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Pacific Standard publications include a bimonthly print magazine and a daily website—PSmag.com—that put social and behavioral science research into lively, intelligent conversation with the news and the national debate. We are a great home for writers who can tell deeply reported, gripping tales while plumbing the intellectual, theoretical, and empirical context that surrounds them. We have a particular interest in stories covering economics, society and justice, education, and the environment. Our writers should want to make readers think about how society ticks—how individuals, institutions, cultures, families, and the like actually behave—and about why we do the things we do.

We are in search of:

  • ONLINE

At PSmag.com, we publish a variety of smart, fun stories—reported features, essays, columns, and more—that contain the qualities of the writing outlined below, but are particularly suited for our digital audience. That means we run multiple pieces every weekday that respond in some way to recent news and events and/or are especially shareable on the social Web. These pieces should aim to put us among the lively conversations happening every day online and contribute to our goal of becoming a must-visit daily destination site.

  • FEATURE STORIES

Our features take a number of forms: vividly reported stories or profiles that are deeply informed by interesting research; personal essays that ground sociological or cultural phenomena in lived experience; dispatches from the world of ideas, illuminating some new strand of research that promises to change the world or the way we look at it; or cogent, evidence-driven polemics that gleefully run against the grain of convention. And in whatever form, we love “conceptual scoops”—pieces that muster data, research, and reporting to powerfully reframe the reader’s grasp of an important but misunderstood subject.

  • PROSPECTORS

These are short, 700- to 800-word, brightly and actively reported pieces that prize immediacy and immersion, either in a scene or an idea. The ideal Prospector deploys cinematic language, well-chosen quotes that impart a character’s voice, and tight narration. This is the place in the magazine where we want to give readers a sense of discovery—of stumbling upon an intimate scene. It’s also the place where we focus more on social and behavioral ideas that are “still in beta,” as tech people say. Subjects can be thinkers who are a little out there, new concepts that are outlandish but promising, or settings that are a little offbeat.

  •  FIVE STUDIES

“The Five Studies You Need to Know About If You Want to Understand X:” This column consists of a short introduction, followed by five 150-word blurbs, each describing one salient finding from a piece of research. Together, the five studies should trace out an emerging new understanding of some important, popular subject. Ideally, the subject is timely, the studies are surprising and build on each other, and the writing is fun.

  • ECONOMICS/CULTURE ESSAYS

These two standing items in the magazine, each between 1,200 and 2,000 words, are reported essays that cohere around a strong argument or frame. They should give readers a new way to think about an economic topic or a cultural touchstone, and should be buttressed by an understanding of the social science literature that illuminates the subject.

  •  BOOK ESSAYS

We’re interested in critical essays that put books—one or multiple—in their most lively and relevant context. We aim to examine new works that fit loosely under the social and behavioral sciences rubric, or that can be analyzed from a social or behavioral science standpoint. Books under review can be popular or academic, provided they have value that can be harnessed for a broad lay audience. (Note: The magazine doesn’t publish consumer-oriented book reviews.)

  • LIFE IN THE DATA

Our back page consists of a short personal narrative essay about the interaction between a big social or behavioral pattern—be it demographic, psychological, economic, geographic, or cultural—and one’s own personal, lived experience. We’re not looking for reporting stunts; we’re looking for introspective autobiography and compressed, gemlike writing. Length: 700 words.

All Pacific Standard and PSmag.com articles should be sophisticated and engaging, should shed light on the new or the innovative, and should wear their erudition lightly. Writers receive careful, thoughtful, collegial, and stringent editing, with the aim of making sophisticated ideas and research accessible to an educated public. Queries are welcome via email; please direct print-specific pitches to editor@psmag.com and Web-specific pitches to njackson@psmag.com.

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The Big One

One in two full-time American fast-food workers' families are enrolled in public assistance programs, at a cost of $7 billion per year. July/August 2014 fast-food-big-one
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