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Instructions for authors

Scope

International Organization (IO) seeks to publish the best and most innovative scholarly manuscripts on international relations. IO features articles that propose generalizable theories, improve social scientific knowledge, and/or offer new empirical insights. A study that does not emphasize any international (or cross-border) phenomenon as a major cause or effect falls outside the journal’s domain. Although we may publish a manuscript that proposes a solution to a current world problem, we prefer to publish those that also apply or generate theoretical ideas, provide broader empirical analyses, or contribute to scholarly debates.

If a manuscript meets these general guidelines regarding the scope of IO, but it addresses a topic that has not been featured in the journal in the past, we welcome its submission. Our editorial team only can review – and potentially publish – what authors submit. We welcome work that fits IO’s remit, whether the topic is “old” or “new.”

One or more members of the editorial team evaluates each submission to decide whether the manuscript is appropriate for external review. Approximately sixty percent of submissions are sent to reviewers. IO’s reviewers have high standards: approximately five percent of manuscripts submitted to IO are ultimately published by the journal. We therefore encourage authors to seek comments and feedback from colleagues before submitting their work to IO.

Articles take three main forms. First, research articles (maximum 14,000 words) present new theoretical arguments and/or empirical evidence that constitute a substantial advance of knowledge.

Second, research notes (maximum 8,000 words) also advance our collective knowledge, but often within a narrower range. For example, research notes can present new empirical evaluations of important existing theoretical propositions. Alternatively, research notes could focus on conceptual and theoretical contributions without providing new empirical evidence.  While shorter than research articles, IO research notes are nonetheless substantial in length, and our expectations are commensurate with that length. If a note introduces a new dataset, for example, we expect the note will also provide some theoretically-driven analysis of the dataset.

Third, review essays (maximum 14,000 words) survey recent research and broader themes in a particular area of study, bring important new insights to scholarly understanding, and offer suggestions for future research priorities. Review essays may be based on a set of books but also could draw on scholarship published in article form.

Special Issue Proposals

IO invites innovative proposals for special issues on focused topics. Special issues are designed and edited by guest editors and include an introductory or concluding essay written by the guest editors. Special issues should focus attention on promising ideas and important subjects in international relations and advance the development of international relations theory.

Proposals for special issues are submitted to the editors (via the Editorial Manager system). They should include:

  • A preliminary draft of the introductory or concluding essay by the guest editor or editors. This essay, ranging from 4,000 to 8,000 words in length, should present the main argument, ideas, or debate to be developed by the special issue. The most convincing essays will emphasize the original contributions of the project as a whole and its potential to influence theory and other scholarship. The planned volume should be differentiated briefly from the closest rival works already available or in preparation. The essay also should identify each contributor and preliminary paper title, and explain in a paragraph or two how each paper is expected to contribute to the issue’s purposes.
  • A list of proposed papers, including titles, authors, and abstracts.
  • A curriculum vitae for each editor, and optionally for other contributors.

Please contact the editorial office for more information on special issues.


Originality

IO does not evaluate works already published elsewhere (in journals or books), or currently under review elsewhere.  A manuscript is not sufficiently original to enter the IO review process if half or more of the ideas or evidence has been published, or is under review, elsewhere. We also do not evaluate revised versions of works previously submitted to IO. Corresponding authors are required to affirm the originality of submissions. If a question of overlap with other work arises during the review process, the managing editor will ask authors to provide a copy of the other work. As a partial exception, a study that is promised to a future edited volume normally can be published by IO if the volume will appear at least six months after the article’s publication in IO and the author has arranged for the IO editor’s agreement at the time of manuscript submission.

Length

IO will not review a manuscript containing more than 14,000 words (8,000 for research notes), including tables, figures, notes and references. Please provide a word count in your submission. Supplementary material intended for separate online publication only does not count toward the word limit.

Submission Procedure

Authors wishing to submit manuscripts to IO should do so at http://io.edmgr.com. This website will guide authors through the submission procedure. All co-authors must have accounts in the IO Editorial Manager system before submission. Please direct any questions to the managing editor at managingeditor@iojournal.org.

Manuscript Preparation

Offer your readers vigorous, concise prose in the active voice. Choose vivid verbs and expressions that clearly communicate your meaning. Avoid using academic, “insider” jargon. Use the full name of a person, organization, program, or agency when mentioning it for the first time in your manuscript, and provide titles and explanatory phrases when appropriate. To enhance accessibility, avoid overusing abbreviations, initialisms, and acronyms. Use gender-neutral language whenever possible. Double-check the spelling of non-English words, and include special characters such as accents and umlauts.

Weak or extraneous prose detracts from the strength of your argument. Scrutinize your draft for potential deletions, such as expressions, sentences, and paragraphs whose absence would not harm the argument. Avoid complex constructions where simpler phrasing would do, distractions from the main line of argument, and excessive repetition. Most manuscripts can be improved with tightening. For concrete advice, consider: On Writing Well by William Zinsser, The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White, and The Careful Writer by Theodore M. Bernstein.

Manuscripts submitted to IO must conform to the following guidelines:

1. Omit self-references after the title page that reveal your identity. When referring to your own past work, use the third person (e.g. “Matthews 2022” rather than “Author,” and “they” rather than “I/we”) so as to not reveal your identity.

2. Include figures and tables as part of the main manuscript.

3. Include a complete reference list.

4. Number the pages consecutively.

5. Submit an abstract, word count, and acknowledgments separately from the manuscript. Do not include any identifying information in the abstract.

Any paper accepted for publication will be required to use short author-date footnotes rather than parenthetical references. We do not require IO-style citations at the submission stage, as long as the citations conform to a generally accepted standard. The reference list should contain the complete facts of publication or availability for each source cited. Include only those sources directly cited in the text. If your manuscript is accepted for publication, we will provide further guidance regarding preparation for copy-editing.

Recent research has shown that articles and books published by female authors are cited less frequently than articles and books written by male authors. We expect there also may be citation biases associated with race, ethnicity, and the geographic location of scholars. We ask you to be mindful of these biases when preparing your submission and inclusive in your citation practices.

For Overleaf users, an International Organization article template is available.

Supplementary Materials

Material that is not essential to understanding or evaluating a manuscript’s main arguments and findings, but which may nonetheless be relevant, may be submitted alongside the manuscript as supplementary material. Supplementary material should be limited to analyses, claims, or supporting information referenced in the text or footnotes of the main article. We strongly encourage authors to limit supplementary material, especially upon initial submission; supplementary material should rarely exceed twenty pages.

While the editors will provide supplementary material to reviewers, the editors also instruct reviewers that they are not required to evaluate supplementary material.

Supplementary material is published online alongside accepted articles, but it is not published in the print edition of the journal. Supplementary materials will not be typeset or copyedited; authors should supply them exactly as they are to appear online. Please see Cambridge’s general guidance on supplementary materials for further information.

Research Transparency

Prior to final acceptance, results of papers using quantitative data and proofs of formal models will be verified by IO staff. The editors will not issue final acceptances until all results of all reported analyses are confirmed. Authors of papers using quantitative data must provide the data and accompanying command files to reproduce tables presented in the paper and support any other claims made in the manuscript based on analysis of the data (for example, results verbally described in the main text or in footnotes). The editorial staff will request data at the time of conditional acceptance; authors do not need to provide data or command files upon initial submission. Authors of papers including formal models must provide complete proofs at the time of initial submission. We also encourage authors of papers using qualitative data to be as transparent as possible about their research methodology and, with ethical considerations in mind, provide as much information as feasible to allow others to verify their claims.

IO Dataverse

Upon final acceptance, authors should upload quantitative data sets and supporting files to the IO Dataverse. The Dataverse entry should include the article title and abstract; Dataverse will provide a DOI (a permanent identifier) for the entry, which should be included in the published article.

Data Availability Statement 

We require a Data Availability Statement for all articles that employ quantitative data (referencing the IO Dataverse), and we encourage a Data Availability Statement for articles that employ qualitative data. The Data Availability Statement appears at the end of the article, before the reference list.

Research Ethics

Research submitted to IO should adhere to ethical principles, including those related to the treatment of human subjects (for instance, see the American Political Science Association’s 2020 Principles and Guidance for Human Subjects Research). We require corresponding authors to answer questions about research ethics when submitting manuscripts and to provide reasonable justification for deviations from core ethical principles.

Open Access

Authors can choose to publish their work on a “gold open access” basis in International Organization. Gold open access means that the final typeset, copyedited version of record is openly available on a permanent basis on the publisher’s website under a Creative Commons license. Different degrees of re-use of the paper are possible depending on the specific CC license chosen by the author, but all of them permit the article to be read without barriers.

There are two routes to publishing an article on a gold open access basis:

1. If the corresponding author’s academic institution has a ‘read and publish’ agreement with Cambridge University Press, the cost of open access is covered in advance by that agreement. The list of institutions with such agreements can be found here, along with an easy-to-use eligibility checker tool. Note that only the corresponding author’s institutional affiliation is relevant for determining eligibility for open access.

2. You may pay an article processing charge (APC) to purchase open access for your article. Details can be found here.

International Organization’s “green open access” policy, i.e. self-archiving by the author of the pre-copyedited ‘accepted manuscript’ or any earlier version of a paper, is set out here and is also displayed in the author copyright agreement forms.

Please visit Cambridge’s OA webpages for more general information about open access, including guidance on compliance with major funding bodies, eligibility for OA under “read & publish” agreements, and details of the payment process. Questions about Cambridge’s open access policies and practices can be sent to oaqueries@cambridge.org. Before emailing, please review the related webpages on each area, as these contain a wealth of relevant information.

Copyright

The policy of International Organization is that authors (or in some cases their employers) retain copyright and grant Cambridge University Press a license to publish their work. For gold open access articles, this is a non-exclusive license; for non-open access articles, it is an exclusive license. Authors must complete and return an author publishing agreement form as soon as their article has been accepted for publication; the journal is unable to publish without this. Publishing agreements are available here. Please make sure to select the appropriate form for open access or non-open access.

For open access articles, the form also sets out the Creative Commons license under which the article is made available to end users: a fundamental principle of open access is that content should not simply be accessible but also should be freely re-usable. If no license is selected, then articles are published under a Creative Commons Attribution license (CC-BY) by default. This means that the article is freely available to read, copy, and redistribute, and can also be adapted (users can “remix, transform, and build upon” the work) for any commercial or non-commercial purpose, as long as proper attribution is given. Authors can, in the publishing agreement form, choose a different kind of Creative Commons license (including those prohibiting non-commercial and derivative use) if they prefer.

Conflicts of Interest

Should any author submitting a paper to IO believe they or their co-authors have a conflict of interest (COI) with any editor that they, the author, fear may compromise the objectivity of the review process, the author has the right to disclose this conflict and to request that the submission be handled under the alternative review process. The procedures for this process are laid out in the Policy on Conflicts of Interest for IO Editorial Team.

A mechanism for reporting a potential COI is built into the Editorial Manager submission process; only the IO managing editor will have access to this information; they will forward it to the IO Ethics Committee. Under rules of strict confidentiality, the Ethics Committee may request additional information about the potential COI from any editor or from the submitting author. The corresponding author may request that the editor not be informed about the alternative review process request. After reviewing the information provided, the Ethics Committee will determine whether a COI exists and recommend appropriate action to the IO Executive Committee.

IO Ethics Committee: Professor Beth Simmons (Chair), Professor Songying Fang, Professor David Lake. Contact the committee at coi@iojournal.org.

Appeals Process

To appeal an editorial decision, contact the editorial office at io@iojournal.org and specify the reason for your appeal. Appeals must be submitted within ninety days of the relevant decision. Whenever possible, your appeal will be reviewed by at least two members of the editorial team, including one editor or associate editor who was not involved in the initial decision. The editorial team aims to respond to appeals within sixty days.

If, due to conflicts of interest or other unusual circumstances, there are not two editorial team members available to evaluate an appeal, the IO Ethics Committee will appoint a member of IO’s editorial board to participate in the appeal process. Except in cases of conflict of interest, the final decision regarding your appeal will rest with the Editors-in-Chief. Generally, the Editors-in-Chief will consider only one appeal per manuscript per decision stage.

Correspondence

You may contact the editorial office at:

International Organization
c/o Layna Mosley
School of Public and International Affairs
Robertson 448
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544 
USA

email: io@iojournal.org