Write for Us
Greater Good, the online magazine of the Greater Good Science Center, reports on scientific findings into the roots of individual happiness, positive relationships, and compassionate behavior—what we call “the science of a meaningful life.” Our goal is to translate and disseminate this science to the public in service of a thriving, resilient, and compassionate society.
With nearly 12 million annual readers, Greater Good offers stories, tools, and tips that make cutting-edge research practical and accessible to the general public, especially parents, educators, health professionals, business leaders, and policymakers.
Greater Good typically does not accept unsolicited submissions, and we rarely accept freelance pitches. Most of the articles we publish are written by our staff, experienced journalists, academic researchers, or other subject matter experts with experience applying “the science of a meaningful life” in families, schools, workplace, or health care settings.
If you are an experienced journalist or a subject-matter expert who is interested in contributing to Greater Good, below are some guidelines to read before you consider contacting us. If you do contact us, please submit a pitch and only a pitch—we do not accept articles on spec.
Our subject matter and approach
Many of the articles we publish—and many of the studies we cover—have one or both of the following qualities.
- A positive implication—evidence of the human propensity for prosocial behavior, for instance, or of the potential for people to increase their levels of happiness.
- Strong practical implications for our readers: Are there lessons readers can take from these studies and start applying to their lives tomorrow—for example, to improve their relationships, the climate of their school or workplace, or their own emotional well-being? We are especially interested in articles that draw on scientific insights to address pressing social issues, such as teacher burnout, work-family balance, inequality, or the impact of technology on our lives.
Not all articles need to be prescriptive, but they should be solutions-oriented. That is, while an article doesn’t have to explain precisely how to remedy a particular social or psychological problem, it should at least diagnose that problem in enough depth to imply how one might alleviate it; it’s not enough for an article simply to describe or rail against the problem. While it’s important to us not to seem Pollyannaish or blind to social ills, our coverage should point to a constructive way of dealing with problems.
The types of articles we publish
Most of the articles we publish take one of the following forms.
1. Research briefs. These pieces usually cover a single academic study, sometimes two, written in the past two or three months. Many of them follow a general formula: They start by providing some context for the current research, priming the reader to understand why it’s significant (perhaps by posing a specific question about human behavior that often puzzles people, or by describing a specific dilemma that many of us face). Then they introduce the premise of the current study and give a taste of what it found. Then they briefly describe its methodology and key findings, and conclude (usually in two or three paragraphs) with its broader implications and potential applications, including perhaps a quote from one of the study authors—either from the study or from a phone or email interview. Research briefs are generally 400-800 words.
Here are some good examples of briefs:
- When Empathy Hurts, Compassion Can Heal
- Being Kind Makes Kids Happy
- When Getting Angry Makes You Happy
2. Features. These could be pieces that span many different studies, or perhaps even disciplines, in order to elaborate on a specific practice or principle that’s vital to a happy and meaningful life. Here, it would be helpful to explain what problem(s) this practice or principle helps to address; what are the effects and benefits of this practice, according to research; and precisely how people can go about incorporating this practice or principle into their life. On that last point, we encourage step-by-step numbered lists wherever appropriate, making implementation feel more concrete and less of a mystery to our readers. Features are generally 800-2,000 words.
Here are some good examples of features:
- Why Self-Compassion Trumps Self-Esteem
- How Humility Will Make You the Greatest Person Ever
- To Change Yourself, Change Your World
3. Lists. These are pieces that identify a specific trend or give an overview of a body of research, organizing various findings into an easily digestible list—e.g., five ways to foster compassion at work, five reasons compassion is good for parents. These are a bit different from the step-by-step lists included in features: Whereas those drill down into the mechanics of one specific practice or principle, these pieces give an overview of several different types of practices or ideas. These articles generally run between 1,000 and 2,000 words.
Here are some good examples of lists:
- Six Habits of Highly Grateful People
- Six Ways Happiness Is Good for Your Health
- How Nature Makes You Kinder, Happier, and More Creative
4. Program profiles. These pieces look not at a single practice but at a specific program or intervention, pulling lessons from this example that could be applied elsewhere. They could cover a program created within a company or developed by a separate training organization, validated by research; or a rigorous intervention developed within the context of a research study but tested in a real-world setting. Either way, the goal is to highlight what works and why, so that its core principles can be integrated into other settings. Profiles are generally 1,200 to 2,000 words.
Here are some good examples of program profiles:
5. Book reviews. Greater Good book reviews aim to be educational. To that end, they either summarize the book or highlight some of its key findings, explaining why the ideas shared are practical and relevant (or not). Your opinions of the book can of course be included, but they shouldn’t form the bulk of the piece. Our book reviews are usually between 500 and 1,000 words.
Here are some good examples of book reviews:
6. Personal essays. In our series Greater Good Chronicles, writers share stories of trying to apply the science of a meaningful life to their daily lives. Ideally, these pieces take the reader along your journey with you, using specific moments and examples to illustrate how you came to grow in or gain insight about a specific key to well-being. Although you may include occasional links to research, the piece mainly highlights your story and (explicitly or implicitly) draws out lessons that others can learn from it.
Here are some good examples of personal essays:
- Gratitude Is a Survival Skill
- How I Learned to Need People (the Hard Way)
- How I Learned to Forgive My Father
As the list above suggests, most Greater Good articles run between 500 and 2,000 words, written in jargon-free prose—the scientific research should be described in terms understandable to your parents (assuming they don’t have Ph.D.s in social psychology). We don’t include citations, though we do encourage our writers to mention the journal in which a study was published and/or the study’s author(s), ideally linking to the abstract of that study.
What we don’t publish
In general, pieces that are not a great fit for Greater Good fall into several categories:
- They are not solidly grounded in the science: This includes editorials offering only the writer’s opinion, and pieces that merely allude to scientific concepts.
- They are not practical enough: These pieces may stray into esoteric academic debates and distinctions, or focus too much on problems and not enough on solutions.
- They are too promotional: We do not accept articles explicitly promoting specific programs, apps, or courses.
Thank you for taking the time to read these guidelines. If you’re still interested in pitching Greater Good, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, we invite you to subscribe to our free email newsletter to read more of our work.