Our blog aims to reach a wide audience and cover various topics within the remit of social policy, though some topics may be highlighted at particular times.  For example, in the spring/summer of 2020 we particularly welcome blogs on issues relating to the COVID-19 outbreak.

We have no editorial ‘line’ except a commitment to communicating social policy research and commentary in ways that enhance public debate and understanding. All blogs give the views of the author(s), and not the position of the Social Policy Association.

We are keen to publish blogs by a diverse range of authors, including students, post-graduate researchers, early career academics and non-academics as well as more established academics. We also particularly welcome blogs on themes, and from authors, currently under-represented within Social Policy.

Guidance on blog style and format

Blog writing differs in style and format from most academic forms of writing, so we’ve put together a style guide for you. In addition, this guide includes some requests for information that will be necessary for publishing your blog.

  1. Length and format: blogs should normally be between 800 and 1,200 words.
  2. Use Word format, 12 point font, single line spacing.
  3. Include a title at the top along with your name, title and affiliation. The title should draw the reader’s attention while also clearly indicating the content of the blog.
  4. As with journalistic pieces ‘lead with the best.’ Begin with a “hook” to draw the reader into your blog. This could be a provocative or intriguing question, statement of fact, observation, or a short vignette that illustrates the topic you will address in your blog. Don’t save your main argument or analysis for the end of the post.
  5. Keep paragraphs and sentences as short as possible without compromising the meaning or the integrity of your thoughts. Shorter sentences are easier for the average reader to digest, so where possible, consider breaking up long, complex sentences. Also use simpler words where possible and avoid jargon
  6. Use subheadings to mark thematic or argumentative transitions in your blog. Subheadings make digital writing more appealing to readers. They also help Google search find your blog when someone searches for a related keyword.
  7. To that end, please include a few suggested keywords for Google search.
  8. Use hyperlinks to link to sources rather than parenthetical or note style forms of citations. Try, where possible, to avoid links to sources that are behind paywalls (including some journal articles)
  9. Provide a brief 1-2 sentence biography that includes a link to your website, Facebook and/or Twitter page.
  10. Don’t forget to reference all material that is not your own, to avoid inadvertent plagiarism.
  11. Graphs and charts are great. Please just make sure that it adds to the argument you are trying to make – and that you have permission to use these if you have not created them yourself. Each chart needs a clearly labelled heading, labels for the X and Y axes or histogram bars, including units of measurement and a readable scale or background grid. There should be a clear legend distinguishing multiple data series from each other and a brief note on sources. Lines must be thick enough and distinctively coloured. Please send the source data in XL format
  12. Please try to avoid using footnotes wherever possible and integrate material directly into the text.
  13. Please submit an image that can accompany your blog post. It is vital that you check copyright permission to reproduce images that are not your own and that you state the type of license. When searching on image databases such as Flickr restrict your search to those with a creative commons licence. On Google images, use the advanced search function and select ‘free to use or share’. It is always advisable to go back to the original image site to double-check the type of license. Alternatively, Pexel is a database where all images are free to use. A useful short guide to different creative common licences types can be found here: https://creativecommons.org/licenses

Editorial process

Blogs will be reviewed by the SPA’s Blog Team, who will edit the piece to enhance readability to the blog’s wider audience. If substantive changes are made, we will send you the final version of the article, and give you an opportunity to make final edits.

For further information, and to submit a blog, please email the Blog Team at: elke.heins@ed.ac.uk