MercatorNet: promoting human dignity

advice for contributors

Interested in writing for MercatorNet?
If you have an idea for an article, please discuss it with us first before submitting. It would be unfortunate if your idea overlaps with material covered by another contributor. This also gives us a chance to discuss the article with you and give you some broad guidelines. We are always happy to receive unsolicited articles from qualified contributors. Unfortunately, we receive many inquiries and we cannot guarantee a quick response.We'll do our best. Feel free to hassle the editors if you have not heard from us within a week. 

Submissions can be emailed to Michael Cook at mcook@MercatorNet.com or Carolyn Moynihan at carolyn@MercatorNet.com.

Warning!
Editors are busy people. We look kindly upon articles which require minimal editing. Please bear in mind that the germ of a good idea is not enough. Good copy has to arrive in our in-box with a clear structure and a logical argument. 

Please check your copy carefully for factual and spelling errors. Pay particular attention to names, dates and figures of any kind. If your article contains unusual names, retype the word in brackets to reassure the editors that it is correct. For instance, "Smythe (Smythe)". Use endnotes rather than footnotes when referencing. Insert links in the copy.

Length
Broadly speaking, articles for MercatorNet should be no more than 1200 to 1500 words long. This is about the upper limit of intelligent commentary of writing for the internet. However, we welcome crisp, stylish pieces of 600 to 800 words which deliver a clear message about a topical issue. We also accept longer articles of up to 3000 words which are carefully argued and well documented.

Some technical details
1. If you submit an article, you grant us permission to publish it and to edit it for length and content. By submitting your article, you claim sole authorship.
2. Attach a one or two-sentence biographical description. Include your email address if you are willing for readers to contact you.
3. The preferred format for submissions is Word 97-2003 or RTF. At the moment we do not accept Word 2008 files.

The important stuff: what we are looking for
Articles for MercatorNet shine an ethical spotlight on current events and trends. This doesn’t mean that they should be preachy, but they should somehow highlight our central theme of human dignity. We are looking for contributions which are positive without being smug, realistic without being bitter. We want to radiate light, not heat.

We prefer that contributors take an honest and open-minded approach to polemical issues. Being open to ethical reasoning and the transcendent nature of man does not mean being religious. We prefer arguments that are not faith-based, although we will certainly cover religious issues which are in the public eye.

Tied to the headlines
Our target audience is well-educated and curious. But don’t assume that readers are familiar with the issue that you are covering. This means that articles should draw them in quickly by establishing their relevance. There are many ways to interest readers – and we welcome creative approaches – but normally we’d like MercatorNet articles to have a "ripped from the headlines" feel. Writing for the internet is demanding and unless you grab your readers’ interest in the first few lines, you will lose them.

Adding value to readers’ time
Like everyone who uses the internet, the readers of MercatorNet have access to a vast range of news sources and social and political commentary. A visit to the MercatorNet website has to add value to their busy day. What they want from its articles is a fresh approach which enables them to dialogue with friends, family and colleagues about the ethical dimension of current affairs. Always ask yourself if what you have written contains information or arguments that they won’t find elsewhere.

Substance is more important than style, but style is important. Unless the writing has flair, it’s difficult to keep readers engaged. We like tightly written articles which entertain as well as inform, which speak to the heart as well as the mind.

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