Write for The Bulletin

Writer's Guidelines

Readers of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists are informed, intelligent readers that range from those with an interest of the issues to policymakers and opinion makers from over 150 countries. The Bulletin publishes information from leading scientists and security experts who explore the potential for terrible damage to societies from human-made technologies. We focus as well on ways to prevent catastrophe from the malign or accidental use of nuclear, carbon-based, and biology-based technologies.

The Bulletin bridges the gap between experts and lay audiences. 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. 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 or fill in the gaps of these topics when they are to be found 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, re-worked by Bulletin editors. This is important to realize, as we do not publish unedited articles.

Submissions should be emailed as Word attachments to:

submissions@thebulletin.org.

But before you submit, please consider the following:

Read the journal and the web site. This is by far the best way to get a sense of what kind of articles we publish.

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 (no longer than 850 words) and Analysis pieces (no longer than 1,100 words); please do read these to see the style and voice of the Bulletin (also do submit pieces with three article highlights that are no longer than 25 words in length). 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. No exceptions. Rather, we use hyperlinks. Think of hyperlinks as the modern-day footnote. If you write something and you want to reference where you got this information, add a hyperlink pointing the reader to the book, article, study, etc. Paste the hyperlink after the word/groups of words you would like to highlight. Try to include at least 4 hyperlinks in your piece.

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 bio so that we understand your expertise and
what makes you the perfect author to write the piece you are pitching. Please note
that this is a professional bio, and not a personal bio. Though we are happy that you
might have inherited Kim Jung-il’s private Daffy Duck collection, we need to keep
this out of your bio.

Peer review. The Bulletin is not peer reviewed; however, we do send unsolicited
articles to colleagues for an unofficial peer 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. 

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 with writing. Find the
most engaging anecdote/news event to launch into your article and put your issue in
a wider perspective. Put your expertise in context for the reader outside your field. 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.