IUCN WCPA PARKS: Guidelines for Lead Author(s) 

IUCN WCPA PARKS Authors Guidelines revised November 2023

PARKS aims and objectives

PARKS is published electronically twice a year; in English, with French and Spanish abstracts.


PARKS aims to: build global knowledge and best practice related to protected area management. Its objectives are to strengthen international collaboration in protected area development and management by:

  • promoting understanding of the values and benefits derived from protected areas to governments, communities, visitors, business, etc.;
  • ensuring that protected areas fulfil their primary role in nature conservation while addressing critical issues such as ecologically sustainable development, social justice and climate change adaptation and mitigation;
  • serving as a leading global forum for the exchange of information on issues relating to protected areas, especially learning from case studies of applied ideas;
  • publishing articles reporting on recent applied research that is relevant to protected area management;
  • changing and improving protected area management, policy environment and socio-economic benefits through use of information provided in the journal; and
  • publishing scientific research relevant to IUCN’s work on protected areas.


Criteria for peer-reviewed content

PARKS accepts two types of contribution:

  • Peer-reviewed papers
  • Non-peer reviewed articles: 1) Letters (a right to reply to articles, etc.), 2) short communications (reviewed by two members of the Parks Editorial Board) and 3) book reviews (if you wish to propose a book for review or to offer to review a book for the journal, please contact the Managing Editor in the first instance (editor@parksjournal.com).


The Convention on Biological Diversity’s protected area targets and programme[1] will provide a framework for defining the content of the journal. Papers accepted for publication should ideally focus on:

  • field research that results in practical guidance for developing and managing protected areas; or
  • papers which stimulate wide ranging debate, such as reviews of:
    • major protected area system planning or management; or
    • issues papers that result in original policy guidance regarding protected areas.

Purely theoretical studies without field application or research papers based in protected areas but with little or no management content (such as descriptions of newly described species) are unlikely to be accepted. Papers to stimulate debate on new or forthcoming issues relevant to protected areas (i.e. think pieces without current field practice) will normally be specifically commissioned.


Papers submitted for publication should be evidence-based, using accepted methods (conventional science or Traditional Ecological Knowledge) or be based upon precise observations to support the conclusions. Papers should meet the guidelines for submission (see below) and will have to pass a peer review process before publication. Purely descriptive approaches are unlikely to be acceptable.


Author responsibilities

Lead authors should work closely with the Editor of PARKS and the assigned Handling Editor. Authors of articles do not have to be members of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas. Lead authors note:

  • Text must be consistent with the IUCN Style Manual[2] (except where guidance specific to this journal is given in these Author Guidelines).
  • Content should be of a consistently high professional standard and all claims must be verifiable.
  • The text, or substantial parts of the text, should not have been published in a peer reviewed journal elsewhere in English – we will however consider translations into English of articles that were published in another language.
  • The principal readership of PARKS is protected area specialists, researchers, students, policy makers and protected area managers from across the world, so articles should be written with this authorship in mind.
  • Authors must be prepared to review and react to peer-review comments and revise texts accordingly.
  • A designed copy of the text will be sent to authors to proof, check and sign off before publication.

Guidelines for submissions

  • Submission: All submissions should be via email to editor@parksjournal.com in Microsoft Word format (.doc or .docx files) with all embedded codes (i.e. from Endnote or other bibliographic software) converted to plain text.
  • Language: PARKS articles should be clearly written in British English as per IUCN house style (except for direct quotations) and use British English style (e.g. per cent instead of percent or % in text), free of jargon, and intelligible to readers, many of whom are not English native speakers. Limited use of 1st and 2nd person is acceptable but if ‘we’ is used please specify at the first use who is meant if it is not the authors of the paper (e.g. a project team, etc.). Sections within a paper are not numbered and use headings and sub-headings to demarcate sections of the paper. Three levels of headings are normally used. Italics and bold type should not be used within the main text for emphasis within sentences.
  • Length: Articles may vary in length from brief case studies of a specific protected area management issue and solution (e.g. 1,000 words) to a longer review of policies or issues with regional examples (e.g. normally 6,000 words maximum including references and abstract), or a succinctly reported piece of relevant research (e.g. 4-5,000 words including references and abstract). If you submit papers that are over this length, you will be asked to reduce their length.
  • Title and abstract: The title should not exceed 15 words unless special approval is given by the editor. Each article should have an abstract of no more than 200 words. This should encapsulate the main arguments and findings of the article. Abstracts will be translated into French and Spanish.
  • Key words: Please include 5-6 key words or phrases. Do not include words that are already present in the title of the paper.
  • Author biographies: Please provide short biographies (of no more than 50 words) for each author. If there are more than nine authors, biographies should be no longer than 25 words each. Biographies for Short Communications should not exceed 25 words for each author.
  • Author details: Author names and affiliations and the email address of the corresponding author should be provided. All authors are encouraged to list their ORCID id. Authors without an ORCID id can obtain one at https://orcid.org/register
  • Referencing: Articles should be fully referenced. Convert all reference lists prepared using bibliographic software (e.g. Endnote, Zotero or similar) to plain text. Guidelines to IUCN citation style are available in the IUCN Style Manual at https://www.iucn.org/our-work/science-led-approach/publications-and-publishing/how-publish-iucn IUCN uses author-date reference citations and has adopted the APA (American Psychological Association) style for references. Order in-text citations by different authors alphabetically, separated by a semi-colon (e.g. (Abebe, 2022; Singh & Gonzalez, 2020; Wang et al., 2023)). For article titles and book titles, capitalise only the first word and any proper nouns. Journal titles are capitalised and written out in full with a comma after journal title. Please use the en-dash (–) not the hyphen (-) for page number ranges.

Multiple authors

Up to 10 authors include all author names.

Singh, R., Galliers, C. H., Appleton, M. L., Hoffmann, M., Long, B., Cary-Elwes, J., Fritze, C., McCallum, J. & Parry Jones, R. (2021). The vital role of rangers in conservation. Parks Stewardship Forum, 37(1), 128–136.  https://doi.org/10.5070/p537151745

11 authors or more include the first nine authors, an ellipsis and then the final author name.

Díaz, S., Settele, J., Brondizio, E. S., Ngo, H. T., Agard, J., Arneth, A., Balvanera, P., Brauman, K. A., Butchart, S. H. M., … Zayas, C. N. (2019). Pervasive human-driven decline of life on Earth points to the need for transformative change. Science, 366(6471). https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aaw3100


Global Witness (2021). Last line of defence: The industries causing the climate crisis and attacks against land and environmental defenders. London: Global Witness.

Edited chapter in book

Wells, N. M. & Lekies, K. S. (2012). Children and nature: Following the trail to environmental attitudes and behavior. In J. Dickinson & R. Bonney (Eds.) Citizen science: Public collaboration in environmental research (pp. 201–213). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. https://doi.org/10.7591/9780801463952-021

Journal article

Chawla, L. (2020). Childhood nature connection and constructive hope: A review of research on connecting with nature and coping with environmental loss. People and Nature, 2(3), 619–642. https://doi.org/10.1002/pan3.10128

Online article only

Thin Green Line Foundation (2021). Stand with the families of fallen rangers. https://thingreenline.org.au/fallen-ranger-appeal-lp/


Links to websites which give more information about projects, sites, initiatives should be given as end notes. PARKS assigns DOI numbers to all papers; which means all references also need to include DOI numbers where available. Most journal papers prominently include DOI numbers, if you cannot find the number you can search the crossref system at: http://www.crossref.org/guestquery/

  • Graphic content:
    1. Please provide up to six high quality photographs as JPEG or TIFF files (e.g. 300 dpi at image size 105 x 148 mm) to illustrate your article. Permission should have been sought to publish all photographs and full credit details provided.
    2. Please keep figures (graphs, data tables, etc.) to a maximum of five per paper.
    3. All graphics (e.g. diagrams, charts, maps, figures) should be provided electronically in ready to publish format (quality should be at least 300 dpi at size 105 x 148 mm) – note that graphs copied from Microsoft Excel are not at sufficient resolution for publication. Graphs should preferably be generated from a professional graphing program that can produce high resolution graphs. If Excel generated graphs are provided the authors should see https://blogs.kent.ac.uk/psychotech/2017/04/11/create-high-res-300dpi-images-from-excel-charts-and-plots/ for instructions on producing 300 dpi images from Excel graphs (and attach the original Excel files). Permission to publish and credit details should be provided for all figures that are not generated by one of the authors. Landscape format is preferred.
    4. Each graphic must be submitted in a separate file, not embedded in a text document. Captions and credits must either be submitted as separate documents or be included in the main manuscript.
  • Nomenclature: Use a species common name first followed by the scientific name in brackets and italics, e.g. Otter (Lutra lutra). Common names should use capitals for all first letters, e.g. Grey Pika. After one mention of the species’ scientific name, only the common name should be used. There are exceptions particularly with plants, for which common names, if they exist, are not universally recognised. In these cases, scientific names should be used throughout but only in full once within any section. For example, Microcryptorhynchis orientissimus, thereafter, orientissimus. When referring to a group of species with the same generic scientific name, this may be expressed as, for example, Varanus spp. Varanus sp. denotes only one species of Varanus.
  • Place names: Use accepted anglicised versions, e.g. Rome, Moscow, Beijing.
  • Units: The SI metric system must be used, unless there is a compelling need to use another measurement system, in which case the SI equivalent must follow in brackets. Abbreviated unit names should be in lower case without full stops, for example cm, km, g, kg, ha; separate the unit name from the figure by one space. In prose, numbers are given in words from one to nine, in figures from 10 upwards (with commas to denote thousands), but use ‘million’ (e.g. 2.6 million, not 2,600,000). Where monetary figures are given a US$ equivalent for the current period should be given.
  • Tables, boxes, endnotes: Tables should be fairly short (around half an A4 page) and ideally columns contain text of equal length. Very large tables are difficult to format for the journal layout and will either need to be reduced in size or moved to Supplementary Online Material. Boxed text can be included but should be of no more than 200 words per box. Endnotes should be kept to a minimum (a maximum of 10). Footnotes are not used.
  • Supplementary Online Material: Supplementary Online Material (SOM) can be included on the PARKS website together with the online version of the paper. All SOM should be submitted as separate files.

Managing Editor: Marc Hockings (email: editor@parksjournal.com), University of Queensland, Australia

Updated November, 2023

[1] http://www.cbd.int/protected/

[2] https://www.iucn.org/our-work/science-led-approach/publications-and-publishing/how-publish-iucn