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.

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. Note that as of May 1st, 2020, a short abstract is required.

The 1,500 word count limit includes title, headers, captions, and references with 150 words reserved for the 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 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. Please note that the original version of these instructions failed to add the -sum option for texcount, leading to inaccurate estimates of the total words in a TeX file.  Also note that this texcount call includes authors and affiliations and often poorly parses equations and macros. An alternative word counting tool is 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 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 that).  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.

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.