Most Recent Update in red: March 6, 2013
Decoded Science publishes articles by experts in the various areas of the scientific community. Please submit article ideas to the editor prior to writing or submitting your article, to ensure that the article will fit into the Decoded Science framework.
If you’ve recently been accepted as a Decoded Science writer, check out the Getting Started guide to learn about the next steps in the process.
- Length: Although we may publish shorter or longer articles on occasion, the preferred word count for articles written for Decoded Science is 500 to 1000 words, not counting sources or other extra text. If your article is significantly over 1000 words, it will be sent back for editing.
- Break it Up: Please break your article up into easily-digestible chunks, complete with interesting and informative Title Case subheadings
- For consistency, please use Heading 3 for subheadings – not just bolded text.
- Choosing a Category: Please limit your category selection to 1 category (2 if it’s also News) in order to reduce redundancy on archive pages. The category (and topic) you choose MUST be in line with your personal areas of expertise.
- Ask the Expert: If you are sent an ‘Ask the Expert’ inquiry, please answer in the form of an article, and submit as a regular article, noting ‘Ask the Expert’ in the notes field.
- Organization: Start with an introduction, and end with a conclusion. Include related information in the Body to explain the details that you touched on in your introduction.
- SEO: If you don’t feel comfortable with SEO research, please understand that your title and subheadings may be changed to increase your chances of being found in a web search. Please don’t keyword stuff: awkward or over-used keyword phrases will be removed/edited for clarity.
- Sources: Cite them. In-text citations for direct quotes, & a bibliography at the end of your article for everything else. Use reputable sources, please. No Wikipedia, blogs or other generally disreputable sites. Contact editorial for exceptions. Please use in-text links to add value to the topic, but reserve citation links for the end of the piece.
- If you are quoting answers you received in an interview, make that clear by saying “Decoded Science asked” or “In an interview with Decoded Science on XDATE SCIENTIST said” or even “I asked SCIENTIST, and he said, ” – Just as long as it’s clear that the quotes are from you, not quoted from someone else’s interview, from a press release, etc.
Example of in-text source formatting:
In a study titled, “The Science of SEO,” published in SEO Magazine on June 22, 2011, Jason Bergeron notes, “Google is King.”
Example of end-of-article source formatting:
Nicks, V. Random Article on AI. (2012). Suite101. Accessed on May 10, 2011.
Science Online. All About Science. (2012). Accessed March 12, 2012.
Smith, P., Jones, J. The Art of Baking. (2009). Harper Collins Press.
Barbados, M., Hawaii, J., et. al. Extreme Sport Surfing and Adrenaline Addiction. (2012). Science. doi 117-123 Page 07. Accessed June 23, 2012.
Smith, John. The Coolest Movie Ever. (2013). Decoded Productions. Film.
In-line links: If you’re already linking in Sources at the end of the article, don’t link in-line. In other words – add inline links to resources (places where the reader could find more information, stuff that adds to the conversation) but don’t inline link to sources (where the information you stated comes from) Also – no links in the introduction, please.
In a recent interview with the Washington Post, Stephen Hawking stated, “Decoded Science is the best resource for up-to-date science news on the Web!”
Source the interview at the end of the article, but link to Stephen Hawking’s bio on his name, so an interested reader could click to find out more about him. (No, he didn’t really say that, it’s just an example)
- Substance: Please provide information from more than one source, particularly for news articles.
- GENERAL QUOTE POLICY – Quotes are great – get an interview with an expert, and your article will shine! Interviews are preferable, but if you can’t get an interview, at least provide background from multiple sources. (Having trouble getting an interview? Contact me and I can usually help!) Please do not just restate the information from your sources. Interpret, explain, analyze, provide insight, but don’t just re-state.
- STUDY/RESEARCH INTERVIEWS – if you are covering a single study, recent research, etc – you MUST interview one of the study authors. If you do not have an interview for an article about a recent study, your article will not be accepted. If you can’t get an interview, contact editorial for assistance – interviews about the studies/research are necessary to correct any confusion about the study results, etc, to get a personal take from the researcher, and humanize the research. Interviews are not required for research roundups, but are always preferred.
- NEWS INTERVIEWS – Interviews are no longer absolutely required for current events articles, but always encouraged. If you are not including an interview, you *must* include information not found elsewhere on the Internet, such as your interpretation of the events, an alternate angle, etc. As above - Interpret, explain, analyze, provide insight, but don’t just re-state the news found elsewhere on the Internet and on TV. Explain to our readers why it is significant in terms of your own expertise.
- ORIGINAL CONTENT – Please do not rewrite your Decoded Science article in different words for your own blog or other websites OR rewrite existing articles in different words or in a different style for Decoded Science. Re-purposing some research for an updated article, with mostly new information, and a different structure is one thing – publishing the same article in a different voice on two different sites is another.
*A good rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t feel comfortable publishing the 2 articles on the same site on the same day, because they’re too much alike, there may be a problem. The Internet’s one huge ballroom – and both of those articles are going to show up standing next together at the cocktail party. The last thing you want to see on the Internet is a set of twins wearing different-colored dresses pretending to not belong to one another.*
The Decoded Science contract clearly states that the site has exclusive rights to all original content published on the site – but that you have the right to remove your content at any time if you wish to publish it elsewhere (with some limitations if you’ve received an up-front payment) so please, if you would like to re-use the content, just let us know so we can remove it from the site. If we find that you’ve republished your content elsewhere without notifying us, we’ll remove the content and notify you of the situation in hopes of a swift resolution.
- Headlines: If you plan to designate your article as ‘News,’ please ensure that the event that you’re reporting on is relatively recent (within the last 30 days, at least) and your unique angle (an interview, scoop, latest development, etc) took place within the previous 24-48 hours. Include the dates of any studies and interviews in the article, to ensure that your article is tagged as news.
- Video: Embedded video is a great addition to any article. Please screen the entire video to ensure that there are no inappropriate frames or images in the video. Please choose a high-quality video that relates well to your topic, and embed it in the page via the HTML editor – don’t just insert a link. If you have questions or problems, please contact me.
- Pictures: Please choose high-quality, bright, LARGE, and visually appealing images. You must have the rights to use the images in your article, and you must cite the source for the images in the caption. Repeated violations of this policy may result in termination of writing privileges, and removal of your articles from the site. Please include at least one image for each 300 words, for visual interest. (Contact Admin if you can’t find suitable images) Insert images of at least 250px by 250px, preferably over 300px. The larger the better – remember, we can always size them down, but if you upload the image tiny, it stays tiny until you upload again. Each post must contain at least one image, appropriate for featuring on the front page, with the following dimensions or larger: 600 pixels wide by 250 pixels tall. Any post not containing an image in these proportions may be sent back for editing. Format image captions as follows:
Mowing your lawn increases your carbon footprint: Image by Sparky
George Washington was the first president of the United States: Portrait by John Hamilton
Don’t forget to turn off the coffee-pot. Photo courtesy of NASA
A Note About Passive Voice:
Passive voice occurs when there’s no active subject. Here are some examples:
concept was investigated (who investigated? We don’t know, it’s passive voice)
devices were developed (Developed by whom?)
study was published (Who did the publishing?)
sparkles are embedded (embedded by what process/person?)
medicine can be taken (by whom or what?)
When there’s a ‘to be’ verb area (are, were, will be, can be, could be, have been, etc) followed by a past tense word (allowed, followed, taken, eaten, juggled, etc) and you have to ask the question ‘Who or what did the allowing, following, taking, eating, juggling?’ then it’s passive voice. Please reword using the actual subject of the sentence…
Researchers investigated the concept…
Manufacturers developed devices…
The New England Journal of Medicine published a study…
Doctors embedded sparkles…
Patients can take medicine…
Although, in general, passive voice is the standard for scientific writing, we’re writing Decoded articles for the layman, rather than another scientist-reader. Converting passive to active within an article gets the non-expert reader more engaged and interested in the article, so we prefer active voice where possible.
What Are We Looking For?
Informative, fresh, and interesting science-based content. In order to submit to Decoded Science, you must own the online publication rights to your work.
Decoded Science does not accept previously-published articles except under the following conditions:
- The article must pass Copyscape – can’t be scraped or found anywhere else online.
- It must have a reference/resource/
information from the past year to bring it into the present.
- The article cannot be obviously dated in the past – must be either 100% evergreen, or rewrite the dated info with current info
- The article must be in your topic of expertise
- The article may not be published right away, as priority is given to current events.
Opinion-based Articles: Within reason, and with pre-approval from editorial, we are willing to accept these articles, and will clearly mark them as such. Please do not present theory or opinion as fact in any articles. (Pre-approval means that you will need to run ideas by Admin before submitting the article)
Must Contain Fresh Content – Using Fox News or CNN or AP or a news release, or whatever as a source is fine, but you must add some information that isn’t already commonly known. Interview someone, add a fresh angle/perspective/information no one else has covered, or add something new from your professional perspective or experience. No re-hashing allowed…. If you want to write an article, and you’re not sure about the ‘fresh content’ angle, just send me an email and we can brainstorm.
Affiliate links & other ads in articles will not be tolerated. Including affiliate links within your articles, or promoting your business or other services within articles (You’re welcome to promote your business or website in your profile, just send an email to Admin with any links you’d like to insert) may result the immediate termination of your writing privileges for Decoded Science.
In general, you should only link to sources you are citing, or to reputable sites where your reader can find more information on the topic.
You may link to your own articles (including offsite articles) as long as the linked article provides value to the reader in context of the article.
No random ‘vaguely associated’ links, please. There are no strict limits on per-article links, since it’ll depend heavily on the length of the piece and the appropriateness of the links, but excessive links may be removed if necessary – please let me know if you have any questions about this policy in regards to a particular article.
Please do not insert any links into your introduction paragraph!
Inappropriate links will be removed during the editing process.
We’ve been accepted by Google, so articles from the site are now being included in Google’s news feeds. This means that all articles on the site must contain new and fresh information. As a result, all articles on Decoded Science must comply with the following condition:
What We Don’t Want:
Articles containing any of the following will not be published: Obscenity, pornography, cursing, slander, libel, anything defamatory, copyrighted material to which you do not own the copyright, requests to click ads, affiliate links, promotion of a business or service, plagiarism, keyword stuffing, templated articles, unlabeled previously published material, or fiction.
Decoded Science is not a general-interest site. In order to publish in any given area, you need to make sure that your bio reflects your experience/expertise in that area. In other words, if you are accepted to write for the site based on the fact that you’re a medical doctor, please don’t submit articles about climate change. If you’re accepted based on your doctorate in particle physics, please don’t submit articles about curing ingrown toenails. If you have questions about this policy, please contact me. Email Admin
Article Submission Process:
Prior to writing an article, please submit a pitch to the Editorial staff. (This will keep you from writing an article that we can’t publish.) Include a projected word-count, and the category of the article with your pitch. If you intend to write a series, include all projected articles in the series for approval prior to writing.
For all articles: If your piece is time-sensitive, please include the projected completion time, so we can keep an eye out and edit/publish it quickly.
When you’re done with the article, please save the article as ‘Pending Review’. Once you have submitted the article, please send any change requests to editorial, so you won’t interfere with an edit in-progress.
If there are issues other than simple typos or minor changes to wording or formatting, we will revert the article to draft so that you can make the changes. When you’re done making the requested changes, re-submit the article.
You’ll receive an auto-generated email when the article is published, or returned to draft status, but feel free to email editorial if you have any questions about the status of an article, or the edits requested.
If you find a problem with a published article, please notify us: Email Admin