Write for The Bulletin

Writer's Guidelines

Readers of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists are both informed and intelligent; they include top policymakers, researchers, and opinion makers from over 150 countries, as well as a large contingent of smart non-experts who are interested in the Bulletin's mission. The Bulletin publishes articles written by the world's leading science and security experts, who explore the potential for terrible damage to societies from manmade technologies. We focus on ways to prevent catastrophe from the malign or accidental misuse of nuclear, carbon-based, and biology-based technologies.

The Bulletin aims to bridge the gap between true experts and lay audiences by publishing articles that are meaningful in the White House, at the Pentagon, and around the kitchen table. We identify the most authoritative experts and publish their reports in print and online for distribution to policy leaders and the broader public. We stimulate those on the forefront of research to communicate directly with a public eager for firsthand and authoritative perspectives on existential threats to humanity. We contribute to public discussion and help shape the global security agenda.

Our readers turn to the Bulletin to find articles that cannot be found anywhere else and to make sense of incomplete or inaccurate reports published elsewhere. Our readers want to understand the issues and take ownership of them; they want to learn something, and they want to be provoked. They don’t want technical language that is esoteric and inaccessible. The articles are edited and, at times, thoroughly re-worked by experienced Bulletin editors. This is worth repeating: Because it is dedicated to excellence, the Bulletin never publishes unedited articles.

The Bulletin publishes the world's top science and security experts on an open-access website, which is updated on a continuous basis, and in a bimonthly subscription journal

The Bulletin also encourages the work of younger authors through the Voices of Tomorrow program. 

Submissions for the Bulletin's open-access website and subscription journal should be emailed as Word attachments to:

submissions@thebulletin.org.

Submissions for the Voices of Tomorrow competition should be emailed as Word attachments to:

rhuffman@thebulletin.org

Before you submit your work to the Bulletin, please consider the following suggestions:

Read the journal and the website. This is by far the best way to get a sense of what kinds of articles the Bulletin publishes.

Journal. The bimonthly journal features long form articles that are between 2,000-4,000 words; it is not the word count but the voice and the angle of the pieces that make the journal distinctive. Read it to understand what the distinction is—we want you to tackle tough topics, make strong arguments, and offer strong take-aways. All authors must sign a writer’s agreement with our publisher, Sage, to ensure that the article that is published is not (and will not) be published anywhere but in the Bulletin.

References and notes for journal pieces. Follow this guide strictly:
http://www.uk.sagepub.com/repository/binaries/pdf/SAGE_Harvard_reference...

Website. We accept op-eds (800-1,300 words) and analysis pieces (1,000-2,000 words). Please do use the navigation on our home page to read a few of each of these types of pieces. They will be your best guide to Bulletin style and tone. Have a multimedia idea? Contact the editors directly and pitch us.

References and notes for web pieces: We do not use references and notes for web pieces. Rather, we use hyperlinks, the Internet version of a footnote. Authors should supply URLs for source documents, placing them directly after the word or groups of words to be highlighted. 

For both web and journal pieces:
Include your full name, phone number, and e-mail address on your submitted
manuscript.

Include your bio. The Bulletin is known for publishing the top experts in their
respective fields. Please submit your professional biography so that we understand your expertise and what makes you the perfect author to write the piece you are pitching.

Peer review. The Bulletin is not a peer-reviewed journal; however, we do send unsolicited articles to colleagues for outside review. Be prepared to answer questions and to document your points—by way of hyperlinks for web pieces or in the form of footnotes for journal pieces.

Fact checking. Be careful with your facts. Double check all titles, names, treaties,
numbers, years, etc. in your manuscript. Editors will do what they can to ensure the
accuracy of your facts, but, ultimately, it is the author’s responsibility—not the
editor’s
—to ensure that everything is correct in an article. Plagiarism is a sin. Do not even think of sending the Bulletin anything but original work. 

Do not submit a research paper. The Bulletin publishes high-concept, high-quality
journalism, which is a different form than the research paper. One is not a better
form than the other; a research paper is perfectly appropriate to a research journal.
It just won’t work with the Bulletin’s format or audience. The Bulletin is its own
publication, with long-established parameters, and the best way to gauge what will
work for the Bulletin is to read the Bulletin.

Advice for experts writing for general audiences:

Kill jargon dead. Don’t use terms of art that only experts in your field will
understand. Store your chi squares; don’t mention your regressions—explain what
they mean.

Avoid personal pronouns and the royal “we.” 1. The royal we is never acceptable.
We will always edit this out. Save us both time and avoid using it. 2. Do not use “we”
or “us” to refer to a specific country; we have readers from around the world and we
don’t want to exclude them. 3. If your entire piece is about your research, let’s talk
about using personal pronouns and discuss the best approach before you submit
your piece; 90 percent of the time a piece is stronger avoiding the personal
experience, but there is still that 10 percent in which it is a useful tool.

Quotes. Please do not submit an article that begins with a notable quote; this is not
our style, and we, more often than not, will delete this. Two that will immediately be
zapped are Obama’s Prague speech and Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace speech. You can fold these into your piece if appropriate, but do not dive into your piece with
them.

Engage the reader. First impressions are everything, even—especially!—with writing. Find the most engaging anecdote/news event to launch into your article and put your issue in a wider perspective. Place your expertise in context, so the smart reader outside your field can understand. Find that conversational angle, hook the reader, then teach the reader what you know.

Explain from the beginning. Do not assume your readers know the background of
your subject. The Bulletin’s readers are all very, very smart, but they are not all
experts in your field. Make sure every smart, interested reader can follow each and
every sentence and paragraph you write.

Inspire the reader. We want the last impression of your piece to be the lasting
impression of your piece. Do not recap what you just wrote about; the reader just
read it, so it's unnecessary. Rather, use that last paragraph to push the discussion
forward. Your last words will be the first words the reader uses when telling a
colleague about your piece. Make it good.

Write in standard, conversational English. Hifalutin isn’t better; it’s just hifalutin.

Avoid the passive voice. Scientific writing for research journals often favors use of
the passive voice, i.e. “The dog was bitten by the man” rather than, “The man bit the
dog.” Use active voice unless there is an overwhelming reason to use passive. (Note
from editor: There is almost never an overwhelming reason to use passive.)

Limit the acronyms. In fact, avoid them if at all possible. Unfamiliar acronyms are
extremely off-putting to the non-expert, and it’s remarkable how many of them can
be avoided, with remarkably little effort.

On the rocks. Write as if you were sitting at a bar, talking to your smartest friend;
explain what you have discovered that is interesting and important. You have
exciting, vital information to convey; convey it in an exciting, vital way.

Style. Every publication has a house style; so do we. We are sticklers, so please
understand that we won’t change house style just for you.

Numbers. Our job is to tell a story. Use words to tell the story behind the numbers.
Do not use equations or scientific notation in your piece; this is not our style and will
be removed.