A Special Issue is an issue of your journal dedicated to one chosen topic. It should contain the latest work on that subject. And if you create a Special Issue well, it can be a unique and valuable reference source for every researcher interested in that area.
To help you create a Special Issue and get the most our out of it, we spoke to Dr. Stephen Childe. As Editor of Production Planning & Control (PPC), he has a lot of experience planning and publishing Special Issues.
Why produce a Special Issue?
A Special Issue allows you to bring in a leading Guest Editor, who may be pursuing a new line of research. This Guest Editor can then manage the peer review process and compile accepted articles for the issue.
When it comes to readership, this Guest Editor can then use their research contacts to introduce new readers, authors and reviewers to your journal. But a Special Issue can also do so much more as it:
- Gives you an opportunity to publish exciting and current articles in a specific field.
- Helps raise the profile of your journal in the research communities you’re targeting.
- Allows you to establish the topics the journal sees as relevant to its scope for the benefit of future authors.
5 steps to create a Special Issue
We’ve established it can be worthwhile, but what are the steps you need to take to create a Special Issue for your journal?
1) Choose your topic
First you need to define and scope your Special Issue topic. Remember, there are thousands of authors trying to find the right home for their articles. And some of these authors may read calls for papers with a wide and optimistic interpretation. You therefore need to be precise in your aims and scope.
Don’t be afraid to reject Special Issue proposals that take the journal away from its aims. It’s hard to refuse help when it’s offered, but it’s important to keep focus.
2) Clarify the process
Next, you need to select a Guest Editor who understands the academic review and publication process. Be sure they also have the motivation to find reviewers and communicate with authors.
Creating a Special issue takes a lot of effort and time and you need to make sure your Guest Editor knows this and is happy to take the responsibility on.
3) Maintain the focus of your Special Issue
Once you’ve found a Guest Editor for your chosen topic, you need to make sure they agree with the scope of the Special Issue and the criteria for article acceptance.
Take notes during this discussion and create written instructions and checklists for the Guest Editor. This is an important step to maintain the focus of your Special Issue. It could be many months between your initial meeting and the point when articles start to arrive. Therefore, both you and your Guest Editor need that written agreement to remain clear and consistent throughout the Special Issue process.
4) Check on the progress of articles
Make it clear at the outset that you want to review progress with your Guest Editor each month. Review the progress of articles and keep everyone to the agreed schedule so that you can publish on time.
In return, as Editor, you should always be available to help with any queries your Guest Editor may have.
5) Tune your technology
Special Issue articles need to be identifiable as they move through the publication process. The easiest way to achieve this is giving them have a label within the submission system.
Special Issue articles for Production, Planning & Control, for example, have the article prefix “SI” in the ScholarOne Manuscripts system. This keeps them together. Work with your publisher to find the best way of making your Special Issue articles easy to identify and track in your submission system.
Publicize your Special Issue
Finally, once you reach publication, you want to make sure people know about your Special Issue. Alert relevant communities to the existence of your Special Issue by:
- Using your publisher’s sales and marketing expertise to publicize your Special Issue
- Reprinting it as a separate publication where appropriate
- Mentioning it in relevant online and offline conversations in the field
Do this, and your Special Issue will draw attention to your wider journal, increasing the reach and impact of your journal. It will also highlight the leading work your journal supports, while providing a first-class service to readers.