Author Guidelines


Deadline for Winter 2020 issue:  December 1, 2019

About Spectrum:

Spectrum is a student run, collaborative undergraduate research journal that is committed to producing thought-provoking, insightful and dynamic interdisciplinary content. Through this journal, we strive to represent the individual perspectives of our writers, and authentically communicate both their academic and creative works to our readers.

We seek to create an open-minded journal with a focus on connecting our readers with all areas of study and new methods of inquiry, from the liberal arts to the natural sciences.

What we publish:

Spectrum strives to publish diverse and engaging research completed by undergraduate students within and across the areas of health sciences, natural sciences and engineering, social sciences, arts and humanities. We will consider submissions in a variety of formats provided that the work is driven by an underlying research question.

Possible submission formats include (but are not limited to):

Who can submit to Spectrum:

 To be published by Spectrum, you must be either:

Submissions from any discipline are welcome, but should be written in language accessible to readers from a variety of disciplines.

Peer review process:

Spectrum uses a double-blind peer review process. All submissions will be reviewed by three reviewers:

Open Access Policy:

Spectrum provides immediate open access to its content on the principle that making research freely available to the public supports greater global exchange of knowledge. Authors will never be charged to submit or publish a manuscript through Spectrum, and all articles will be published under Creative Commons licences.

Copyright Policy:

By signing the Spectrum publication agreement (download here), authors agree to the following:

Unless otherwise specified, authors guarantee that all parts of the submission are the author’s original work. Submissions containing evidence of plagiarism will not be eligible for publication.

General Author Guidelines:

Submissions not adhering to these guidelines will be returned to the author for revision.

Authorship:  Each submission must have a corresponding author, who is available throughout the submission and review process to respond to editorial or administrative inquiries from the journal. The corresponding author is also responsible for ensuring that all those who qualify for co-authorship are listed as such in the submission, and that all co-authors (including the faculty supervisor, if applicable) review and approve the final version of the submission for publication.

Spectrum strongly recommends that students discuss authorship decisions (e.g. who is to be a co-author, order of authorship) with their supervisor and potential co-authors prior to submission. If in doubt about whether a contribution qualifies for co-authorship, the Spectrum editorial board suggests consulting the following recommendations (from the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors):


Accessibility: Spectrum is an interdisciplinary journal intended for an interdisciplinary audience. Therefore, we encourage authors to submit work written at a level appropriate for readers in other disciplines. Technical language should be explained, and sufficient context should be provided so that the relevance of your research is clear to readers who may be new to your research area.

Language: Submissions may be in English or French.

Length:  The maximum length of any text submission is 5000 words (including abstract, title, figure captions). The word limit does NOT include references.

Title: All submissions must have a title (max 15 words) that must be descriptive of the work and is accessible to readers outside the discipline.

Abstract: All submissions must have an abstract (max 250 words). An effective abstract answers the following questions:

File format(s):  For peer-review purposes, please ensure your submission meets the following requirements:

For multimedia or other submission types not amenable to this format, please contact the editors at spectrum@ualberta.ca with a description of your submission and file type. The editorial team will then advise you on the best way to submit your work for review.  

If your work is accepted for publication, we may request that figures and tables be provided as separate files for the production stage.

Citation Styles: Spectrum strongly encourages the use of APA or MLA format. However, any of the following citation styles are acceptable, provided only ONE style is used throughout the submission:


Ethics approval (for research on humans or animals): If your submission describes research on humans or animals, authors must provide a copy of their research ethics approval, and include a statement in their submission that indicates ethics approval has been obtained for the project.

Acknowledgements (for all non-author contributions): Authors are encouraged to include an acknowledgements section to list any contributions that do not meet the criteria for co-authorship. Examples include acknowledging funding agencies or sponsors for their support, and acknowledging those who were involved in proofreading of the manuscript. Please note that Acknowledgements may be redacted from the submission prior to peer review in order to ensure anonymity of the submission.

Specific guidelines for creative works

Creative works do not necessarily adhere to the structure and format of a written article. Examples include but are not limited to music, video, visual art and design, curatorial projects, and creative writing.  All creative works submissions must include:

The creative work can be submitted in the following formats:

How to submit your work:

All submissions must be submitted online through the Spectrum website.

For a tutorial on how to submit your files through the Open Journal System platform, please visit: https://openjournalsystems.com/ojs-3-user-guide/  (See Section 9: Authoring)

Please ensure that all authors on the submission are listed as contributors in the OJS Metadata form. All authors listed in OJS should receive email notification acknowledging the submission.

You will also be prompted to paste the title and a copy of your abstract into the OJS Metadata form. Please note that reviewers do not have access to the submission metadata, so you must also include this information in your Word document.

What happens after you submit:

Submission stage:

Review stage:

Copyediting stage:  (Accepted submissions only)

Production stage: (Accepted submissions only)

Publication -- congratulations!

Still have questions?

Please feel free to contact the Spectrum team at spectrum@ualberta.ca if you have any questions about submitting your work.