Writers' Guidelines

Middle East Report welcomes manuscripts on the political economy of the contemporary Middle East, the role of the United States and other outside powers, and popular struggles in the region. We seek to address the intelligent general public as well as those with expertise and professional interest in Middle Eastern affairs. The guidelines below apply to Middle East Report Online as well as the print magazine.

Style

  • We seek clear, direct, readable writing.
  • Capture readers’ attention in the lead paragraphs: Unless you convince them immediately that the article is worth reading, they will not bother.
  • Keep sentences short, crisp and in the active voice.
  • Avoid jargon and unfamiliar acronyms.
  • Identify all acronyms and people.
  • Avoid signposting (e.g., “This article argues that,” “as I show below”) and other conventions of academic prose. Resist the temptation to mention the concepts of theoreticians unless they are central to the argument of the article. In such cases, the concepts should be explained in plain English with concrete illustration.
  • The first person should be avoided at virtually all costs. Expect the editors to rewrite aggressively to eliminate it.
  • Heads and subheads should be succinct and jargon-free; if they are not, expect the editors to make them so. Heads and subheads are the editors’ prerogative.
  • Footnotes should be used very sparingly, to identify the source of a fact or interpretation that is not commonly known. Do not use footnotes to convey extra information; if the information is important, it should be in the main text. Do not use footnotes to direct the reader to additional reading or alternatives to the interpretations advanced in the article. If such alternative interpretations are worth mentioning, they should be in the main text.
  • MER does not print bibliographies or in-text references.
  • MER generally uses the International Journal of Middle East Studies system for transliteration of Arabic, Hebrew, Persian and Turkish. It is rarely necessary to use foreign words. Do not use them when the English equivalent will do (and there is no reason, in such instances, to provide the foreign word or words in parentheses).
  • Please include a one-sentence description of how you would like to be identified in the biographical note that will appear with your article.
  • In general, refer to the Chicago Manual of Style on questions of mechanics and usage. A more thorough MER style sheet is available upon request.
  • For those seeking further guidance, tips 1-5 in this list compiled by a W. W. Norton editor are particularly useful.

Translation

  • When articles are submitted in languages other than English, authors should expect MER to exercise significant editorial discretion to render them into smooth and idiomatic English.

Submissions

  • MER uses Microsoft Word. If at all possible, manuscripts should be written using this program.
  • Manuscripts should be sent via the Internet as attachment files. The editorial e-mail address at MER is ctoensing@merip.org.

Editorial Process

  • Manuscripts are circulated to members of the Middle East Report’s Editorial Committee, and occasionally to outside readers with special expertise.
  • We inform authors of editorial decisions as quickly as possible, usually within 2 to 3 weeks.
  • If an article is promising but needs reworking, we will return the manuscript with suggestions for revisions. A revised manuscript may be circulated for a second review.
  • We reserve the right to edit all manuscripts to improve readability. Editorial changes will be cleared with the author before publication.
  • Please note well that it is not possible for the editors to make specific comments on the reasons for the rejection of unsolicited manuscripts.

Articles

  • We like investigative and analytical articles that treat a political situation, a particular struggle, a trend in international policy, an institution, a social class, the social practices and trends known as culture, or some other specific topic.
  • Articles should be original, not formulaic, and based on considerable knowledge of the subject. Do not send personal Middle East peace plans, manifestoes or travelogues.
  • 3,000 to 6,000 words

Interviews

  • MER publishes interviews with well-known persons or with those who can give expression to popular sentiment on matters of importance.
  • Questions should search for problems or weaknesses, not simply elicit information or self-aggrandizing statements.
  • Interview authors must transcribe, edit, condense and even rearrange the interview to bring out the most important elements.
  • 2,500 words

Reviews

  • Reviews succinctly assess the contributions of a single book, film or other piece of cultural production. They should be aimed at a general audience, not solely at specialists. Please note that we no longer publish unsolicited reviews.
  • 800-900 words

Review Essays

  • Review essays (or Interventions published in MER Online) deal with a major (and usually contemporary) topic in an original way and use the review of several books, films or other pieces of cultural production as an instrument for discussing important issues. Pitches for unsolicited essays will be considered, if the material suggested for review is of interest to a non-specialist audience.
  • 3,000-5,000 words

Dispatches

  • Dispatches report recent news that has not already been covered in the general press. They should present a story in a detailed way, with much firsthand material and a feel for the place in question.
  • 800 to 2,000 words

Illustrations

  • Authors can help us by supplying black-and-white photos, cartoons, maps or line drawings. Such submissions should be high-resolution. The editors reserve the right to illustrate all MER features as they choose.

Copyright

  • Middle East Report holds the copyright for all articles published in our pages, unless special arrangement is made prior to publication. Authors will be asked to sign a standard copyright agreement upon acceptance of their article for publication. If MER does not have such a signed agreement on file, outside requests for reprint permission will be cleared with the author directly.
  • Requests for reprint permission should be sent to ctoensing@merip.org.
  • Middle East Report does not republish material that has appeared elsewhere in English.

Compensation

  • We provide authors with three copies of the issues in which their submission appears, plus a complimentary one-year subscription.
  • Under special circumstances we pay a modest fee for contributions.