“The censorial power is in the people over the government, and not in the government over the people.”

About the Editors and the Editorial Process

Citizen Critics comprises a collaboration between scholars and experts across public policy, politics, and the language and discourse of politics. To be a lead author on a piece for Citizen Critics, you must be a current expert, researcher, or academic in the field about which you are writing. All pieces must generally fit the word length guidelines listed below, must be well documented based on the author’s area of expertise, and should be suited to the type of submission for which it is prepared. All submissions must be written in AP Style.

All desk editors at Citizen Critics commit to timely and fair review of all work for each desk. Each article published at Citizen Critics goes through a rigorous review process with at least two reviewers reading and editing each article. At least one reviewer edits all chat and commentary pieces. All Citizen Critics pieces are edited, from submission to publication, with the author’s input as the guiding focus. Additionally, all desk editors commit to producing one article for their desk every two months, one commentary piece for their desk every two months, and one podcast idea per year in addition to regular participation in Citizen Critics’ social media presence.

We do not publish submissions from employees of independent research companies or think tanks. We also do not publish paid or unpaid public relations pieces.

Our aim, and commitment to our audience, is to provide a fact-based, nonpartisan, editorially independent forum.

Types of Submission


Articles with Citizen Critics are the longest we publish (1,000-2,000 words) and are formal, evidence-driven pieces. They prioritize research and process, though they are still aimed at a wide public readership. Articles should be submitted to the editor of the desk where the piece would be published. They are then reviewed by at least one additional editor before being approved. We strive to complete this process quickly, at the discretion of the editor of the desk to which the piece has been submitted. We offer a collaborative editorial process and authors, along with the desk editor or an associate editor, will have final approval over the finished product. Articles may be pitched to a desk editor or desk editors may send queries to individual scholars or experts. If you have an article that you’re not sure which desk to submit to, contact one of the associate editors, Heather Ashley Hayes ([email protected]) or Michael J. Steudeman ([email protected]).

Examples of article length pieces include “America is in a Battle Over the Meaning of Words Like ‘Diversity’” by Dr. Jennifer Mercieca. See also “The Rhetoric of Trump’s Zero Tolerance Immigration Policy” by Dr. Ryan Skinnell.


Currents are very short pieces (200-300 words) that identify a rhetorical strategy at work in an act of public discourse. Currents prioritize timeliness and public rhetorical pedagogy—that is, what rhetoric can help people understand about a given speech or publication shortly after it occurs. The goal of currents is to help people learn something they didn’t know about how language works. The goal is not to judge whether a rhetorical strategy is good or bad, ethical or unethical, legitimate or illegitimate. The goal of these pieces is only to explain how the rhetorical strategy works in the moment. Currents, if accepted, will usually be published within three days of submission. Currents pieces are published in the voice of the Citizen Critics collective rather than offering authorial credits or bylines and are considered pedagogical pieces. Contributors will be noted at the end of each piece. If you have questions about a submission or want to pitch an idea, please contact associate editor Heather Ashley Hayes ([email protected]) or Commentary editor Ryan Skinnell ([email protected]).

For an example of Currents work, see “X Marks the Spot: Identifying Chiasmus in Government Shutdown Discourse.”


Commentary pieces (500-1200 words) aim to analyze the ethics of public discourse and events, often in real time, with a goal of challenging or defending speakers’/writers’ communicative choices from the perspective of the author. Commentary pieces are similar to op-eds in that they prioritize timeliness and feature informed judgment calls or personal reflections from experts or scholars of language regarding ongoing issues of ethical, political, or linguistic practice in the news. Authors are strongly encouraged to establish their expertise clearly in the piece. Based on that expertise, commentaries will commonly address what, in a particular moment or event, the author thinks rhetoric can help explain. Commentaries, if accepted, will usually be published within a week of submission. If you have questions about an article or want to pitch an idea, please contact commentary editor, Ryan Skinnell ([email protected]).

For one example of commentary work, see Dr. Brad Serber’s “We Didn’t Go to Services.”


In Citizen Critics Chats, a team of experts weigh in on a current event issue or a new publication/book that will be of interest to readers. Typically lasting one hour, these conversations offer a way to efficiently explore multiple facets of an ongoing issue or of a current publication from multiple perspectives. Using the Slack program, one of the Citizen Critics desk or associate editors moderates a discussion. They then edit the transcript for coherence and clarity before providing contributors a final opportunity to revise and/or elaborate on their statements for publication on the site. Those interested in hosting or participating in a Citizen Critics Chat should contact associate editor Michael J. Steudeman ([email protected]).

For an example of a current event focused Citizen Critics Chat, see “The Propaganda and Persuasion of the Mueller Investigation.” For an example of a Chat focused on a recent publication, see “Rehabilitation and Corrections in the Era of Mass Incarceration.”


Citizen Critics podcasts are the multimedia dimension of the work of Citizen Critics. They are produced approximately every other month, and each podcast will focus on a current issue in rhetoric and politics, broadly speaking, for analysis. Podcasts can be anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes in length, depending upon the topic and participants. Each podcast will feature experts in topical areas of the podcast’s focus and will be guided by a host, providing context and grounding for the rhetorical controversies covered in the podcast. Those with ideas for a podcast or interested in hosting or appearing on a Citizen Critics podcast should contact associate editor Heather Ashley Hayes ([email protected]).