The purpose of an ELN commentary is to discuss a policy problem, to provide clear and practical solutions for decision-makers, and to offer a platform for current and emerging experts in our field. With a Network of over 300 European politicians, experts and officials and a website averaging 10,000 viewers per month, the ELN provides contributors with a real opportunity to impact the security environment. ELN commentaries do not represent the views of the ELN, which gives our authors genuine autonomy to discuss their policy issue with freedom. We ask, however, that you adhere to the following style guidelines:
Keep it short. Try to make one clear point.
ELN commentaries should be around 800-1200 words. Try to focus on one idea or issue. If you cannot summarise your argument in two sentences or less, you are trying to cover too much ground.
Lead with the best: Place your argument upfront.
State your argument in the opening paragraph, don’t leave it to the end. Come down on one side of the debate and don’t equivocate. Give enough background for a non-specialist reader, but don’t provide excessive information.
Keep the language simple. Use short sentences and short paragraphs.
Using simple language doesn’t mean simple ideas. It means successfully conveying your ideas to people who may lack your expertise. Use short paragraphs made up of four or five clear sentences. Only use technical details where they are essential to the argument. Spell out all but the most familiar acronyms. Where possible, language should be inclusive and avoid unnecessary gendering, i.e. giving a country gendered pronoun.
Keep your audience in mind.
Commentaries should be written with a relatively broad audience in mind, including policy-makers and other non-specialists. We recommend that you avoid overusing acronyms and specific terminology that may not be well known outside expert circles.
Provide the reader with clear recommendations.
Try to make workable policy recommendations that can be actioned by decision-makers, particularly European governments and institutions (NATO, EU, OSCE) whom we have the greatest opportunity to influence. “How should NATO change its policy towards Russia? First….”
Sell your piece with a catchy title and strong ending.
The title is the introduction to your piece. For readers to quickly grasp your idea, draw them in with a strong headline which emphasises your central message. We use narrative titles, i.e. a single sentence that sums up the main argument of the article. The more descriptive and catchier the title, the more likely the article is to be read. Try to avoid questions or general topics. Your final paragraph should summarise your argument with a catchy, thought-provoking final sentence which communicates decision-makers what action they should take.
Use links rather than citations for references.
Links should direct readers to more detailed reports or other pieces of research, news items or other blog posts. Open access sources are preferable to those behind paywalls. Please insert a hyperlink at the relevant point of your argument that you’d like to reference or simply put the URL in parentheses where you would like it to be placed.
Make use of the ELNs copy-editing and peer-review service throughout the writing process.
Your commentary belongs to you and we do not expect that heavy editing will be required. However, we offer this service to ensure that authors feel supported through the writing process.
Inform the ELN of any other commitments that we should be mindful of.
The ELN aims to support its contributors wherever possible and understands that many of you are working from home, have other jobs, families and/or other caring responsibilities. This is especially true in light of coronavirus. Please make us aware of anything that we should be mindful of during the process and how best we can support you.
Provide your social media details.
In addition to our website audience averaging 10,000 visits per month, we will promote your article across all our platforms: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Apple News. Please provide your social media details and we will tag you wherever possible. Please share your commentary throughout your own networks.
To submit a commentary, please email the ELN’s Commissioning Officer Esther Kersley: [email protected]
As we want all commentaries to have as much impact as possible, we will identify the most opportune moments at which to publish them and we reserve the right not to publish even pieces that have been commissioned in the unusual case that they fall decisively short of our publishing standards.