About the OSIRIS Codex

You are obviously online since you are reading this, but there is a good chance that the online world is big, scary, and mysterious. Unfortunately, most of the research and reporting about cyberspace is by geeks for geeks, and most of the people online aren’t geeks anymore. Consequently, most people are unaware of the significant trends, policy shifts, and international relations that shape a space where people spend a sizable chunk of their day. It’s like wandering through a WWI no man’s land, unaware of the opposing armies and wondering where all these holes are coming from, and why there’s so much thunder but no rain.

The OSIRIS Codex is your cyber-Virgil through the online Inferno, keeping you apprised of important online developments. I’m a geek, to be sure, but I’ve spent a career explaining complicated ideas to people who are not experts. I write (and teach) with decision making in mind. Whether you are a CEO, a military strategist, the manager of a church website, or just active online, you make decisions every day. The OSIRIS Codex keeps you informed about the online world to make better decisions.


Details for my fellow poindexters:

The OSIRIS Codex explains the relationship between Online Society, International Relations, and Information Security (hence the name “OSIRIS”). The Codex is divided into three types of publications (other types may be added later), each with its own purpose:

  • Brief: A single sheet summary of the most important topics of the week.

  • Essay: A short form, or OpEd-style, article explaining a single issue in greater depth.

  • Report: A long-form, academic-style research report that presents new research.

The OSIRIS Codex is the compilation of each of these publications into a single volume, like a codex.

Citing the Codex

While the Codex’s target audience is the general public, students and researchers may wish to refer to publications from the brief from time to time. We recommend the following citation practices.

When citing any publication from the OSIRIS Codex, use the format for journal articles, not web pages. For all entry types, The OSIRIS Codex is the publication. Essay's and Reports will have individual authors and titles, while for OSIRIS Briefs the author is "The OSIRIS Project", and the title is "OSIRIS Brief No. ".

Each Codex entry receives a number, indexed to zero, for referencing. The number corresponds to the following "<volume>.<issue>.<number>". Therefore, OSIRIS Brief 0.2.1 would be cited as from the OSIRIS Codex, Vol. 0, Iss. 2, Num. 1.

If your preferred citation style does not allow both issue and number, citations for Briefs will differ slightly from citations for Essays and Reports. Briefs will always be the first entry in any issue, so you can omit the number. All other entry types should combine the issue into a single decimalized number (e.g. 1.5).

Website links are encouraged but not required for citations.

Example Osiris Brief Citation (Chicago Style)

The OSIRIS Project. "OSIRIS Brief No. 1.5.1". The OSIRIS Codex 1, Iss. 5, No. 1 (2021)

OR

The OSIRIS Project. "OSIRIS Brief No. 1.5.1". The OSIRIS Codex 1, No. 5 (2021)

Example Osiris Essay Citation (Chicago Style)

Xenophanes, Aristotle, "How to not Die Online." The OSIRIS Codex 1, Iss. 5, No. 2 (2021)

OR

Xenophanes, Aristotle, "How to not Die Online." The OSIRIS Codex 1, Iss. 5.2 (2021)

Example Osiris Report Citation (Chicago Style)

Garcia, Maria. "The State of Online Competition in Northeast Asia". The OSIRIS Codex 1, Iss. 5, No. 3 (2021)

OR

Garcia, Maria. "The State of Online Competition in Northeast Asia". The OSIRIS Codex 1, Iss. 5.3 (2021)

Writing for the Codex

At this time, the Codex accepts submissions of Essays or Reports at the intersection of online society, international relations, and international security. Contributions should materially address at least two of the three subjects, although exceptional contributions on any one subject will be considered. Authors interested in contributing are encouraged to submit a single paragraph abstract, but we do accept full submissions, too.

All contributions will be evaluated on the following criteria, in this order:

  1. Writing quality—any reasonably well-informed person should be able to follow the paper’s argument.

  2. Significance—if what you say is true, something should change, whether it is policy, practice, or how we think about something. NO NAVEL GAZING!

  3. Novelty—Make a new argument, bring new information, or do either in a new way.

For now, all editorial decisions are made by the editorial board, which means the Codex is not currently peer-reviewed. It also means that submitting something is not “one and done,” either getting the submission published or rejected for all time. If there is promise in the idea, we can work with you to ensure you get your idea out.

Publications need neither be “perfect” nor “right”, nor need they be framed in such a way. The Codex certainly publishes full research, but will also publish ideas, theories and empirical findings as part of the process of discovery and argumentation. The Codex is committed to the editorial policy of serving as an outlet for ideas to develop, not as a gateway for “approved” or “final” research.

Writers from underrepresented groups are strongly encouraged to submit. While “underrepresented” certainly includes identity groups, the Codex prizes all good ideas and insights from groups that do not normally find audiences outside their immediate community. It is important that diverse viewpoints have opportunities to be heard.

In the context of the OSIRIS Project, views that speak from expertise in online society, international relations, and information security to other of these areas are also “underrepresented” in those respective communities. The editorial board reserves the right to exercise judgment but will try to help less-experienced authors to meet quality standards.

There are no “sacred cows” at the OSIRIS Project. If someone dislikes or disagrees with an argument, they will have the opportunity to publish a response. Retractions will only occur in the case of deception, fraud, and plagiarism.

Guidelines for Essays

Essays are similar in tone and rigor to OpEds. Conversational writing, casual stories, and humor are appropriate in essays, as long as they do not take away from the overall argument. Avoid irony or sarcasm, as they do not translate well in writing, and may not be obvious to the Codex’s broader readership.

Essays should address a single issue, and address it well. Essays can be portions of larger arguments, or trial runs for ideas that will later develop into larger projects.

The best essays can include hyperlinks, that provide additional information, but do not go overboard. A link to a recent news or journal article supporting a claim is appropriate. Linking to every definition in the dictionary is not.

Essays can respond to ideas raised in the Codex, or elsewhere, but should contribute something new to the discussion. The Codex is not interested in publishing a series of recriminations and refutations all centered around a single point of contention. Bring new evidence or new arguments.

Essays should be between 600 and 2000 words, but shorter is better. There is no advantage to saying in 2000 words what can be said in 1000.

Guidelines for Reports

Reports must meet a higher standard of rigor and writing. Reports should be formal in tone while remaining approachable to outside readers. Avoid jargon and slang.

Most reports will resemble academic articles, with some variations:

  • No literature review—no one likes writing them, and no one likes reading them.

  • Limited methodological exposition—you will not be turned away because you didn’t explain your method well enough in the article.

  • Empirics are encouraged but optional—a report should not be totally divorced from reality, but purely theoretical arguments are acceptable.

  • “Literature” only as it relates to the main point of the report—You don’t need to “engage with X, Y, Z literature” unless you are arguing against or in favor of it.

Broadly speaking reports fall into three categories: policy, theory, and empirics. Policy reports evaluate some policy in use or proposed and explain theoretically or empirically its actual or probable effects. Theory reports engage deeply with ideas and discuss causal mechanisms or normative values. Empirical reports contribute observable facts to an argument.

While Reports are not currently peer-reviewed in the academic sense, they will be reviewed by the editorial board. The Codex endeavors to publish quality research and may have to decline to publish reports that the board cannot realistically evaluate. Future changes to the publication model may change this constraint.

There is hypothetically no upper bound word limit for reports but use your words wisely. Say what you have to say as simply and in as few words as possible. Readers’ time is valuable, and the Codex respects its audiences’ time.

There is also no minimum word count. Freed from the constraints of academic box-checking, many academic articles might be shortened to a few pages. Exercise the freedom to make your point as quickly and concisely as possible.