What is Stanford Social Innovation Review?
Since its founding in 2003, Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) has emerged as the preeminent publication for people engaged in social innovation. We publish cutting-edge, authoritative thinking on important issues facing leaders of nonprofits, foundations, businesses, and government bodies.
SSIR is based at Stanford University in Silicon Valley, but it is written for a global audience of changemakers. We cover a wide range of topics, including social entrepreneurship, nonprofit management, and philanthropic strategies, as well as educational reform, poverty alleviation, and environmental protection.
SSIR’s readers are highly educated, widely read, and well informed about the field of social innovation. They want to be provoked, surprised, and presented with memorable information and rigorous analysis. They don’t want long-winded arguments, insider jargon, or excessively narrow and technical writing.
SSIR’s editorial interests are decidedly cross-sector; we cover individuals and organizations whose work is embedded in or has impact on the business, nonprofit, and governmental sectors. We are especially interested in cross-sector solutions to global problems.
Who reads SSIR?
When writing an article, one of the most important things to keep in mind is the reader. SSIR’s readers come from all sectors of society. About one-third are the CEO, president, or executive director of their organization, and another one-third are senior executives. Close to half lead nonprofit organizations, and another 15 percent lead foundations or are actively engaged in philanthropy. The remaining one-third is split between people working in business, government, academia, and research.
SSIR’s readers are actively engaged in solving a wide variety of the world’s problems. About 25 percent work in education, another 25 percent work in human services (such as food and housing), 15 percent work in health, and the remaining 35 percent work in the environment, foreign affairs, economic development, human rights, arts, and other fields.
What kind of articles is SSIR looking for?
SSIR seeks to publish the most interesting, original, and important ideas and insights in social innovation for the managers and leaders who can put those ideas to work. While many of SSIR’s articles are written by our editorial team, we do invite external authors to submit Feature, Case Study, and First Person articles, as well as Blog posts for our website.
In evaluating articles, SSIR’s editors ask themselves the following questions:
• Is the idea new, or if not, is it an important refinement or new perspective on an existing idea?
• Would the article be interesting to most of SSIR’s readers, or is the topic so narrow that it would be interesting to only a small segment of readers?
• Are the ideas ones that SSIR’s readers can use to do their work better?
• Is the article about an idea or organization that is truly innovative?
• Is the article based on research or substantial thinking or experience in the subject? (We use the term research to encompass most evidence-based information.)
• Is the author trying to sell the reader something; is the information in the article useful only if the reader uses the author’s particular product or service?
• Are the ideas supported by compelling real-world examples?
What types of articles are written by external authors?
There are four types of articles that are written by external authors: Feature, Case Study, and First Person (which are published in the magazine), and the Blog Post (that is published on the website).
• Introduces a new, creative, or more complete explanation of a solution to a social, environmental, or organizational problem.
• Illustrates the explanation or solution with research findings.
• Logically discusses the explanation or solution, addressing its possible shortcomings.
• Explains the general implications of the explanation or solution for SSIR’s diverse audience.
• Between 4,000 and 4,500 words long.
• An in-depth analysis of a management challenge faced by a nonprofit, socially responsible business, or government agency.
• The article must provide a detailed narrative history of the organization, recounting how its mission, strategy, structure, etc. evolved to address the challenges it faced. It should include quotes from the principles involved.
• The article must answer three to four principal questions, which raise high-level strategic issues that the case addresses. These questions show how a case is relevant and applicable to other organizations.
• Between 3,500 and 4,500 words long.
• Relates the experiences and the lessons learned by someone actively engaged in social innovation, or provides a provocative op-ed on a timely subject.
• About 1,600 words long.
Blog Post - online only
• A provocative article on a timely subject written by someone actively involved in social innovation. The most successful blogs express a strong opinion or pose a question that sparks debate.
• Posts should be written in a clear, engaging, and accessible first-person style that minimizes jargon and buzz words.
• Between 600-800 words long.
If you propose writing any of these four types of articles, please send us a brief “pitch” that addresses the following types of questions:
• What is the central message of the article?
• What makes this idea or organization new?
• What makes this idea or organization important?
• What makes this idea or organization innovative?
• What makes this idea or organization timely?
• How would SSIR’s readers use the information in the article to enhance their work?
• How is the article different from other articles that have been published on the subject?
• What research or experience is the article based on?
• What real-world examples support the argument?
Book Excerpts - online only
• Already published books, within six months of release date, can be submitted for inclusion in SSIR's book excerpts section online.
• Please submit: a copy of the publication in full; a 1,000-2,000 word excerpt suggestion; the number of pages, publisher, and year; a high-resolution book cover image; a two-sentence author bio; and a headshot of the author.
If you propose writing a Feature or Case Study article, we would like you to also provide a two to three page narrative outline of the article that shows the article’s structure and describes what each section in the article is about. One way to approach writing the outline is to start with a headline for the article, followed by a one-paragraph summary of the article (what we call a deck), and then break the article into sections. Each section would typically begin with a sub-headline (a two to three word mini headline) followed by two to three paragraphs that describes the section (including main points, examples, and other pertinent information). If your proposal is based on an article that you have already written, feel free to include the article as well. But the article cannot substitute for the pitch and the outline.
What types of articles are written by SSIR’s editors and its stable of freelance journalists?
There are five types of articles that are written by SSIR’s editors and the magazine’s stable of freelance writers: What Works, What Didn’t Work, What’s Next, Reviews, Q&A, and Research. For these types of articles we welcome ideas and pitches from people who think SSIR should be writing about a particular person, organization, trend, or piece of research. (See description above of what we want in a pitch.) If we like your idea, we will assign it to one of our editors or freelance journalists.
What Works and What Didn't Work
• Profiles an innovative, effective (or ineffective) organization that has created a solution to an important social, environmental, or organizational problem.
• About 1,700 words long.
• Profiles a new, innovative, promising, but not yet proven solution to an important social, environmental, or organizational problem.
• About 700 words long.
• Opinionated reviews, by knowledgeable reviewers, of books on social innovation.
• Books must not be published before they are submitted for review in the magazine. (Already published books can be submitted for inclusion in SSIR's book excerpts section online—see Book Excerpts, above.)
• About 900 words long.
• Interviews, in a Q&A format, with important leaders and thinkers in the field of social innovation.
• About 2,800 words long.
• Reviews of important and interesting research recently published in scholarly and professional journals.
• About 500 words long.
How do I submit an article proposal?
Please submit your proposed article to the most appropriate section of the magazine. Only submit it to one section. If we don’t think your proposal is appropriate for that section, we may suggest that it would work better in a different section. If you are not sure what section your article would best fit, submit it here.
• Submit proposals for Blog posts and Book Excerpts to Jenifer Morgan, digital editor.
• Submit proposals for Features and the Q&A to Eric Nee, managing editor.
• Submit proposals for Case Study, First Person, What Works, What Didn’t Work, What’s Next, Reviews, Last Look, and Research to Michael Slind, senior editor.
• All proposals must be submitted via email. We do not accept proposals submitted by fax or physical mail. No phone calls please.
• All proposals must be in Word format (.doc or .docx files). No PDFs, PPTs, or Word 2007 documents are accepted.
• Include the name, address, phone, affiliations, and email for all authors.
• All cover letters should include a statement that the article has not been published elsewhere and will not be sent to another publication unless it has been declined by SSIR.
• Authors should be prepared to assign copyright to SSIR upon acceptance.
What happens to my proposal after SSIR receives it?
SSIR will acknowledge receipt of your proposal within one to two weeks. The proposal will then be reviewed by SSIR’s editors, a process that can take up to two months. We will respond to each proposal, but because of the volume of proposals we are not able to provide substantive feedback on every one. If we think that your proposal to write an article has promise we will ask you to write it. It is important to note that this does not constitute acceptance of the article. In the case of the First Person, Case Study, and Blog Post, the article must still be accepted by SSIR’s editors. Before a Feature article is accepted it is first reviewed by SSIR’s managing editor and academic editor. If it passes that stage, the article is then reviewed by SSIR’s editorial committee, which makes the final decision about accepting or rejecting the article. We thank you in advance for your patience with our evaluation process.
If your article is accepted for publication, it will be assigned to an editor. We work with authors to ensure that the articles are clear, concise, and engaging. We work collaboratively, but if necessary, we will edit and rewrite substantially to create an article that our readers will want to read.
Authors are responsible for verifying all facts, including dates and spellings of people and organizations. Although SSIR welcomes suggestions from authors, our editors have the final say on article headlines, illustrations, and placements. SSIR requires all authors to transfer exclusive copyrights, including the right to electronic distribution, to Stanford University.
What level of attribution does SSIR require?
Authors should give credit to all direct quotations, paraphrased statements, and borrowed ideas. To make the article readable, we prefer to incorporate attributions into the text whenever possible. At the early stages of writing, be sure to state clearly which ideas and language are yours and which ones are drawn from someone else. We would rather see source notes than not. Then, if your submission is accepted for publication, we will work with you to determine which sources need to be cited and in what way. Do not worry about the format for footnotes. SSIR has its own style that it will use in the editing process.
Are there any restrictions on who can write for SSIR?
We welcome proposals from everyone. Please tell us about any financial or other relationship you may have with companies or organizations cited in the proposed article. We need to know if you have a consulting relationship, for example, or if you serve on a governing board. These sorts of relationships do not necessarily disqualify you from writing the article, but because they can color your views, we need to be aware of them.