The comment pages on the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies website publish short articles that analyse and assess contemporary policy developments – national and international – in the areas of crime, criminal justice and social harm.

Approaching external contributors

When working with external contributors for articles, members of staff should refer them to the 'Writing for our comment pages' guidelines. The guidlelines are accessible via this link, or via the menu bar on the right hand side of the comment pages.

Staff members should also give Tammy the heads up that an approach is being considered or has been made.

It is the responsibility of the member of staff that agreed/commissioned a comment piece to ensure that the following are done:

  • The full article, proofed and publication ready, in Microsoft Word format.
  • A suggested title for the article.
  • A short (no more than 150 characters) summary of the article.
  • A single sentence biographical summary of the author (e.g. professional title, name, job title, department and organisation).
  • An author profile picture, in portrait format.

Writing a comment piece

1. Title

No longer than 55 characters (including spaces). Use if in doubt.

2. Type

Choose ‘Comment’.

3. Date

This will default to the day you first start composing the comment piece. Make sure you check the date is correct before publication for those comment pieces that are published a few days after being started.

4. Summary

This should be a single sentence of no more than 150 characters (including spaces). It should be in the form of a short, snappy summary of the purpose of the comment piece and should include the author’s name. There should be no full-stop at the end of summary. E.g.:

The Adam Smith Institute is not capable of serious debate, Professor Steve Tombs writes in response to misplaced criticism of his latest briefing

The United Nations is failing embrace the growing movement towards drug decriminalisation among its member states, argues Niamh Eastwood

5. Description

This is the main body text of the comment piece.

  • The text should usually not be longer than 800 words, though longer pieces can be published. The maximum length we should publish is 1,500 words, though this should be the exception.
  • The text should be written in a clear, accessible, jargon-free style, with short sentences. Complex sentences and a series of subordinate clauses should be avoided. Paragraphs should typically be short: two to three sentences.
  • There should be no academic-style referencing in the text, and no list of references at the end of the text. References should be handled through embedded links in the text. A link to a publication, website, event etc should appear only once in the text. There should be no links that take the reader to paywall and subscription-based material. As a general rule, and article would not normally have more than ten links, and in many cases far fewer.
  • Explanatory sub-titles in the text, to break up the text and make it easier for the reader to follow the argument, are encouraged, though optional. They should be short – typically two for four words – and in unbolded Heading 3.

In relation to quotations:

  • Extended quotations of individuals or publications should be indented and italicised. No quotation marks should be used for indented quotes.
  • Short quotations within a sentence should be in single quotations marks, and in plain text (i.e. not italicised).

6. Author citation

  • At the end of the article, in the 'Description' field ,a single sentence biographical summary of the author, in plain text (i.e. not italicised) below a horizontal line, should be included for external authors. The biographical summary should include a full stop. E.g.:

Mike Nellis is Emeritus Professor of Criminal and Community Justice at the University of Strathclyde and Editor of the Journal of Offender Monitoring.

Niamh Eastwood is Executive Director of Release, a national centre of expertise on drugs and drugs law.

  • In some circumstances, a further sentence – for instance in relation to an event the author is speaking at or a publication they have written – can also be included, with the relevant link. E.g.

Niamh Eastwood is Executive Director of Release, a national centre of expertise on drugs and drugs law. She is speaking at ‘Responding to drug harms: Can the UK learn from Portugal?’ on 16 May.

7. By

This should include the author’s first name and family name. Where they have a professional title (e.g. Doctor, Professor) this should be included, in abbreviated form. E.g.: ‘Dr’ but ‘Professor’ is in full

8. Author profile picture

This should generally be a simple head shot, portrait style, colour or black and white.

For regular authors, the picture only needs to be uploaded one. After that, it can be accessed via the ‘Library’ option.

9. Download

This is a facility to provide downloadable files related to the comment piece. It would not generally be used.

10. Link

This can be ignored.

11. More on

This provides the facility to tag articles, to create connectivity between different content on the website.

Adding a tag does not improve discoverability of the article via the website search box or google, so don't throw in a load of random words in this box.

Here are a few pointers:

  • If the news piece refers to particular individuals – a leading politician, one of our own contributors or members of staff for instance – their name should be added.
  • Add in tags related to relevant CCJS initiatives (e.g. Justice Matters, UK Justice Policy Review, My Story).
  • Use relevant subject tags that will help to link the news story to other pieces on the site (e.g. Holloway Prison, revolving door, corruption).
  • Don't introduce spurious links by using the wrong tags. For example, the 'I would build' tag is used to link the various essays that were submitted as part of that series. Don't tag a news piece as 'I would build' just because someone is arguing a point that resembles the 'I would build' themes.

And finally: fresh eyes

Ask a colleague to give the news piece a once over prior to publication.

More on