Writing for IM

Writing for Information Matters

Information Matters is a digital-only publication for information science. We publish translational reports, news, reviews, columns, and features of the highest standards. Our publication serves to inform the public, industry professionals, educational practitioners, and policymakers on information science issues of critical importance to a global public audience free of charge.

All articles written for Information Matters communicate the discipline of information science to an intelligent, educated lay reader. We write about information science in a highly informative and authoritative manner, but for a generalist audience.

If you would like to submit an article for publication in Information Matters, please keep in mind the general qualities we look for in a published article:

  • An elevated conversational tone, intended for an educated but non-expert reader who seeks to know more about the information science subject or topic.
  • The general goal is to educate the reader, who may know very little about the subject. Teach the reader to know more. Entice the reader to want to know more.
  • Brevity: ideally, an article is 500-1000 words, with some exceptions (see below).
  • Avoid technical jargon. Assume the reader has little or no expert knowledge.

Recommendations for a good, accessible writeup 

Most importantly, consider your audience. Information Matters is an online platform with digital content and broad distribution. Ideally, it is read by anyone and everyone. Our readers are not just those who work in the field of information science and technology, but anyone who may be interested in learning about topics, issues, and solutions in this space. We recommend that you pitch your writing’s vocabulary and sentence complexity for a high-school educated reader. For this non-expert reader, be careful to boil down complex subject matter to the basics, avoid jargon, and use plain language instead of technical language. Write short sentences with an average of 15 to 25 words each. Work with plain, conversational language, and tend toward a more simple way to say it: “use” instead of “utilize”; “try” instead of “endeavor”; “analyze” instead of “conduct an analysis”; “ready” instead of “prepared to implement the necessary steps required.” Use an active voice whenever possible: “She delivered the results” instead of “The results were delivered by her.”

You may want to write the article’s headline first. Ideally, the headline works as an efficient, active summary of the essentials of your article. It telegraphs what your reader will get out of reading your article. And, writing the headline may help focus the article’s mission for you, the writer. Journalists talk about the headline as a promise to the reader, and the article delivers that promise. For example: “How One Online Knowledge Community Made Us Better,” “Data Reuse: What Everyone Needs to Understand.” A headline may also raise questions which may or may not be answered, or create intrigue: “The Case of the Disappearing School Libraries,” “Can Databases Save the World?”

Next, you could make a rough plan or notes for five paragraphs of 100 to 200 words each. In the rough plan, answer the article topic’s fundamental questions: Who, what, where, when, why, and how? To get the reader’s attention immediately, you may want to write about your most crucial points in your first two paragraphs, and then explore less important items after that. For your article planning, make sure to ask: What is the takeaway? What’s the essential knowledge you want the reader to have by the end of the article? Which may lead to further questions you may want to answer in your article: What did the reader learn that is new? What is different? What has not been considered? What should be explored next? What gets solved? What doesn’t?

Your first paragraph is important. It captures the reader’s interest, defines what is important, and gets to the point you want to make. Some questions to ask yourself about your headline and first paragraph: Do they inspire you yourself to keep reading more? Did you react? (Were you happy, sad, curious, or otherwise?) Are you hooked? Do you care and want to know more?