Research Note Preparation Guidelines

Research Notes of the American Astronomical Society (RNAAS) is a publication in the AAS portfolio (alongside ApJ, AJ, ApJ Supplements, and ApJ Letters) through which authors can promptly and briefly share materials of interest with the astronomical community in a form that will be searchable via ADS and permanently archived. The official scope of the RNAAS can be found here.

A Note can be submitted to the Editorial Office in LaTeX (preferably with AASTeX v6.3+), MS/Word, or prepared and submitted through the Overleaf online collaborative editor.

When preparing your Research Note manuscript, please be aware that a PDF generated from the accepted version will be hosted with the final HTML article. Therefore, please do not use line numbers in Research Note manuscripts.

Research Notes are free to read and currently carry no author publication charges. Authors sign our Gold Open Access licensing agreement, allowing the AAS to publish the Research Note under a CC-BY 4.0 license.

Length & Content

Submissions to RNAAS should be brief communications — 1,500 words or fewer, with no more than a single figure or table (but not both) — and should be written in a style similar to that of a traditional journal article, including references, where appropriate. Please note that RNAAS style for single author papers is first person singular – ‘I’ not ‘we’.

The 1,500 word count limit includes title, headers, captions, and references with 150 words reserved for the required abstract. Easy though not entirely foolproof ways to count the number of words in a Research Note are to use the texcount utility installed with most LaTeX installations, or by copying the words into MS/Word and using ”Word Count” under the Tool tab. The command-line call texcount -v3 -merge -incbib -dir -sub=none -utf8 -sum rnaas.tex includes the option to pick up references and provides a nice, color-coded visual summary of which words are included in the count.  Also note that this texcount command will be inconsistent with the final word cound because it includes authors and affiliations while it often poorly parses equations and macros. Additional, alternative word counting tools include our “Quanta Calculator“, which is designed for the main journals; it will provide a lower limit to the count becuase it does not include references. While the builtin Overleaf word count tool produces a result consistent with our recommended texcount (it is the same basic command),  Overleaf does not count references, leading to an undercount (See their FAQ to configure the word count to include references).  As a result of these differing approximations to the word count, the AAS Editorial office’s word count is the final arbiter of the limit.

Authors are expected to follow the Professional and Ethical Standards for the AAS Journals (Kennicutt et al. 2006), including guidance on plagiarism (Vishniac 2012).

Research Notes are published as they are submitted, with no further language review or production services. Our priority for Research Notes is fast circulation of knowledge, and this process means they can be published as quickly as possible. It does mean that typos and other such errors will be published if they appear in the original submission.

A limit of twenty Notes in any calendar year by a given first author will be applied.

Figures, Tables, & Data

As mentioned above, a Research Note should include no more than a single figure or table (but not both), where appropriate. While table contents do not count against the word count of a Note, caption text will. The Note figure can be submitted in EPS, PDF, WMF, TIFF, GIF, JPEG, or BMP formats. Including the data behind the figure in a Note is encouraged, and the submitted data will be provided as a link in the published Note. Long tables should only show the first 5 – 10 data lines with the rest available in the machine readable format.

References, Facilities, & Code

Acknowledge people, facilities, and software in a Note but remember that these count against your 1500 word limit. Citations to the literature or to code should follow standard AAS Journal recommendations.


Unlike the other journals in the AAS portfolio, RNAAS publications are not peer reviewed; they are, however, moderated by an editor for appropriateness and format before publication. Note that this lack of formal review means that, in most cases, RNAAS is unable to publish substantially novel theories, though short theoretical works building on work already published in mainstream journals are still welcome. If accepted, RNAAS submissions are typically published within 72 hours of manuscript receipt. Each RNAAS is issued a DOI and indexed by ADS to create a long-term, citable record of work.