Publishing in a special issue

Researchers collaborating photoAs an author, you might have the opportunity of contributing to a special issue at some point in your career. A special issue focuses on a specific area of research that has a broad appeal and falls within the aims and scope of the journal. A special issue also provides an excellent opportunity to review a particular theme, examine previously unaddressed aspects, propose and develop new approaches, exchange perspectives and encourage new lines of research. Special issues might also be commissioned or proposed to recognize a particular individual's or group's contribution to the field or to commemorate a specific date or occasion. Read more about the benefits of publishing your work in a special issue and how you could even become guest editor for a special issue below.

Ten benefits of publishing in a special issue

There are many benefits to being part of a special issue; here are our top ten:

Author Metrics pictoUnparallelled visibility via ScienceDirect: All articles from the special issue will be published on ScienceDirect – the world's leading research platform, with 2.6 million unique visitors a day and 38 article downloads per second. Special content articles are downloaded on ScienceDirect twice as often within the first 24 months than articles published in regular issues.*

Faster publication times: Special issue articles are often published more quickly than regular articles.

Positive citation impact: Articles published in special issues are often cited more frequently than articles published in regular issues. Special content articles attract 20% more citations in the first 24 months than articles published in regular issues.*

Targeted promotion: Articles in special issues are often promoted through Elsevier's social media channels for the relevant subject areas to increase your issue's visibility and readership.

Author EBM pictoRigorous peer review: Elsevier and its journals are fully committed to rigorous, independent peer review. Special issue articles should be reviewed by no fewer than two independent experts to ensure the quality, originality and novelty of the work published.

World-class editorial teams: Your article in the special issue will benefit from the world-class expertise of its regular editors who will support you alongside the guest editors to make sure you’re publishing the best work possible.

Publish with peers: Harness your network and benefit from multiple expert perspectives on the same issues, leading to synergies and powerful cross-examination of the theme(s) under consideration.

Wide readership: Elsevier journals employ sophisticated technology to optimize published content for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), ensuring your issue and its content is easily found via search engines like Google.

Authors lab resources pictoLonger-term impact for your work: SIs offer longer-term impact as your article collection means readers will easily find your work.

Publish open access:  Whatever your discipline, there’s an open access home for your research at Elsevier. With over 2,600 journals that offer gold open access publishing options we’ve got you covered. Special content articles published in gold open access journals attract twice as many citations within the first 24 months than regular articles published in the same journal. What's more, special content articles published in gold open access journals register 74% more downloads on ScienceDirect within the first 24 months than regular articles published in the same journal.*

*Data sourced from Scopus and ScienceDirect comparing the performance (citations and downloads) of special content compared with that of regular articles.

Ready to explore publishing in a special issue? You can read about the special issues being organized by journals and find out how to submit on the relevant journal homepage.

Find a journal

Authors discussing photo


Becoming a guest editor

Guest editors play a vital role in curating high-quality contributions on a particular topic and driving the editorial review process for special issue publications. You can become a guest editor in two ways:Authors direction choice picto

Invited contribution

The journal may invite you as an expert in your specific field of research. If you are an acknowledged expert on a particular theme with a wide network of potential authors and reviewers, don't be surprised if an editor approaches you to suggest your leading a new special issue on their journal.Author people finder picto

Proposal to the journal

You can submit a proposal for a special issue to a journal following our instructions – the senior editor will approve or reject it after consulting with the Editorial Board. If accepted, you (and any co-guest editors) will be responsible for developing the issue and leading the editorial review process.Author process picto

If you are interested in becoming a guest editor, find more about the role and responsibilites.

Read more