Author Guidelines

Writing for Park Science

Park Science relies upon and encourages research scientists and resource managers to identify topics and develop innovative, practical, and compelling articles that link research findings and resource management application. Prospective authors are encouraged to query the editor about an article idea prior to developing a draft. See "Submitting a Manuscript," for guidance in developing a proposal. See the table at the end of these guidelines for a list of article types, target lengths, and requirements for illustrations, abstracts, and keywords.


Articles should be prepared as easy-to-understand, field-oriented accounts of applied research and resource management. They should strive to translate the scientific findings of natural, cultural, and social sciences into usable knowledge for park planning and the development of sound management practices and policies for natural and cultural resources, park values, and visitor enjoyment.


Park Science combines styles of a journal and a magazine for design and content. Content explores solutions to park management problems through the application of science and ranges from traditional reports of original research to popular features, interviews, news, or human interest stories. Articles should describe a scientific process, technique, and discovery that is of substantial novelty, practicality, or refinement and is of broad value or interest to park managers. Research findings should be told in a way that generalists can grasp their significance and application, for instance through the use of illustrative media, compelling stories, anecdotes, and nontechnical language.

Articles should be written primarily in the active voice and in the first- or third-person (see the table at the end of these guidelines) using lay language whenever possible; technical terms should be defined and explained upon first use. Sexist language, provincialism, jargon, and acronyms should be avoided. Measurements should be reported in the units used in the study, followed by their metric or English equivalents. Citations should be given in the text using the author-date system and followed at the end of the article by a brief reference list giving complete reference information.


Park Science serves a broad audience of national park and protected area managers and scientists and provides for public outreach. The principal audience is park superintendents, resource managers, natural and social science researchers, interpreters, maintenance personnel, visitor and resource protection rangers, and other technical and nontechnical staff of the National Park Service and its many partners. Secondary audiences are academics, other federal natural resource agencies, state departments of natural resources and fish and game, city and county divisions of parks and recreation, international park service staffs, conservation-oriented nongovernmental organizations, and the public.

Submitting a Manuscript

Article types and requirements are described in the table at the end of these guidelines. Though not required, you may wish to prepare an article proposal prior to developing a draft. The following checklist serves as a template and may be useful for planning:

  1. Determine which category best fits the proposed article (see table) or discuss with the editor upon submission.
  2. Develop an accurate, concise, and interesting title.
  3. Specify the central message to be conveyed.
  4. Describe the management problem(s) or issue(s) to be analyzed.
  5. Give a brief account of the state of the science in relation to the management issue(s).
  6. Relate the management implications of the research or project and explain their importance.
  7. Suggest how the scientific discussion might apply to the management of other parks and protected areas.
  8. Include (1) an article description (sentence) that adds to the information about the article conveyed in the title (e.g., "Researchers investigate ..."), (2) an abstract, and (3) an alphabetized list of key words, as described below.

Author Information

Include complete contact information for the corresponding author(s): name, position, park area or other affiliation, mailing address, phone number, and e-mail address. If you are the corresponding author, indicate your preference for the publication of contact information in Park Science

Key Words, Abstract, and Article Description

Develop a brief list of key words, an abstract, and a one- or two-sentence article summary (descriptive blurb). Key words identify the main topic and other central concepts. Though they are not published with all article types in the print edition, key words are used to enhance the ability of search engines to discover articles online. The abstract is a noncritical synthesis of the research or purpose of the project, and highlights scope, methods, results, significant findings, and conclusions. It is published with Research Reports, Case Studies, and most other feature-length articles. The one- or two-sentence summary describes the article in a popular style in order to generate interest among potential readers. It should be brief and enticing and may highlight the purpose of the investigation, those involved, the significance of the findings, and how they can be applied to park management. The blurb may be edited and, for most articles, it will run in the table of contents following the article title.


Manuscripts and proposals can be e-mailed to the editor. Format them simply: single-spaced, left-justified, in 11-point Times New Roman type. Prepare illustrations as described in "Illustrations." Do not embed graphics in the word-processing document; send them separately as TIF, JPG, or EPS files. Identify files by figure number (e.g., "fig. 1") and refer to their location in the manuscript. Other alternatives for sending files include Google Drive, Accellion, and similar FTP-style hosting services.


Park Science editor Jeff Selleck retired in March 2018. The publication is an important asset to the National Park Service and will be retained. Plans are under way to review the publication, develop a strategic plan, and hire a new editor. Until a new editor is in place, Park Science will be accepting manuscripts but not publishing any new issues. You can contact Park Science management at Park_Science[at] for updates on the future publication schedule. Additionally, the home page of this website will have periodic updates on progress with hiring a new editor.

Review and Acceptance

Prior to submitting a manuscript to Park Science, seek review by appropriate NPS staff: area manager (superintendent and resource manager), associate regional director for natural resources, Inventory and Monitoring (I&M) network coordinator, Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit (CESU) research coordinator, Research Learning Center (RLC) director, or subject-matter expert. (If preferred, the editor can coordinate this internal NPS review.) Articles concerning primarily technical support programs or divisions of the Natural Resource Stewardship and Science Directorate (NRSS) should be reviewed by the appropriate NRSS program manager or division chief before submission. The review history should be described briefly along with the manuscript submission.

Once submitted, manuscripts are subject to review by the editor, editorial board, and subject-matter expert(s) for clarity, completeness, usefulness, scientific and technical soundness, and relevance to NPS policy. Evaluation, acceptance, and editorial refinements usually takes several months depending primarily on timing of the issue for which the article is targeted. The editor and author(s) work closely together on revisions for grammar, clarity, style, and substance.


If possible, submit several color illustrations that reinforce the main points of the article by showing personnel at work, project equipment in use, techniques, representative park values being protected, locator maps, species "portraits," tables of pertinent data, and graphs. Photographs, line art, diagrams, maps, charts, graphs, tables, and technical drawings are all acceptable formats. See the table at the end of these guidelines for further help with illustrations.


Information conveyed visually—in photos, graphs, diagrams, maps, and other illustrations—needs to be provided in an equivalent, accessible format. If a graph or other illustration is not essential, a table may be a good option to consider as it is accessible in itself and needs no alternate presentation. However, if photos, graphs, diagrams, charts, or maps are the best means of conveying information, then alternative text is required that tells the principal story of the illustration (e.g., what is depicted and why, a trend, what a map highlights, or a list of items in a chart or diagram). For complex graphs and the like, the data set (transmitted in a spreadsheet) can be converted to a table and linked online as the alternative presentation. You can discuss options for accessibility of illustrations with the editor, as needed.

Captions and Credits

Include a caption for each illustration and describe the relationship of the image to the subject of the article. Consult recent editions of Park Science for examples. Provide any necessary credits for illustrations and secure and forward copyright permissions as needed.

Format for Illustrations

Color digital photographs are acceptable, but only the best quality and highest-resolution images are reproducible in the print edition. If possible, send digital images at 300-pixels-per-inch resolution and save them in TIF. Note that digital photos saved in JPG format may have artifacts introduced by the compression process. Ideally photographers should set their camera to the highest-quality image setting to yield the largest file size, and forward those original camera files to the editor. Forward any drawings, such as line art, in their original digital format or as a high-quality color photocopy. For example, maps are commonly output from GIS software in EPS format, which enables resizing and editing for layout. Contact the editor with any questions about file format, resolution, and copyright/permissions.

Transmit computer-generated illustrations, such as charts and graphs, in their native file format (e.g., Microsoft Excel or Adobe Illustrator), accompanied by the data, so that they can be redrawn in-house. Forward other digital drawings, including GIS maps, in digital (Adobe EPS, if possible) formats. Export GIS maps in color at 600-pixel-per-inch resolution at a size of approximately 8 by 10 inches. Preserve layers to allow subsequent editing of labels. Save color information with the file (i.e., do not convert to gray scale).

Proposing a Thematic Issue

On occasion Park Science publishes thematic issues that explore a topic in depth. If you are interested in developing a theme issue please prepare a one- to two-page prospectus that identifies the following:

  1. The proposed topic or central focus and justification for its treatment as a theme issue
  2. Guest editor(s) to help coordinate issue planning, identify authors, and write articles
  3. An outline of proposed content that includes departments and articles (see table 1) discussing diverse aspects of the topic in relation to park management and various National Park System units
  4. Time frame

E-mail the proposal to the editor. Note that theme issues take about two years to plan for and produce, and other topical issues may be in line before suggested editions can be accepted.

Contact the Editor

Interim Contact
Jeffrey Olson
Natural Resource Stewardship and Science
Office of Education and Outreach
STE 100
1201 Oakridge Drive
Fort Collins, CO 80525-6266

Phone: 970-513-7208
Fax: 970-225-3579

Street Address (for Deliveries)
c/o Jeffrey Olson
National Park Service
Office of Eduation and Outreach
STE 100
1201 Oakridge Drive
Fort Collins, CO 80252-6266

Article requirements for Park Science

Table 1. Park Science article types
Feature articles
Article Type Description Purpose/Topic Possibilities Style and Design Length Illustrations
Feature Full-length, field-oriented articles and thematic sections about applied science, original research, and related stories.
General-interest articles about science and applied science in national parks. Attributed to author.

Submit with brief list of key words and one- or two-sentence article summary (i.e., descriptive blurb).
Reports the implications of recent and ongoing natural and social science and related cultural research for park planning, management, and policy.
New and ongoing park studies and resource management projects;successful applications of research findings;new technologies, research methodologies, and discoveries;national and local programs;science-based management decisions, partnerships, and other topics.
Nontechnical language. Easy to understand. Mix of magazine-like and conservative designs.
Popular science;often solicited or assigned. Anecdotes and compelling stories are vehicles for describing research applications to management. May quote from subject-matter expert(s). Section headers. First- or third-person. Magazine-like design.
650–1,250 words Photos and other illustrations
Case Study Summary and analysis of completed field projects designed to remedy resource management problems. Attributed to author(s). Submit with brief list of key words, abstract, and one- or two-sentence article summary (i.e., descriptive blurb). Targets innovative solutions. Draws upon examples to illustrate key concepts. Shares lessons learned (successes and failures). Example: completed restoration project. First- or third-person. Section headers. Reference listings limited to 10, as practicable. Magazine- or journal-like design (depending on topic and treatment). 650–2,500 words Photos and other illustrations (e.g., tables, maps, line drawings, graphs, and charts)
In Focus A compilation of brief, related articles that explore a topic. Attributed to author(s). Photos and other illustrations Topics of high interest to natural resource managers, such as new initiatives or programs, and progress and developments with established programs. May include an overview article and several illustrative "sidebars." Topical examples: marine resource protection, coastal watershed assessments, climate change, wildlife diseases, and integration of I&M data into management. Third-person. Section header. Magazine-like design unifies articles as a section (e.g., common background color). 350–750 words each; 3–6 articles in total. Photos and other illustrations
Research Report Presentations of original research with implications for park management, planning, and policy. Attributed to author(s). Submit with brief list of key words, abstract, and one- or two-sentence article summary (i.e., descriptive blurb). Documents and interprets significant findings from scientific studies conducted in the National Park System. Highlights translation of scientific findings into usable knowledge for park managers. Traditionally organized into sections such as introduction, methods, results, discussion, and conclusions. Written for a general audience. Avoids jargon. First- or third-person. References limited to 10, as practicable. Simple, journal-like design. 1,250–2,500 words;extended content may be published in Web site edition. Photos and other illustrations
State of Science General-interest articles that describe the state of science in NPS resource management related to a particular topic, issue, or program. Attributed to author(s).Submit with brief list of key words and one- or two-sentence article summary (i.e., descriptive blurb). Draws upon and synthesizes multiple studies, long-term research, and resource management projects in and out of parks. Highlights the translation of scientific information into usable knowledge for park managers. Discusses future directions for scientific inquiry, including what new science brings to park management and what new park challenges bring to science. Popular and accessible. Insights, distillations, commentary, and interpretations acceptable. Section headers. First- or third-person. Magazine-like design. 650–1,250 words Photos and other illustrations
Department articles
Article Type Description Purpose/Topic Possibilities Style and Design Length Illustrations
Departments Regularly occurring, short sections that fulfill particular content goals and purposes. Generally magazine-like design. Show project location, staff engaged in fieldwork, equipment, and focal subject matter.
20 Years Ago in Park Science Selected, reprinted material from or reflections on a 20-year-old issue of Park Science. Not attributed. Enlightens readers on past perspectives of NPS science and natural resource management. Multiple brief excerpts; a longer, individual excerpt; or a brief, solicited article. Magazine-like design. Excerpt: 25–100 words

Article: 250–500 words
Past issue cover or photos
At Your Service Newsworthy announcements and updates about NPS personnel, milestones, and events in natural resource management. May be attributed.

Submit with brief list of key words.
Policy directives, executive orders, and legislation; funding opportunities and initiatives; recognition of newly hired, retired, or celebrated staff; and interesting NPS news or statistics. Third-person. Magazine-like design. 25–250 words each Photos
Comments and Corrections Readers' comments and corrections to earlier issues. Attributed to writer(s). Corrections, interpretations, and commentary related to scientific topics or facts presented in articles. Edited for tone, length, and clarity. First-person. Conservative design. 25–350 words each Corrected data, graphs, tables, or charts, as applicable
Field Moment Photograph and caption highlighting a resource manager's or researcher's field experience conducting a scientific activity in a national park. Photo credit, but text not attributed. May illustrate a larger NPS issue or professional perspective.

Examples: witnessing rare or interesting wildlife behavior or natural events; personal epiphanies related to conservation work; perspectives on contributing to ecological preservation; appreciation of textbook or classic examples of physical or biological park features, resources, or processes.
Typically runs on back cover or inside back cover. Fun, personal, and evocative. Third-person, with quotations. Magazine-like design. 50–200 words Single, intriguing photo
From the Editor Editor's or guest editor's introduction and summary of the issue. Attributed to editor.

Submit with brief list of key words.
Draws attention to interesting, compelling, or timely articles or management issues. May introduce theme of "In Focus" department. Insights, distillations, commentary, and interpretations acceptable. First-person. Magazine-like design. 250–350 words Photos
Information Crossfile Synopses of selected publications relevant for natural resource management. Articles, summaries, and reviews may be attributed; abstracts and annotations not attributed.

Submit with brief list of key words.
Sources include journal articles, books, Web sites, maps, electronic publications, and popular press publications. May highlight publications by NPS authors (see "NPS in Print"). Critical appraisals, interpretations, and commentary acceptable (though no personal anecdotes) for articles, summaries, and book reviews. Abstracts and annotations are descriptive. Third-person (first- or third-person for reviews). Conservative design. Articles: 500–1,000 words

Summaries: 250–500 words

Reviews: 750–1,000 words

Abstracts: up to 250 words

Annotations: one or two sentences


Reproduction of book cover


Notes from Abroad International contributions to science-based conservation of protected areas. Attributed to author(s).

Submit with brief list of key words and one- or two-sentence article summary (i.e., descriptive blurb).
International projects and programs with relevant conservation messages for science-based management of U.S. national parks. First- or third-person. Magazine- or journal-like design (depending on topic and treatment). 750–1,500 words Photos and other illustrations
NPS in Print Subsection of "Information Crossfile." May be attributed.

Submit with brief list of key words.
Draws attention to new and interesting books, reports, articles, and other publications by and about NPS resource managers and researchers. May highlight broadly applicable reports published in the Technical and Resource Management report series. Third-person. Conservative design. See "Information Crossfile" Optional (e.g., report covers)
Park Operations Articles about the use of science in interpretation, visitor and resource protection, facilities management, and administration in parks, with a focus on the improvement of resource management as a result. Attributed to author(s).

Submit with brief list of key words and one- or two-sentence article summary (i.e., descriptive blurb).
Explores how science informs and clarifies park operational decisions and practices, and how park operations support and enhance science-based management of park resources.

Examples: scientific evaluation of interpretive programs, and the application of mowing, road de-icing chemicals, and avalanche control.
First- or third-person. Magazine- or journal-like design (depending on topic and treatment). 650–1,250 words Photos and other illustrations
Profile Interviews, biographies, and career reflections of resource professionals. Attributed to author(s).

Submit with brief list of key words and one- or two-sentence article summary (i.e., descriptive blurb).
Highlights people who have helped integrate science into park management (e.g., an influential researcher or resource manager, visionary science administrator, or retiring resource professional). Shares insights into science and management issues. Popular science with conversational tone. First- or third-person. Magazine-like design. Up to 1,500 words (extended content featured in Web site edition, as needed). Photos
Remembrance or Tribute Occasional obituaries of a researcher or resource manager. May be attributed.

Submit with brief list of key words and one- or two-sentence article summary (i.e., descriptive blurb).
Highlights contributions of an individual to field of expertise and science-based management of national parks. May include personal stories and anecdotes. First- or third-person. Magazine-like design. 650–750 words Photos

Last updated: February 1, 2019