When I joined the Editorial Board of Proceedings two years ago, I conducted a brief survey of the magazines articles from 1875-1919. The primary purpose was to determine what ranks were more likely to write for and be published in Proceedings. The post and results can be found here.

One of the common concerns I’ve heard as Chairman of the Editorial Board is that Proceedings “only publishes articles by Admirals and Generals, especially the CNO.” I admit that I didn’t know how to answer until recently. Proceedings receives submissions from most ranks and civilians and while articles published by flag and general officers are sometimes cited by other media, I wanted to know so that I could give an informed answer to people who asked. Therefore I conducted a new brief survey of articles from Proceedings beginning with the February 2011 issue and concluding with the January 2013 issue. I tallied the articles based on the rank of the author. In the case of multiple authors, each author was included in the tabulation. Articles by regular columnists like Norman Polmar, Norman Friedman, Eric Wertheim, Tom Cutler, and Senior Chief Jim Murphy were not included in the tabulation.

To answer the question at hand, in a two-year period only 1.8 percent of published articles were the product of a service chief – including two by the Chief of Naval Operations, one by the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and one by the Commandant of the Coast Guard. In fact Ensigns and 2nd Lieutenants (with 2.8 percent) and Lieutenants junior grade and 1st Lieutenants (with 2.3 percent) published more than the service chiefs. Of published articles by military personnel, Navy Captains and Marine Colonels were the most prolific with 11.9 percent. Of all articles published in the past two years, the category “Other” (comprised primarily of OSD/DoN civilians) and “Faculty/Think Tanks” – those whose primary job is to think and write – dominated the pages of Proceedings with 16.5 percent and 16.1 percent respectively.


The Editorial Board reads every article provided to it by the Proceedings editorial staff. We evaluated each of those articles based primarily on how well the author has developed and supported a particular concept. We debate the merits of each article and not necessarily who submitted them, although we do look more closely at articles generated by enlisted and junior officers to see what the next generation offers.

Therefore, if you want to be part of the same forum for debate that led young officers like Lieutenant Ernest King to write, if you have a new idea or perspective, if you think you can make the case for that perspective, then I encourage you to write and submit to Proceedings. Your idea might challenge or support conventional wisdom. It might be something that no one has thought of – or has taken the time to pen. It might be an idea on how the sea services improve processes, support people, or modify platforms. Don’t be satisfied with what “might be.” Write. Engage. Be part of the debate. Start the debate.

“Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write.”

Posted by LCDR Claude Berube, USNR in From our Archive, Marine Corps, Naval Institute, Navy, Proceedings

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  • Excellent! Thanks for the update!

  • Facts are powerful things. Well done.

  • Phillip Pournelle

    How about those of us who have submitted articles that were accepted and never published, two years and counting…?

    • cgberube

      Phil, have you tried contacting the editorial staff to ask about it? Again, I can only use the data I can get. The editorial board does not have access to the accepted articles that haven’t been published.

      • Phillip Pournelle

        I have contacted the editorial staff over the last two years with no answer on when the article would be published. The article I submitted two years ago is OBE, but I’ve submitted another article recently and have to decide whether to stay with USNI or go elsewhere…
        How long is the review cycle for when articles are accepted?
        How long is the average timeline from acceptance until publication?

      • cgberube

        I don’t have an answer for either of those questions because the editorial staff has them and then gives them to the editorial board. I know the editorial board generally turns around its comments to the staff within a week or so. After that, it’s back to the staff. Here’s what I can do – at the next editorial board I will ask the editorial staff to address this on the blog. – Claude

  • C Lanham

    While you do address your editorial process and and “not necessarily who submitted them,” the missing relevant data is the acceptance rate for each of these categories.

    • cgberube

      I don’t have that data. The editorial staff gets the submissions.

    • I’d love to see those statistics; show enthusiasm for the writing process in each rank (maybe a article-per-in-rank-servicemember index) while simultaneously showing possibly which group needs to up its writing quality.

  • Item Six

    Does anyone really read Proceedings, besides ambitious officers angling to get published in order to build their professional reputations? If you want to see real thoughtful discussion on naval matters, today you go to Sailorbob.

    • To be fair, there is a difference between a peer reviewed professional journal and a web discussion forum. They serve different functions.

    • cgberube

      Item Six,
      Actually, the data doesn’t support your statement. If your statement were true, you’d see a lot of articles from JOs. According to the data above, nearly half of the articles published are from OSD civilians, retire officers, faculty, or folks at think tanks. Your statement also contradicts what I’ve often heard that JOs don’t publish because they think it will hurt their careers.