About the Magazine and Its Readers
American Scientist is a general-interest, nonrefereed science magazine distributed to the approximately 60,000 members of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, and approximately 20,000 newsstand purchasers and nonmember subscribers, including libraries. (For more information about American Scientist and Sigma Xi, see the free online video Making a Difference. )
The magazine’s principal mission is to share with its readers the best work in the biological and physical sciences, mathematics, engineering, applied sciences and quantitative and analytical social sciences, as well as science policy, history and philosophy. The George Bugliarello Prize is awarded biennially to a superior interdisciplinary essay, review of research or analytical article published in American Scientist.
Nearly all American Scientist feature articles are written by research scientists about their own peer-reviewed work or work to which they are significant contributors. Readers are practicing scientists and engineers and enthusiasts of science—an audience capable of grasping complex ideas but largely unfamiliar with the author’s area of expertise.
Although most American Scientist articles are invited, we accept unsolicited manuscripts for features and the Macroscope essay. We encourage prospective authors to first send an abstract or outline by e-mail so that the editors can provide advice on the timing, format and appropriateness of the submission. Links to supporting peer-reviewed work and curricula vitae are also welcome. A close reading of recent issues of the magazine is the best way to judge how your article idea will fit with the magazine and how to present your work to our audience.
How Your Manuscript Will Be Handled
You will receive an automated e-mail reply acknowledging receipt of your proposal or manuscript. A copy of your submission will be distributed to the editors for comment, and in some instances a copy will be sent to an external advisor. The editors meet approximately every eight weeks to discuss articles and make decisions about acceptance. Should your manuscript be accepted, it will generally be between two and 12 months before it appears in print.
Length and Substance
Articles typically run about 4,000 words, the equivalent of 15 typed, double-spaced pages, including a short bibliography. Generally 8 to 12 figures may accompany the text. You are encouraged to send low-resolution electronic versions of photographs and drafts of figures with your article. (High resolution figures will be requested if your article is accepted.)
As you write, remember that you cannot expect any specialized knowledge on the part of the reader. Therefore, it is best to avoid formulas, extensive data tables and jargon. Abbreviations should be expanded with the first use.
If your article is accepted, an editor will be assigned to work with you on revisions—which may be extensive—captions and the plan of illustration. You will be asked to check illustrations and editorial revisions to ensure that accuracy is maintained. Our goal is to help you write and illustrate your article in such a way as to attract and hold the interest of the reader.
Manuscripts and proposals are accepted electronically and should be directed to the e-mail address listed below. The editors prefer text to be in rich text format (.rtf files); image files may be JPEG, TIF, EPS or PDF.
Please spell out all units of measurement and explain any unusual measurement units. Include the first name and the institutional affiliation of anyone mentioned in the text. American Scientist’s editors require that bibliographic notes appear at the end of the text, rather than embedded. The magazine follows the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition author-date style for bibliographical entries, except that all publication names should be spelled out. Please note that American Scientist avoids acknowledgments of any kind at the end of feature articles and does not publish funding acknowledgments.
If you have a financial interest (for instance, an equity, consulting or patent involvement) related to the subject of your article, we ask that you let us know at submission time. This will not necessarily affect the handling of your manuscript in any way but is part of the context necessary for making good editorial decisions.
We appreciate your interest in American Scientist and look forward to reading your manuscript. Please send manuscripts to: