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Writing for LSE COVID-19

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Photo: Camilla Hoel via a CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0 licence

LSE COVID-19 encourages submissions of posts from 800 to 1,200 words that are written in an accessible way. We’re interested in global public policy responses to COVID-19: economics, finance, government, psychology and behavioural science, media, culture, global development and governance. We are keen to include tables, charts, and relevant figures where appropriate.

Contributors should normally be university faculty, studying at doctoral level, have obtained their doctorate, or have significant professional expertise in the subject they are writing about.

You are welcome to propose ideas informally to our Managing Editor, Ros Taylor. To submit an article for consideration, please email it in a Word file to us.

Style guide

We’ve compiled a list of some of the main style issues to keep in mind when drafting an article for LSE Covid-19.

Length and format

To make our articles as readable and accessible as possible, we usually aim for a length of between 800 and 1,200 words. We are also happy to post longer essays of over 2,000 words if appropriate for the topic. Please discuss this with Ros. ‘Snap’ contributions of around 400 words are also welcomed, particularly if they are timely. Please send us your draft article in Word format.

Audience, writing style and language

Your article should be written with a relatively wide audience in mind, including policymakers and other non-academics. The Economist’s special reports offer a good model. We recommend you avoid overusing acronyms and academic terms or specific terminology that may not be well known outside disciplinary circles: if you do, please link to a definition. Avoid introductory phrases like “In this post I will…”, or “This post aims to…”, and go straight into your discussion of the topic.

Use short paragraphs made up of a few sentences. As with journalistic pieces, ‘lead with the best.’ Don’t save your main argument or analysis for the end of the post.

Write your article as a standalone piece, even if it summarises material in a longer paper or journal article. Try to present all of your argument and evidence within the text and avoid relying too heavily on information contained in external sources. Avoid phrases such as “In my recent paper, I have shown that COVID-19 has transformed attitudes towards the welfare state…” and simply say “COVID-19 has transformed attitudes towards the welfare state.” Better still, start off with a striking example of how it has transformed them.

We see a lot of posts that begin with the observation that COVID-19 has transformed the policy landscape. This goes without saying!

Referencing

Unless your references are offline (for example, books), we use links rather than citations for references. Links should direct readers to more detailed reports or other pieces of research, news items or other blog posts. Open access sources are preferred to those behind paywalls.

Please insert a hyperlink at the relevant point of your argument that you’d like to reference: e.g. “Joe Bloggs has said…” Try to avoid using footnotes wherever possible and integrate material directly into the text.

Titles

We use narrative titles – a single sentence that sums up the main argument of the article. The more descriptive and catchy the title, the more likely the article is to be read. Try to avoid very general titles (COVID-19 and cities). We’re happy to write them and get your approval.

Try and keep titles to 12 words or fewer, if possible.

Graphs and charts

We encourage the use of charts and figures. Graphs and charts are preferable to tables, as they are easier for readers to interpret quickly.

Each chart needs a clearly labelled heading, labels for the X and Y axes or histogram bars, including units of measurement and a readable scale or background grid.

There should be a clear legend distinguishing multiple data series from each other and a brief note on sources. Lines must be thick enough and distinctively coloured. Charts should use a numerical progression to make comparisons more visible.

Photographs

If you have a good photo that illustrates your post, please do include it. Here’s an example.

Biography and contributor photo

Please send us a three to four line biographical note, with your academic position, research interests, and details of any recent books.

Please also send us a small colour photo headshot.

Our editing process

In most cases submitted articles will be reviewed speedily by the editor. Once these edits are complete, we will send you the final version of the article, and give you an opportunity to make any corrections.

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