Guest Editor Guidelines

Participations is now, we believe, the pre-eminent journal for the field of audience and reception studies in the English language. As such, we welcome opportunities to focus on particular topics, areas and issues so as to provide our steadily-growing readership with concentrated germane materials. We understand the expression ‘audience and reception studies’ as inclusively as possible. We therefore welcome both Sections and individual contributions devoted to:

  • Audience/reception aspects of the whole range of media and cultural forms and practices;
  • Different traditions of thinking and research into these (although we very much encourage openness to dialogue and debate between approaches);
  • Newly emerging topics/fields of investigation, as well as new contributions to established topics/fields;
  • A wide range of methodologies of research;
  • Scholarly, critical and theoretical work, providing it is evidently and genuinely seeking to explore relevance to audience and reception matters.

We are limited to publishing work in English, but will do our best to work with Section Editors and with authors, for whom English is not their first language, to help them prepare work for publication.

Copyright always remains with authors, who are free to republish submissions, providing only that a proper acknowledgement of prior publication in Participations (with issue number, date and page numbers) is included. We are happy for work to be placed in institutional repositories or individuals’ websites on the same basis of acknowledgement.

Increasingly, Participations is aiming to publish Themed Sections devoted to particular topics, areas, or issues, particularly where they have not yet been much explored. We have developed a programme of these which will be edited by members of our Editorial Board. But we welcome in addition proposals for such Sections from individuals or groups.

1. Stages and procedures

Proposals begin with the submission of a draft Call for Papers which will normally be read by Participations’ Editors who may, where necessary, seek advice from other members of the Editorial Board. Once a CfP is agreed, the Editors will determine a target date/issue for publication. Subsequent stages may take anything between 8 months and 2 years, but the norm is around 12 months.

Calls can be open or restricted, according to the Section’s brief. A typical case for an open call would be when the Section is devoted to an under-researched topic. A typical case for a restricted call would be when the Section is devoted to the work of an already-constituted project or group of researchers. It is the Section Editors’ responsibility to publicise their own CfP, in appropriate places. (Normally, because of our production schedules, it will not be possible to mount the CfP on the journal’s own website.)

Section Editors will normally be responsible for deciding which proposals to accept, on the basis of submitted abstracts (whose format they will themselves determine, but which will typically require around 500 words from proposers), and informing proposers of their decisions. They may of course ask advice from Participations’ Editors, where they feel they need it. Themed Sections can be of varied sizes – a lower limit of 4 is probably sensible, and if it looks as if the Section might outrun 12, you should seek advice from the Journal’s Editors.

Section Editors will put in place their own arrangements for reviewing of submissions. These can be done, if you wish, by cross-reviewing by others contributing to the Section, on the principle that you have already assembled a body of relative experts on your topic. The one requirement we put on these procedures is that they should adhere to our principle of Open Refereeing, under which the names of authors and referees are known to each other. We have found this to be much appreciated by authors, and to lead to critical-constructive comments on submissions. Where still unsure, Section Editors may of course consult with the journal’s Editors on particular submissions.

2. Stages and timetables

While we are happy for Section Editors to set their own specific timetables and deadlines, we recommend something like the following as a guide:

  • From CfP to submission of Proposals/Abstracts (1 month minimum)
  • From acceptance of Proposals/Abstracts to completion of Drafts (3 months minimum)
  • From delivery of Drafts to referees’ Reviews (6 weeks minimum)
  • From return of Reviews to Revised Submissions (6 weeks minimum)
  • From Revised Submissions to confirmation and submission to journal (1 month minimum)

This gives a minimum period of 8 months.

Submission of completed and checked essays etc to the journal is at the latest one month prior to publication (mid-April for the May issue, or mid-October for the November issue). Where some contributions are ready earlier than others, the Editors appreciate receiving them ahead of time, in order to spread the load of formatting and preparation. If in difficulties of any kind in this regard, please consult the Editors at <>.

3. Formats and forms of Submission

Participations is happy to receive a wide range of kinds of contribution, as part of Themed Sections, although clearly we give priority to essays on actual audience and reception researches. We welcome:

  • All kinds of standard essays (empirical, critical, conceptual and theoretical, scholarly reviews)
  • State-of-the field reviews
  • Reviews of key books/essays
  • Interviews
  • Translations
  • Important ‘lost’ or unavailable pieces of work (providing Section Editors take responsibility for resolving any rights issues)

All submissions should include:

  • Title, authors’ names and institutions
  • Abstract and Keywords
  • A short biographical note for each author, giving job title and institution; a sentence or two on ongoing research interests; and a contact email for the essay. (This is the item most often missing, so it will help us if you remind authors early of the need for this.)
  • For the journal’s purposes, bibliographies can be in any format (MLA, Harvard, Chicago etc) provided that they are clear, consistent, and complete in giving the standard required information (authors (alphabetical by surname), title, place of publication, date, and (as appropriate) page numbers. If Section Editors wish to require a particular format, this is their choice.

Word lengths are negotiable. Participations prides itself on encouraging authors to be as explicit as possible about (a) methodologies used; (b) critical contexts; and (c) making clearly available the evidence upon which their arguments are based. We have no problem with contributions which run beyond the 6-8,000 limit imposed by print journals, providing there is good reason for this length.

Submissions should be in Word format. We are happy to accept Tables, Diagrams and other visual materials (including photographs). We prefer to receive these both in-place within the submission, and separately (in case for layout purposes they need to be moved). We appreciate it if authors do not over-format their submissions, since this can slow down and complicate transfer into our own templates.

Because we publish only in English, while audience and reception work is conducted around the world, there can be issues about the use of good English expression. Clearly we wish to publish work which is clear and consistent in its use of English. It can be time-consuming and hard for the Editor to have to correct English expression. We do therefore stress the importance of Section Editors taking responsibility for ensuring good English expression in all submissions.

4. Finally, a summary of what Section Editors are responsible for

  1. Producing, and confirming with the Journal’s Editors, a CfP.
  2. Publicising the CfP, receiving and choosing proposals/abstracts.
  3. Ensuring accepted authors stick to deadlines and general requirements.
  4. Setting up and operating a refereeing system, and ensuring critical suggestions are responded to by authors.
  5. Agreeing final versions with authors, and ensuring that they have in them all the items listed in 3(a) above.
  6. Ensuring that, especially with authors whose first language is not English, a good standard of presentation is achieved.
  7. Submitting in good time: a. A Section title, running order, and any Introduction which precedes individual contributions b. All contributions, checked and agreed with authors, and including, importantly, emails for contributors so that any layout etc queries can be raised speedily with them).
  8. Communicating with the Journal’s Editors in timely fashion over any problems which arise.