Any SPA graduate student at American University can submit an article to the Online Edition at any time by emailing their piece to publicpurposejournal@gmail.com! Afterward, authors will be paired with an editor who will review your piece and prepare it for publication. Submissions can consist of course papers, research, analysis or opinion, and our editors can work with authors to develop ideas and polish writing. After a few rounds of revisions, articles are generally published on the following Monday. We’re here to help you produce the best possible piece!

Online Submission Specifications:

  • Topic: We publish submissions on a wide variety of issues, and topics should be linked to a policy problem, political issue or public concern. Arguments should be grounded in academic research or other quasi-academic/journalistic sources. If you’re unsure about a topic, check out our Issue Areas page or email publicpurposejournal@gmail.com, and an editor will help you frame the idea.
  • Domestic and international themes are welcome. Articles examining global issues, cross-national comparisons or differing governmental responses to a shared concern are all appropriate. 
  • There is no time-based requirement. If you are interested in examining a policy, law or political moment’s historical implications and how its consequences remain, that can provide a fascinating look into the current policy and political debate. 
  • Current events are welcome. If there is an ongoing public debate around an event situated in your field of interest or expertise, feel free to write a commentary. All points of view are welcome and accepted.
  • Audience: Articles should assume a comprehension level similar to readers of the New York Times Politics Section or the Washington Post World section. Articles do not have to appeal solely to academics or other experts in the field. If there are specific terms that the general public may not know or with an often-misunderstood definition, please define these key terms. The Public Purpose allows readers and other graduate students without expertise in the area to learn about a current policy debate or pressing political issue, so articles should be accessible and intelligently written.
  • Length: Articles generally range from roughly 500 to 1500 words. This is the equivalent of 1 to 3 pages single-spaced.

Format:

Pieces should reflect the following format, but one of our editors can help to re-format submissions for publication. Some guiding questions are also provided below; the article does not have to answer them all, but they can assist in framing complex topics into a succinct argument for online publication.

  • Introduction to the context surrounding the policy, issue, event, etc. being analyzed
    • Why is this happening now? Why write about it now? How has the media addressed this issue? Who is bringing it into the public sphere, or who should be? Is there a perspective or analysis that is missing?
  • A brief summary of the issue, policy, or event (1-2 paragraphs):
    • What is it—policy, law, federal, state, hearing, case, etc.? When was it introduced? When will it be up for a vote, or when was it passed? What happened based on your knowledge and research? Who are the key political players? Who is affected?
  • A central argument
    • Why does this matter, and who should care? Who can help? What about this issue needs to be addressed? What is the general public not seeing that you, as an expert, are?
  • Sources
    • Sources can range in type (primary, secondary, academic, opinion, news, etc.) and are cited via hyperlinks. Keep the URLs from your research and then hyperlink the 1-3 words in the sentence that the source informs.
  • Images
    • When you submit an article, feel free to include a featured image representing the article’s content. The image will most likely be a stock photo; otherwise, the copyright holder must explicitly allow for the use of their image. Since we will cite the picture, please provide a link to the image that includes information about its source.

Grammar & Submission:

Please review your writing for grammatical errors. Then, you will be paired with an editor for a few rounds of revisions before publishing. We want to help you produce the best possible piece!

Here are some online style guides to help you in your writing:

Please check out our home page for examples of articles written by fellow graduate students!