ISQ Guidelines and Policy

About the Journal

International Studies Quarterly is the flagship journal of the International Studies Association. It seeks to publish leading scholarship that engages with significant theoretical, empirical, and normative subjects in international studies. For more detailed discussion of the the journal’s standards, please see our notes for contributors and referees.

International Studies Quarterly is published four times a year by Wiley. Individuals may obtain free access to the journal as a benefit of membership in the International Studies Association (ISA).

International Studies Quarterly is anchored at Georgetown University from 2014-2018, although manuscripts submitted to the current team will not begin to appear until the middle of 2015. Its Georgetown editors are faculty in the Department of Government, the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, and the McDonough School of Business. International Studies Quarterly’s online presence is hosted by the International Studies Association and anchored at American University’s School of International Service.

You may direct general inquiries to Inquiries specific to the ISQ Weblog should be addressed to Before contacting us via email, please take the time to ensure that your questions are not addressed by our online guides.

Notes for Contributors

Please be aware that International Studies Quarterly does not take new submissions during the month of August and during the International Studies Association Annual Convention. 

International Studies Quarterly employs double-blind peer review for most of its editorial decisions. Manuscripts will normally receive at least two independent reviews. Iterations of the peer-review process should generally take no longer than 2.5 months. All decisions are reviewed by multiple senior editors and the editor-in-chief.

Articles in International Studies Quarterly engage in some meaningful way with political, economic, social, or cultural processes that cross the borders of states. They provide an answer to an explanatory puzzle, present original research, explore topics in international theory, or otherwise intervene in disciplinary debates. Although such articles often have policy implications—and we encourage authors to elucidate those—these implications are secondary to their scholarly purposes.

International Studies Quarterly requires that submissions constitute original work. The editors will not consider manuscripts either concurrently under review, under contract, or already published elsewhere. In a very rough sense, we follow the fifty-percent rule: at least half of content of the manuscript—its key concepts, ideas, theoretical claims, evidence, and so forth—must be original. The threshold for redeploying similar material—for example, minor changes to previously published statistical analyses such as adding interaction termsdepends on the nature of the findings. Such work is often better suited for research notes than full-length research articles.

That being said, authors must describe how their manuscripts differ from any related previously published work—or related work concurrently under review—in their cover letters. This requirement extends to work that authors believe meets the "fifty-percent role," but not to work that includes neither similar theory nor similar empirics. We also expect authors to make related work available if the editors request it.

Similarly, if authors have previously submitted a piece that overlaps with the current submission—at any time in the journal's history–they must indicate so in their cover letters. They must also provide a brief explanation for why the current submission is sufficiently novel as to justify editorial consideration.

The journal publishes five categories of peer-reviewed manuscripts: Research Articles, Research Notes, Theory Notes, Responses to Published Articles, and Special Issues.

The editors consider manuscripts that reflect the methodological and substantive diversity of the International Studies Association. Successful submissions will generally meet four criteria. They will:

  • Conform to rigorous methodological standards as understood by the intellectual traditions within which they operate;
  • Establish the significance of their analyses not just to those working on their specific topic, but also to the broader field of international studies;
  • Engage with work outside of their immediate area of research and approach to scholarly inquiry.
  • Clearly specify the theoretical framework used for analysis, referencing the necessary literature(s), and spell out the implications of any findings for further research.

These considerations have implications for style and presentation. Authors should draft their submissions in a clear, accessible, and engaging style. Here we offer some words of advice to prospective authors:

  • Favor short, declarative sentences. If it is possible to break up a sentence into constituent clauses, then you most likely should do so.
  • Avoid unnecessary jargon. Define, either explicitly or contextually, necessary jargon.
  • Favor active voice, the simple past and present, and action verbs.
  • Use acronyms sparingly. In general, restrict yourself to widely understood acronyms, such as “NATO,” “WTO,” and “UN.” Only in the face of inordinately lengthy, technical, and frequently repeated phrases should authors resort to neologistic acronyms.

We recommend paying particular attention to abstracts and introductions. Both should include a clear statement of the manuscript’s scope, central argument(s), findings, and wider significance. It is unreasonable to require readers and reviewers to read many pages into a manuscript before encountering its basic claims. It is unrealistic to expect that readers and reviewers are skilled in Kabbalah and therefore able to decode esoteric writing. Straightforward abstracts and introductions not only encourage readers and referees to engage with the article, they help prevent them from misunderstanding the argument.

Note that the editors reserve the right to edit accepted articles to improve their presentation and legibility. 

We very much recommend that authors read our notes regarding peer review to assist them in preparing their manuscripts for submission. With respect to breaking the habits that help produce the "citation gap" that disadvantages scholars with specific categorical attributes, we strongly recommend that authors check their references to see what percentage of them are to disadvantaged groups. 

Accepted articles will be required to conform to the common “International Studies Association Formatting Policies,” The final acceptance of a manuscript may be conditioned upon not only compliance with ISA formatting requirements, but also conformity with those principles of style and presentation discussed earlier.

Initial submissions are required to abide by a number of requirements in order to facilitate the peer-review process. Please ensure that a manuscript meets the following guidelines prior to submission:

  • The entire document, including footnotes but excluding figures and tables, must be either one-and-a-half- (preferred) or double-spaced.
  • Quotations must correspond exactly with the original in wording, spelling, and punctuation. Short quotations within the text must be noted by quotation marks; longer quotations or extracts must be indented from the left margin and require no quotation marks. Changes and additions to quotations must be identified by bracketing; ellipses (...) should be used to identify omissions. Emphasis added should also be indicated.
  • All notes must be footnotes, not endnotes.
  • Figures and tables should be placed in-line and as close as possible to the first reference made in the text. Tables must be formatted for legibility and comprehensibility; see, for example, the Chicago University Press guidelines. For statistical tables, see our data presentation guidelines.
  • We suggest authors place appendixes that total no more than 10 pages (in reasonable font and spacing) at the end of their manuscripts. Authors should do so prior to uploading their submission components Longer appendixes, or additional appendixes that breach the 10 page limit, should be uploaded as supplementary files. 
  • Indicate clearly to reviewers when they should consult "supplementary files" uploaded to ScholarOne. Do not refer to these files as "online appendixes." ScholarOne does not identify them as such.
  • In order to enhance the likelihood of double-blind review, authors should limit the number of citations to their own work. Instead of omitting self-citations or using placeholders such as “author,” authors must write citations to their own work in the third person. This means that authors must place direct quotations to their own work in quotation marks.
  • Ensure that your supplementary files lack identifying properties.
  • All citations should use an "author-date" citation style. Manuscripts must have a references section at the end.
  • Even when attached to paraphrased material, citations should usually include references to specific pages or locations in a text. For example, "Spruyt (1994) argues that variation in the nature of trade helps account for the emergence of different political units in late medieval Europe" should read "Spruyt (1994:63-7) argues that variation in the nature of trade helps account for the emergence of different political units in late medieval Europe."

Research Articles

A "Research Article" is any long-form submission to International Studies Quarterly—including, but not limited to, ones that deal primarily with normative and conceptual issues in international theory. Research articles should not exceed 13,000 words (excluding online-only supplementary information, but including footnotes, endnotes, bibliography, and tables). These submissions address important global phenomena relevant to a general international-studies audience. They should have a well-developed theoretical argument that is supported, as appropriate, by a rigorous substantive analysis consistent with the manuscript’s methodological approach. As with all contributions, they should reflect original work.

For information on style and presentation, consult our general guidelines. For submissions that make use of quantitative data, consult our specific guidelines and our requirements for data archiving. For submissions that make use of formal models, consult our specific guidelines.

Research Notes

Research notes range from 3,000-8,500 words, excluding online-only supplementary material. Research notes make a novel and focused contribution to empirical knowledge of significance to international studies, and include (but are not limited to) new datasets and new archival evidence. These contributions frequently involve quantitative analysis, although International Studies Quarterly will also consider publishing research notes that are qualitative in character, such as ones detailing new primary source material that challenges dominant understandings of central historical events. Research notes should include some preliminary empirical findings that demonstrate the import and novelty of the research, as well as their relevance to important theoretical or empirical discussions in the field.

For information on style and presentation, consult our general guidelines. For submissions that make use of quantitative data, consult our specific guidelines and our requirements for data archiving. For submissions that make use of formal models, consult our specific guidelines.

Theory Notes

Theory Notes range from 3,000-8,500 words (excluding online supplementary material). Theory Notes aim to make a straightforward intervention in an ongoing theoretical, analytical, or conceptual controversy. The wager behind theory notes is that many of these interventions neither require extensive elaboration of ancillary issues nor exhaustive summaries of existing positions. Theory notes may be based on, or include, formal models. They may, for example, introduce a new typology, critique an often-used model, or propose a conceptual innovation. The key is that they make an important, but spare and disciplined, argument about international theory. Work on international theory that requires more lengthy elaboration should be submitted as a research article. Work that requires sustained critical review of existing literature is better suited to International Studies Review.

For information on style and presentation, consult our general guidelines. For submissions that make use of formal models, consult our specific guidelines.

Discussion and Debate

Responses to articles published in International Studies Quarterly run no longer than 5,000 words, excluding online supplementary material.

Note that the International Studies Quarterly weblog is always interested in short posts (typically no more than 1,500 words) that engage with material published in the journal. Such posts, unlike discussion-and-debate pieces, are not subject to the peer-review process. Thus, they cannot be credited as publications in International Studies Quarterly. For more information, see our guidelines for posting at the weblog (when available) or contact

For information on style and presentation, consult our general guidelines. For submissions that make use of quantitative data, consult our specific guidelines and our requirements for data archiving. For submissions that make use of formal models, consult our specific guidelines.

Special Issues

Special issues normally include a number of linked research articles, although the editors will entertain alternative formats. They may constitute part of, rather than the whole of, an issue. Special issues remain under the editorial jurisdiction of the International Studies Quarterly editorial team. Constituent articles are reviewed independently. International Studies Quarterly rarely publishes special issues. For more on the mechanics of submitting a special issue, see the relevant guidelines.

Data Presentation

Authors should present quantitative data and elucidate statistical models in forms that are accessible to a general audience. Submissions should include discussions of substantive, as well as statistical, significance. For example, authors might include predicted probabilities across ranges that are relevant to the dataset in tables or include figures that demonstrate substantive and statistical significance across the range of the important independent variables, along with rug plots to show the distribution of these variables. Statistical results should generally be part, rather than the whole, of empirical evidence presented in an article. Authors are strongly encouraged to include summary statistics, a correlation matrix, and the like as supporting information.

Statistical tables should include names for both variable rows and model columns that are comprehensible, and should report both coefficients and standard errors. Asterisks or other indicators to denote statistical significance should be included where relevant, but must be consistent across the manuscript. Models should be named uniquely throughout the paper (e.g., if Table 1 has Models 1-3, Table 2 should begin with Model 4). All coefficients should be reported in tables, although complete tables may be submitted as supporting information instead of in the main body. Similarly, we strongly encourage including the full results for robustness checks in supporting information.

Formal Models

Authors should use formal models to provide new insights into, or clarify an ongoing debate within, the field of international studies. We expect authors to highlight how a model improves scholarly understanding of a given issue. Models should, moreover, closely reflect the main features of the issue being modeled. This facilitates connecting discussions of key results to the specific contributions made by the model.

International Studies Quarterly does not require formal modelers to make a contribution to the technical discipline they draw upon. However, some authors may develop advances in order to better capture the characteristics of the dynamics that they model.  In such cases authors should clearly specify their technical innovation(s) as one of the contributions of the manuscript, as well as provide careful proofs in a technical appendix.

When presenting their work, authors should strive for simple and parsimonious notation. Only critical formal relationships should be given in the text of the manuscript itself, and authors should provide verbal interpretation for these relationships. Indeed, the editors expect that the meaning and implications of key formal findings will receive careful explanation. Authors should favor, if possible, a diagrammatic representation. Purely technical developments, such as proofs, should be presented in a clearly written appendix, which may be submitted as supporting information. This technical appendix should enable any sophisticated reader to check the mathematical developments.

Replication Data

The International Studies Association and International Studies Quarterly are committed to the transparency of scholarship and cumulation of knowledge. They therefore maintain an archive of replication data for articles published in International Studies Quarterly. When their articles are accepted for publication with the journal, authors must submit data used in quantitative analyses for posting at the archive. The replication data must include all data used to produce statistical tables, figures, and robustness checks reported, as well as an explanatory file describing what is included and how to reproduce the published results. For more information, contact the editorial team at

Submission Procedures

Authors should submit their papers via ScholarOne. If authors do not already have an International Studies Quarterly account at ScholarOne, they will be prompted to establish one before proceeding. Note that the journal now collects  demographic data on authors and reviewers. This information will be used to generate a large-N dataset on the peer-review process for the use of the association and its membership.  The aesthetics of the questionnaire make it a bit difficult to parse, so please read it carefully.

If authors are unable to use ScholarOne, they may submit manuscripts via email—but they must contact the editorial team before doing so. International Studies Quarterly does not normally accept non-electronic submission.

All manuscripts submitted to International Studies Quarterly are, at time of initial processing, also sent to iThenticate for an originality report. Before submitting a manuscript authors should ensure  that it conforms to the highest standards of proper attribution. Manuscripts that fail to conform to these standards, however inadvertently, may face summary rejection.

Special Issues

The process for special issues differs somewhat from that of stand-alone research articles, research notes, theory notes, and discussion-and-debate pieces. It begins by submitting a proposal of not more than 5,000 words to The proposal must be in the form of a PDF and contain inter alia:

  • A description of the scope and contents of the special issue;
  • A clear justification for why the special issue is of sufficient importance and quality to justify inclusion in International Studies Quarterly;
  • Short summaries of the specific articles proposed for inclusion; and
  • Brief information about the authors, including the point of contact for the International Studies Quarterly editorial team.

The proposal will first be screened by the journal’s editor-in-chief. Those proposals that advance will be reviewed by an ad hoc committee of no fewer than three senior and associate editors. If that committee approves the proposal then each constituent manuscript will be treated as an independent submission. Only those accepted on their own merits will be eligible for inclusion. They may, alternatively, be published as stand-alone articles.

Four important considerations:

  • The editors of International Studies Quarterly retain full authority over all stages of the special-issue process;
  • "Thematic sections” might be a more accurate term than “special issues,” as few special issues will colonize an entire issue of the journal;
  • Due to the current backlog and number of standard submissions to International Studies Quarterly, the bar for special issues will remain extremely high; and
  • Rejected proposals will not usually receive detailed explanations from the editorial team.

Notes Regarding Peer Review

Our careers depend on the effective functioning of the peer-review process. The publication of peer-reviewed journals and books is perhaps the most important factor in the accumulation of academic capital, hiring, tenure, and promotion. At the same time, the proliferation of journals and of submissionsboth the result of secular processes in the fieldputs enormous pressure on the time and energy of reviewers. It makes it increasingly difficult to secure qualified reviewers for manuscripts. For these reasons, we greatly appreciate the willingness of scholars to review for International Studies Quarterly.

Our commitments to our referees include:

  • Taking their specific recommendations into careful consideration when making our decisions;
  • Aggressively screening submissions to increase the likelihood that referees will receive manuscripts that have a chance of surviving the peer-review process; and
  • Maintaining open lines of communication to assist them.

We hope that our referees will help us by following a number of principles. As much as possible, we ask that referees:

  • Read and take into considerations our notes for authors above;
  • Resist the urge to determine the identity of manuscripts’ authors;
  • Make use of the confidential-comments box to provide a frank assessment of the manuscript;
  • Maintain a respectful tone in their comments to the authorseven in the context of advancing harsh criticisms;
  • Ensure that the impression created by the comments to authors is broadly consistent with the recommendation made to the editors; and
  • Attempt to inform us as soon as possible if their reviews will be delayed or if they will be unable to complete a review.

In our reviewer score sheet we ask whether “adequate reference is made to other work in the field.” This question sometimes primes referees toward rejecting manuscripts due to deficiencies in their literature reviews. The editors do not consider missing citations, in and of themselves, to constitute a reason for rejection. Absent references may always be added during revisions. Instead, inadequate references matter in conjunction with a number of different criteria, such as the novelty of the theoretical contributions. We ask that reviewers implicate criticisms centered on missing citations, such as explaining why failure to engage with specific literatures greatly weakens the argument or would lead to a reassessment of important claims in the manuscript. Moreover, please provide sufficient information about missing interlocutors such that authors can reasonably be expected to find them, such as years or titles of works. If the issue is an entirely missing research tradition, then please provide exemplars.

Finally, a number of recent studies have highlighted the possible under-representation of female and minority scholars in article citations. International Studies Quarterly is committed to ensuring that scholars receive appropriate intellectual acknowledgement regardless of race, gender, class, professional standing, or other categorical attributes. To that end, we ask referees to pay particular attention to this issue when noting overlooked authors and literatures.  

Formatting Guidelines

We do not require submissions to conform to our formatting guidelines, but authors should edit accepted articles according.