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Writing for the Naval Review

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Although guidance is often asked for, I am hesitant in proffering what might also be seen as constraints on those wanting to write for The Naval Review. First and foremost, it is about promoting a conversation, expressing opinions amongst friends, educating and developing arguments that members might draw upon thereafter. As your editor, I am not here as a writing style critic; so, I am entirely relaxed as to whether you write in the first or third person, write emphasising points with humour or by taking a dryer academic approach. The only restraint I would place on authors is that this Review is about fermenting not fomenting. Fermenting ideas, arguments and understanding, and not fomenting sound-bite type debates that usually oversimplify complex issues and heighten discord or offend or worse polarise. Use facts you can verify, references that can be traced and avoid the more ephemeral rumours/superstitions (fake news) circulating in the media. So, with that in mind, what follows proffers guidance for authors in submitting material to The Naval Review. This guidance supersedes all previous versions.

The ideal article length is between 2000 and 4000 words. Neither figure should be considered as either a limit or target – articles will only be accepted on merit, which means overly long articles may have to be published in instalments. But, in pursuit of the Naval Review’s purpose (“…. advancement and spreading of knowledge relevant to the higher aspects of the naval profession”) perhaps I should remind budding authors on Churchill’s views on the value of brevity, in his memorandum to his war cabinet in 1940: “to do our work, we all have to read a mass of papers. Nearly all of them are far too long. This wastes time, while energy has to be spent in looking for the essential points.” Longer more verbose articles can often lose a busy reader’s attention, meaning the author’s efforts are for nought. We need plain English, pithy cases and arguments that tease the brain, generate thought and arm members with ideas that they might, thereafter, apply for effect where it counts.

In submitting material authors grant The Naval Review an automatic and simultaneous, royalty-free, perpetual, non-exclusive, irrevocable, fully sub-licensable and transferable licence to use, record, sell, lease, reproduce, create derivative work from, alter, change and otherwise exploit, the content in whole or in part. And authors in submitting material also implicitly vouch for their compliance with the law in respect of copyright, security, libel, obscenity, all forms of discrimination, and sedition.

With respect to copyright once an article is published on the website or in the Review, with the author’s and editor’s permission, articles may be reprinted in other journals, provided that reprint acknowledges The Naval Review in doing so.

Authorship can be either by name or nom de plume (the proper name of the author will be protected by the NR for 30 years unless the author indicates otherwise or is deceased. If using proper names, the author’s abbreviated rank and service but not postnominals will be shown at the end of the article. For those not on the active list the nomenclature (rtd) will be used against any rank – the rationale being it indicates the degree of freedom an individual has in expressing opinions; that will necessarily be more restrained amongst serving authors.

We are happy to receive material in most formats; albeit electronic transmission (e-mail, CD, USB stick, Flash Card etc.) a Word document is much preferred. And please ensure that the dictionary settings applied to any document is UK English and not other spelling variants. To ease subsequent editing (that aims to ensure consistency and readability throughout the journal) authors are encouraged to adhere to the following guide:

  • Each article needs to be headed by a brief summary, under the main title, to capture the essence of the article and to attract the busy reader – it’s your advert for what follows!
  • Sub-headings often break up the text, especially in longer articles developing a complex argument.
  • Brevity wins hands down – complex arguments delivered succinctly are much more likely to be taken on-board by the reader than an overly weighty worthy tome.
    Within an article short also is best. Both in terms of length of paragraph and sentence (allow the reader to breathe!).
  • Write as if to the British public, using terms and commodities more commonly understood – too often in the military we revert to self-justified arguments, in obscure ‘defence speak’, that completely fail to play to the average person’s concerns. So, when in doubt, use plain, not convoluted or parochial English.
  • Abbreviations and acronyms should be avoided whenever possible. If essential, they should be expanded on the first occasion of use, with the abbreviation or acronym in brackets. Remember, a good proportion of our members are not currently serving officers and improved comprehension is often inversely proportional to the number of acronyms used.
  • Endnotes not footnotes as a routine. Endnotes can be important evidence of the provenance and authority of articles, and they may be necessary to meet normal acknowledgement courtesies. However, I reserve the right not to publish them if space or other reasons make this impractical or inappropriate. Bibliographies will not normally be published.
  • In the endnotes to assist the reader who wishes to check the evidence, references should include at least name of author, title of publication, publisher, place and year of publication and, preferably, page When it comes to links to web pages etc after the link, where possible, the original date of the material being accessed should be included. I will endeavour to check all links myself. If they fail to work, or breach the compliance statement above, I will remove the link from the endnotes.
  • Photographs, sketch maps and diagrams are particularly welcomed and will be printed in their original colours if this is technically possible and affordable. It would be helpful if authors would indicate as to the placing of any illustration within an article. Also, each illustration should be underscored by a caption describing what it depicts.

With each edition of the journal submission deadlines for subsequent journals, will be published. I attempt to leave authors as much time as possible but there has to be a realistic cut-off date to permit editing, proof setting, proof reading and printing. We are a very small team so not viewing those submission dates as targets would be most appreciated – the earlier I receive your thoughts the better.

Only by practice, like any skill, is one able to put convincing cases on paper. Only by testing the ideas amongst other professionals is one able to refine those cases further. And only by doing both is the maritime case going to be properly supported. The Naval Review is the ground upon which to hone those skills.

Please submit your articles to our editorial team through any of the following channels:

  • Email to [email protected]
  • Directly through our website by clicking here
  • By post to the following address: Windyridge, Rock Road, Storrington, West Sussex, RH20 3AH

Mike Beardall

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