PSR increases its impact factor again!

We are happy to announce that this year Political Studies Review, a journal edited and managed by a team based at Brunel University London, has increased its impact factor again. PSR is now ranked 42/187 in the Political Science category for 2021 (47 for 2020), and our impact factor increased to 3.248.

Last year PSR tripled its impact factor from 1.053 to 3.241 and was ranked 47/182 in the Political Science category. We are happy to and we continue to rise up the rankings.

It’s a great success as well as an excellent validation of the team’s commitment and an innovative approach to research dissemination.

Political Studies Review provides a unique intellectual space for rigorous high-quality peer-reviewed original research across political science and the study of politics in related fields that aims at stimulating wide-ranging debate and cutting-edge discussion of current disputes and issues in the discipline within the UK and internationally.

The journal also operates an innovative approach to research communications. As they state: “In the era of fake news, spreading reliable information and popularizing science is a great responsibility and challenge. The editorial team of Political Studies Review is committed to presenting and visualizing research data to boost dissemination. We want to introduce research findings and articles published in PSR to a wider audience.

Podcast guidelines – updated

We have recently updated our podcasting guidelines. You can find it here: PSR podcasting guidelines – Political Studies Review: our blog (, as well as in the summary below.

In the era of widespread and often unverified information, science can start to be considered as just another voice in the room. Given that our mission is to provide high-quality scientific analysis for a wider audience in an easy to understand manner, podcasts can be an invaluable way of getting the key findings from your article across to the broader public.

A great example of how engaging and professional talks raised a topic’s or person’s profile is professor Brene Brown’s TED talk has been viewed over 41 million times and made her a global superstar. Or writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book “We Should All Be Feminists” has become a worldwide bestseller after her talk.1

Example 1

Example 2

Our idea is much more humble. We aim to start a series of short podcasts with a duration of up to 140s (however, due to technical reasons your recording should be no longer than 135 sec). The key point is to explain the major idea of the PSR publication by its author. You can create a podcast that is a short digital audio recording of your talk, or a video podcast.

Example 3

You can also include any interesting visual content connected with your article (video, pictures, graphs, charts, etc).

Example 4

Once you decide to participate, here’s what we recommend:


Get your audience interested. Show them the topic in the wider context and why it’s important in the first couple of sentences. Try to connect major points of your podcast with key political or social challenges. Don’t make your talk too abstract. Show the importance of your research and why are you so passionate about it. Be aware that some of your viewers/ listeners may need some description to help them understand why the topic matters.


Try and keep your podcast brief – no more than 135 seconds or even shorter. Ensure that your talk gets straight to the point, keep things simple and tie every element in your presentation to the theme. Remember about a clear structure.


You are probably going to communicate with people who don’t know the topic on which you are an expert. Avoid academic jargon and if it’s necessary to do so, try to explain complex terms. Using words no one understands will confuse listeners. The real challenge is to talk about complex concepts in an easy to understand way, not the other way round.


What you want to say needs to be you. Although you might choose to prepare a written script, do use words you would normally use, in regular conversations.


“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou Leave your listeners with a sparkling thought – something to be remembered by.


• Have you decided on words that express your meaning correctly?
• Could you be less abstract?
• Have you got things in the best order?
• Is your argument coherent?
• Are your facts right?
• Is the tone of voice right?


  • Choose a comfortable place.
  • Minimize distractions: choose a quiet place, and – in the case of a video recording – a calm background with good light).
  • When you start recording wait about 3s before you start speaking.
  • Similarly, when you finish speaking wait before switching off the camera.
  • Send us your script – it will help us to prepare subtitles.
  • If you prefer to speak in your native language – do so.
  • Just prepare a precise translation to be transformed into subtitles.
  • You can also attach any interesting visual content you want to use to explain your point (videos, pictures, graphs, charts, etc) – we’ll use it in your podcast.

Sources and inspirations:

(1) M. Aarons-Mele The Myth Of The TED Talk, “Forbes”, 12.01.2018

(2) K. Roman, “Writing that works”

Podcast #18: Rethinking Democratic Innovations: A Look through the Kaleidoscope of Democratic Theory- Hans Asenbaum

Democratic innovations such as citizens’ assemblies are commonly conceptualized from a deliberative democratic perspective. Here, citizens come together to deliberate political issues and jointly develop solutions. While this perspective is important, the wide range of democratic theories has much more to offer” – says dr Hans Asenbahm.

He argues that looking through just one perspective, as social scientists usually do, limits what they can see. The podcast is based on dr Asenbaum’s PSR article: Rethinking Democratic Innovations: A Look through the Kaleidoscope of Democratic Theory – Hans Asenbaum, 2021 (


Article: Asenbaum H. (2021), Rethinking Democratic Innovations: A Look through the Kaleidoscope of Democratic Theory – Hans Asenbaum, 2021 (, Political Studies Review 2022

Hans Asenbaum is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance at the University of Canberra. His work focuses on new forms of democratic engagement and radical democratic politics.

Issue 2/2022: ethics, power, the boundaries of political science, gendered elections, gendered budgets and more

The whole issue 2/2022 can be found here.


Experiments with Politicians: Ethics, Power, and the Boundaries of Political Science



Early Results



The Best Paper Award: 2021

We are happy to announce, that the PSR Best Paper Award for 2021 goes to Prof. Jacob S. Lewis (Corruption Perceptions and Contentious Politics in Africa: How Different Types of Corruption Have Shaped Africa’s Third Wave of Protest).

This excellent article asks the following question: Does corruption increase general and anti-government protests? As the author claims scholarship has produced seemingly incompatible results, with some research demonstrating a strong connection between corruption and the onset of contentious politics and other research finding that heightened perceptions of corruption decrease activism.

The article addresses this puzzle by examining how different types of corruption condition diverging contentious outcomes. Focusing on two highly salient forms of corruption in the African context—elite corruption and police corruption—this article argues that the different consequences, salience, and costs associated with these two forms help to condition whether citizens rise up or stay home.

This argument is tested via two methods. First, it draws from a survey experiment conducted in five Nigerian states in 2017. The survey experiment tests whether exposure to different types of corruption affects willingness to join in protests. Second, it draws from statistical analysis of geo-located perceptions of corruption and protest across Africa, incorporating checks for both collinearity and endogeneity into the model. The statistical analysis examines whether heightened perceptions of corruption correlate with increased counts of general and anti-government protests. The results from both methods demonstrate that elite corruption is positively correlated with protest, whereas police corruption is not.



Extraordinary: a PSR article by Stephanie Stark and Sofía Collignon has reached more than 50400 downloads!

We are happy to report, that a PSR article by Stephanie Stark and Sofía Collignon: Sexual Predators in Contest for Public Office: How the American Electorate Responds to News of Allegations of Candidates Committing Sexual Assault and Harassment has been downloaded over 59 400 times.

Authors also elaborated on their research in:

Podcast #17: Accounting for Culture in Policy Transfer: A Blueprint for Research and Practice- Daniel Bertram

“When faced with a new policy challenge, such as cutting carbon emissions, making urban spaces more cycling-friendly, or developing social housing projects, today’s policymakers can and do often draw on a wide palette of successful role models” – says Daniel Bertram in a short podcast based on his PSR article: Accounting for Culture in Policy Transfer: A Blueprint for Research and Practice.


Article: Bertram D. (2022), Accounting for Culture in Policy Transfer: A Blueprint for Research and Practice , Political Studies Review 2022, Vol. 20(1) 83–100

Daniel Bertram holds an LLB in Global Law and a BSc in Public Governance from Tilburg University, where he also worked as a research assistant at the Department for Public Law and Governance. He is currently affiliated with the European University Institute in Florence, Italy.

His research interests lie at the intersection between
law and governance, with a particular focus on the influence of globalization on international and domestic institutions

Issue 1/2022: pluralism, academia, political participation and more

The whole issue 1/2022 can be found here.


Pluralism and Political Studies in the UK

State of the Art – Review Articles


Early Results


PSR INTERVIEWS #13: Normativity in Realist Legitimacy – Ben Cross

Ostensibly ambitious moral values may have regressive ideological functions.  It is not hard to see how moralist legitimation narratives about freedom, equality, and human rights have provided ideological support for Western interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere” – says Ben Cross in this interview. You can learn more about normativity, moralism and realism in his PSR article, Normativity in Realist Legitimacy.

PSR: What are the key distinctions between moralist and realist views on normativity and legitimacy that you identify?

I think the fundamental difference stems from views about the epistemic merits of morality. 

Realists seem to be committed to the view that:

  1. some or all of what is usually called ‘morality’ – call it “S-morality” – rests on epistemically dubious assumptions. 
  2. at a minimum, S-morality includes what Bernard Williams calls “the morality system” (which is especially concerned with the notion of moral obligation and the assignment of responsibility and blame), as well as most of the moral principles that moralist theories of legitimacy typically appeal to. 

Moralists will at least reject ii), and possibly also i). 

In light of i) and ii), realists take themselves to have reason to ensure that their normative claims – including their normative claims about legitimacy – do not appeal to S-morality. 

How do realists set their standards of politics, while not appealing to a “morality that is prior to politics”?

Realists typically make one of two non-mutually exclusive moves here.  First, they claim that politics is conceptually distinct from certain other kinds of human interaction such as war or terror.  Second, they claim that the practice of political institutions seems somewhat teleologically geared towards certain purposes, notably providing stability and facilitating collective decision-making. 

Each of these two moves can be used to identify standards of “good politics”.  For example, if politics is teleologically geared towards providing stability, then it might be claimed that one important standard for assessing the goodness of political order is its stability. 

Neither of these two moves appeals to any kind of morality.  But note also that, by themselves, they are not obviously normative at all.  They might help us identify what counts as “good politics”, but they don’t clearly explain why we have a reason to pursue “good politics”. 

What are the pillars of a moralist critique of a realist critique of the morality system? Is there any universal model of morality that it refers to?

Perhaps the most common moralist objection to realism is that the various theories of “good politics” that realists propose can only have normative force if they appeal to morality.  By itself, this objection does not fault realists for failing to embrace any particular universal model of morality.  Rather, it faults them for being inconsistent.  If the objection is correct, realists can make normative judgments or avoid appealing to morality, but they can’t do both. 

I think realists can respond to this objection in one of two ways.  First, they can argue that there are certain forms of morality that are not S-morality, and hold that the normative force of their ideas of “good politics” can be explained in terms of these forms of morality.  Second, they can argue that their normative force can be explained without reference to any kind of morality at all.  For example, perhaps “good politics” is instrumentally valuable: it helps us get what we want. 

Williams-premise holds that there is a conceptual distinction between politics and war, and that this conceptual distinction can only be maintained if we suppose that politics takes the form of legitimate politics.  It thus identifies “good politics” with political legitimacy

What’s the idea behind of a so-called “Williams-premise”?

What I call the Williams-premise emphasises the first of the two moves I referred to in my answer to the second question.  It holds that there is a conceptual distinction between politics and war and that this conceptual distinction can only be maintained if we suppose that politics takes the form of legitimate politics.  It thus identifies “good politics” with political legitimacy. 

A challenge for realists who accept the Williams-premise is to then explain why political legitimacy is something that is desirable.  Without such an explanation, it is unclear that these realists can articulate a theory of legitimacy that is normative

You mention ‘concessive realism’ as well as ‘naturalist realism’ – would you elaborate on the differences between these two approaches?

Concessive realism responds to the above challenge by narrowing its aims.  It holds that realism only aims to establish the truth of the Williams-premise without appealing to morality.  It is content to delegate the task of explaining the desirability of political legitimacy to morality. 

Naturalist realism, unlike concessive realism, seeks to show that political legitimacy is desirable without thereby appealing to S-morality.  It tries to do this by asserting what I call the “naturalist premise”: avoiding politics is not a real option for human being because politics is necessary to secure certain basic goods that we all desire for ourselves. 

Ostensibly ambitious moral values may have regressive ideological functions.  It is not hard to see how moralist legitimation narratives about freedom, equality, and human rights have provided ideological support for Western interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. 

How would you define the realist approaches to legitimacy with, for instance, the current situation in Afghanistan? How would it differ from a moralist approach?

Here is a crude but potentially helpful way of illustrating things. 

I think moralists, most of whom are liberals, would likely view the recently collapsed Islamic Republic of Afghanistan as legitimate because it embodied certain important liberal democratic moral norms (albeit imperfectly).  For example, it had a broadly liberal constitution, and it gave citizens the right to vote.  Realists, however, would likely be more inclined to regard it as suffering from a severe legitimation deficit, simply because it never fully succeeded in creating stable political order or obtaining sufficient support from its citizens. 

By contrast, I expect most moralists would regard the recently re-established Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (i.e. the Taliban government) as necessarily illegitimate because it does not, by and large, embody liberal moral values.  Realists, however, would hold that it could conceivably become legitimate, even though it rejects liberal moral values if it were to implement stable political order and provide citizens with a justification for its power that generally makes sense to them.  Admittedly, this “if” appears likely to be counterfactual. 

Are there any other practical examples that would help us to understand a major difference between the two approaches?

The above example may create the impression that realists are more pessimistic than moralists about what is politically possible and are thus willing to settle for less ambitious political goods.  There is a sense in which this might be true.  Stable political order is a necessary condition for people to have access to basic goods, services and protections.  Its existence is clearly very important to citizens’ interests.  Risking political stability in order to pursue liberal reforms may endanger these interests. 

However, there are at least two points to bear in mind which may complicate this impression.  First, stable political order is often a very demanding goal.  Marxists, for example, may claim that capitalism is inherently unstable and that the only route to lasting political stability goes through proletarian revolution.  Second, ostensibly ambitious moral values may have regressive ideological functions.  It is not hard to see how moralist legitimation narratives about freedom, equality, and human rights have provided ideological support for Western interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. 

What are the key contributions your article brings to the field?

My article has more mundane and modest goals than my answer to the previous question would suggest.  It takes a step towards showing how realist theories of legitimacy can be internally consistent – that is, they can be normative without relying on S-morality.  It may also help us better understand what the underlying motivating concern of realist theories of legitimacy is.  Why should we care about political legitimacy?  What needs, interests, or desires are served by having political institutions that are legitimate, rather than illegitimate?  Answers to these questions may further enable us to see what place the concept of political legitimacy might have in political philosophy and the extent to which it is a concept worthy of continuing analysis and application. 


Article: Cross, Ben (2020), Normativity in Realist Legitimacy, Political Studies Review.


Ben Cross is a postdoctoral research fellow in the School of Philosophy at Wuhan University. His research interests include political realism, legitimacy, and critical theory.

Questions and production

Dr Eliza Kania, Brunel University London