PRISM Submission Guidelines and Writing Tips

Authors are encouraged to be aggressive in  identifying problems and offering solutions that should be fixed irrespective of Service or agency perspective, conventional wisdom, or published doctrine. The Editor evaluates submissions for publication consideration based on whether the manuscript exhibits the scholarly standards of argumentation, evidence, and readability, and promotes the continuing education of national security professionals. The Editor defines the latter criteria broadly to address all issues encompassed in the employment, threat and control of force. Very few submissions are rejected on the grounds that they lie beyond the journal's purview. Far more frequently, manuscripts fail to pass the "so what?" test and are declined owing to the author only having described what is happening and not recommending clear solutions or arming the reader with actionable education. 

Submission Guidelines

Please submit your original manuscript to <>. Any manuscripts that are sent to the PRISM or NDU staff email accounts will no longer be accepted. Authors must:

  1. Confirm that the manuscript IS NOT under consideration for publication elsewhere.
  2. Aim for 4,000 to 6, 500 words in length. Articles substantially longer will be returned to the author for revision. 
  3. Use endnotes, not footnotes.Discursive endnotes are strongly discouraged; cite only direct quotations and paraphrases. No need for a literature review. Hyperlinks alone are not sufficient for endnotes and manuscripts that only include links will not be accepted, so please consult the 17th edition of the Chicago Manual Style for guidance on how to craft full citations prior to submission.
  4. Type your manuscript in 12 point Times New Roman or comparable standard font.
  5. Keep formatting to a minimum ( i.e. use a single space between sentences); do not try to make your manuscript appear as it will when printed.
  6. Do not embed graphics, charts, or tables in the text; include them in separate files but insert placeholders in text to show approximate location of artwork and be sure to include a full citation for the artwork.

Best Practices

First and foremost, select a timely, relevant topic, but realize that doing so does not guarantee a timely, relevant paper. Do not conflate the importance of your topic with the importance of your writing about that topic.

Second, appreciate that an "A" paper written for a classroom environment and a published article are not necessary the same thing. Remember the most important part of writing is to learn, not to teach. Students write essays in a classroom to learn; they do not truly understand an issue until they write about it. Writing causes students to think logically and coherently. Published articles should teach. A published article often begins as a student essay, but much work and revision goes into that paper before it is worthy of publication.

Third, answer the "so what?" question. Asking an individual to read 4,000 to 6,500 words is asking a lot. Our readers must be edified by what they have read and be prepared to operationalize it in some way.

Finally, write in plain English. "Mil" speak, "Pentagonese," "security" speak, etc., are alienating to most readers and demonstrate not only pretention but also, in some cases, an inability to discuss an issue consistently, coherently, and knowingly. Writers who are on "the inside" of a topic must realize that most readers are not. Writing for an extremely limited audience (that is, all of the other "insiders") is not publishable. Overuse of jargon, acronyms, and initialisms demonstrates lack of creativity and careful thought.