Submission Requirements for "Stepping Stones" Articles

Purpose: The purpose of Stepping Stones is to create entrance points for students young and old to enter the scientific conversation at a level that is approachable to them. These articles are aimed at making scholarly research more accessible to the general public.

Word limit: 1500 words (about 2-3 doubled-spaced pages). This does not include the title or references pages.

Writing for non-scientists may be new to you so below are some tips to help you as you write:

  1. Vocabulary:
    • Keep the audience's vocabulary in mind as you write. If you choose to introduce technical language, be sure to define the words as clearly and simply as you can. In general, be clear and concise, and avoid using unnecessarily complex words or phrases.
  2. Reporting Results:
    • Almost all quantitative research articles found in professional research journals assume that their readers are literate or even fluent in statistics, but your audience is probably not. In your Stepping Stones article, your goal is to convey complex statistical jargon, methods, and findings to a general, non-technical audience.
    • Report key findings in a "discussion" or narrative that summarizes the key results without diving too deep into the dense details. You may also choose to define and explain statistical terms and concepts in your article if you feel you can do it in a way that is understandable by your audience. This is an excellent opportunity to make an area of science available to all ages and backgrounds that is normally scary to approach without academic training.
    • If you include figures from other manuscripts (with permission only!), be sure to explain the most basic elements of the figure including what the axes mean, and how to read a figure, if necessary.
  3. Implications of Research:
    • It's extremely important to demonstrate to your audience why the research is significant and relevant to their lives. Discuss the practical implications of the research and what the next steps should be in continuing to advance knowledge in the research area discussed.
    • It is equally important to convey the meaning of the research covered objectively and to include your own subjective interpretations only if they can be supported by other published research.