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Author Instructions

STWJ is an online, peer-reviewed journal which publishes articles as they are completed. Everything published during 2012 constitutes Volume 1. Volume 2 will include everything published during 2013 and so on.

Types of Papers

STWJ publishes a variety of types of papers, including academic and research articles, personal reflections, papers based on STW discussion threads, book reviews and more. We use the APA Style Manual, with some modifications for some types of papers as specified in the Style Manual.


Do not submit a paper without first corresponding with one of our staff members. Please send us a SHORT email with:

  1. a paragraph on your idea for a submission and
  2. a brief summary of your experience / background that qualifies you to write your proposed paper.

One of our editors will then work with you if we feel your idea is appropriate for us. Our coordinator, Barry Clemson, can be contacted at or you can communicate with any of the staff listed under “Staff” on the About the Journal page. We encourage you to contact a staff person who is likely to understand the area you want to write about.

Accepted papers must be submitted in electronic form and must be ready to publish. Microsoft Word or Open Office are acceptable formats. Please do not do manual formatting for headings, margins, bullets, lines between paragraphs, etc. Use your word processor’s automatic features for these.

We welcome suggestions for blog posts, news items / reports, and items that bear on questions of civilization’s survival. See “Content Overview”  on the About the Journal page for more details.

Writing Style

We encourage writing in the first person. As Heinz von Foerster pointed out, writing in the first person encourages personal responsibility. Writing in the first person is also more engaging than the typical academic writing.

Outline of STWJ Articles

The following outline should be followed. A example follows each numbered item.

  1. Title, author and citation details.The Euro Financial Crisis
    James B. Rieley. Volume 1. Issue 1.  May 21, 2012.
  2. Abstract. Italicized. Should be primarily a teaser to entice people to read the article
    (Note that items 1 and 2 appear on the Home page, followed by the “More” button)
  3. Body of the paper
  4. Notes (if any)
  5. Author’s bio and website or other contact information. The bio is limited to 100 words. Italicized.
  6. Acknowledgements (if any)
  7. Staff helping with this article.
    Editor: Gene Bellinger. Reviewers: Barry Clemson, Eero Hollming, Steven Schneider, Nicolas Stampf
  8. References. For scholarly papers, follow APA guidelines. Depending on the type of paper, authors may deviate from APA  standards as specified in the Style Manual. If APA standards are not being followed, authors should so note at the beginning of the references section and alert reader to what the intention is in giving the references. For example, the intent may be to indicate the perspective of the author or to provide some general sources for further study by the interested reader. All of the allowable deviations from APA standards are discussed in the Style Manual.
  9. Citation details for this article. Please note that the only elements from the following example which will change are: author’s name, title of the article, volume and issue numbers, and the “referred” date.Clemson, Barry. 2012. What is System Thinking? A personal perspective. Systems Thinking World Journal: Reflection in Action. [Online Journal]. 1(1). [Referred 2012-06-19]. Available: . ISSN-L 2242-8577  ISSN 2242-8577

Review process

Our review process is still evolving, but usually goes like this.

  1. The author and a staff member talk a bit about an idea for a paper.
  2. A short outline or summary of the proposed paper is usually circulated among the staff to see who is interested in it.
  3. One of the staff agrees to be the editor for the paper, which means they will shepherd the paper through the review process.
  4. The author posts a draft of the paper is put in GoogleDocs and a discussion among the author, the editor and several reviewers ensues. This discussion does two things: First, a decision is made on whether or not to accept the piece and, second, if it is accepted, all concerned work to make the paper as good as possible. All published pieces include the names of the author(s), the reviewers, and the editor(s) that managed the process.

Google Doc Instructions

STWJ uses Google Docs for discussion / review of submissions prior to publishing them. The author is responsible for creating a Google Docs version of his/her paper from the word processor version (Word or Open Office).

Google Docs is not very complicated but it is initially quite confusing to many of us. This little guide will hopefully help in the initial post of a document so that others can comment on it.

The first step is to get a Google account (free and it only takes a few minutes).

You have a choice for learning about Google Docs:

  1. read the rest of this section or
  2. watch Gene Bellinger’s video intro to Google Docs

How to post an article to Google Docs

  1. When you get into Google Docs, click on the box at top left with the word “Create” in it.
  2. Next, click on the type of file you want to create, e.g. “Document”
  3. Then paste your text directly from your word processor (MS Word or Open Office). Do not use a PDF file for this. Everything should paste correctly except that diagrams and illustrations may need to be inserted manually. This can be done via the menu tab “insert”. On the Mac, I use “Grab” if needed to create a separate file for a diagram. Diagrams in jpeg or png format work well.
  4. Review the file to make sure bullets and paragraph spacing copied correctly.
  5. After pasting your document, go to menu tab “File” and select “rename” and type: Author’s last name: name of your file, date

This naming convention makes it easy for reviewers to be sure they are looking at the latest version of the paper.


You also have to set “sharing” so that we can comment on the document and correct typos.

At top right, click “Sharing” and you should see this:

In the dialog box above, do this:

  1.  Check the button “anyone with the link”. This will give you a line near the bottom that reads
    “Access: Anyone (no sign in required) Can view”.
  2. Click “Can view” and select “Can edit”.
  3. Click “Save”

Now, when you get to the screen above (and click “Done”) you have allowed anyone with the link to come in and edit the paper or to make comments on specific chunks of text.  This means anyone of us could go in and change your paper all around and in general screw it all up (the author still has the original, right? And Google does maintain a record of revisions).

However, reviewers are not going to go in and change the author’s prose, except for typos or to illustrate a better way to word something (an editor may, with the author’s permission, rewrite sections of the paper). What we are mainly going to do is highlight sections of text and make comments / questions / critiques for the author to consider.

Style Manual

We use the APA Style Manual, with a few modifications. Our page Style Manual provides the most frequently used information as well as those situations where we deviate somewhat from the APA standards. The APA standards can be found at the free APA online Tutorial. The APA Tutorial should be consulted for situations not covered in the Style Manual.

Papers Based on LinkedIn Discussions

Articles based on STW discussions (or other online forum discussions) require special care in giving credit to those who contributed to the discussion.  This requires two things for our journal:

  1. The LinkeIn discussion and the individual author of the cited comment(s) must be properly identified.
  2. The interested reader should be able to find the cited comment(s).

We use LinViewer from IbisSoft to extract the LinkedIn discussions into a form that is easy to use. See “Papers on LinkedIn Discussions” on the page Editor Instructions for help in how to do this. CAUTION: Authors of this type of paper will save a great deal of time by using LinViewer to produce a numbered list of comments from the LinkedIn discussion BEFORE they begin writing.

The conventions that STWJ uses for in-text citations and reference lists for the LinkedIn discussion papers are included in the Style Manual

Comments posted on LinkedIn are part of the Creative Commons and may be freely used by others for non-commercial purposes so long as proper credit is given and the resultant work is also put into the Creative Commons.

Author’s Bio

All submissions require a short author’s bio which will be attached to the published article. This bio should be in paragraph form and is limited to a maximum of 100 words. If it is available, please also include the URL for your personal website or profile page.


Both System Thinking World and STW journal operate under the Creative Commons. The SystemsWiki for STW states “Posts by members of the Systems Thinking World group are considered to be “Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike” (CC BY-NC-SA). This license lets other remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. Additional detail can be found at Creative Commons. All content published by STWJ will also be under the Creative Commons.



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