Editors’ Note

As of July 2012, a new editorial team will take the reins at International Organization (IO). The journal’s office will move from the Munk School of Global Affairs (and the Department of Political Science) at the University of Toronto to the Department of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin. This move represents a return to some of IO‘s early roots: the University of Wisconsin was the home of IO‘s first academic editor, professor of political science David Kay. Although much has changed since Professor Kay began editing the journal in 1972, the goal of the journal to publish the best work in the field of international relations has not.

For the past five and a half years, Emanuel Adler and Louis Pauly, both of the University of Toronto, have worked tirelessly in pursuit of that goal. During their tenure, IO‘s submission rate increased by a hefty 35 percent. Yet despite this increase in workload, the Toronto team has maintained the journal’s status at the top of the international relations field, without sacrificing an impressive turn-around time for decisions. Managing Editor Jacqueline Larson played a key role in these achievements, keeping the review process running smoothly, the journal’s finances in top shape, and even serving as stylistic editor. Professors Adler and Pauly were also assisted by two exceptional associate editors: David Stasavage of NYU and Edward Mansfield of the University of Pennsylvania. David and Ed devoted extensive time and effort to supporting the editors’ mission of keeping IO the high-quality journal it has always been. Finally, Etel Solingen of UC–Irvine served as review essay editor, doing an outstanding job of soliciting and shepherding review pieces through the editorial process. The field owes a deep debt of gratitude to all of these individuals, especially Emanuel and Lou, for their hard work, dedication, and selfless service.

The new editorial team at the University of Wisconsin is just that: a team. I am fortunate to be assisted by a trio of accomplished associate editors. My colleague at Wisconsin, Andrew Kydd, Michael Barnett of George Washington University, and Lars-Erik Cederman of ETH-Zurich will each play a key role in the review process. These three scholars’ experience and knowledge will help shape the pages of the journal and I am deeply grateful that they have agreed to be part of the team. Finally, Elana Matthews will serve as managing editor. Elana’s experience as an editor and writer will make her an essential part of keeping the journal running smoothly. I look forward to working closely with all of them.

Substantive Purview

Over the past decade, IO has grown from its early focus on IPE into the field’s preeminent general-interest IR journal. Indeed, over the past nine years, a loose categorization of articles reveals a nearly even three-way split between three fields: IPE (33 percent), International Security (30 percent), and International Organization (37 percent). This distribution reflects not only conscious choices by previous editors, but also the increasingly interconnected nature of the sub-fields within IR.

Since IO‘s inception, other aspects of the field—and therefore the journal—have changed as well. For one, the “isms” debates no longer dominate the pages of academic journals, as scholars have instead tended to integrate insights from a variety of theoretical schools in their attempts to explore important questions of international relations. For example, patterns of violence in civil wars are shaped by factors as diverse as the local and regional political economy, regional and international organizations, geography, and the perceptions and beliefs of individual actors. Economic and security policies of democracies and dictatorships are influenced by formal domestic and international structures, changing norms of behavior over time, and the psychological and social makeup of key actors. International institutions influence behavior not only through formal procedures, but also via informal norms and generative social processes, often in interaction with each other. As a consequence of this theoretical broadening, our proposed answers to substantive problems are richer now than ever before. IO particularly welcomes submissions that draw on multiple theoretical foundations to generate insights into international interactions.

This theoretical richness blurs many of the traditional sub-field boundaries. Theories and ideas originating in comparative politics, American politics, economics, sociology, psychology, philosophy, and now biology and physics have become part and parcel of the IR enterprise. Nor is this only a theoretical broadening. IR is an area of increasing methodological innovation as well. Experiments, advanced formal modeling, archival and qualitative methods, and complex econometric techniques all comprise the growing toolbox of IR scholars.

Of course, the broadening of the field leads to an important question: what kinds of questions represent IO‘s core focus? Without sounding too intrepid, the answer is: any question that centrally deals with the interaction of international or domestic actors to shape some outcome relevant to multiple actors. What draws scholars and students alike to our field is the incredible complexity of problems that face the world. And whether research deals with a contemporary economic crisis such as the recent global recession or a historical political process, such as the rise of the Concert of Europe, such works are welcome at IO.

There are, of course, practical boundaries that we will draw. Articles in the journal should deal with processes that are fundamentally international. Whether one thinks of the world in terms of cause-and-effect or constitutive interactions or generative processes, the international dimension must be front and center. But whether those effects, interactions, or processes involve terrorism, finance, state or human security, trade policy or trade institutions, human rights, foreign direct investment, diplomacy, bureaucratic politics in international institutions, or transnational actors (to name but a few), we welcome their submission.

The Editorial Team and the Review Process

Our editorial team is dedicated to maintaining IO‘s high standards, including expeditious and high-quality peer review of manuscripts submitted to the journal. We will work tirelessly to maintaining IO‘s record of relatively quick turnaround times for reviews. Review procedures will remain unchanged from previous editors. Associate editors will be heavily involved in the selection of reviewers, evaluating reviews, and issuing decisions. IO is dedicated to continuing the double-blind review process, even though in the internet age, this process is increasingly difficult to guarantee. We will make every effort to carry out this process anonymously. Reviewers are drawn from the editorial board and from among others who can provide the necessary expertise for careful evaluation of the work.

Once the editorial team issues a decision on a manuscript, authors will receive the reviews and decision letter. As our predecessors did, we will also send the complete set of reviews and decision letter (anonymously) to reviewers as well. We have frequently heard that this practice is helpful to reviewers in assessing how other reviewers evaluate the same manuscript.

The strength of IO is its editorial board. The board is elected through a competitive process. Members of the board are asked to carry a tremendous reviewing burden for the journal. The majority of manuscripts reviewed by the journal are evaluated by at least one board member and one additional external reader. In addition to their reviewing burden, board members provide advice to the editorial team, oversee financial issues, as well as assisting in numerous large and small ways.

This team will continue our predecessors’ tradition of issuing manuscript rejections without review. While we regret we cannot review every manuscript fully, we wish to err on the side of timeliness: if a member of the editorial team with expertise in the issue area does not feel the manuscript has a moderate chance at acceptance, we will return the manuscript unreviewed as quickly as possible. Similarly, if the manuscript does not fit the purview of the journal, the editorial team will attempt to make this judgment quickly and not seek external review. In each of these cases, we feel it is better to allow an author or authors to immediately seek another publication outlet than to tie up the manuscript for what would be a low probability of acceptance.


The core of IO will continue to be theoretically motivated, empirically informed research articles. There will be no fundamental changes to the requirements for research articles in the journal. Manuscripts will continue to be a maximum of 14,000 words. Manuscripts should be prepared following the guidelines for contributors and should be submitted online via Editorial Manager (where these guidelines can also be found).

The journal will continue to accept proposals for special issues and symposia. These proposals will be vetted by a committee of editorial board members. Once a special issue proposal is approved, the articles will each be refereed individually as normal manuscript submissions would be. The issue will also, however, be evaluated in total for coherence and contribution.

We will also continue publication of research notes. These shorter pieces are limited to 8000 words and can be empirical or theoretical in nature. We encourage research notes that can quickly and cleanly identify and fill important theoretical lacunae, or address an important and timely empirical question.

The journal will also continue to publish review articles. There is no separate review editor, and the editorial team will take on this task as a group. Review pieces may focus on a group of books or articles in a substantive issue area or on methodological issues that are important to the field of IR. We especially welcome review pieces that incorporate literature from fields outside IR or disciplines outside political science. Proposals for review pieces should be sent to the editorial offices.

One recent change at IO is a policy concerning replication. Those studies using quantitative data are now required to submit all data as well as any programming code necessary to replicate all findings referenced in any accepted article. Authors must submit these files to the editor upon submission of the final accepted manuscript or provide proof that the data and relevant files have been deposited at a reputable social science data host (e.g., Dataverse or ICPSR). Failure to submit replication files will delay publication of the accepted manuscript.

Should you encounter any difficulties during the submission process, please contact the journal offices directly:

International Organization
Department of Political Science
University of Wisconsin–Madison
110 North Hall
1050 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706

In conclusion, we look forward to your submissions to International Organization. We will strive to keep the journal at the forefront of the research in the field of international relations.