For Authors


Orienting Information for Authors and Potential Authors


Authorship of WRSP profiles is by invitation. Qualified scholars are welcome to inquire about authorship opportunities with WRSP.

Letters of invitation originate with the WRSP Director or Directors of WRSP Special Project letters of invitation and profile format instructions for Special Project profiles may differ slightly.

Once authorship has been arranged, authors are sent the profile preparation instructions below.


Profile Length
Since WRSP is online, we do not need to observe strict word counts. However, we do have length guidelines. Group profiles typically run between 3,500 and 7,500 words. Profile length varies as a result of group size, age, diversity, complexity, etc. If you find that your profile might fall outside of those guideposts, please contact the project director for further guidance. The ultimate objective is to produce profiles that are accessible to readers, comprehensive in scope, and cutting edge in quality.

Profile Template

There is a standard profile template that should be followed. Template headers are in all caps: [GROUP NAME] TIMELINE, FOUNDER/GROUP HISTORY, DOCTRINES/BELIEFS, RITUALS/PRACTICES, ORGANIZATION/LEADERSHIP, ISSUES/CHALLENGES.

The WRSP template is very important to the overall project. It is intended to include major categories of religious/spiritual organization and activity, and to present information as uniformly as possible across profiles. It is therefore important for authors to accommodate to the profile structure. Please avoid additional headers and subheaders.

It is important to remember that WRSP covers a broad range of groups, including those that reject categorization as religious or spiritual even though scholars find them relevant to the study of religion/spirituality. Groups included in WRSP also range from established, institutionalized groups to new groups and movements in the process of formation in a variety of historical and sociocultural contexts. As the items discussed below indicate, religious/spiritual groups are extraordinarily diverse, and so core elements of groups that are enumerated in the profile template also vary significantly. The template is intended create a common presentation form, include core elements of religious/spiritual organization, and offer flexibility in emphasis.

In many cases there will be ongoing theoretical and empirical debates about the group being profiled. It is useful to note such debates, such as disputed dates of birth or organizational history, in the founder/group history section.  Individual groups may also be important in some theoretical, disciplinary debates, such as how groups survive, develop, or develop aggressive/passive tendencies. These debates are not appropriate to profiles, which are about the groups and not academic debates about them.

The sections of the profile may vary considerably in length as available information on or the importance of any of the template categories may vary. It is important that all of the sections be represented in the profile. In the event that there is virtually no information available for a section of the profile, it may be possible to merge categories for presentation purposes (e.g, Doctrines/Rituals).

Some of the special projects do have somewhat modified templates to reflect the orientation and content of that special project. In those special projects the template is consistent across special project profiles. Be sure to consult an appropriate model when beginning to write a profile.

  1. Group Timeline
    The timeline is intended as a brief overview of the profile. Put only major events in the timeline; details go in the text. Entries should be brief (one or two sentences) and written in the past tense. Since timelines are intended as brief summaries, all of the content in the timeline should also be contained elsewhere in the profile. The proper format for timeline entries is [Year (month and day if appropriate). (Two spaces) One or two sentence entry in the past tense.
  2. Founder/Group History
    Groups vary consideraby in the shape of their histories. WRSP covers some groups with ancient histories and unknown founders to groups with multiple founders. This template header therefore is therefore a generic one intended to cover the founding and historical development of the group through the present. Any biographical information on the group founder belongs here. This section of the profile may also include relevant contextual information on the society/culture that led to the founding of the group being profiled.
  3. Doctrines/Beliefs
    This section of the profile contains information on the symbolic organization of the group being profiled, the narratives that guide group organization and activity. These narratives vary from formal and extensive to implicit and indistinct. In either event, the objective is to articulate the group’s worldview and symbolic self-legitimation.
  4. Rituals/Practices
    As is the case for doctrines/beliefs, groups vary in the existence and importance of formal rituals, and this section should such information. In some groups, such as communal groups and monastic groups, daily life itself may be highly ritualized. For formal groups, such as interfaith groups or museums, the primary organizational practices in furtherance of the collective mission would be placed in this section.
  5. Organization/Leadership
    Profiled groups will range from very loose networks of practitioners/affiliates to highly bureaucratized organizations, from ancient to currently emergent to once active but now defunct. Leadership patterns will vary in a similar way.  The objective of this section of the profile is to describe whatever form and level of organization and leadership can be discerned.
  6. Issues/Challenges
    Virtually every profiled group has undergone some combination of internal and external challenges. Financial issues, political opposition, challenges to leadership, affiliation and disaffiliation issues are common examples. It is important for this section to maintain balance and neutrality in reporting and simply report the issues and their resolution (if any).
  7. Images
    In most profiles we include images to add a visual dimension to the text. Images need to be connected directly to the paragraph in the profile where they are placed and to contribute visually to an understanding of the material presented in the profile.Profile authors often have access to images from their own work and may request that those images are used with their permission.

    WRSP avoids including images that appear to present permissions or copyright issues. We do use thumbnail images that we think will qualify under “fair use” guidelines, and we always remove images immediately if there is any dispute about their use.

  8. In-text Citations
    WRSP uses standard in-text citations typical of most journals (Author [space] Year:Pages).
  9. Reference List
    The profile reference list contains only sources cited in text.Where there are multiple entries by the same author, the most recent publication appears first.

    If the author wishes to provide additional contextual sources to readers, a Supplementary Resources list may be constructed following the reference List.

    Most profiles are based on previous work by the profile author and other scholars and only occasionally on original research. Where original research is involved, citations may be made to personal communications of fieldwork dates. If a profile is based primarily on a single source, WRSP may insert a note at the beginning of the References section stating that “Unless otherwise noted, the material in this profile is drawn from …….”)

  10. Notes and Links
    WRSP profiles do not accommodate footnotes and endnotes. If material important to a profile, it should be placed in the text.WRSP does not insert external links in the profile text in order to avoid dead link issues; we do link to other WRSP profiles internally since we control those connections. Our alternative is to insert a reference to the intended website and place the URL in a reference to the website in the reference list.
  11. Author Bio
    An author bio like those submitted for journal articles or book chapters should accompany the profile. The authors name appears below the profile title and becomes a link to the bio.



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