Who can submit to New Mandala?

We seek contributions from academics, students, journalists, activists, professionals and anybody with expertise and interesting opinions on the politics, culture, history, political economy and international relations of Southeast Asian countries. As a general rule we won’t consider submissions from serving politicians or officials of any country except in the course of offering right of reply to a piece that’s already appeared on our site. We won’t respond to pitches from PR firms or lobbyists.

How do I submit a piece?

General submissions should be sent as a Microsoft Word document to New Mandala Editor Liam Gammon at [email protected]. If you want to make a contribution to our ARTSEA series on art, design and architecture, please send your submission to ARTSEA Editor Elly Kent at [email protected].

We’ll try to get back to you within 2–3 working days with an indication of whether your piece is suitable for New Mandala and what, if anything, needs to be done to it to get it ready for publication.

If we decide not to use your piece, it doesn’t mean that it’s bad work: we just have limited resources and need to prioritise those contributions we feel offer our readers something unique. We appreciate your understanding that we usually won’t be able to offer feedback on unsuccessful submissions.

Will New Mandala pay me for my contribution?

No. We wish we could, but we don’t have any money. Sorry.

How long should my article be?

We try not to apply hard and fast rules around length, within reason. We want to give you the flexibility to write at length if you want to, while allowing for brevity where it’s justified. Use your judgement: we don’t want a perfunctory treatment of an important and interesting topic, but at the same time you don’t want to tax your readers’ attention spans. Keep in mind that many readers will read your piece on their smartphones while out and about.

If you want a rule of thumb to work to, it’s good to keep in mind that the most important and popular New Mandala pieces have tended to be 1,500–3,000 words long, which is a sort of ‘sweet spot’ for online essays. Think about it: if your piece is 500 words long, it’s probably better off being a social media post. If it’s 5,000 words long, it might be more suitable for an academic journal.


The shorter a title, the better. If you want to provide us with a preferred title for your piece, limit it to 60 characters—this is non-negotiable. If you provide us with a title that’s too long, or makes your piece sound boring, we’ll likely suggest an alternative. We won’t publish anything with a title you haven’t approved, but remember that it’s in your interests to have a title that will catch readers’ attention on social media.

Dos and don’ts

Keep these tips in mind while drafting your submission to maximise your chances of us accepting it and to make the editing process as quick and painless as possible:


Do show your personality. Include anecdote and personal reflection if you want to. Don’t be afraid to equivocate: offering a clear answer to an analytical question is all well and good, but it can sometimes be just as worthwhile to pose interesting questions.

Do include pictures. If your writing draws on field work, please feel free to share your own photos if you think they’re suitable to accompany your text. You can also use others’ photographs with their permission, or suggest some Creative Commons material for our use. Otherwise, we’ll select a picture of our own.

Do reference other authors’ work. Positioning your work as part of a dialogue with existing scholarship is a fundamental part of traditional academic writing, and the same goes for New Mandala. If you can, make early and brief reference to existing commentary relevant to your piece and link to it. This both helps you frame your analysis as a contribution to an ongoing debate, and helps readers understand that your work appears in that context.

Do back up your assertions with evidence. If you want to speculate, that’s fine: just be up front about it. But if you’re making an assertion of fact, you should include a link to a data source or mention in the text how you know what you know. New Mandala’s editors don’t have the capacity to exhaustively fact-check your work, so it is your responsibility to ensure that your sources are credible.


Don’t make unnecessary use of academic jargon. There’s no problem with using specialised scholarly language at New Mandala, but be judicious about it. Take the time to explain the meaning of words and concepts that aren’t widely used outside your field, or think about whether you can make your point in plain English. Please write with readers in mind: most of them don’t work in academia, and a large proportion of them don’t have English as their first language.

Don’t fall back on cliches. It ought to go without saying: no volcano, Durian, elephant or wayang kulit metaphors, please. We also discourage the use of the following:

    • “[Only] time will tell.” This is the ultimate analytical cop-out. Tell readers what you think is likely or unlikely to happen and why.
    • References to “lack of political will” as an explanation for something not happening. What this really means is that “political elites aren’t doing X or Y because they don’t want to.” But that’s obvious: your job is to explain why they don’t want to do it.
    • Criticising something as “problematic”—surely you have specific gripes with whatever it is you’re criticising, so be specific about what they are. (Regarding the use of the noun “problematic”, see the point above about academic jargon).
    • Warning that something isn’t a “silver bullet” or a “panacea” for a particular problem—it never is, is it?

Don’t include footnotes. They’re difficult for readers to use. Hyperlinks are the way to cite material online. If it’s easier for you to provide footnotes that’s no problem, but we will convert them to hyperlinks before publication.