Before you submit your work to the Bulletin, please read the following Writer's Guidelines
Readers of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists are informed and intelligent; they include top policymakers, researchers, and opinion makers from more than 150 countries and 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 technology. Our primary coverage areas are nuclear risk, climate change, and other disruptive technologies that could pose an existential threat to humanity.
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 also encourages the work of younger authors through the Voices of Tomorrow program.
Read the journal and the website
Reading the Bulletin is by far the best way to get a sense of what kinds of articles it publishes.
Magazine. The bimonthly magazine features long form articles that generally run from 2,000 to 4,000 words; it is not the word count but the voice and the angle of the pieces that make the magazine distinctive. Read it to understand what the distinction is—we want you to tackle tough topics, make strong arguments, and offer strong takeaways. All authors must sign a writer’s agreement with our publisher, Taylor & Francis, to ensure that the article that is published is not (and will not) be published anywhere but in the Bulletin.
References and notes for magazine pieces. Follow this guide strictly:
Website. We accept opinion (800-1,300 words) and analysis pieces (1,000-3,000 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 them.
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; these can be embedded in the Word version of the piece submitted to the Bulletin or placed directly after the word or groups of words to be highlighted.
For both web and magazine 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.
Editing. Every Bulletin article is subject to editing, and many are edited two or three times. During the editing process, it is the writer’s responsibility to address all of the editor’s questions and proposed changes in a timely fashion. Writers are not obliged to accept every suggestion, but when rejecting changes they should explain why. The editor’s proposed changes may address structure, tone, spelling, grammar, or style. He or she will remove all jargon, nearly all acronyms, and low-quality or overabundant hyperlinks. Edits will always push the piece towards an engaging, conversational style. Our goal is to make your piece as accessible and interesting as possible, which will ensure the maximum number of readers.
Tips for experts writing for the Bulletin audience
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, and 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 them not just good, but memorable.
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.