Preparing your blog
One of The Loop’s main aims is to broaden the readership of political science scholars beyond the academic community. For that to work, you should avoid simply replicating what you do in a research article. Rethink how you write by following our 20 golden rules:
- Keep it within the 1,000-word limit. The Loop’s workflow system has been ‘locked’ at 1,000 words so we will not accept anything longer than this (title, standfirst and crossheads included). If you can’t say it in under 1,000 words, it is not worth saying (at least in The Loop).
- Write in good English (and standard UK English throughout). This doesn’t mean your mother tongue must be English. But we are not an ‘Englishing’ service and in blogs it is not possible to do substantial Englishing without effectively rewriting the whole thing, which we want to avoid. So, if you suspect your English may not be up to a reasonable standard, get your blog checked by a native speaker before submitting it.
- Tell the reader why your argument is newsworthy or important.
- Include hyperlinks and avoid formal referencing (no footnotes).
- Don't use abbreviations unless they are simple and obvious. Abbreviations are generally used only when a term is replicated multiple times in an article. That should not be happening in a blog.
- Explain briefly the meaning of any academic concepts you use (if it is really necessary to use them).
- Where appropriate, include graphs, diagrams and tables. 'Visuals' are important to the attractiveness of a blog and aid comprehension of the argument when you only have 1,000 words to make it. Do not embed these in your Word file but send them as separate attachments (see below).
- Do not insert photos, but if you have any ideas for feature images please convey these to Kate (see below).
- Stick with one main argument/theme, and make sure all content included is relevant to it.
- Put your main argument up front in the first paragraph. Research articles tend to build up towards presenting their findings at the end. Blogs do the opposite.
- Use short, catchy crossheads to break up the running copy: 3–5 is typical.
- Keep sentences and paragraphs short.
- Limit the use of italics and bold for emphasis
- Cut out unnecessary words and phrases which don’t add to the substance of the blog: 'This blog argues...' 'I will argue...' ,'on the one hand/on the other hand'; 'it could be argued that'; 'it seems that'; 'we argue that'; 'our article finds/argues'; 'in summary'; 'put another way', etc.
- Unless absolutely necessary to clarity, avoid repeating the same point in a second sentence using different words ('In other words...'). Say it once and move on.
- While we welcome blogs that derive from original research or are based on a recently published research article, avoid simply summarising in academic form your research. The reader must be able to read and understand the blog without having to resort to the bigger research article (even if this is referenced in a link). This means writing it in a different way or from a new perspective, or maybe picking up on one angle only from the research article.
- Write your blog as a standalone piece. Research articles constantly reference evidence from the literature, the content of which is always generic, not specified. In blogs, you simply state the argument, you don’t describe what’s written in other places.
- Add a c.50-word 'standfirst' or 'sell' after the title which sets out your argument in as precise and clear way as possible, and makes the reader want to read on.
- Keep the title short, and state what the article argues in your title. Research article titles tend to be cautious or safe. Blog articles need to be 'provocative' to attract readers in.
- Constantly consider your readership. The Loop aims to reach readers beyond the academic community, including politicians, policymakers, journalists, and other stakeholders – as well as informed and engaged citizens. Write your blog piece with a wide audience in mind and think how they (rather than your academic colleagues) will receive it. Is it comprehensible, interesting and engaging to a non-academic reader?
Questions? Drop us a line: firstname.lastname@example.org
Editorial production process: what to expect
- The Academic Editors will aim to respond to your pitch from email@example.com within 72 hours. If it is rejected, don’t be despondent; it just means that it’s not successful this time (we have to choose...). If successful, you will be asked to submit your blog piece, when ready, to firstname.lastname@example.org This does not commit The Loop to publishing you, but simply says that we are interested enough to see a full-length piece.
- You submit your blog piece to email@example.com.
- The Academic Editors will do a first pass over it. If it’s not regarded as suitable you will be emailed and informed why. If suitable, the editors will send you back a first-edit version, with suggestions and comments. You will then receive an email from Kate requesting information to complete your author profile (see below).
- You submit a revised version to firstname.lastname@example.org (this cycle may continue another time, but in most cases is unlikely).
- When the Academic Editors agree that the piece can be accepted, it is passed to Kate for a final sub-edit and picture research.
- You will then receive an email from WordPress, inviting you into the Workflow to see how the piece will look when published. You can make final changes and sign off your approval.
- You will be notified of the date that your piece will be published on the blog.
Your piece will be promoted through The Loop’s Twitter account (and related ECPR social media accounts), and via the bi-weekly ECPR News bulletin.
When tweeting about your piece, tag @ecpr_theloop and we will retweet.
Your author profile
Your author profile on The Loop is linked to your My ECPR account, so we already know the institution with which you are affiliated, and your institutional email address. This is the email account on which you will be invited to access WordPress. To complete your profile, we will also ask you to email us:
- job title
- personal website / personal page on your University’s website
- short bio listing research interests
- social media account/s used for professional purposes
- picture of you (see below)
Please submit a good quality recent colour headshot, in jpg format. Don't embed it in a Word file, but send it as a separate attachment. We cannot accept selfies or black and white images. Avoid hats, big scarves, sunglasses, and anything else that obscures your face.
Your profile image will appear square, so if you would like to crop it proportionally before you send it to us, that’s fine. Make sure you have some space all around your head. The image should be at least 800px wide. If it is too small, we cannot accept it for publication.
If you have ideas for a picture to illustrate your piece, please do suggest, particularly if there is no obvious visual theme and a more abstract accompaniment is required. You can create free accounts at online picture libraries such as Pixabay, Unsplash and Pexels on which you can search by keyword.
If you would like to provide your own image from a different source, that’s fine, but it must be at least 1600px wide and you must have written permission for us to publish it online, royalty free.
Figures, graphs and tables
Please do not embed any figures or graphs in your Word file; this should contain only text.
Accompanying figures and graphs must be supplied separately, as jpgs, at as high a resolution as possible. If they are poor quality they may not render clearly enough on screen for us to be able to publish them.
Tables may need to be recreated by us in order for them to display correctly.