Guidelines PCF Blog

Here you will find the guidelines that we use for writing our blogs. PortCityFutures is always looking for new partners to engage in the program. If you are interested in writing a guest blog, you can contact Hilde Sennema. Would you like to collaborate in a different way? Don't hesitate to contact info@portcityfutures.nl. 

Aim
Contribute to the socio-spatial and cultural discussion on port city regions, engage in research among ourselves and develop shared definitions, terminologies, etc., inform about the latest research, and present the Port City Futures network to those who are working on or interested in the topic.

Objectives
Publish texts that are
- Academically sound, representing the academic standards and expertise of the research community;
- Interdisciplinary, preferably written by two PCF-members, or at least checked by a second PCF person;
- Easy to read, introducing a larger interested public to the topic but most of all, to clearly describe and analyze the problems that are specific to port city regions;
- Academic references can be included but they need to be contextualized for a larger audience;
- Relevant, addressing research that is state of the art and translating it to those who might benefit.

Guidelines
- Aim for a blog length of around 800 words.
- Usually you are able to tell your story, or state your argument, in a short intro, three short paragraphs, and a conclusion. The goal is to make a point. You can develop your idea more extensively in a separate journal piece.
- As a mnemonic device, the hamburger model is a good way to shape your argument: the bun (introduction and conclusion) holds the argumentation (three core paragraphs) together.
Intro: You could think of any text as assembling a hamburger, where the bun is the element that keeps everything together.
§1. First, you put the sauce on the bun.
§2. Second, you add lettuce, tomatoes, the patty (beef, fish, vegetarian or vegan).
§3. Third, you top it off with cheese, onions (don’t forget a jalapeno every now and then, we like hot toppings/topics).
Conclusion: without the bun, it is just a patty with condiments. With it, you have something you can hold in your hands and consume within a few bites. Try to apply it in your writing, it actually works.

Language
- Try to write less academic then you are used to. Image your reader, and explain to them why it
- Stay away from jargon. That is difficult and often a blind spot for yourself, so also make sure to kindly point to jargon when you come across it while peer-reviewing.

References
Reference relevant literature in a short bibliography at the bottom of the text. Please adhere to the Chicago citation style (author-date). For example:
The American planning historian Lawrence Vale, for example, states that the significance of resilience depends on whose resilience is being described. “One must ask: Resilience for whom and against what?” (Vale 2005).
- If possible, add an image that is relevant for the topic. This could be a picture you took yourself, or for example from Wikimedia commons or the open database of the  Nationaal Archief. Another good place to find free images is the website Unsplash. Make sure they are free of copyrights. Write a relevant description of the image, linking it to your text.
- Think of a catchy title. If necessary, discuss with your peer reviewer or editor to come up with one, if you can’t think of anything.

Acknowledgements
- To stabilize our PCF community, we add at the bottom of the text:
Acknowledgement
This blog has been written in the context of discussions in the LDE PortCityFutures research community. It reflects the evolving thoughts of the authors and expresses the discussions between researchers on the socio-economic, spatial and cultural questions surrounding port city relationships. Special thanks for comments and reviews to XXX, YYY and ZZZ.”
- Put practicalities (like dates, locations, acknowledgements of people and funds) at the bottom of the text as much as possible. Readers will stop reading if there are too many details that are not on point with the topic. Such an ‘appendix’ can be placed under the standard lines. The workshop XXX was supported by the NWO KIEM XXX project.

Strategy
When writing, keep in mind that the text will be read by non-academics as well. Therefore, stay away from academic jargon and try to grab the reader’s attention right away with a provocative statement or an imaginative example. (Don’t be modest or too careful, if it’s too provocative, the peer-reviewers and editors will ask you to rephrase.) This also helps ‘marketing’ the blog online on Twitter, LinkedIn etc.
If current events link to PCF related topics and you wish to share your view or opinion, don’t hesitate, to respond through a blog. For example: Asma and Maurice’s blog a
week after the Beirut disaster: https://www.portcityfutures.nl/news/beirut-blast-a-port-city-in-crisis
But also more lighthearted topics, like the port city film & music blogs we made in April, draw visitors to our page and address port city issues: https://www.portcityfutures.nl/news/experience-port-city-cultures-from-your-couch
https://www.portcityfutures.nl/news/new-recommendations-from-the-port-city-futures-team-and-port-city-music-on-spotify
Don’t hesitate to share your ideas with Carola, Hilde and/or Winnie.

Peer review system
Peer-reviewing and co-writing is a way to structure our conversations and to build trust. This will help us in the longer term also co-write longer pieces. After finishing, the blog post goes through two rounds of editing.
1. The first round is a peer review by another member of PCF. Preferably, posts by junior members are reviewed by senior members and vice versa. This is for the juniors to get more skilled in writing peer reviews, and to get feedback by someone with more academic experience.
2. The second round is textual editing by Hilde and a final check by Carola to make sure the post meets the PCF ideas and standards. The goal is not to block ideas, but rather to facilitate their transmission.
How to peer review:
- Be critical but kind in your comments
- Ask to clarify what is not clear
- Look for academic jibber
- Ask to deliberate where possible, but also point out the pieces of text that is superfluous or obsolete.
- Check references.

Deadlines
The date of publication will always be discussed with the author. Ideally, you deliver your text to your peer reviewer three weeks in advance. That way, the peer reviewer has one week to review, you have one week to revise, and there is one week left to make last edits.
Example:
Date of publication of X’s blog is Monday, October 12.
X sends first version to peer reviewer Y on September 21.
Y sends comments back, at the latest on September 28.
X revises and sends second version to editor on October 5.
After some textual revisions and last check from author, the blog is ready to be published on
October 12.

Language & Style
A bit more on language and style:
Steven Pinker, A Sense of Style, 2014
Or watch a lecture on his book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkxUV5p_RI0
A policy blog on avoiding jargon:
https://plainlanguage.gov/resources/articles/keep-it-jargon-free/
A fun and extensive article on jargon:
https://www.csun.edu/~vcecn006/jargob.html
A guide on writing for the internet:
https://www.maastrichtuniversity.nl/support/um-employees/communications-guide/writing/writing-internet
On the importance of metaphors:
https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20200710-the-words-that-stretch-how-we-think

(revised version, 25 September 2020)