Editorial Policy

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Mission Alignment | Acceptance Criteria | Editorial Processes | Conflicts of Interest

1. Mission Alignment

MNopedia’s editorial policy supports the project’s mission: to share current, reliable, and relevant information about significant people, places, events, and things in Minnesota history.

To accomplish this mission, we:

  • Collaborate with a variety of contributors.
  • Publish articles that document a variety of historical topics and eras.
  • Align our content with state education standards.
  • Enliven articles with images, audio, and video.
  • Maintain a user-friendly web site.
  • Take advantage of the latest digital tools and technologies.
  • Continue to add new entries and resources.

2. Acceptance Criteria

Published articles must:

  • Align with MNopedia’s scope and mission.
  • Appeal to MNopedia’s audience.
  • Contain the writer’s own, original writing.
  • Synthesize existing literature on a topic related to Minnesota history.
  • Conform to the requirements described in the MNopedia writers' guidelines.
  • Be delivered by writers to MNopedia staff electronically.

MNopedia does not publish editorials, book reviews, memoirs, or historical fiction. Its articles are written in the standard encyclopedia style. Writers may summarize the scholarly consensus about a subject, but they must refrain from proposing new or unique theories. Because articles are intended to inform rather than to persuade, writers do not make arguments or attempt to prove theses.

Promotional language that praises, advertises, or advocates for an article’s subject is unacceptable (see Section 4, Conflicts of Interest). Since it is the goal of MNopedia to provide information that is as objective and neutral as possible, articles containing undue criticism of or attacks against individuals and organizations are also unacceptable.

MNopedia accepts submissions of previously published content, including journal articles, book excerpts, magazine pieces, and blog posts. Staff work with writers to revise drafts and collect images to suit MNopedia’s needs.

3. Editorial Processes

3.1 Writer Contact
The program manager identifies potential writers and solicits their contributions to the encyclopedia. She reviews with them the MNopedia article template and writers’ guidelines to make sure that they are aware of the full range of required deliverables—particularly digital images, a chronology, a turning point, a bibliography, and a list of related resources.

Unsolicited submissions are also accepted. In these cases, the program manager reviews writers’ qualifications and assesses the appropriateness of proposed article topics. She declines submissions by writers who are not qualified in their topics (whether through lived experience or formal education) as well as entries on topics that duplicate existing content or fall outside the encyclopedia’s priorities and scope.

3.2 Article Submission
The program manager receives first drafts of articles from writers and forwards them to the editor. It is the responsibility of each writer to deliver a properly formatted electronic version of the article and to follow both the MNopedia article template and writers’ guidelines.

3.3 Transfer of Copyright/Licensing Agreement
Writers retain all rights, including copyright, in their articles, but are expected to share their written content with MNopedia via a sub-license (Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported). Writers who wish to formalize this transfer may complete a grant of license form. Writers who do not wish to sub-license their content may opt out of the transfer without withdrawing their articles.

3.4 Editing
After receiving first drafts of articles, the editor assumes responsibility for communicating with writers and guiding them through the revision process. Broad content edits (e.g., requests for significant additional research and writing, refocusing of an article’s topic, shifting of a paragraph sequence) will be proposed during the first round(s) of revisions. Copyedits (e.g., changes to grammar, style, and punctuation) will be introduced in subsequent drafts. When a first draft requires few total changes, broad content edits and copyedits are handled in the same revision.

Final drafts are forwarded by the editor to the editorial assistant for fact checking. Articles that fail to meet MNopedia’s standards may be removed from consideration for publication during any stage of the editorial process, including final-draft editing and fact checking.

3.5 Peer Review (for B-level articles only)
B-level articles must pass through a single-blind peer review process (based on the best practices recommended by the Association of American University Presses) before publication. The editor selects a reviewer with lived expertise and/or formal education in the article’s subject area, solicits their corrections and advice, and passes on their feedback on to the article’s writer. Reviewers are expected to keep all submitted article drafts in confidence.

3.6 Fact Checking
The editorial assistant verifies that all dates cited within an article are correct and consistent (especially between the body text and chronology) and that all names are spelled and written correctly. She verifies that all citations are correct in both their content and their format and completes any research necessary to confirm that the text is factually correct.

3.7 Publication
The editorial assistant enters the contents of each article's final draft into MNopedia's database, adds related metadata, uploads images, and publishes the now complete article package. Completion of the editorial process does not guarantee an article’s publication. The program manager reserves the right to cancel the publication of finalized articles.

MNopedia staff maintain regular communication with writers throughout the editorial process, up to and including the publication stage. If communication with a writer lapses, MNopedia staff exercise due diligence in restoring contact. When a writer fails to respond to repeated contact attempts for more than six months, MNopedia staff reserve the right to finalize and publish an article without additional consultation if they are close to completing the editorial process, and to assign the topic to a new writer if they are not.

3.8 Updates, Revisions, and Corrections
When facts related to an article’s subject change (e.g., a building is torn down), MNopedia staff will update the article accordingly and in a timely manner.

When alerted to the existence of factual errors in published articles, MNopedia staff will correct the errors in a timely manner.

MNopedia staff reserve the right to revise articles that have already been published in order to maintain their quality. Examples include edits to citations to meet revised style guidelines; changes to satisfy evolving content standards, within both the encyclopedia and the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS); and added information on newly available resources related to an article’s topic.

A MNopedia article stands as the exclusive treatment of its subject within the encyclopedia for ten years following its publication. Writers who wish to revise the published articles of others, or to submit new treatments of subjects already covered by published articles, must wait until this period has elapsed.

3.9 Image Removal
Writers and MNopedia staff will exercise due diligence in securing the rights to display images, or in proving their entry into the public domain, prior to publication. MNopedia staff will, however, remove images from the encyclopedia if an image’s lawful copyright holder demonstrates that rights were not properly obtained.

3.10 Retractions
Articles will be retracted (i.e., removed from MNopedia) only when a majority of their content has been proved to have been fabricated or plagiarized, to be harmful or defamatory, or to infringe on someone’s legal rights. In these rare cases, the program manager will notify the writer and remove the article.

4. Conflicts of Interest

While MNopedia recognizes that any piece of historical writing is, to a greater or lesser extent, influenced by the subjectivity of its creator, the project remains committed to the equal and objective consideration of multiple perspectives on the people, places, things, and events it documents.

Writers must declare conflicts of interest upon asking to write or being assigned article topics. MNopedia defines a conflict of interest as anything that would prevent, influence, or dissuade a writer from telling the complete, objective story of a historical subject. In general, writers should not use articles as vehicles for financial gain (received directly or through an employer) or for promoting their work outside of the encyclopedia. Article–writer assignments determined to create conflicts of interest will be cancelled.