Editorial Board Special Issues provide a venue for Editorial Board members to assemble a focused collection of articles, investigating a particular research area or subdiscipline, aligned with their own research interests.
An Editorial Board Special Issue is led by a member of the journal’s Editorial Board who assumes the role of Editor in Chief of the Special Issue. These Special Issues benefit from extra support and promotion from [email protected]
A dedicated Publisher supports the development of a Call for Papers and helps encourage high-quality submissions. They also assist in promoting the Editorial Board Special Issue after publication.
This guide explains the steps involved in proposing, preparing, and launching an Editorial Board Special Issue.
1. Concept Development
An Editorial Board Special Issue is initiated when a Publisher invites an Editorial Board member to develop a concept.
If the Editorial Board member accepts, they then propose a suitable topic. [email protected] relies on the specialist knowledge of our Editorial Board members to identify significant and emerging research trends. The proposed topic will become the foundation of the Special Issue.
The topic must be within the Editorial Board member’s expertise, such that they feel confident when handling manuscripts focused on the subject. It should also be in keeping with the aims and scope of the journal.
2. Creating a Proposal
Once a topic is decided, the Editorial Board member is asked to assemble a small team of Guest Editors and prepare a proposal.
The Editorial Board member typically invites two to four appropriately qualified Guest Editors to join the Special Issue Editorial Team. These Guest Editors will be responsible for handling the submitted manuscripts and managing the peer review process. Guest Editors should work in an appropriate field and have sufficient time and capacity to handle manuscripts; they are not required to be members of the journal’s Editorial Board. The Editorial Board member is responsible for contacting and confirming the participation of Guest Editors.
The proposal itself takes the form of a draft Call for Papers, which should include the following:
- The journal for which the Special Issue is intended
- A suggested title for the Special Issue (which should not exceed 10 words)
- Proposed aims and scope, giving an overview of the Special Issue’s intended focus and a list of the topics to be covered
- A list of two to four Guest Editors, each one including their names, email addresses, affiliations, and a short biography (one paragraph). You should also include your own details here
- A proposed tentative timeline and schedule
You can use our Call for Papers template document to assist you in preparing your proposal.
When submitting a proposal, an explanation of (i) why the subject is important and timely, (ii) what communities are expected to contribute to the Special issue, and (iii) how the expertise of the Guest Editors is aligned with the proposed topic of the Special Issue should be included.
When the proposal is ready, it should be sent to the Publisher.
3. Proposal Validation
Once a proposal is submitted, the Publisher works with [email protected]’s editorial staff to conduct the validation process.
They will ensure that the title, aims, and scope are broadly suitable for the journal. They also check that the team of Guest Editors is suitable and that no prohibited conflicts of interest exist between them. See our guide ‘Managing Conflicts of Interest’ for more information.
The Publisher also works with [email protected]’s Subject Analytics Team to determine whether the Special Issue is likely to attract sufficient submissions from researchers working in a relevant field.
If the validation process identifies any issues, the Publisher works with the Editorial Board member to refine the proposal or to recruit new Guest Editors, as appropriate.
Once the Publisher has approved the Call for Papers and Special Issue Editorial Team, the proposal is accepted, and the Editorial Board member assumes the role of Editor in Chief of the Special Issue.
5. Publishing and Promoting the Call for Papers
The Call for Papers is published on the journal’s page of [email protected], appearing in the ‘Open Special Issues’ section.
The Special Issue Editorial Team now promotes the Call for Papers through academic networks and social media. Editors can also recommend high-profile researchers that are invited to contribute. The Publisher is closely involved in this process.
See our guide ‘Promoting Your Call for Papers’ for more information.
The Editor in Chief may now commission a review article from a high-profile researcher in the field to complement the Special Issue. This commissioned article will not be subject to any Article Processing Charge (APC).
6. Managing Submissions and Peer Review
When manuscripts are submitted to the Editorial Board Special Issue, they will be checked by [email protected]’s Editorial Team to ensure that they are suitable for consideration. Provided that they meet these essential checks, the manuscripts are sent to the Editor in Chief.
The Editor in Chief assigns the manuscript to an appropriate member of the Special Issue Editorial Team, appointing them as Handling Editor. The Editor in Chief may also opt to handle the manuscript themselves.
The Handling Editor assesses the quality and relevance of received manuscripts, ensuring that they are aligned with the topic of the Editorial Board Special Issue. Provided that they are satisfied, the manuscript must undergo full peer review. This process is conducted as it would be for any other manuscript. See our guide ‘Peer Review at [email protected]’ for more information.
An Editorial Assistant will be on hand to assist the Editorial Team throughout the submission process, including with the identification of appropriate reviewers.
Note that Guest Editors cannot act as reviewers for manuscripts submitted to the Editorial Board Special Issue. If a Special Issue fails to attract sufficient numbers of submissions to be successful, all accepted articles will instead be published in the regular section of the journal.
7. Contributions from the Special Issue Editorial Team
Each member of the Special Issue Editorial Team may submit one article for consideration in the Special Issue. These will be subject to only 50% of the normal APC for the journal, if one applies.
Note that any manuscripts submitted by a member of the Special Issue Editorial Team will be handled by an Editorial Board member from outside the Special Issue Editorial Team.
When the final manuscript has been accepted, the Special Issue Editorial Team will be asked to produce a short Editorial piece to be published as the opening of the Special Issue. This Editorial should briefly highlight the topics of each article in the Special Issue and discuss the general focus of the issue. The Editorial’s title should be the same as the Special Issue’s title. It should also include the Editorial Team’s current affiliations and email addresses on the front page.
The Editorial should be co-authored by the entire Special Issue Editorial Team, and their names must be listed in the same order as they appear in the Call for Papers. The references of the Editorial must not include any of the articles that make up the Editorial Board Special Issue.
There is no APC for the Editorial.
8. Publication and promotion
The Special Issue is published and made freely available on [email protected], as well as appearing in the relevant databases and repositories, leading to the maximum possible dissemination within the scientific community. Special Issues can be viewed and downloaded on the individual article level and are also available in an edited volume format as a single PDF published with a custom cover.
[email protected] notifies the contributing authors and sends alerts to registered readers.We also ensure that the articles are added to the appropriate abstracting and indexing services, such as the Web of Science and PubMed Central. See our guide ‘Abstracting and Indexing at [email protected]’ for more information on this process.
The Special Issue is visible to visitors browsing the list of ‘Published Special Issues’ for the journal. Readers viewing any single article within the Special Issue will also see a link that allows them to access the Special Issue in its entirety.
Guest Editors are also encouraged to share and promote the Special Issue. When using social media to promote a Special Issue, [email protected] should also be tagged (e.g., by using @[email protected] on Twitter). Doing so allows us to amplify these messages through our own channels. When tweeting about a Special Issue, relevant Twitter handles for contributing authors and guest editors should also be included, where available. This helps to achieve greater circulation via social networks.
A Special Issue’s impact, including the number of readers, downloads, and citations for each article, can be monitored by checking each article’s page.