The following guide is designed to facilitate the editorial task for authors and editors alike.
What Orbis Seeks
Orbis is a policy-oriented journal of world politics and strategic affairs published quarterly by the Foreign Policy Research Institute. Prospective authors are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the journal by examining recent issues.
Articles are expected to display the originality and rigor of articles in a strictly academic journal, and not to elide vital but complex explanations. At the same time, Orbis is directed toward a broad audience of academics, journalists, government officials, and business leaders who are not specialists in the given topic. Ideally, an article should contain material important to the specialist and interesting to the non-specialist.
The editors welcome the expression of opinion. Indeed, authors are urged to develop recommendations for U.S. foreign policy, drawing upon information in their articles. The only editorial position Orbis takes is in favor of the national interests of the United States, and that is the only policy viewpoint authors should assume in their audience.
The bulk of the journal is made up of articles that offer new information, new analyses, or both, and generally address one tightly defined topic. Less usual are broad surveys, which would have to offer an outstanding new perspective, and highly specialized or technical papers that are better suited to more specialized journals.
Orbis welcomes articles from many perspectives. However:
Political-science theory must offer a new perspective on matters of practical importance.
Historical topics are suitable only to the extent that they bear on current issues. When providing historical background, please touch on older, well-known events lightly and devote more space to more recent events.
Economic analyses must be intelligible to the non-economist.
Articles should get right to the point. Often authors are tempted to prove their articles’ importance by offering an abstract context into which the article then falls as a capstone. Instead they should state their point and demonstrate its importance in the opening paragraphs and then provide whatever facts or arguments are needed to elaborate on the point.
In most articles, the conclusion should include a policy recommendation for the U.S. government (although we recognize some articles do not lend themselves to this).
In presenting an argument or drawing conclusions, the use of the first person (I/We) is acceptable only under very rare conditions-as, for example, when a personal reference is directly relevant to the argument. Similarly, authors should avoid the awkward use of a “false” third person (“In this author’s view …”). Readers should be able to discern, without assistance, when an opinion rather than a fact is being offered.
Authors are encouraged to make judicious use of tables, figures, and maps. In most cases, the author is responsible for providing these materials. Formal tables should be used only when data are too complex or cumbersome to fit smoothly in the text. Only high-quality black-and-white materials will be considered for inclusion.
The editors reserve the right to make changes in the article’s title, although every effort will be made to reach a consensus with the author.
Submitting a Manuscript
Articles submitted to Orbis should be no more than 7,500 words including footnotes and a 40-word author bio.
If a manuscript is simultaneously submitted elsewhere, or if it already has been published in some form, this should be noted. Simultaneous submissions are acceptable, but the editors must be informed.
The editors welcome unsolicited manuscripts.
From Submission to Acceptance to Publication
The review process is generally one month; it sometimes takes longer and can extend to several months if an article is circulated to outside reviewers. In this case, the editors try to keep authors informed, but authors should feel free to call or write the managing editor if they would like a status update.
When the review process is completed, the author receives one of four answers: outright rejection, conditional rejection, conditional acceptance, or outright acceptance.
Rejection does not necessarily reflect on the merits of a manuscript, because many considerations may lie behind a rejection, including scheduling, diversity, and timeliness. Orbis receives many more manuscripts than it has room for, and the editors must turn down many that are worthy.
Conditional rejection involves comments on the manuscript and an invitation to rework the piece and resubmit it. There is, however, no commitment to accept the piece if the author chooses to revise and resubmit.
Conditional acceptance is offered when the editor and author would have to agree on some specific additions, deletions, or alterations. Again, this is not yet a commitment on Orbis’s part.
Acceptance means the article has been accepted and needs only in-house editing, which the editors are ready to proceed with. However, there can be no commitment to publish the article by any given date.
After an article has been accepted, it will be edited to clarify meaning and improve readability, and to conform to the journal’s style and format.
The edited text will be returned to the author for review. If an author objects to a change, he is requested to find a third way of phrasing a passage and avoid reverting to the original wording. Authors should assume that the revised manuscript will be the last version they see prior to publication.
Upon return to the editors, the author’s changes are incorporated wherever possible. At this point, the manuscript goes through a final round of editing, usually involving superficial, stylistic changes. If only minor changes are made, the author will not be asked to review the text. If the article is sent back to the author, it should be reviewed carefully, and changes limited to updates and factual errors. Although authors should keep the editors informed of any further errors that come to their attention, as a rule no changes are possible after this point.
The Foreign Policy Research Institute will ordinarily hold the copyright to all original articles published in Orbis.