Skip to main content

JAAVSO: Information for Authors

The AAVSO invites articles from all authors for the Journal of the AAVSO. Your article is more likely to be accepted for JAAVSO if its content is written to the standards of JAAVSO and if it is properly formatted.

Please read the following sections:

JAAVSO Editorial Policies - basic criteria for publication and a statement regarding ethics

Instructions for formatting an article for JAAVSO - presented in the form of a sample JAAVSO article and a downloadable template

Sample articles published in JAAVSO - use as models for format, style, scope, etc.

Information for Referees  - how an article will be evaluated by the referee

IAU Resolution regarding magnitude systems -  guidelines regarding optical and infrared photometric passbands

Also, presentations and material on how to publish scientific papers was presented at  "The AAVSO Workshop on Writing and Publishing Scientific Papers" (conducted during the 95th Spring Meeting of the AAVSO in Rockford, Illinois); all relevant material can be accessed here

JAAVSO Editorial Policies

The Journal of the AAVSO is an instrument of the AAVSO, whose mission is "to enable anyone, anywhere, to participate in scientific discovery through variable star astronomy". The purpose of the JAAVSO is to promote the AAVSO's overall mission by serving as the preeminent publication venue not only for AAVSO Members, but for the entire community of variable star scientists and researchers.

Publication criteria

Articles submitted for publication in the Journal of the AAVSO are expected to meet our criteria for publication, and both authors and referees are encouraged to follow these guidelines as closely as possible. Because JAAVSO accepts articles on a variety of topics related to variable stars, articles with different subject matter may have slightly different acceptance criteria. However, all articles are expected to meet or exceed these general guidelines for peer-reviewed publication:

  • The article must be presented in clear, concise, and non-idiomatic English;
  • Regardless of subject matter, the article must represent original research with meaningful contributions to the work by the lead author and all listed co-authors;
  • All research must be clearly presented, with results and conclusions drawn from the research presented when appropriate;
  • All articles must properly acknowledge and cite external sources, and must accurately and truthfully represent all citations made;
  • All articles involving analysis of data taken by observers not listed as co-authors must adequately acknowledge these data, particularly those obtained from the AAVSO International Database.

While JAAVSO accepts work from researchers with both Professional and Amateur backgrounds, all work published in the Journal of the AAVSO is expected to meet these criteria for acceptance at a minimum.

Ethics statement

The Journal of the AAVSO is a scholarly journal devoted to variable star science and related fields.  We adhere to common standards of science and scholarship, and expect that our authors do the same. All results presented must be as accurate as possible, and free of known error and misstatements. All work must be correctly attributed, and all individuals making a significant contribution to the work presented should be explicitly credited with their contribution either via co-authorship or via appropriate citation and acknowledgement. All work, including both research results and text and figures, must be original, the creation of the authors of the article, and free of plagiarism either deliberate or accidental.


Instructions for formatting an article for JAAVSO

Note: These instructions are presented as a correctly-formatted JAAVSO article.

A downloadable Word document that may be used as a template is available. It includes a condensed version of these instructions and a variety of representative tables and figures. Articles may also be submitted in LaTeX (version 2e), either using standard formatting, or using the AASTeX version 5.2 class file (aastex.cls). Authors should ensure prior to submission that LaTeX articles compile simply and without errors or warnings; no other style files beyond AASTeX are supported at this time. Articles that cannot be compiled will be returned without review.

Instructions for Formatting an Article for JAAVSO

Author One, Author Two, Author Three
Affiliation, Affiliation Street Address, City, State, Postcode, Country; email@host.affiliation

Author Four, Author Five
Affiliation2, Affiliation Street Address2, City, State, Postcode, Country; email@host.affiliation2

Submitted February 15, 2015

Subject Keywords

There are two sets of keywords to include in your article prior to the "Abstract" section. The first set is keywords that are categories in the JAAVSO Subject Index. Choose from the list those categories that best fit your article. Separate them by a semicolon (;) and use the format (for example): AAVSO keywords = AAVSO International Database; Catalogues, Databases, Surveys; Photometry, CCD; Spectra, Spectroscopy; Variable Stars (individual), Observing Targets: SS Cyg, U Gem, tau4 Ser; Period Analysis, Period Change; Cataclysmic Variables; Semiregular Variables   In this example 8 JAAVSO keywords have been used.

The second set is keywords that will be used when your article is submitted by the AAVSO to the Astrophysical Database System (ADS). Choose a maximum of 6 keywords from the American Astronomical Society list. Put keywords in alphabetical order, separate them by a semicolon (;), and use the format (for example): ADS keywords = astronomical databases: miscellaneous; novae, cataclysmic variables; stars: individual (SS Cyg, U Gem, tau4 Ser); stars: variables: general    In the ADS keywords, each object listed under stars: individual (..., ...) counts as a separate keyword. Thus, the number of ADS keywords in the example totals 6.


The abstract should be concise and one paragraph. It should be as informative as possible; it should give details of the article, including the conclusions arrived at. Avoid writing a merely descriptive abstract that only tells what the article is about. In other words, the abstract should be a short summary of the article in which you may state the question at issue, the purpose of the study, the procedures followed, and your results, conclusions, or recommendations. References should not be given in the abstract.

1. Introduction

The author's responsibility is to provide a carefully prepared manuscript that generally conforms to JAAVSO style. The JAAVSO format changed significantly in 2014, so use JAAVSO issues beginning with Volume 43, Number 1, as your guide. Articles accepted for this issue and correctly formatted may be seen here.

1.1. Main title capitalization

Except for articles and prepositions, all words in the main title are capitalized.

1.2. Section headings capitalization

Only the first word of a section heading is capitalized unless it is a proper noun or a special term.

2. Parts of the manuscript

The parts of the manuscript should be divided into sections such as 1. Introduction, 2. Methods, 3. Results, 4. Discussion, 5. Conclusion, and so on. Sub-sub titles should be numbered 1.1., 1.2., and so on. You may give as many sections and sub-sections as you feel are necessary. Also, following your Conclusion section, you may include an Acknowledgements section, which should also be consecutively numbered. The last section of the manuscript, "References", is not numbered.

3. Tables and figures

Tables and figures may be included in the body of the article with appropriate captions. Authors are encouraged to also provide each table and figure as a separate file; and all figure captions should be given in a separate file as well. Table titles should be part of the table itself.

3.1. Table formatting and titling

Use a table when you have more information than can be clearly presented in a graph. Tables are numbered consecutively (for example, "Table 1", "Table 2", and so on). Table titles are to be given at the head of the table. Each column should be labeled clearly. Physical units should be given in the column label, not in the table body. Table 1 is an example of a short table.

Table 1. Comparison stars.

    Identification*      R.A. (2000)         Dec. (2000)         B            V             B-V
                                  h  m  s                  º   '   "
    GSC 1948-1556    08 40 05.47        +27 39 12.1        12.526    11.998    0.528
    GSC 1948-1451    08 40 09.30        +27 41 19.4        13.627    12.946    0.681
    GSC 1948-1631    08 40 34.19        +27 47.50.0        13.972    13.204    0.768
*Table footnotes are placed directly following the table and are indicated with superscripted symbols, letters, or numerals.

3.2. Some information about figures

Figures must be provided in a high-contrast, high-resolution, standard digitized image format. They should have all coordinates labeled with division marks on all four sides.

Figures must be accompanied by a caption that clearly explains all symbols and significance, so that the reader can understand the figure without reference to the text.

Most figures will be reduced to fit one column, 3.5" wide. When submitting figures, be sure to allow for reduction in size by making all symbols, letters, and division marks sufficiently large. Point size 12 or larger must be used.

Symbols used in figures should each have a unique shape, and each be clearly distinguishable from one another. Symbols may be in color, but they should be uniquely shaped so that their significance will survive reproduction in black and white, or grayscale.

4. Equations

Equations should be written on a separate line and given a sequential Arabic number in parentheses near the right-hand margin. Equations should be referred to in the text as, for example, equation (1).

5. Magnitudes

Magnitudes should conform to relatively well known systems such as Johnson-Cousins, Sloan, etc. Authors introducing a new passband should read the IAU Resolution regarding magnitude systems and follow the guidelines given there.

6. References

References should relate directly to the text. They should be keyed into the text with the author's last name and the year of publication, for example, (Smith 1974; Jones 1974) or Smith (1974) and Jones (1974). Joint authors would be cited as, for example, (Williams and Simpson 2001). In the case of three or more joint authors, the text reference should be written as follows: (Smith et al. 1980).

All references must be listed at the end of the text in alphabetical order by the author's last name and the year of publication, according the format: Author(s). Year, Publication, Volume, page.

Brown, J., and Green, E. B. 1974, Astrophys. J., 200, 765.
Thomas, K. 1982, Phys. Rep., 33, 96.

Abbreviations used in references should be based on recent issues of JAAVSO. Authors are encouraged to examine the formatted reference lists in a recent JAAVSO issue.


Sample articles published in JAAVSO

Instructions for formatting an article for the JAAVSO are given on the webpage here. These instructions are presented in the form of a sample article, demonstrating what the text of the article is saying. This sample article is also available as a Word document you may download and edit using your own text, and may be obtained here.

For examples of correctly formatted articles, please see the following articles recently published in the JAAVSO as models for format, style, scope, etc.

Articles accepted to date for the upcoming issue of JAAVSO may be found here.


As we all know, the quality of scientific journals such as the Journal of the AAVSO, and the viability of its science, depend critically on careful, objective, and informed refereeing. The purpose of this document is to answer questions about the process and protocol of refereeing for JAAVSO and to convey our gratitude for the service performed by referees.

Selection of referees: Potential referees are selected by the Editor and will be asked by e-mail whether the candidate feels able to do the job in a reasonably short time, which is normally a few weeks. After an affirmative reply is received the paper will be transmitted by e-mail. Candidates who cannot undertake the task are requested to let us know as soon as possible, and are invited to suggest alternate names. In addition to tightness of schedule, candidates are expected to be sensitive to questions of conflict of interest in agreeing to referee a paper.

What to look for while refereeing: The referee is selected to be an objective scientific expert whose task is to critique the paper as a written description of a research project. Matters of format, grammar, and usage may ordinarily be left to the editorial staff (remembering, however, that the article must be presented in clear, concise, and non-idiomatic English). Explanations that are turgid ought to be pointed out and alternatives may be suggested. The paper should be as concise as is consistent with the transmission of the essential results.

Factors the referee will consider include whether the paper presents new scientific results or, in the case of a review paper, a cogent and balanced review of the subject; whether procedures are described well enough to permit independent repetition of the work by a qualified scientist; whether appropriate quantitative uncertainties are assigned to numerical results; whether prior work is adequately referenced; and whether illustrations are both adequate and necessary, with axes that are properly labeled and symbols that are clear and distinguishable.

Referees are urged to read the IAU Resolution regarding magnitude systems.

The Editor will usually accept the referee's report as written and will arbitrate in cases of disagreement.

Anonymity and submission of the report: The report should be e-mailed back to AAVSO and addressed to the Editor although written in such a way that it can be forwarded directly to the author. It is left up to the referee to decide whether to remain anonymous.


IAU resolution regarding magnitude systems

RESOLUTION B1 on guidelines for the designations and specifications of optical and infrared astronomical photometric passbands.

Proposed by IAU Commission 25

The XXVIII General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union,


that considerable confusion has existed and continues to exist in the defining and naming of photometric passbands of all spectral widths in the visible and infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum,


that minimizing such confusion has been a long-time goal of members of Commission 25 [e.g., see remarks by Wesselink and by Greaves in Transactions of the IAU, VII, pp. 267-273 (1950)],


1. that proposers of new passband systems should check the IAU Commission 25 website and links therein, especially to (extended version of the paper by Moro and Munari 2000, A&AS 147, 361) to ascertain what passband names have already been used, before creating designations for new passbands.*

2. that names for new passbands should avoid relatively well known designations, such as UBVRIJHKLMNQ, and the designations ZJHKLMNQ should be used henceforth to refer exclusively to the terrestrial atmospheric windows in the near and intermediate infrared (see Young et al. A&AS, 105, 259-279; Milone & Young (2005), PASP, 117, 485-502). #

3. that any publication presenting the new passbands should contain the following information, to aid in transformations and standardizations:

a) a measure of central wavelength which is not flux-dependent, such as the pivot wavelength, or mean photon wavelength, as defined, for example, in Bessell & Murphy (2012), PASP, 124, 140-157;
b) an indication of bandwidth, such as FWHM;

c) the spectral profile of the passband, unless it is completely symmetrical, as, for example, triangular passbands, when this shape and the domain in which this is the case (wavelength or wave number/frequency) are stipulated;
d) a clear statement on whether the passband profile includes the spectral sensitivity curve of the detector or not, and, if so, the characteristics of the detector;
e) the temperature at which these specifications apply;

f) such other details (for example, roll-off, pinhole and leakage specifications) as may be needed to obtain a closely matching filter from manufacturers. 

4. that a copy of this resolution should be sent to all editors of astronomical and other journals which publish papers relating to astronomical photometry.

* Well known and accepted nomenclature also appears in the Drilling and Landolt chapter in Cox's "Allen's Astrophysical Quantities", 4th edition, 2000, page 386, Table 15.5, and other information on basic systems appears in V. Straizys' "Multicolor Stellar Photometry" volume, 1995 (second printing), (see, among other sources.

# For example, "Y" and "iz" are designations that have been applied to passbands in the 1 micro-m (Z) atmospheric window.


AAVSO 49 Bay State Rd. Cambridge, MA 02138 617-354-0484