Research in Engineering Design

Special Issues Policy

Motto: A journal is a product; one that requires careful design, design with input from all its stakeholders.


Consider yourself invited to take part in the continuous design and improvement of this journal by providing me input, for example, by commenting on this page.

Yoram Reich, PhD 





(1)   Introduction

(2)   What is a good special issue

(3)   What cannot be a special issue

(4)   Proposing a special issue



A special issue is an issue of a journal devoted to a particular topic. Such publication brings together a collection of paper that aims at reporting on the state-of-the-art of this topic to the readers’ community.

The quality of such issue depends on the quality of the papers, the way they span the subject matter, and the way the editors of the issue connects them together to make the issue coherent and integrated.

In order to collect the best available papers on a topic, the editors need to draw on multiple sources: A recent conference or workshop may serve as a basis for several submissions; a general call-for-papers could elicit submissions from a broad audience; and focused invitations could serve as another source. There need to be sufficient time available for submission from the time the general CFP is announced to allow authors to prepare new publications.

A special issue on a subject that recently appeared in another design-related journal will likely prevent offering the same subject in RED: First, we strive to be leaders and not followers; second, we assume that most quality papers have been published in the first issue.


Types of issues

We consider offering a variety of ways to promote particular topics:

  1. A full special issue
  2. A special section or theme that is composed of several papers leaving the rest of the issue to regular submissions. Such section could be published in several issues as papers are collected.
  3. Feature paper: RED would consider publishing a paper that presents an important issue in design in order to attract researchers’ attention. Such paper would most likely be invited but undergo a regular review process. Alternatively, authors could propose to write such paper. If you want to do so, please propose it in a way similar to proposing a special issue after modifying the procedure to suite the situation.


Regular vs. special issues

It is my impression from reading and editing special issues in various journals that special issues tend to include papers that are of lesser quality than regular issues. This could result from a small number of submissions from which a fixed number has to be selected to fill a complete issue. Guest editors might be inclined to publish a paper that is not at a high level of standard because it is important to the subject matter but not at the same quality level. In other cases, papers for such issues are written quickly by authors to fit into the issue and therefore, given less resources to a regular paper. Given the present publication rate of 4 issues per year, RED will publish at most one special issue per year. Therefore, approving a special issue will be done with great care.  


What is a good special issue?

A good special issue reviews the present state of the art of the topic, providing breadth of coverage while deepening our understanding and determining future research directions. An issue could deal with long-term debates in design research in an attempt to resolve one or at least present it in a coherent view for external judgment.


What cannot be a special issue? (But exceptions might still happen…)

An arbitrary collection of the best papers from a conference cannot justify a special issue as there is no integrating theme to the papers. Such papers should simply be sent through the regular submission process because they would not enjoy special treatment due to them being best papers.

A collection of rewritten papers from a workshop/conference on a particular topic does have an integrated theme but might not be a reflection of the best work available on the subject. While an issue could originate from such workshop, a public CFP should be announced and provide sufficient time to obtain external submissions. 


Proposing a special issue

  1. Select a timely topic (you should be a recognized expert in the subject matter)
  2. Prepare a list of guest editors that will manage the publication of the special issue
  3. Prepare a review board committed for supporting the review (about 5-10 people willing to review at least 2-3 papers in this issue). Prior consent from these reviewers will ease the process significantly and assures that there is a commitment and desire by the community to see this topic highlighted in a special issue.
  4. Prepare a list of potential authors and titles of their papers. This will ensure that there is a sizable pool of submissions to the issue. Note that all submissions go through the regular review process. Therefore, no submission is guaranteed to be accepted. In fact, it will turn out that quite a few submissions will be rejected. This should be made clear to the potential authors.
  5. Prepare an integrated message of the issue backed up by the potential submissions. This message would be conveyed in the printed issue in two ways: (1) through the editorial written by the guest editors. (2) Through interlinking between the different papers in which each places its content in the context of the others.
  6. Prepare a timeline of publishing a general CFP, managing the review, etc.
  7. Submit the proposal to the Editor-in-Chief


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Last modified: 11/7/2009 10:01:19 PM