 8 weeks. Once the referees’ reports have been received, they are assessed by an editor. If accepted, the editor will forward the referees’ comments and any Track Changes to the Word documents to the author and makes suggestions of how the manuscript should be modified. Revisions should be carried out within 6 weeks. The author(s) should revise the manuscript, using Track Changes, to show how it has been amended. In addition, the author also needs to respond to the referees’ specific suggestions in a separate document, e.g. by saying the change has been made, or indicating the requested change cannot be made for whatever reason.

When the revised manuscript has been received by the editor it is further reviewed for quality, consistency and scientific accuracy, and the author will be advised whether it has been accepted for publication. There may be further revisions required before the paper is ready for publication.


The Club holds the copyright to the published journal and its collective content, but authors retain individual copyright to their papers. Anyone wishing to reproduce an article published in The Western Australian Naturalist should contact an editor for permission to do so, and the editor would then seek permission from the author for this to happen, thus ensuring appropriate acknowledgement of the journal. This would equally apply if an author wished to republish an article or allow it to be republished. In that case it would be a requirement that it should acknowledge where it was originally published. It is important that the journal, the Western Australian Naturalists’ Club and the authors are all acknowledged. If this did not happen, the author could be directly approached, and the journal would get no credit for the cost involved of publishing the work. The editors (in consultation with the Western Australian Naturalists’ Club Council) must also reserve the right to refuse to allow an article to be republished if republishing could bring the journal and the Club into disrepute.

Dr Elaine Davison and Dr Paul Doughty (co-editors), March 2021

Appendix: Guidelines for Referees

See Page 2