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ISQ Guidelines and Policies

About the Journal

International Studies Quarterly (ISQ) is the flagship journal of the International Studies Association (ISA). It seeks to publish leading scholarship that engages with significant theoretical, empirical, and normative subjects in international studies. Articles published in ISQ engage in some meaningful way with political, economic, social, or cultural processes that cross the borders of states. They provide answers to explanatory puzzles, present original research, explore topics in international theory, or otherwise intervene in disciplinary debates. Although such articles often have policy implications—and we encourage authors to elucidate those—these implications are secondary to their scholarly purposes.

ISQ is headquartered at the University at Buffalo, SUNY and Kansas State University, from 2024-2029. Lead Editors Sam Bell and Elena McLean are faculty in the Department of Political Science at University at Buffalo. Lead Editor Jeffrey Pickering is faculty in the Department of Political Science at Kansas State University.

ISQ is published four times a year by Oxford University Press. Individuals may obtain free access to the journal as a benefit of membership in the International Studies Association.

You may direct general inquiries to, but please note that we are unable to assess the likelihood of publication for individual papers or paper ideas sent to us via email.

Types of Submissions


  • Original Research Articles are long-form submissions to the journal—Original research articles should not exceed 12,000 words—including all tables, figures, footnotes, and bibliography, but excluding abstract and maximum 10 pages of appendices. These submissions address important global phenomena relevant to a general international-studies audience. They should have a well-developed, original, theoretical argument that is supported, as appropriate, by a rigorous substantive analysis consistent with the manuscript’s methodological approach. As with all contributions, they should reflect original work.
  • Research Notes make a novel and focused contribution to empirical knowledge of significance in international studies, and typically include the presentation of new data. Research notes range from 4,000-8,000 words (excluding online supplementary material). These contributions frequently involve quantitative analysis, but they may be qualitative in character—such as pieces that introduce new archival material that challenges conventional wisdom on cases important to the broader discipline. For this type of manuscript, we do not require the same level of theoretical complexity and detailed empirical investigation as for a regular research article. But in addition to potentially describing new data, the manuscript should show how the new data can make a valid and important contribution to the study of international studies, for instance by pointing to results that are significantly different from research studies published previously. Key to a successful research note is presentation of valuable information to other researchers in terms of the aim of the note, problem formation, information collection, conclusions, and directions for further research.
  • Theory Notes aim to make a straightforward intervention in an ongoing theoretical, analytical, or conceptual controversy. Theory Notes range from 4,000-8,000 words (excluding online supplementary material). The wager behind theory notes is that many of these interventions neither require extensive elaboration of ancillary issues nor exhaustive summaries of existing positions. Theory notes may be based on, or include, formal models. They may, for example, introduce a new typology, critique an often-used model, or propose a conceptual innovation. The key is that they make an important, but spare and disciplined, argument about international studies theory. Theory notes should offer an original theoretical contribution explaining a salient analytical puzzle or process in international studies. No empirical assessment is necessary. Work on international theory that requires more lengthy elaboration should be submitted as a research article. Work that requires sustained critical review of existing literature is better suited for International Studies Review.


Review Process

Authors should submit their papers via ScholarOne. If authors do not already have ISQ accounts at ScholarOne, they will be prompted to establish them before proceeding. The editors will not consider manuscripts either concurrently under review, under contract, or already published elsewhere. All manuscripts submitted to ISQ are also submitted to iThenticate for an originality report. 

Before submitting a manuscript, authors should ensure that it conforms to the highest standards of proper attribution. We strongly recommend that authors check their references to ensure inclusion of authors from disadvantaged groups. ISQ is committed to ensuring that scholars receive appropriate intellectual acknowledgement regardless of race, gender, class, professional standing, or other categorical attributes.

Please ensure that a manuscript meets the following guidelines prior to submission:

  • The entire document, including footnotes, references, figures and tables, must be no more than 12,000 words for Original Research Articles, and 4,000-8,000 words for Research Notes or Theory Notes.
  • All notes should be footnotes, not endnotes.
  • We prefer figures and tables to be placed in-line and as close as possible to the first reference made in the text.
  • ISQ uses The Chicago Manual of Style (17th edition) with in-text citations (Smith 1994, 101. See more examples). We do not require using this reference style during the review process, however, you must use a consistent citation style that allows editors and reviewers to easily identify the work you are referencing.
  • In initial submission, appendices should be no longer than 10 pages total and should be placed at the end of the main document. Please note that any initial submission of supplementary materials — besides the maximum 10 pages at the end of the main document — will not be included in the initial peer review process. After getting a Revise & Resubmit, authors can submit longer appendices as "Supporting Information for Review and Online Publication.
  • Authors should limit the number of citations to their own work, using only third person references.

ISQ employs double-blind peer review for its editorial decisions. Manuscripts will normally receive at least two independent reviews. Iterations of the peer-review process should generally take no longer than three months. Authors will receive reviewer reports along with a letter from the editors explaining the editorial decision. Invitations to revise and resubmit will only be offered when the editors believe there is a high probability that the authors can successfully revise manuscripts in a timely (six months) and satisfactory manner.

Successful submissions will generally meet four criteria. They will:

  • Conform to rigorous methodological standards as understood by the intellectual traditions within which they operate;
  • Establish the significance of their analyses not just to those working on their specific topic, but also to the broader field of international studies;
  • Engage with work outside of their immediate area of research and approach to scholarly inquiry;
  • Clearly specify the theoretical framework used for analysis, reference the necessary literature(s), and spell out the implications of any findings for further research.

Data, Experiments, and Formal Models

Authors should present quantitative data and elucidate statistical models in forms that are accessible to a general audience. Statistical tables should include names for both variable rows and model columns that are comprehensible, and should report both coefficients and standard errors. Asterisks or other indicators to denote statistical significance should be included where relevant, but must be consistent across the manuscript.

The International Studies Association and ISQ are committed to the transparency of scholarship and accumulation of knowledge. Therefore, we require that quantitative data used in accepted articles are successfully replicated by our editorial team prior to publication. When their articles are accepted for publication with the journal, authors must also submit quantitative data used in articles to our Dataverse site. For more information, see our replication guidelines here.

Authors using formal models should clearly specify their technical innovation(s) as one of the contributions of the manuscript. When presenting formal models, authors should strive for simple and parsimonious notation. Purely technical developments, such as proofs, should be presented in a clearly written appendix, which may be submitted as supplementary materials. This technical appendix should enable any sophisticated reader to check the mathematical proofs.

ISQ strongly encourages authors to demonstrate that they have registered a pre-analysis plan (PAP) for experimental research designs in their submissions. Pre-analysis plans typically include the survey/field experiment instrument, the hypotheses being tested, and the estimation strategy. Some examples of places to register pre-analysis plans include, but are not limited to, OSF and AEA. A link to the plan should be included in the cover letter. A link to the anonymized registration should be provided in the first footnote of the submission. PAPs do not need to entirely match the analysis in the manuscript. However, it is helpful to reviewers if you discuss where you have deviated from a PAP and why. If you do not have a PAP, we ask that you explain why in your cover letter to your submission. We will take this into consideration in the review process. Such submissions also need to provide information regarding human subject ethical evaluations, i.e. Institutional Review Board (IRB).

Notes Regarding Peer Review

As academics, our careers depend on the effective functioning of the peer-review process. The publication of peer-reviewed journals and books is perhaps the most important factor in the accumulation of academic capital, hiring, tenure, and promotion. At the same time, the proliferation of journals and of submissions puts enormous pressure on the time and energy of reviewers. For these reasons, we greatly appreciate the willingness of scholars to review for ISQ.

We hope that our reviewers will help us maintain a strong norm of positive feedback to our authors. As much as possible, we ask reviewers to:

  • Make use of the confidential-comments box to provide a frank assessment of the manuscript;
  • Maintain a respectful tone in their comments to the authors—even in the context of advancing harsh criticisms;
  • Ensure that the impression created by the comments to authors is broadly consistent with the recommendation made to the editors; and
  • Attempt to inform us as soon as possible if their reviews will be delayed or if they will be unable to complete a review.

Open Access

ISQ offers the option of publishing under either a standard licence or an open access licence. Please note that some funders require open access publication as a condition of funding. If you are unsure whether you are required to publish open access, please do clarify any such requirements with your funder or institution.

Should you wish to publish your article open access, you should select your choice of open access licence in our online system after your article has been accepted for publication. You will need to pay an open access charge to publish under an open access licence.

Details of the open access licences and open access charges

OUP has a growing number of Read and Publish agreements with institutions and consortia which provide funding for open access publishing. This means authors from participating institutions can publish open access, and the institution may pay the charge. Find out if your institution is participating.

Third-Party Content in Open Access Papers

If you will be publishing your paper under an Open Access license but it contains material for which you do not have Open Access re-use permissions, please state this clearly by supplying the following credit line alongside the material:

  • Title of content
  • Author, Original publication, year of original publication, by permission of [rights holder]
  • This image/content is not covered by the terms of the Creative Commons license of this publication. For permission to reuse, please contact the rights holder.

Special Submissions

  • Special Sections: ISQ accepts proposals for special sections. The deadline for submitting such proposals is May 1; the deadline for paper submissions is November 1. Only one submitted proposal is pursued annually. The peer review process for special issue submissions is the same as for regular Original Research Article submissions. Please email proposals to
  • Response Note to articles published in ISQ will be considered in exceptional circumstances.  At a minimum, such submissions should advance a novel argument in response to the original article and they should represent a notable and unambiguous contribution to the literature. They may often present a challenge to a core element of the original article, such as theoretical or empirical findings or the interpretation of findings. Response pieces are limited to 2500 words and are peer reviewed.  If response pieces are accepted, the author(s) of the original article are invited to write a counter-response piece which is also blind reviewed and limited to 2500 words.  Such response and counter-response pieces are the extent of this journal’s engagement on the issue of concern.  Further discussion or debate must appear in different venues.
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