Guidelines

What we'll publish and what we won't...


The Hoot is powered by the Open University Students Association, and supports its policies. 

It's staffed by a small, friendly editorial team who read submissions as they come in, check they meet the guidelines and then publish at appropriate times. Authors of posts that don't meet the guidelines will recieve an email sent to the address linked to their account to let them know why, or to share a few tweak suggestions. We aim to publish all posts that meet the guidelines no later than two weeks after submission, but may take a little longer if we're experiencing a high volume of submissions. If you feel that your post has been waiting in the queue for longer than this period, feel free to email us at oustudents-magazine[at]open.ac.uk and we'll investigate.

Our readers are OU students, past, present and future, University staff, Association staff and more. They represent a huge and diverse community, with a wide range of experiences, backgrounds and opinions. As such, the range of content that we will publish is rather broad. Study journey stories, fun trivia quizzes, life-writing, interviews and more are perfect for our audience. 

We are governed by the Association Articles and bye-laws, and uphold the values of the OU Student Charter. The four principles laid out in the Charter are:

  • We treat each other with dignity and respect.
  • We aim to inspire and enable learning.
  • We share the responsibility for learning.
  • We work together to secure the University’s mission and promote the University’s values.

 There are some subject matters that we will not publish:

  • Articles with a strong political bias, canvassing support for a political figure or party.
  • Articles expressing or amplifying extreme, bigoted or hateful views that conflict with the values of the OU Students Association.
  • Articles that target individuals or liberation groups.
  • Articles with no substance other than to be inflammatory. 

Length

Text-based articles should be between 350 and 1500 words. If any longer, an editor may be in touch to suggest a) shortening the piece or b) splitting the piece into parts.

This is for a few reasons:

  • People may be reading the piece on a phone or small device.
  • People are more likely to read to the end if it is of a reasonable length.
  • Love them or loathe them, word counts help us to 'get to the point' a bit quicker and generally help to create better content.

We encourage authors of longform content to make use of multiple text boxes with titles for each section - this will make the post more accessible.



Fact vs opinion

We recognise that, as the OU student community is so huge and diverse, opinions held by those in the community will be equally varied. We aim to provide a space for students to share their authentic voice, and as such many posts on this site may diverge from the views held by The Hoot and the OU Students Association.

We believe in truthfulness and transparency, and require statements made as fact to be supported by references - similar to a TMA. This can be done by simply hyperlinking to an article or webpage that supports your point, or by listing your sources at the end of your post.


In more depth...

Fact – A true statement that is a wide belief that can be proven and backed up by evidence.

  • Use examples and illustrations.
  • Quote sources and authorities (Ask permission when quoting a person).
  • Cite statistics.
  • Avoid unfounded speculation.

(There can be three kinds of facts. Facts which have proven to be true, facts which are probably true though haven’t been proven and facts which could be true, although they appear to be lies).

Opinion – Personal belief which is focused on own view of a subject matter.
(A view or judgement formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge).

  • Opinion is a piece of writing that expresses the personal belief of the writer about issues.
  • Opinions to be delivered openly and to the point.
  • Encourage critical thinking and not rely on baseless statements.
  • Article to be clearly identified as an expression of an opinion.


Acronyms and jargon

The Hoot does not exclude readers based on knowledge or experience. As such, all acronyms and overly complex jargon will be removed as they can be unintentionally exclusionary. If your post consists of lots of acronyms and jargon, the editorial team may get in touch to ask that you rewrite the piece in a less exclusionary way.

That being said, well known acronyms along the lines of the OU, UK, TMA, EMA are fine to include.



Inappropriate content

Posts containing inappropriate content will not be approved. Depending on the nature of the submitted content, further action may be taken against the author. 

We take a common-sense approach to content, and will not publish erotica, nude/graphic/violent imagery or pictures of children/young people under the age of 18 without the permission of their caregiver. 



Self-promotion

The Hoot is a place to share stories, lists and quizzes about what interests you, and would be of interest to our readers. It's not the place for self-promotion - promotion of yourself or activities, or those of a business or organisation you may be involved with. 

For example - you have published a book and wish to share the link to where students can buy it. This would not be allowed as it is purely advertising. However, if you wrote about how an OU creative writing module gave you the confidence to contact your publishers and mentioned that your book is published and out in the world for purchase, your post would be approved*. (Providing it meets our submission guidelines).

*Please note, direct links to purchase items mentioned in posts will be removed.


Plagiarism and intellectual property rights

The Hoot does not condone plagiarism, copying or the infringement of intellectual property rights. Any posts found to contain plagiarism or misuse of intellectual property will be removed without notice. 

For images and media, ensure that you have the right to share them and attribute the owner properly. Find out how to attribute rights owners in our 'submitting a post' guidance page. If images and media aren't attributed, your post won't be published.

If you see any posts containing plagiarism, copying or the infringement of intellectual property rights, please contact us at oustudents-media[at]open.ac.uk.



Self-editing

Posts should be proofread before submission. The editorial team can fix small typos and make tiny tweaks to ensure the post is readable, but will not make significant edits to submitted posts, so please be aware that the team will send your piece back to you for re-editing.

The editorial team's decisions are final, based on our guidelines and governance policies and procedures laid out for the Association. If you would like to make a complaint, you can find out how to on the Students Association website.



Submitting assessed work for publication

We understand that some students might want to share works they have created for OU assessment, for example a short story written originally for a creative writing module. Though the editorial team will not be able to tell if your work was originally written for a module, if we are made aware that a published post is an assessed module submission, we will remove it without notice. The Open University forbids making assessed work available as it enables plagiarism (even if this was not your intention), so we highly recommend not doing it. 



Sharing

The editorial team will share links to articles, lists and quizzes on The Hoot social media platforms and occaisionally the OU Students Association social media platforms. We think your story needs to be heard!


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