Skip to main content
Instructions for contributors

Download the International Organization instructions for contributors here: Download Instruction for Contributors in PDF. (176.294 KB)

To view the PDF file linked above, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Guidelines for Contributors


International Organization seeks to publish the best and most innovative scholarly manuscripts available on international political and economic relations. A study that does not emphasize any international (or cross-border) phenomenon as a major cause or effect falls outside the journal’s domain. Additionally, IO features articles that contribute in some way to the improvement of general knowledge or empirical theory defined broadly. Although we may publish a manuscript designed to propose a solution to a current world problem, we prefer to publish those that also apply theoretical ideas and findings or address general questions debated in the scholarly community.

The editorial team sends submissions, except letters to the editor, to reviewers for comment before making a decision to publish. Approximately 5 percent of manuscripts submitted to IO are ultimately published by the journal, while approximately 30 percent are judged by the editors as not ready or appropriate for external review. The standards of IO’s reviewers are high. Before submitting their work, authors are strongly encouraged to seek advice and detailed comments from colleagues.

In addition to research articles, IO considers the following types of submissions:

Research Notes

IO publishes shorter papers (8,000 words maximum) that are primarily empirical or that suggest a new methodology or model. They are not abbreviated research articles. Specifically, they do not need to make a major original theoretical claim, or summarize in any detail the most important claims from the existing theoretical literature to which they relate. Most offer a solid empirical test of some interesting and important hypotheses that promise to stimulate future debate and research in fields important to many IO readers.

Review Essays

IO publishes high-quality review essays that survey new developments in a particular area of study, synthesize important ideas, and raise key issues for future scholarship. Prospective authors should submit a ten-page, double-spaced proposal detailing the body of research to be covered and the main themes to be explored. The proposal should list at the very top the three to five recent publications that will provide the backbone of the essay. Promising proposals will be sent to two referees. On the basis of their reviews, which will be sent anonymously to the author, the editors will write a decision letter. In the event of a positive decision, the letter will outline expectations for the essay to be drafted. The completed essay must be submitted within six months, and it will have the same word limit as any other article. The final decision to publish, made by the editors, will be based on the author’s success in meeting the expectations communicated by the editors. No further external review will be required.

Special Issue Proposals

International Organization invites the submission of innovative proposals for symposia and special issues on international relations defined broadly. A symposium consists of two to five articles on a common subject, published as a set in the same issue. Papers submitted together for consideration as a symposium are all judged by the same referees. Special issues, in contrast, are designed and edited by guest editors and include an introductory or concluding essay written by the editors. The goals of a special issue are to focus attention on promising ideas and important subjects in international relations defined broadly, and to advance the critique and development of economic or political theory in some way.

Proposals are submitted to the editors and should include the following elements:

• A preliminary draft of the introductory or concluding essay by the guest editor or editors, from 4,000 to 8,000 words in length. In the essay the editors should present the main argument, ideas, or debate to be developed by the volume. The most convincing essay will emphasize the most promising 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 should also identify each contributor and preliminary paper title, and explain in a paragraph or two how each article is expected to contribute to the issue’s purposes.

• A list of proposed papers, including paper titles, authors, and abstracts.

• A curriculum vitae for each editor, and optionally for other contributors.

Please contact the editorial office for more information.


IO does not evaluate works already published elsewhere or currently under review by another publisher. Our guideline is that a manuscript is clearly not original enough if as much as half of the ideas or evidence has been published elsewhere. If a question of overlap arises, at the time of submission please send a copy of the earlier work and ask the editors for a determination. As a partial exception, a study that is promised to a future edited volume can normally 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 submission.


IO will not review a manuscript containing more than 14,000 words, including notes and references. Please provide a word count in your submission. Research notes should be no longer than 8,000 words. Supplemental appendices do not count toward the word limit.


Authors wishing to submit manuscripts to IO should go to This website will guide authors through the submission procedure. Please direct any questions to the managing editor at

Manuscript Preparation

Manuscripts submitted to IO must conform to the following guidelines:

1. Omit self-references after the title page. Your identity should not be revealed in the manuscript; for example, showing five of your writings in the reference list will be a clue to most reviewers. We recommend citing these sources simply as “author” in the footnotes and omitting them from the reference list. If fuller information might bear significantly on the manuscript’s acceptability, mention such information in a cover letter to the editor. If, however, changing references to “author” could contribute to revealing your identity, please consult with the editors about the issue before submitting the manuscript.

2. Double-space the text, allow margins of at least one inch on all sides, and use a font no smaller than twelve points.

3. You may include figures and tables as part of the main manuscript, or in separate files to be submitted in Editorial Manager.

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.

We recommend using short author-date footnotes rather than parenthetical references as any paper accepted for publication will be required to use the former.

If your manuscript is accepted for publication, we will provide further guidance regarding how to prepare it for copyediting.


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 and extraneous prose detract 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 or would help it to stand out more prominently. Prime candidates are complex constructions where simpler phrasing would do, distractions from the main line of argument, and excessive repetition. Rare is the manuscript that cannot be improved with tightening. The following classics offer much concrete advice: 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.

Citing Sources

The reference list should contain the complete facts of publication or availability for each source cited, using the formats shown in the following examples. Include only those sources specifically cited in the text. Provide first names, rather than initials, of authors when available. For article and book titles, use the “up” style of capitalization and do not use quotation marks. In the reference list, show sources in alphabetical order by the first author’s surname; list multiple works by the same author in chronological order with earliest dates first. In the manuscript’s body, cite sources in footnotes using an abbreviated author/date form (for example, Beck 2000) that refers to a corresponding entry in the reference list. Add specific page numbers in the footnote when quoting from or referring to a particular passage. The footnote may include a brief comment that helps the reader understand the source’s value or viewpoint. Please use the following formats:

BOOK: Checkel, Jeffrey. 1997. Ideas and International Political Change: Soviet/Russian Behavior and the End of the Cold War. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. FOOTNOTE: Checkel 1997, 52.

EDITED COLLECTION: Ries, Christine, and Richard J. Sweeney, eds. Forthcoming. Capital Controls in Emerging Market Economies. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. FOOTNOTE: Ries and Sweeney forthcoming.

CHAPTER IN MULTIAUTHOR COLLECTION: Please note that IO style includes the title of the collection, the editor(s) full names, and the page range for the chapter cited; the footnote may contain the specific pages cited: Grieco, Joseph. 1993. Anarchy and the Limits of Cooperation. In Neorealism and New Liberalism: The Contemporary Debate, edited by David Baldwin, 116–42. New York: Columbia University Press. FOOTNOTE: Grieco 1993, 119.

JOURNAL ARTICLE: Note that IO style includes the issue number. Risse, Thomas. 2000. ‘Let’s Argue!’: Communicative Action in World Politics. International Organization 54 (1):1–39. FOOTNOTE: Risse 2000, 342–43.

WORKING PAPER: Elliot, Jean K. 1994. Why the European Community Strengthens the State.Working Paper 52. Cambridge, MA: Center for European Studies, Harvard University.

PAPER PRESENTED AT A MEETING: Note that IO style includes an ordinal number for meeting year: Kilroy, Bernadette. 1995. Member-state Control of Judicial Independence. Paper presented at the 97th Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, August, San Diego, CA.

GOVERNMENT DOCUMENT: U.S. Senate. 1984. Committee on Foreign Relations. Chemical Warfare: Arms Control and Nonproliferation. Joint Hearings Before the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Subcommittee on Energy, Nuclear Proliferation, and Government Processes. 98th Cong., 2d sess., 28 June. FOOTNOTE: U.S. Senate 1984.

NEWSPAPER OR MAGAZINE ARTICLE: No entry in the reference list is needed; instead, include relevant information in a footnote: Los Angeles Times, 3 May 1993, A1. Article titles and authors are omitted except when including them would enhance understanding of points made in the text or the source.

PUBLICATION DISTRIBUTED ELECTRONICALLY: In addition to the usual information, please list the service name, the name of the vendor or website providing the service, the URL if material was accessed on the Internet, date material was accessed, and any identifying numbers. Fischer, Joschka. 1998a. Rede aus Anlass der Übername der Amtsgeschäfte, Bonn (28 October). Available at . Accessed 15 December 1998. FOOTNOTE: Fischer 1998a.

UNPUBLISHED INTERVIEW: No entry in the reference list is needed; instead, include relevant information in a footnote: Author’s interview with James Murphy, Washington, DC, July 1990. If the interviewee was promised anonymity, describe the informant as precisely as possible—for example, as a member of a category of individuals—without identifying the person.

UNPUBLISHED MANUSCRIPT: Mastanduno, Michael. 1996. Security Engagement and Economic Competition: Realism and U.S. Strategy After the Cold War. Unpublished manuscript, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH.

PH.D. DISSERTATION: Halimi, Serge. 1990. Sisyphus Is Tired: The French Left and the Exercise of Power, 1924–86. Ph.D. diss., University of California, Berkeley.

For questions of style not answered here, please refer to The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed., or contact the editorial office of IO.

Data Sets

At the time of final submission of accepted papers, IO requires authors of papers using quantitative data to provide the data set and accompanying command files to reproduce tables presented in the paper and any other specifications referenced in it (for example, results verbally described in the main text or in footnotes). Quantitative results will be replicated by IO staff and the paper will not begin the publication process until all results are confirmed. You do not need to send quantitative data until your article is accepted.


You may contact the editorial office at:

International Organization
Department of Political Science
University of Wisconsin
110 North Hall; 1050 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706