Inquiry’s audience is a worldwide one of academic communities and an educated general public. Inquiry’s authors and editors work hard to make often complex research projects accessible and interesting to this audience. The revision questions under SUBMISSIONS are a first step in finding the right level and style of writing for each article.
Below are basic guidelines to keep in mind while writing and revising. (See MANUSCRIPT FORMAT for the structure and format of a completed article.)
Respect the word limits: In their final forms, the texts of research articles should not exceed 2500 words and commentaries should be kept to 1000.
Respect your readers: Aim to make your subject clear, interesting, and relevant to a wide audience, many of whom will know little about your research discipline but are willing to be informed.
Tell your readers right away exactly what your research subject or question is, why it’s important, and why they should be interested in it.
Establish a context for your research project: Who are you? Why did you do the research? When and where did you do it? Who was your mentor? How—what was your methodology?
Be kind to your readers:
- Use the active voice—even say “I”— to let your interest and enthusiasm be heard.
- Use technical terms sparingly, and always define them.
- Clarify difficult concepts with examples and analogies, or with pictures, charts, and graphs. However, remember that these only illustrate a point which has already been made.
- Minimize the number of acronyms whose meanings readers must remember.
- Be sure all pronouns have antecedents—and this includes such words as “this” and “that.”
Know when to let go: At some point you and your editor will say “It’s not perfect but it’s good enough and the final deadline is here.” A staff editor will go over your text for completeness and a final check on grammar, style, and punctuation correctness before it is formatted for the Web site. You will get a look at what you and your editor have produced on a test site before the issue goes online. You may make any necessary corrections at that time.
Most articles and commentaries require significant revision to make them suitable for Inquiry’s academic and general audiences. Authors work throughout the academic year with staff and student editors along with their faculty research mentors in person and by email. It can be a long process lasting into March, but in the end you will be pleased with yourself and with the results. (See EDITORIAL AND REVISION PROCESS for details.)