Style Guidelines

"The best-edited journal in political science, bar none."--Martin Shefter, Cornell

Critical Review has received many such comments over the years. The reason is that we have, except in rare cases (see below), replaced peer review with an aggressive, often substantive editing process similar to those that used to occur at university presses and literary publishing houses. We found this necessary because Critical Review is designed to be both intellectually rigorous and accessible to a non-academic audience (see below). Peer review makes most academic journals impeccable in their coverage of the extant scholarly literature, at the cost of being inaccessible to those unfamiliar with that literature--and, more importantly, at the cost of de-emphasizing innovation, argument, and broader significance. Therefore, at both the literary and the substantive level, authors should be forewarned of the severity of the tests to which their manuscripts will be put.

1. Please note that all articles in Critical Review should avoid policy advocacy, policy recommendations, and criticism of proposed policies. That is, authors discussing public policy should confine themselves to the causes and consequences of past conditions and policies, not directly to what should be done in the future. Please leave it to our readers to infer what policies or reforms they should favor, based on your analysis of their past effects.

2. Controversial normative assumptions about the desirability of capitalism, liberalism, democracy, or freedom, or the equivalence of capitalism or liberalism or democracy with freedom, should be avoided. These are some of the issues that the journal is designed to debate, rather than take for granted.

3. Peer review. Critical Review publishes (i) research papers, (ii) review essays, (iii) articles, (iv) symposia, and (v) replies and rejoinders to previous papers. All research papers, essays, and review essays, unsolicited or invited, may be subject to editorial and/or peer review prior to acceptance. Therefore, they should not contain indications of your identity in the text or notes.

Peer review is undertaken at the discretion of the editor and is anonymous; authors receive copies of the reviewers' comments. Peer review is also undertaken if requested in advance by an author concerned to satisfy the demands of the academic job market. Symposium contributions, replies, and rejoinders are not usually subject to peer review, although they may be rejected as inappropriate and the editor may, as with all articles, suggest revisions.

4. All articles in Critical Review, including review essays, are expected to be substantial and serious contributions to scholarly discussion. We do not publish "opinion pieces" or short book reviews. Book reviewers and symposium participants, like all contributors, are expected to set forth the relevant aspects of their topic in detail before providing their own rigorously argued, evidentially supported response.

5. Audience: Critical Review's readers are scholars, advanced students, and well-educated laymen who, like readers of The New York Review of Books, are willing to pursue complex issues in other disciplines as well. However, specialization makes the most technical aspects of some disciplines inaccessible to nonspecialists. While we publish research papers, technical jargon, mathematics, topics of interest only to experts, econometric analyses, and visual displays that merely re-express ideas presented verbally should be avoided. The last point is particularly important. Tables and figures never speak for themselves, and should be explained in the text of any paper. Once the explanation is there, ask yourself if the table or figure is really necessary.

6. Tone: Although Critical Review is not a specialized research organ, it is a scholarly journal that attempts to foster the dispassionate exploration of political and cultural issues. It seeks to consider alternative points of view respectfully and sympathetically. Ideological and personal polemics have no place in its pages.

7. Book-review essays: The purpose of Critical Review's review essays is neither to recommend books to our readers nor to pan them. Rather, their aim is to allow our writers the opportunity to confront important issues discussed in the books under review. A book's ideas and arguments, not its organization, style, literary elegance, or physical appearance, should be the reviewer's main concerns.

In review essays, the first mention of a book should include parenthetically: (city: publisher, year). Subsequent page references need not include the book's author, unless more than one book is being reviewed.

8. Article length: 4000 words (@ 20 double-spaced pages in a 12-point font) is usually the minimum required to explore a topic in appropriate depth. We can accommodate longer manuscripts if necessary.

9. Format: Manuscripts should be in Times Roman, paginated and double-spaced throughout, including the notes and references.

10. Spacing: Please put only one space between sentences, not two.

11. Numbers: Please use the Chicago Manual of Style's "alternative rule": spell out single-digit numbers (e.g., "nine") and use numerals for all others (e.g., "33"), except in dealing with statistics. However, non-single-digit numbers can occasionally be spelled out, to avoid infelicities.

12. Title, subheads: Please suggest a title for your paper or review essay and brief, italicized (not capitalized) subheads every four or five pages. Only very long articles should use numbered subheadings; please use Roman numerals for such enumeration.  

13. Abstract: A 100-word-maximum double-spaced abstract should appear at the beginning of all articles, including review essays. All submissions must include abstracts. Please note well the following paragraph:

Because part of Critical Review's mission is to be accessible to nonspecialists, including thousands of readers who purchase it in bookstores, the abstract is the most important part of a paper: it is the only part most people will read, and it will determine whether many people read on. It should directly state the substance of your thesis, rather than describing the topic, the issues involved, or the methods used to investigate them. Unsolicited manuscripts that do not include a substantive abstract will not be considered for publication.

Please don't take a distanced first- or third-person stance ("I argue that because of X, Y," or "This paper argues that because of X, Y"); instead, just say what your argument is ("Because of X, Y"), in as much detail as possible.

You may wish to consult back issues for sample abstracts.

13. Biographical note: Please provide a three- or four-line double-spaced biographical note for us to publish with your paper. Include in the form of a sentence with a verb your name; academic affiliation; mailing address; email address; the titles, publishers, and years of any recent books; and any acknowledgements, like so: "Name, email address, academic mailing address, the author of recent book Z (publisher, year), thanks A, B, and C for comments on earlier drafts."

14. Gender-neutral language is preferred; alternating "he" and "she" is acceptable.

15. Quotation marks: Please follow standard American literary usage. Double quotation marks should surround quotations, with commas and periods enclosed. Single quotation marks should surround quotations within quotations. Single words or phrases take double quotation marks.

16. Citations should follow the "author-date" or "social-science" system described in the American Political Science Assn. Style Manual, copies of which may be obtained by writing to the Managing Editor at This means that there should be no end notes (or footnotes) that are for citation purposes; citation is by means of in-text parenthetical references (Tversky 1990, 27), each of which refers to an item in a Reference list at the very end of the paper--following the end notes, which should be expository only.

Exception: please use end notes to reference unauthored sources, such as unsigned newspaper or magazine articles, and web sites, which need not be noted in the Reference list. However, publications issued by organizations (such as the IMF or the GAO) count as authored sources, which should appear in the Reference list.

When your own text directly refers to a work, omit parentheses: "As Tversky 1990 shows...." When referring directly to the author of a work, include parentheses: "Tversky (1990) is among those who argue...." When making the first direct mention of an author, use his or her first name: "Amos Tversky (1990) is among those who...."

Classic works that have appeared in many editions with a universal section-numbering system may be cited like this: "Aristotle N.E. X.iv.1175a13." These works need not be listed among the references unless you are quoting from a particular translation or your argument depends on the wording of a particular edition. In that case, you should cite the work as "Aristotle N.E. X.iv.1175a13, 22," and include publication information about the edition you are using in the Reference list.

When the original date of a work subsequently republished is known, please insert that date, not the first publication date of the edition you are using, in brackets, like so: As Weber ([1904] 1949, 103) put it, "there is an almost irresistible temptation to do violence to reality in order to prove the real validity of [a] construct."

Please put a space between the colon following journal volume numbers and page numbers.

Do not abbreviate authors' names with initials (e.g., J. Q. rather than James Q. Wilson) unless this is how the name appears in the cited work.

Page citations should be written in the shortest form that you could comfortably speak them aloud, as in these examples: "10-12," "101-2," "213-14," "252-53." Do not use the abbreviation "p." or "pp."

17. References should read like this:

Weber, Max. [1904] 1949. "'Objectivity' in Social Science and Social Policy." In The Methodology of the Social Sciences, ed. Edward A. Shils and Henry A. Finch. New York: The Free Press.

Converse, Philip E. [1964] 2006. "The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics." Critical Review 18(1-3): 1-74.

18. Please use italics for emphasis; no bold or underlined type.

19. Please do not right-justify your margins; leave them ragged.

20. Submit manuscripts to Jeffrey Friedman, Editor, at Be sure to include a substantive abstract (see above) and biographical note (see above). A c.v. is optional. Please let us know whether your submission is being submitted elsewhere. Please do not fax manuscripts. If you need to mail a manuscript instead of e-mailing it, send it to Critical Review Foundation, P.O. Box 13234, Oakland, CA 94661. If you do not hear from us within three months, please feel free to inquire!