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How to prepare a Special Issue proposal

Consider the Special Issue you would like to propose, and to which journal, and then first familiarize yourself with any journal-specific guidelines which will be available on the participating journal’s homepage in the Guide for Authors.

Once you have prepared your proposal including all the information requested in the template, you are ready to submit your completed Special Issue proposal form via the proposal submission system hereopens in new tab/window.

  • Log in to your account, following the instructions provided in the system

  • Choose the right proposal type you would like to submit

  • Type in the name of the Elsevier journal in which you would like to publish your Special Issue

  • Complete the following submission steps and upload all the specified mandatory files and click submit

The review system will then route your proposal to appropriate journal editors, who will subsequently review your proposal, and let you know if your proposal is accepted, rejected, or requires revision.

Important: by submitting a Special Issue proposal, all potential Guest Editors agree to adhere to both Elsevier’s and the journal’s guidelines for Special Issue Guest Editors, and general academic ethical considerations.

After your proposal is accepted…

Guidelines for Special Issue Guest Editors

As a Guest Editor, you will play a vital role in leading the review process for Special Issue publication. The submission and peer review of Special Issue papers must be managed using the journal’s online editorial system, Editorial Manager (EM). All Special Issue papers must undergo peer review by a minimum of two independent reviewers (you should not act as one of these reviewers yourself).

Papers submitted to a Special Issue will be initially assigned to the Managing (Lead) Guest Editor, who will then re-assign the papers to the other Guest Editors (GEs), or handle them himself/herself. Please note that the editorial load should be equally split among all GEs.

The peer review process of Special Issue papers should be initiated as soon as they are submitted to the Special Issue and they are assigned to the GE. Please do not wait to receive several papers, or for the submission deadline of the Special Issue to end.

Editorial decisions need to be made not later than two months from the submission date of a paper, no matter what the deadline for submitting to the Special Issue is.

The Editor-In-Chief or the Special Issue Editor of the journal must approve the recommended decision by GEs before informing the authors. They may choose to decline the recommendation or ask for additional peer reviews before making a final decision.

Please carefully review these guidelines before proceeding with the Special Issue process. Also, see the following links for more information:

Guest Editor guidelines

Special Issue publication process

Special Issues are now all published using the following ‘Virtual Special Issue’ workflow.

  • Manuscripts are submitted to EM through the Special Issue portal and go through peer review as usual.

  • Once a manuscript is accepted it goes into production, and it is simultaneously published in the current regular issue and pulled into the online Special Issue.

  • Articles from a Special Issue will appear in different regular issues of the journal, although they will be clearly marked and branded as Special Issue articles.

Please see an example here: in new tab/window

For more information, please see ‘Special Issue publication process’.

Guest Editor responsibilities

  1. You are responsible, in cooperation with any other guest editor for the Special Issue, for the invitation, selection, review and editing of the manuscripts for the Special Issue, and the arrangement of the manuscripts for publication, and relations with authors. You agree to use your best efforts in cooperating with the Journal Editor and any other guest editor for the Special Issue with respect to the preparation and publication of the Special Issue.

  2. You are responsible, in cooperation with any other guest editor for the Special Issue, for ensuring that the review process for the Special Issue is conducted in an appropriate manner and in line with normal review practices for the Journal. You shall consult with the Journal Editor about the refereeing procedure to be adopted. You will ensure that the same level of quality and the same standards for Special Issue manuscripts shall be maintained as for regularly contributed manuscripts to the Journal and that these shall be consistent with the standards as set by the Journal and Elsevier. You shall make the preliminary decision on all manuscripts following the peer-review processes of the Journal. The Journal Editor shall have the sole right to review and/or reject any manuscript or arrange for any manuscript(s) to be independently peer reviewed prior to final acceptance for publication.

  3. Any proposed change to the guest editors for the Special Issue must be reviewed and approved by both the Journal Editor and the Publisher. In the event that any change to the guest editors is not approved by the Journal Editor or the Publisher, the Special Issue will no longer be produced and published.

  4. In order to facilitate the review process, Elsevier will arrange access to the Journal’s electronic submission system for you for the purposes of completing the Special Issue. The Journal Manager will be in contact with you to discuss with you how to use this system to manage your Special Issue.

  5. In order to facilitate a timely publication schedule, you are responsible to adhere to the agreed number of expected papers for publication in the Special Issue, the deadline for all manuscripts to be submitted to the Journal’s electronic submission system and the deadline for all manuscripts to be ready for production (i.e., final decisions made on all manuscripts and communicated to all involved parties). Any extension of these deadlines must be approved in advance in writing by Elsevier.

  6. If submission of material for the Special Issue exceeds the aforementioned deadline, manuscripts submitted for that Special Issue may be considered as regular manuscripts for inclusion in a standard issue with an acknowledgement of the work of the Guest Editor(s) or Elsevier may terminate this agreement without liability by written notice.

  7. Every author must submit a declaration of competing interests, together with a statement for each article specifying all funding sources for the study (such as pharmaceutical companies or medical communications agencies). You will ensure that the Special Issue contains full disclosure of the origins of the Special Issue, including a history listed as a publisher’s note.

  8. All material, including, but not limited to emails, submitted to you is the confidential property of Elsevier or (if the journal is owned by a third party) the owner of the Journal. You assign to Elsevier all rights you may have in and to the Special Issue (including the selection, compilation and/or the editing of the material published in the journal). Elsevier may also use your name, biography and professional affiliation for purposes of promoting the Special Issue.

  9. If any material from third parties is incorporated in the Special Issue, the author shall have procured prior to the date of manuscript delivery, at the author’s expense, permission in writing from each copyright holder of such material to use such material in the manuscript. All previously published material shall be fully acknowledged in the manuscript.

  10. You will ensure that the scientific content of the Special Issue complies with the Aims and Scope of the Journal, Elsevier’s editorial policies as updated from time to time (including without limitation those on ethics in publishing at Elsevier’s website), the editorial policy of the Journal and the specific ethics requirements. You will conduct your activities in accordance with generally accepted standards for integrity and objectivity, such as the Committee On Publication Ethics (“COPE”- in new tab/window) publishing ethics guidelines.

  11. Where there is a sponsor for the Special Issue, you will not permit the sponsor to intervene in or otherwise influence the manuscript editing process and will not follow any instruction from the sponsor or otherwise be influenced by the sponsor in relation to any of the manuscripts or any other content to be published in the Special Issue.

  12. You represent and warrant that you have disclosed to the Journal in writing all actual and potential competing interests, both financial and non-financial, if any, in relation to the editorial activities to be performed for Elsevier, and that you will update such disclosures promptly as and when any actual or potential future conflicts arise. (Examples of financial conflicts include employment, consultancies, stock ownership, honoraria, paid expert testimony, grants, patents or patent applications, and travel grants. Competing interests may also arise because of personal relationships, academic competition, and intellectual beliefs, such as political or religious beliefs.)

  13. You represent and warrant that you are familiar with all applicable conflict of interest and outside compensation laws and regulations as well as policies and rules of your employer or institution (if applicable), and that your acceptance of this appointment, the terms of this appointment letter and your performance of the role, including your participation in editor conferences, trainings and meetings and acceptance of transportation, hospitality, food and lodging provided by Elsevier to you in connection therewith, are and will be in compliance with those laws, regulations, policies and rules. You further agree to comply with all other applicable laws, ordinances, codes, regulations, standards and judicial and administrative orders (collectively, “Applicable Laws”) relating to your duties, obligations and performance to Elsevier, Applicable Laws pertaining to data protection, transparency and privacy; and Applicable Laws prohibiting bribery and fostering transparency, including, without limitation the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the UK Bribery Act and the US Physician Payment Sunshine Act and those other laws enforced in the country where business is being conducted and/or your place of business or residency. You agree to engage only in legitimate business and ethical practices in commercial operations and in relation to your dealings with any employee or official of a government agency or any other government owned, operated or controlled entity (including, without limitation, state run universities, hospitals and libraries), or political parties or candidates (jointly “Government Official”). You shall not pay, offer, give, promise or authorize the payment, directly or indirectly, of any monies, gifts or anything of value to any commercial contact or Government Official for the purpose or intent to induce such person to use his/her authority to help the other party or any affiliate of the other party for personal gain (any such act, a “Prohibited Payment”). A Prohibited Payment does not include a payment of reasonable and bona fide expenditures, such as travel or lodging expenses, which are directly related to the promotion, demonstration or explanation of products or services or the execution or performance of a contract provided that such payments are permissible under the Applicable Laws.

  14. To the extent that you perform your duties using such skill and care as required in connection with your obligations hereunder, Elsevier shall indemnify, defend and hold you harmless from and against any costs arising from or out of any third-party claim in connection with the performance of your obligations hereunder, unless such third party claim is the result of your willful misconduct, fraud, or gross negligence. If any third-party claim is made, you will promptly notify Elsevier, which shall have sole authority to appoint counsel to defend the third-party claim and to conduct and control the defense of any such claim. You also agree to reasonably cooperate with the defense of any such claim as reasonably requested by Elsevier.

  15. You shall maintain all Confidential Information (as defined herein) in strict confidence, will not disclose any Confidential Information to any third party other than as necessary to perform the obligations set forth in this appointment letter, and will protect such information with the same degree of care that you exercise with your own Confidential Information, but in no event less than a reasonable degree of care. “Confidential Information” means any business, financial, operational, customer, vendor and other information disclosed by Elsevier, or the third party owner of the Journal if applicable, to you and not generally known by or disclosed to the public or known to you solely by reason of the negotiation or performance of your appointment, and shall include, without limitation, the terms of this appointment letter. The foregoing confidentiality restrictions shall survive the expiration or termination of this appointment letter

  16. Authors who require information about language editing and copyediting services pre- and post-submission should be directed to in new tab/window or to contact [email protected]opens in new tab/window for more information.

  17. Breach. In the event that there are any breach of the obligations and procedures noted herein, amongst other remedies, the Journal Editor, upon consultation with and agreement from Elsevier, or Elsevier, itself, reserves the right to cancel an entire Special Issue in their sole discretion.

  18. Independent contractors. You acknowledge and agree that you are not an employee or agent of Elsevier and that you and Elsevier are not partners, joint venturers, or otherwise associated in or with the business of the other. You are and shall always remain an independent contractor.