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March 2016 Submission Guidelines - American Political Science Review

Submission Guidlines

The American Political Science Review (APSR) publishes scholarly research of exceptional merit, focusing on important issues and demonstrating the highest standards of excellence in conceptualization, exposition, methodology, and craftsmanship. A significant advance in understanding of politics — whether empirical, interpretive, or theoretical — is the criterion for publication in the Review. Because the APSR reaches a diverse audience, authors must demonstrate how their analysis illuminates or answers an important research question of general interest in political science. For the same reason, authors must make their work understandable to as many scholars as possible, consistent with the nature of their material.

While committed to publishing research that is useful and accessible to the whole discipline, the APSR makes every effort to ensure that each submission is reviewed by scholars who are familiar with its substance and methodology. Editorial decisions grounded on those assessments are unlikely to be based on just one empirical benchmark. For example, the strength of quantitative empirical findings cannot be captured by any single criterion, such as the conventional .05 level of statistical significance. Similarly, the validity of an argument advanced in a process tracing case study is unlikely to be judged solely on the grounds that it passed a ‘smoking gun test.' The journal's editors will evaluate manuscripts on a range of criteria, including substantive significance, theoretical aptness, the importance of the problem under study, methodological rigor, and the feasibility of obtaining additional evidence etc.

Articles should be self-contained. Authors should not simply refer readers to other publications for descriptions of their basic research procedures (of course reference to widely used databases, such as the American National Election Study or Polity IV or others, are acceptable and do not require exhaustive description).

APSR fully expects authors to conform to generally accepted norms concerning the protection of human subjects, and the editors may require certification of appropriate institutional review.1

The APSR publishes original work. Submissions should not include tables, figures, or substantial amounts of text that already have been published or are forthcoming in other places. In many cases, re-publication of such material would violate the copyright of the other publisher. Neither does the APSR consider submissions that are currently under review at other journals or that duplicate or overlap with parts of larger manuscripts submitted to other publishers (whether of books, printed periodicals, or online journals). If scholars have any questions about whether these policies apply to their submission, they should address the issues in a cover letter to the editors or as part of the author comments section during online submission. Authors should also notify the editors of any related submissions to other publishers, whether for book or periodical publication, during the pendency of the submission's review at the APSR - regardless of whether they have yet been accepted. The editors may request copies of related publications.

The APSR uses a double-blind review process. Authors should follow the guidelines for preparing an anonymous submission in the "Specific Procedures" section that follows.

Manuscripts that, in the judgment of the co-editors, are largely or entirely critiques of, or commentaries on, articles previously published in the Review may be reviewed for possible inclusion in a forum section (subject to the discretion of the editors), using the same general procedures as for other manuscripts. Well before any publication, however, the Review's editors will send such manuscripts to the scholar(s) whose work is being addressed, inviting them to comment to the editors and to submit a rejoinder, which also will be peer-reviewed. We do not publish rejoinders to rejoinders.

The APSR accepts only electronic submissions (at The web site provides detailed information about how to submit, what formatting is required, and what type of digital files may be uploaded. Please direct any questions to the journal's editorial offices at [email protected]

Data Access, Production Transparency and Analytic Transparency

The APSR expects authors to comply with the access and transparency obligations described on pp. 8-10 of APSA's A Guide to Professional Ethics in Political Science (2012). Researchers have an ethical responsibility to facilitate the evaluation of their evidence-based knowledge claims so that their work can be fully evaluated, including through replication when appropriate, or by providing sufficient evidence to permit others to develop their own interpretation from the materials. This involves providing access to the data or evidence underlying their analysis, and achieving production and analytic transparency. All relevant materials should be made available in a trusted digital repository (such as a partner in the Data Preservation Alliance for the Social Sciences (Data-PASS) or through the APSR's online appendices (housed with Cambridge University Press).2 More specifically:

  • Data access: Authors making evidence-based knowledge claims should provide clear and complete citations to the evidence that support those claims in the reference section of the article; citations should include a "persistent identifier" (e.g., a "digital object identifier" or DOI). Authors should also provide comprehensive documentation that describes the data or evidence in full (see below for more specific guidance on references).Authors are expected to make these data available if they themselves generated or collected them. However, if the protection of human subjects requires non-disclosure, if confidentiality agreements prohibit disclosure, if data are under legal constraint (i.e., they are classified, proprietary, or copyrighted), and/or if the logistical burden of sharing relevant data would be particularly high, the author will inform the editor at the time of submission. The editors can grant an exception with or without conditions, and may require an explanation of the restriction(s) prior to publication of the piece.
  • Production transparency: Researchers providing access to evidence they themselves collected and/or generated are expected to offer a full account of the context in which the data were collected and/or generated and the procedures used to collect and/or generate them. They should also make available any research instruments they used (e.g., interview protocols, coding protocols, procedures for identifying appropriate informants). Researchers whose claims are based on analysis of a dataset they created themselves should clearly describe how they assembled the dataset.
  • Analytic transparency: Researchers making evidence-based knowledge claims should clearly map the path from the evidence to the claims. In addition to information provided in the article's main text and footnotes, this path should be mapped in ways that correspond with the methodology employed. For example, researchers may wish to provide software code and associated supplemental material; a methodological appendix; or they can attach a transparency appendix (TRAX, see note 4 below). Generally, it is expected that researchers should make available materials sufficient to allow others to fully understand and, where relevant and applicable, reproduce their results.

These guidelines apply to all research in political science which combines evidence and analysis to reach conclusions. APSR recognizes, however, that the general principles will be put into practice differently in different research traditions: different types of materials and information can be provided in different ways.3

  • For example, for survey research, along with providing the parts of the data set that they analyzed, authors might provide sampling procedures, response rates, and question wordings; and a calculation of response rates according to one of the standard formulas given by the American Association for Public Opinion Research, Standard: Final Dispositions of Case Codes and Outcome Rates for Surveys (Lenexa, KS: AAPOR, 2006).4 For observational data, authors should list the dataset in the reference section of their article, and provide the parts of the dataset that they analyzed.
  • For example, for articles that analyze a qualitative dataset in aggregate (e.g if using QCA/fs) authors should list the dataset in the reference section of their article, and provide the parts of the dataset that they analyzed. Where authors draw on individual data sources (e.g., books, interviews, newspaper articles, videos, etc.) as distinct inputs to the analysis, each source must be cited, and then listed in the reference section of their article. Whenever possible (within the confines of human subject protections and other exceptions mentioned in the section Data Access) authors should share the relevant fragment of sources that support contested or central empirical claims and make the original sources available to other researchers. If the evidence used to create the dataset or the individual sources were collected and/or generated by the author, she should provide a methodological appendix or section in the paper (that explains how the evidence was collected and/or generated and selected for citation), and all relevant evidence-collection instruments. These and analytical transparency requirements can be satisfied for qualitative research using individual sources by preparing a transparency appendix (TRAX) if the author chooses to do so.5
  • For example, to achieve transparency in experimental research, authors can provide full descriptions of experimental protocols, methods of subject recruitment and selection, payments to subjects, debriefing procedures, and so on.

Similarly, analytical transparency should be provided in ways that are relevant for the type of research that was undertaken, and the inferential and interpretive steps the author took to reach a conclusion.

At the time a manuscript is submitted to APSR for review, authors must provide the main text, notes, bibliographic references, and any tables and diagrams. If they so choose (but this is not required), authors may also provide the underlying evidence, and information needed to achieve production and analytic transparency, as supplemental materials. These supplemental materials may be submitted as a file accompanying the manuscript submission or authors may provide a hyperlink to a trustworthy digital repository where they reside. Although not a requirement for submission, data access and production and analytical transparency materials may make the manuscript more understandable and more compelling for reviewers.

By the time the manuscript is published in the journal, the underlying data and materials necessary to meet APSA's data access, production transparency, and analytic transparency standards must be available in a trusted digital repository (such as a partner in the Data Preservation Alliance for the Social Sciences (Data-PASS) or through the APSR's online appendices (housed with Cambridge University Press) which are made accessible when the article is published).

For articles that include candidate gene or candidate gene-by-environment studies, APSR uses the same policy as the journal Behavior Genetics6. In relevant part, that policy states that an article will normally be considered for publication only if it meets one or more of the following criteria:

  • It was an exploratory study or test of a novel hypothesis, but with an adequately powered, direct replication study reported in the same paper.
  • It was an exploratory analysis or test of a novel hypothesis in the context of an adequately powered study, and the finding meets the statistical criteria for genome wide significance—taking into account all sources of multiple testing (e.g. phenotypes, genotypes, environments, covariates, subgroups).
  • It is a rigorously conducted, adequately powered, direct replication study of a previously reported result.
Manuscript Formatting

Manuscripts should be no longer than 12,000 words, including text, all tables and figures, notes, references, and appendices intended for publication. Font size must be 12 point for all parts of the submission, including notes and references, and all body text (including references) should be double-spaced. Include an abstract of no more than 150 words. Explanatory footnotes may be included but should not be used for simple citations; but do not use endnotes. Observe all of the further formatting instructions given on our web site. Doing so lightens the burden on reviewers, copyeditors, and compositors. Submissions that violate our guidelines on formatting or length will be rejected without review.

Please indicate variables included in statistical analyses by italicizing the entire name of the variable — the first time it is mentioned in the text — and by capitalizing its first letter in all uses. You should also use the same names for variables in text, tables, and figures. Do not use acronyms or computational abbreviations when discussing variables in the text. All variables that appear in tables or figures should have been mentioned in the text, standard summary statistics (n, mean, median, standard deviation, range, etc.) provided, and the reason for their inclusion discussed.

For submission and review purposes, you may locate tables and figures (on separate pages and only one to a page) approximately where they fall in the text, but with an in-text locator for each, in any case, e.g., [Table 3 about here].

If your submission is accepted for publication, you may also be asked to submit high resolution digital source files of graphs, charts, or other types of figures. Following acceptance, all elements within any tables submitted (text, numerals, symbols, etc.) should be accessible for editing and reformatting to meet the journal's print specifications, e.g.., they should not be included as single images not subject to reformatting.

Specific Procedures

Please follow these specific procedures for submission:

  1. Before submitting any manuscript to the APSR, download a PDF of the Transfer of Copyright Agreement from the Editorial Manager login page at and be sure its terms and requirements, as well as the permissions granted to authors under its provisions, are acceptable to you. A signed agreement will be required for all work published in this journal.
  2. When you submit (at, you will be invited to provide a short list of appropriate reviewers of your manuscript. Do not include on this list anyone who has already commented on the research included in your submission. Likewise, exclude any of your current or recent collaborators, institutional colleagues, mentors, students, or close friends. You may also "oppose" potential reviewers by name, as potentially biased or otherwise inappropriate, but you will be expected to provide specific reasons. The editors will refer to these lists in selecting reviewers, though there can be no guarantee that this will influence final reviewer selections.
  3. You will also be required to upload a minimum of two separate files.
    1. An "anonymous" digital file of your submission, which should not include any information that identifies the authors. Also excluded should be the names of any other collaborators in the work (including research assistants or creators of tables or figures). Likewise do not provide in-text links to any online databases used that are stored on any personal web sites or at institutions with which any of the co-authors are affiliated. Do not otherwise thank colleagues or include institution names, web addresses, or other potentially identifying information.
    2. A separate title page should include the full manuscript title, plus names and contact information (mailing address, telephone, fax, and e-mail address) for all credited authors, in the order their names should appear, as well as each author's academic rank and institutional affiliation. You may also include any acknowledgements or other author notes about the development of the research (e.g., previous presentations of it) as part of this separate title page. In the case of multiple authors, indicate which should receive all correspondence from the APSR. You may also choose to include a cover letter.
  4. If your previous publications are cited, please do so in a way that does not make the authorship of the work being submitted to the APSR obvious. This is usually best accomplished by referring to yourself and any co-authors in the third person and including normal references to the work cited within the list of references. Your prior publications should be included in the reference section in their normal alphabetical location. Assuming that in-text references to your previous work are in the third person, you should not redact self-citations and references (possible exceptions being any work that is "forthcoming" in publication, and which may not be generally accessible to others). Manuscripts with potentially compromised anonymity may then be returned, potentially delaying the review processes.
  5. Please make sure the file contains all tables, figures, appendices, and references cited in the manuscript.
Tables and Figures

Tables and figures should be comprehensible without reference to the text, e.g., in any figures, axes should be clearly labeled. Please bear in mind also that neither the published or online versions of the Review normally can provide figures in color; be sure that a grayscale version will be comprehensible to referees and readers.


Appendices should be lettered to distinguish them from numbered tables and figures. Include a descriptive title for each appendix (e.g., "Appendix A: Data Transformation and Estimation").


References should be listed in a separate section headed "REFERENCES." All listed references must be cited in the text, and vice versa. Publication information for each reference must be complete and correct.

References should be listed in alphabetical order by authors' last names; include first names and middle initials for all authors when available. For works with more than one author, only the name of the first author is inverted (e.g., "King, Gary, Robert O. Keohane and Sidney Verba"). List all authors; using "et al." in the reference list is not acceptable.

When the cited material is not yet published but has been accepted for publication, use "Forthcoming" in place of the date and give the journal name or publishing house.

List two or more entries by the same author(s) in the order of the year of publication, and substitute three m-dashes for the author's last name in the second and subsequent entries. If two or more cited works are by the same author(s) within the same year, list them in alphabetical order by title and distinguish them by adding the letters a, b, c, etc., to the year (or to "Forthcoming").

For dissertations and unpublished papers, cite the date and place the paper was presented and/or where it is available. If no date is available, use "n.d." in place of the date.

References for data sets should include a persistent identifier, such as a Digital Object Identifier (DOI). Persistent identifiers ensure future access to unique published digital objects, such as a text or data set. Persistent identifiers are assigned to data sets by digital archives, such as institutional repositories and partners in the Data Preservation Alliance for the Social Sciences (Data-PASS).

The following list is intended to be illustrative of more common reference types, not exhaustive. For additional reference guidance please see The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition.


Ahlquist, John S. and Margaret Levi. 2013. In the Interest of Others: Leaders, Governance, and Political Activism in Membership Organizations. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Mansbridge, Jane J. 1986. Why We Lost the ERA. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

U.S. Department of State. 1979. Foreign Relations of the United States, 1951. Vol. II: United Nations; Western Hemisphere. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.


Gerring, John. 2005a. "Causation: A Unified Framework for the Social Sciences." Journal of Theoretical Politics 17:2 (April):163-98.

Gerring, John. 2005b. "Minor Parties in Plurality Electoral Systems." Party Politics 11:1 (January): 79-107.

Wedeen, Lisa. 2002. "Conceptualizing Culture: Possibilities for Political Science." American Political Science Review 96:4 (December): 713-28.

Chapter in Edited Collection:

Brady, Henry E. and Cynthia S. Kaplan. 2011. "Conceptualizing and Measuring Ethnic Identity." In Measuring Identity: A Guide for Social Scientists, eds. Rawi Abdelal, Yoshiko M. Herrera, Alastair Iain Johnston, and Rose McDermott. New York: Cambridge University Press, 33-71.

Edited Collections:

Boix, Carles,and Susan C. Stokes, eds. 2007. The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Politics. New York: Oxford University Press.


Boas, Taylor. 2009. "Varieties of Electioneering: Presidential Campaigns in Latin America." PhD dissertation, Department of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley, CA.

Web sites:

American Political Science Association. 2013. "About the APSA Africa Workshops." Washington, DC: American Political Science Association. Retrieved October 10, 2013 (

Data Sets:

Levy, Jack S. and T. Clifton Morgan. Great Power Wars, 1495-1815. [Computer file]. ICPSR09955.v1. 1989. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1994. doi:10.3886/ICPSR09955.v1

Further questions

A list of frequently asked questions and their responses are available at the APSA website at:

Do not hesitate, in any cases of doubt, to consult the APSR Editorial Offices with more specific questions by sending an e-mail to: [email protected].

1One widely accepted guide to such norms is given by the American Anthropological Association's Code of Ethics, particularly Section III.

2See Current Data-PASS members include the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University, the Howard W. Odum Institute for Research in Social Science at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) at the University of Michigan, the Electronic and Special Media Records Service Division, National Archives and Records Administration, the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research at the University of Connecticut, the Social Science Data Archive at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the Cornell Institute for Social and Economic Research (CISER) at Cornell University; and the Qualitative Data Repository at Syracuse University.

3This parallels the position taken by APSA. See, for example, Guidelines for Data Access and Research Transparency for Qualitative Research in Political Science, and Guidelines for Data Access and Research Transparency for Quantitative Research in Political Science

4See AAPOR's Code of Ethics

5A TRAX consists of two elements: (1) a brief overview outlining the data-collection and data-generation processes employed and (2) activated (digitally enhanced) citations. Activated citations follow the format of traditional footnotes or endnotes, but are digitally augmented to include, for each source: (a) a precise and complete reference such that scholars can locate the source and find the relevant information within it; (b) a redaction of/excerpt from the source; (c) if needed, an annotation that explains how the source supports the textual claim with which it is associated; and (d) the source itself (if available and shareable) or a hyperlink thereto. For more details, see


American Political Science Association
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