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Announcing the new publication format of letters in APSR

The American Political Science Review (APSR) is pleased to announce the new publication format of letters. The traditional publication format of manuscripts use original work to advance the understanding of important political issues that are of general interest to the field of political science (maximum length 12,000 words). In contrast letters address an important research problem or question, showing a novel perspective on existing research and encouraging scholarly debate in the discipline (maximum length 4,000 words).

With this new format, the APSR is taking a new direction to publish important insights into research problems in political science. Some of these insights might not fit in the traditional, longer format of manuscripts, but fit well with the shorter format that is often used in other sciences to convey important new findings. The letter format is very common in prominent scientific journals of more general interest, such as Science and Nature, where significant findings are often reported on 5-6 pages. The letter format of the APSR accordingly attempts to increase the inter-disciplinary recognition by broadening readership and eventually authorship from scholars of other disciplines that address an important research problem in political science.

There are two reasons why we decided to offer this new format. The first is a substantive reason. While the APSR presents various disciplinary developments in the subfields of political science, these subfields also strive to develop alongside their counterparts in related disciplines. Letters provide an opportunity to report about original research that move these subfields forward and reach a broader readership. This includes, but is not limited to, a new theoretical perspective, methodological progress, alternative empirical findings, as well as comments on and extensions of existing work. A letter will typically have few figures and tables that directly communicate the new insights and the main takeaways from the research.

The second reason is that the format of the APSR has changed in the past, for example, with the move of book reviews to Perspectives on Politics. We want to use this space to raise the attractiveness of the APSR to diverse scholarly research. Although letters will be reviewed like Manuscripts, the difference in length means that letters are going to be much more focused on one important result. Typically, a letter won’t have the long literature review that is standard in manuscripts and will have much more brief introduction, motivation, analysis, and conclusion. We hope that this will stimulate scholarly discussion and disseminate findings that would otherwise be ignored in- and outside political science.

The APSR editors encourage authors to submit original papers that address an important research problem or question, showing a novel perspective on existing research and encouraging scholarly debate in the discipline to our new letters format.