Academic journals serve as a platform for researchers to share their work and make contributions to their field. Within this realm, special issues are becoming increasingly popular as a means to highlight emerging trends and innovative ideas within a specific area of study.
Special issues in research journals refer to thematic collections of articles that focus on a particular topic or theme within a specific field of study. These special issues are curated and published by research journals to provide an in-depth exploration of a particular subject matter or emerging area of interest. They differ from regular journal issues, which typically include a variety of articles on diverse topics.
Special issues offer several benefits, including increased visibility for the journal, an opportunity to build relationships with researchers and scholars, and the chance to focus on a specific theme or topic. However, there are also potential limitations to consider, such as limited scope, time constraints, and concerns about bias and quality control.
In this context, it’s important to understand the characteristics of special issues, the process of organizing them, and the potential impact they can have on academic publishing. This discussion will delve into the nuances of special issues, including their definition, benefits, and challenges, and provide insights into how editors are selected and how to organize a successful special issue.
Special issues usually have a specific timeline for submission, review, and publication, and may have different requirements or guidelines compared to regular journal issues. They may also have a different format, such as including an editorial or introduction that contextualizes the papers and their contributions to the field.
- Benefits of Special Issues of Journals
- Characteristics of Special Issues of Journals
- How Special Issues Are Published by Journals?
- Examples of Special Issues in Academic Journals
- Whether Special Issue is also Indexed by Scopus or Web of Science Databases?
- Whether Special Issue Has Impact Factor?
- What are the Limitations of Special Issues of Journals?
- How the Editors are Selected for Special Issues?
- How Can I Increase the Chances of My Paper Getting Selected for a Special Issue of the Journal?
- Comparison of Regular Journals and Special Issue Journals
Academic journals publish special issues to dedicate a specific publication to a particular theme or topic within the scope of the journal. Special issues contain a collection of research papers that relate to the theme or topic and have been selected and compiled by guest editors or the journal’s editorial team.
Special issues play an essential role in showcasing new research, providing a platform for discussion and debate, and highlighting emerging trends and ideas. For instance, special issues on artificial intelligence (AI) can address the latest developments in machine learning algorithms or how AI is being used in different fields such as healthcare, finance, or transportation. Similarly, special issues on cybersecurity can focus on the latest threats and techniques to protect data and systems from malicious attacks.
The importance of special issues in academic publishing cannot be overstated. They provide a unique opportunity to highlight significant research, foster collaboration and community-building, and showcase the strengths of the journal. For example, special issues published in top computer science journals such as IEEE Transactions on Computers, ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI) , Journal of Machine Learning Research (JMLR) are highly regarded and help to establish the credibility of the journal.
The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the concept of special issues in academic journals, highlight the benefits and characteristics of special issues, and describe how they are organized.
I encourage you to get involved in special issues or propose them to relevant journals.
You can check my Research Paper published in the special issue ” Efficient object motion prediction using fuzzy Petri net based modelling in a robot navigational environment” written for the International Journal of Vehicle Autonomous Systems, 2012 Vol.10 No.1/2 ( Special Issue by Inderscience Publishers).
Benefits of Special Issues of Journals
- Attracting attention and increasing visibility for the journal : Special issues can help to attract attention and increase the visibility of a journal. For example, the special issue on “Recent Advances in Computer Vision” published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence (TPAMI) attracted a significant number of submissions and readers. The special issue highlighted new research on computer vision and its applications, and its popularity helped to establish TPAMI as a leading journal in the field.
- Building relationships with researchers and scholars: Special issues can help to build relationships with researchers and scholars in a particular field. Guest editors for special issues often include leading researchers in the field, who have a broad network of collaborators. For instance, the special issue on “Deep Learning for Computer Vision” published in the Journal of Machine Learning Research (JMLR) was guest-edited by several prominent researchers in the field of deep learning. The special issue helped to build relationships between these researchers, their collaborators, and the JMLR editorial team.
- Focusing on emerging trends and ideas in a particular field : Special issues in computer science can focus on emerging trends and ideas in a particular field. For example, the special issue on “Advances in Cloud Computing” published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Cloud Computing highlighted the latest research on cloud computing and its applications. The special issue provided a platform for researchers to share their work on topics such as cloud security, data management, and performance optimization, which were at the forefront of research in the field.
In summary, special issues can attract attention and increase visibility for the journal, build relationships with researchers and scholars, and focus on emerging trends and ideas in a particular field. These benefits make special issues an essential component of academic publishing and help to advance the field.
Characteristics of Special Issues of Journals
- Theme or topic selection: Special issues are centered around a particular theme or topic that falls within the scope of the journal. For example, the special issue on “Computational Intelligence in Cybersecurity” published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Emerging Topics in Computational Intelligence focused on computational intelligence techniques applied to cybersecurity. The theme or topic for a special issue is selected based on its relevance to the field, the current state of research, and the potential for new research directions.
- Guest editors or editorial team : Special issues are typically organized and compiled by guest editors or the editorial team of the journal. Guest editors are often leading researchers in the field who are knowledgeable about the theme or topic of the special issue. For example, the special issue on “Blockchain Technologies for Secure IoT Systems” published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Industrial Informatics was guest-edited by researchers from various universities who specialize in blockchain technology and its application to the Internet of Things (IoT).
- Specific timeline for submission, review, and publication: Special issues have a specific timeline for submission, review, and publication. This timeline is designed to ensure that the special issue is published within a specific timeframe and meets the high standards of the journal. For example, the special issue on “Machine Learning for Healthcare” published in the Journal of Biomedical Informatics had a submission deadline of October 2019, with a review period of four months. The special issue was published in June 2020, eight months after the submission deadline.
- Different guidelines and requirements: Special issues may have different guidelines and requirements compared to regular issues of the journal. For example, the special issue on “Quantum Computing and Communication” published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Information Theory had specific guidelines for manuscript length, formatting, and figures. The special issue required that all manuscripts be formatted according to the IEEE Transactions on Information Theory style, with a maximum length of 12 pages. The special issue also required that all figures be of high quality and submitted in EPS or PDF format.
In summary, special issues have several key characteristics, including a theme or topic selection, guest editors or editorial team, a specific timeline for submission, review, and publication, and different guidelines and requirements compared to regular issues of the journal. These characteristics help to ensure that special issues are high-quality, focused, and relevant to the field.
How Special Issues Are Published by Journals?
- Determining the scope and theme of the issue: The first step in organizing a special issue is to determine the scope and theme of the issue. The scope and theme of the special issue should be relevant to the journal and reflect current trends and research in the field. For example, the special issue on “Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies” published in the Journal of Cryptology aimed to highlight recent advances in blockchain technology and its application to cryptocurrencies.
- Identifying guest editors or forming an editorial team: The second step in organizing a special issue is to identify guest editors or form an editorial team. Guest editors are often leading researchers in the field who are knowledgeable about the theme or topic of the special issue. For example, the special issue on “Big Data Analytics for Healthcare” published in the Journal of Biomedical Informatics was guest-edited by several researchers who specialize in big data analytics and its application to healthcare.
- Issuing a call for papers: Once the scope and theme of the special issue have been determined, the next step is to issue a call for papers. The call for papers should provide clear instructions on the theme and scope of the special issue, the submission deadline, and any specific formatting requirements. For example, the call for papers for the special issue on “Artificial Intelligence for Autonomous Vehicles” published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems specified that papers should be no longer than 10 pages, follow the IEEE format, and be submitted by a specific deadline.
- Reviewing and selecting papers : After the submission deadline has passed, the guest editors or editorial team will review and select papers for the special issue. The review process should be rigorous and follow the same standards as regular issues of the journal. For example, the special issue on “Natural Language Processing for Social Media Analysis” published in the journal Computational Linguistics underwent a double-blind peer-review process to ensure the quality of the papers.
- Preparing the special issue for publication : Once the papers have been selected, the final step is to prepare the special issue for publication. This includes finalizing the layout and formatting of the papers, writing an introduction and editorial for the special issue, and submitting the final version to the journal for publication. For example, the special issue on “Intelligent Transportation Systems for Smart Cities” published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems included an introduction by the guest editors and an editorial summarizing the key findings and contributions of the special issue.
In summary, organizing a special issue involves several steps, including determining the scope and theme of the issue, identifying guest editors or forming an editorial team, issuing a call for papers, reviewing and selecting papers, and preparing the special issue for publication. These steps ensure that the special issue is high-quality, relevant, and reflects the latest research in the field.
Examples of Special Issues in Academic Journals
- “Artificial Intelligence for Human-Robot Interaction” – International Journal of Social Robotics This special issue aimed to explore the ways in which artificial intelligence can improve the interaction between humans and robots. The issue featured papers on topics such as emotion recognition, trust modeling, and natural language processing in human-robot interaction.
- “Neuroimaging of Social Cognition and Behavior” – Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience This special issue focused on the use of neuroimaging techniques to study social cognition and behavior. The issue included papers on topics such as the neural basis of empathy, social decision-making, and the neural correlates of social perception.
- “Environmental Governance and Management in China: New Developments and Trends” – Journal of Environmental Management This special issue explored the latest developments and trends in environmental governance and management in China. The issue included papers on topics such as environmental policy, air pollution, and the role of civil society in environmental management.
- “Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality for Medical Education” – Medical Education This special issue focused on the use of virtual reality and augmented reality technologies in medical education. The issue included papers on topics such as the design and evaluation of medical simulations, the use of virtual reality in surgical training, and the potential of augmented reality for enhancing medical education.
- “Advances in Deep Learning for Computer Vision” – IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence This special issue aimed to highlight recent advances in deep learning for computer vision, a subfield of computer science that focuses on teaching machines to interpret and understand visual information. The issue included papers on topics such as image classification, object detection, and semantic segmentation.
These special issues are significant because they highlight emerging trends and ideas in their respective fields, provide a platform for researchers to publish their work on these topics, and bring together leading experts to share their knowledge and insights. They also help to increase the visibility and impact of the journals in which they are published.
Whether Special Issue is also Indexed by Scopus or Web of Science Databases?
Yes, special issues are typically indexed in databases such as Scopus and Web of Science, just like regular journal issues. However, it’s important to note that the inclusion of a special issue in a database will depend on the specific criteria and policies of the database.
Some databases may require that special issues meet certain standards or guidelines in order to be indexed. It’s also possible that the indexing of a special issue may differ from that of the regular journal issues, such as being indexed separately or under a different title. Therefore, it’s important to check with the specific database or journal for more information about their policies and criteria for indexing special issues.
Whether Special Issue Has Impact Factor?
Special issues can have an impact factor, but it depends on the policies of the journal in which the special issue is published. The impact factor of a journal is a measure of the average number of citations received per article published in that journal during a specific time period.
If a special issue is included in the calculation of the journal’s impact factor, then the citations received by the papers published in the special issue would contribute to the calculation of the impact factor. However, some journals may not include citations from special issues in their impact factor calculation, or may only include them under certain conditions. It’s important to check with the specific journal to see if citations from special issues are included in their impact factor calculation.
I have written an article on Unlocking the Mystery of Journal Rankings(Q1,Q2,Q3,Q4): A Comprehensive Guide. This article will take you in-depth regarding Journal Rankings and impact factor.
What are the Limitations of Special Issues of Journals?
While special issues in academic journals can offer many benefits, there are also some limitations that should be considered:
- Limited scope: Special issues are by nature focused on a specific theme or topic, which means that they may have a limited scope and may not be of interest to all readers or researchers in the field.
- Time constraints: Special issues typically have a specific timeline for submission, review, and publication, which can be challenging for both authors and editors to adhere to.
- Quality control: Because special issues are often edited by a guest editor or editorial team, there may be concerns about the quality and consistency of the papers selected for inclusion.
- Bias: There is a risk of bias in the selection of papers for a special issue, particularly if the guest editor or editorial team has strong opinions or preconceptions about the topic.
- Competition: With the increasing number of special issues being published in academic journals, there may be competition among journals to attract high-quality submissions, which can make it more challenging for editors to solicit and select the best papers.
- Funding: Special issues may require additional funding for editorial support or other expenses, which may not always be available.
- Prestige: While publishing in a special issue can be prestigious, it may not carry the same weight as publishing in a regular issue of a highly-ranked journal.
It’s important to weigh the potential benefits and limitations of special issues when deciding whether to propose or participate in one.
How the Editors are Selected for Special Issues?
The selection of editors for special issues can vary depending on the journal and the specific special issue. Here are some common ways that editors are selected:
- Invitation: The journal’s editor-in-chief or editorial board may invite a particular scholar or group of scholars to serve as guest editors for a special issue, based on their expertise and knowledge of the topic.
- Proposal: Scholars or groups of scholars may propose a special issue to a journal, including their proposed theme, guest editors, and potential contributors. If the proposal is accepted, the proposed guest editors would typically be invited to serve in that role.
- Application: In some cases, journals may solicit applications for guest editor positions for upcoming special issues, and interested scholars may submit an application detailing their qualifications and experience.
Regardless of the method used to select guest editors, it’s important for the editors to have a strong understanding of the field and the topic of the special issue, as well as experience in editorial work, such as manuscript review and selection, and communication with authors and reviewers.
How Can I Increase the Chances of My Paper Getting Selected for a Special Issue of the Journal?
I would like you to go through a few more resources that can be helpful in increasing the chances of your paper getting selected for the special issue.
The first article Top 10 Rules to Identify Keywords for your Research Paper focuses on how to write appropriate keywords for their paper, taking into consideration the requirements of the special issue. The keywords play a crucial role in enhancing the discoverability of the paper and aligning it with the theme of the special issue.
The second article Research Paper Title: 03 Simple Steps to Make it Easily Discoverableprovides insights on how to craft an effective title for the paper, by aligning it with the title of the special issue or by making necessary tweaks to make it more relevant. The title serves as the first impression of the paper and can greatly impact its visibility and attractiveness to potential readers.
Finally, the third article” Importance of Proofreading in Research Paper Writing” discusses the importance of proofreading and editing the paper to ensure it is free from errors and typos, as this is a critical step in the publication process.
By following these additional resources, the user can optimize their paper for the special issue and increase its chances of success.
Comparison of Regular Journals and Special Issue Journals
Here’s a comparative table between regular journals and special issue journals to help you understand the key differences:
|Aspect||Regular Journals||Special Issue Journals|
|Scope||Broad and diverse topics||Focused on a specific theme or topic|
|Content||Articles on a wide range of subjects within the journal’s scope||Articles on a single, well-defined theme or topic|
|Frequency||Regular, periodic publication (e.g., monthly, quarterly)||Irregular, published when the special issue is ready|
|Editorial Control||Managed by the journal’s regular editorial team||Guest editor(s) oversee the selection and publication process|
|Peer Review||Articles undergo standard peer review||Articles also undergo peer review, but with a focus on the special issue’s theme|
|Purpose||General dissemination of research across a field||In-depth exploration of a particular subject or emerging trend|
|Audience||Diverse readership across the field||Targeted at readers with a specific interest in the theme|
|Author Submission||Open for submissions on various topics within the journal’s scope||Authors submit articles related to the theme of the special issue|
|Publication Schedule||Consistent publication schedule||Published as a supplement to regular journal issues|
|Promotion||Articles in regular journals may receive less focused promotion||Special issues are promoted as a collection, attracting more attention|
|Citation Impact||May have a lower individual citation impact||May have a higher citation impact for articles within the special issue|
|Collaboration||Less likely to involve collaboration among authors||Encourages collaboration among experts in the specific field or theme|
Please note that the specifics of regular and special issue journals can vary based on the policies and practices of individual publishers and journals. The above table outlines common distinctions between the two types of journals but may not apply universally to every journal.
Special issues have become an increasingly popular means for academic journals to highlight emerging trends and ideas within specific fields. By focusing on a particular theme or topic, special issues offer several benefits, including increased visibility for the journal, the chance to build relationships with researchers and scholars, and the opportunity to explore cutting-edge research and innovative ideas.
However, special issues also come with potential limitations, such as limited scope, time constraints, and concerns about bias and quality control. Despite these challenges, special issues remain an important and effective means for showcasing new and exciting research within academic publishing.
By understanding the characteristics of special issues, the process of organizing them, and the potential impact they can have on academic publishing, scholars and researchers can take advantage of this platform to make significant contributions to their field and promote their work to a wider audience