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Instructions for contributors

Behavioural Public Policy (BPP)

Behavioural Public Policy is an interdisciplinary and international peer-reviewed journal devoted to behavioural research and its relevance to public policy. The study of human behaviour is important within many disciplinary specialties and in recent years the findings from this field have begun to be applied to policy concerns in a substantive and sustained way. BPP seeks to be multidisciplinary and therefore welcomes articles from economists, psychologists, philosophers, anthropologists, sociologists, political scientists, primatologists, evolutionary biologists, legal scholars and others, so long as their work relates the study of human behaviour directly to a policy concern. BPP focuses on high-quality research which has international relevance and which is framed such that the arguments are accessible to a multidisciplinary audience of academics and policy makers.

How to Submit

To submit your paper please use the online submission system at: or select 'Submit your article' on the journal homepage. 

Appropriateness for BPP

All submissions must fall within the remit of the journal, as described at the beginning of this document.

All manuscripts must meet the submission requirements set out in this document, closely following the instructions on how to prepare your article in the sections below.

Authors are requested to bear in mind the multi-disciplinary and international nature of the readership when writing their contribution. Care must be taken to draw out the implications of their article for readers in other fields, other countries, and other disciplines.


Original research articles should be between 6,000 and 8,000 words, including tables and figures, with an accompanying abstract not exceeding 200 words plus 4- 6 keywords.

If your article is part of a special issue of BPP different word limits may apply. Please refer to your guest editor or the editors for more detailed instructions.

Submission of an article is taken to imply that it has not been previously published and is not being considered for publication elsewhere.

The policy of BPP is that authors (or in some cases their employers) retain copyright and grant Cambridge University Press a licence to publish their work. In the case of gold open access articles this is a non-exclusive licence. Authors must complete and return an author publishing agreement form as soon as their article has been accepted for publication; the journal is unable to publish without this. Please download the appropriate publishing agreement here.

For open access articles, the form also sets out the Creative Commons licence under which the article is made available to end users: a fundamental principle of open access is that content should not simply be accessible but should also be freely re-usable. Articles will be published under a Creative Commons Attribution license (CC-BY) by default. This means that the article is freely available to read, copy and redistribute, and can also be adapted (users can “remix, transform, and build upon” the work) for any commercial or non-commercial purpose, as long as proper attribution is given. Authors can, in the publishing agreement form, choose a different kind of Creative Commons license (including those prohibiting non-commercial and derivative use) if they prefer.

Authors are responsible for obtaining permission to reproduce any material in which they do not own copyright, to be used both in print and electronic media, and for ensuring that the appropriate acknowledgements are included in their manuscript.

New Voices

Articles for the New Voices section should be between 2,000 and 3,000 words, including tables and figures, with an accompanying abstract not exceeding 200 words plus 4- 6 keywords.

Although the eligibility criteria are not strictly defined and may vary depending on circumstances, it is expected that New Voices authors are current PhD students, have recently finished their PhD (within two years of experience from the year when they have finally submitted their PhD thesis), or have completed a MSc degree and are establishing their first steps as researchers.

The BPP New Voices section will consider preferably single-authored submissions. However, where appropriate co-authored papers will be reviewed on the condition that all authors meet the eligibility criteria stated above.

Style Sheet

1. Manuscripts should initially be submitted in MS Word. They should be clearly typed in double spacing and should have a left-hand margin of at least 25 mm/1 inch and a right-hand margin of at least 40mm/1.5 inches. Type size should be no smaller than 12 points. All pages should be numbered. Contributors are asked to retain an exact replica themselves for use in answering copy-editor’s enquiries and correcting proofs.

2. Footnotes: Any footnotes should be kept to a minimum. If footnotes are used, they should be numbered consecutively (in superscript) within the text and listed in a separate section at the end of the article before the References.

3. Referencing: Authors must use the Harvard System of Referencing (6###sup/sup### Edition). In this system citations in the text and footnotes list the author’s surname and the year of publication of the work in parentheses. Eg. (Sen and Williams, 1963). Where there are four or more authors, list the first author’s surname, followed by et al. and the year of publication. The full list of cited references is then provided alphabetically at the end of the article. References should contain, in the case of books, the names of authors as they appear on the title page, the year of publication, the full title including any subtitle, the name of the publisher and the place of publication and in the case of articles, the name(s) of the author(s), the year of publication, the full title of the article, the name of the journal, the volume and issue numbers, and the page reference (number of first and last page).

Le Grand, J. (2003), Motivation, agency and public policy: of knights & knaves, pawns & queens. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Harsanyi, J.C. (1982), Morality and the theory of rational behaviour. In A. Sen and B. Williams (eds), Utilitarianism and beyond. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Arrow, K.J. (1963), Uncertainty and the welfare economics of medical care. American Economic Review. 53 (5), 941-73.

4. Headings: Headings should not be numbered. First level headers should be in bold, sentence case and left justified. Second level headers should be in italic (not bold), sentence case and left justified.

5. Tables and Figures: Each table and figure should be on a separate sheet, numbered and collected together at the end of the article, after the References. Their place in the text should be indicated by a space and the words ‘Table X (Figure X) about here’. Tables should be clearly laid out; vertical lines between columns should be omitted, and horizontal lines limited to the top and bottom of the table, with an additional line below the column headings. Totals and percentages should be labeled, and units identified.

Charges apply for all colour figures that appear in the print version of the journal. At the time of submission, contributors should clearly state whether their figures should appear in colour in the online version only, or whether they should appear in colour online and in the print version. There is no charge for including colour figures in the online version of the Journal. If you request colour figures in the printed version, you will be contacted by CCC-Rightslink who collect author charges on our behalf.

6. Spelling: Either British or American spelling is acceptable as long as consistency is maintained throughout the article (eg behaviour and organisation/behavior and organization).

Capitals: Please keep these to a minimum and be consistent throughout the manuscript.

Italics should be used for foreign words except proper names and words (such as role, elite) that have entered common English usage. The use of italics for emphasis is discouraged.

Abbreviations: Omit full stops in abbreviations consisting of capital letters (USA) and use capitals for acronyms (WHO). All acronyms should be expanded on first use to ensure ease of comprehension. Use eg. instead of ‘for example’ and ie. instead of ‘that is’. 

Dates should be in the form 1 May 1968; 1990s (no apostrophe); the twentieth century.

Numbers up to ten should normally be spelt out, except for percentages, exact quantities or a series of numbers. Use ‘per cent’ (not %) except in tables. Include a comma in numbers over 999.

7. To ensure a fair and anonymous peer review process, authors should not allude to themselves as the authors of their article in any part of the text. This includes citing their own previous work in the references section in such a way that identifies them as the authors of the current work.

Declaration of funding

A declaration of sources of funding must be provided if appropriate. Authors must state the full official name of the funding body and grant numbers specified. Authors must specify what role, if any, their financial sponsors played in the design, execution, analysis and interpretation of data, or writing of the study. If they played no role this should be stated.

Competing interests declaration

All authors must include a competing interests declaration in their title page. This declaration will be subject to editorial review and may be published in the article. Competing interests are situations that could be perceived to exert an undue influence on the content or publication of an author’s work. They may include, but are not limited to, financial, professional, contractual or personal relationships or situations. If the manuscript has multiple authors, the author submitting must include competing interest declarations relevant to all contributing authors. Example wording for a declaration is as follows: “Competing interests: Author A is employed at company B. Author C owns shares in company D, is on the Board of company E and is a member of organisation F. Author G has received grants from company H.” If no competing interests exist, the declaration should state “Competing interests: The author(s) declare none”.

Optimising Your Article for Search Engines

We offer here just a few pieces of advice which you might want to consider when writing your title and abstract and choosing your keywords. Given the increase in published research and the importance of search engines as a research tool, these tips will help you to give your article the best chance of being read and cited.

1.      Make sure your title describes your article. The most important function of the article title is to accurately and succinctly describe what your article does. Try to include the most important key words or phrases in your title and try to include the search terms you think that other researchers are likely to use to find your article.

2.      Repeat key phrases in the abstract. Search engines typically only search the title and abstract of an article so make sure that key phrases which describe the article topic also feature prominently in your abstract. Remember to make sure that your abstract still reads naturally as it also introduces your article to other researchers and readers.

3.      Be specific when choosing keywords. Remember keywords do not have to be single words and can include short phrases. It is important that keywords again match your article topic but it is also helpful to be specific as this is most helpful to researchers. Phrases which you’ve used frequently in the article are a good place to start in selecting keywords. Try to use words or phrases that you think would be likely search terms for a researcher interested in the topic.

Language Services

Authors, particularly those whose first language is not English, may wish to have their English-language manuscripts checked by a native speaker before submission. This is optional, but may help to ensure that the academic content of the paper is fully understood by the editor and any reviewers. For more information please visit our Language Services page.

Please note that the use of any of these services is voluntary, and at the author's own expense. Use of these services does not guarantee that the manuscript will be accepted for publication, nor does it restrict the author to submitting to a Cambridge published journal.


Proofs are supplied to contributors to ensure that the printed version coincides with the manuscript accepted and that there are no copy-editing mistakes in the final version. Rewriting sections of an article in proof is not possible. Please make sure that your accepted manuscript is in its final form before it is sent to the printer. All authors should try to return their proofs within three days of receipt.


Authors will receive a PDF of the published paper which will be sent to the corresponding author.

Open Access

Please visit for information on our open access policies, compliance with major funding bodies, and guidelines on depositing your manuscript in an institutional repository.

Last updated 13 January 2020