Guidelines for ACCESS authors

1. ACCESS publishes condensed, readable versions of academic articles that have already been published in a peer-reviewed journal. ACCESS can stress readability because the academic journals have already stressed rigor.

2. Limit your manuscript to no more than 2,500 words.

3. Write for lay readers rather than for your professional peers. Do not underestimate the intelligence of your audience or overestimate their familiarity with your subject.

4. Do not present your statistical methodology, except for the minimum necessary to make your argument. ACCESS emphasizes findings rather than methods. Our readers are more interested in what you have learned rather than in how you learned it.

5. Include simple tables, graphs, or photographs that illustrate your points. They should be understandable to readers without statistical or mathematical training.

6. Please also send the original files in advance for the tables, graphs, and photographs.  We need to make sure we can work with these files before we begin the editing process.

7. Do not include footnotes, large tables, or academic references in the text. Readers who want to know the details of your research can always refer to your longer journal article, which will be listed among the Further Readings at the end.

8. Explain the practical significance of the problem you have studied, and show how your research can affect current thinking and public policy.

9. Expect several rounds of editing from a gauntlet of ACCESS editors who will try to ensure that your article is as well written as possible. But know that you can accept the edits you like and reject the rest.

10. The goal for an ACCESS article is to create the sense that you have with little effort explained something that is really quite obvious, although no one else has said it before.

Advice from Other Authors

“Leave out the parts people tend to skip.”  Elmore Leonard

“Easy reading is hard writing.”  Nathaniel Hawthorne

“Writing—the hard part is making it look easy.”  E.B.White

“Make the important interesting.” James Fallows

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”  Mark Twain

“Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Leonardo da Vinci

“So many scientists think that once they figure it out, that’s all they have to do, and writing it up is just a chore. I never saw it that way; part of the art of any kind of total scholarship is to say it well.”  Stephen Jay Gould

The Goals of ACCESS

Academic research in transportation often requires years of work before the author eventually publishes the results. Developing a hypothesis, collecting data, and conducting rigorous statistical tests are usually necessary before a professional journal will accept an article for publication. Then what happens? A few fellow academics and their students might read the article and discuss it. But transportation planners and elected officials who can use the results to improve transportation policy will probably never see the article or even hear about the research.

ACCESS offers scholars an opportunity to reach a wider audience. After authors have published their research in a professional journal, they can prepare a shorter version for ACCESS, which has the luxury of stressing readability because the journal has already stressed rigor. Readers who want greater depth or more detail can refer to the original article. ACCESS can thus present academic research in lucid and even lively prose. Most writers want to be read, and ACCESS helps to make research readable.

ACCESS has attracted more than 9,000 subscribers and more than 1,000 website visitors a month from over 60 countries. Because ACCESS articles are written and illustrated so well, we also receive many reprint requests, which allow authors to reach an even broader audience. We have given free reprint permissions to publications ranging from Arkansas Trucking to Urban Transport of China. University instructors also often reprint ACCESS articles in their course readers, so the research helps to guide students on the road to becoming transportation practitioners.

Journalists appreciate ACCESS articles because reporting on them is easier than reporting on longer and more technical publications. Our authors often receive invitations from journalists for radio and TV interviews about research that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. Policymakers and others who can make change happen are unlikely to read an academic journal, but they may well read popular journalism based on an ACCESS article.

ACCESS is dedicated to the vital last step in transportation research: making it accessible to a broad audience. By connecting scholars with transportation planners and elected officials, ACCESS can catapult academic research into public debate and convert knowledge into action.

Donald Shoup

Editor of ACCESS