Here you will find information and guidance on acting as a guest editor for an issue of Philosophical Transactions B.
Why guest edit a theme issue?
Editing a theme issue is a serious commitment but can be a very rewarding experience. It gives you the opportunity to compile a dedicated issue of the world's first science journal on the topic of your choice, with your name on the cover. The unique publishing model allows you to showcase the latest research in your field in a way that offers the combined advantages of book and journal publishing. Via this model, each issue has its own ISBN number and DOI (so is available to cite and buy as an individual issue) and dedicated media and marketing plan, whilst all articles still retain the ability to be individually cited. All papers are made freely available after one year, and the introduction, written by you, is free immediately on publication. We also offer an open access option for authors that want it. Guest editors will receive twenty complimentary print copies of the issue and a discounted order form for distribution to colleagues.
As guest-editing can be a demanding and time-consuming project, most volumes are organized by a team of people rather than an individual. Two or three editors tends to work best.
You can see testimonials from previous guest editors here.
Submitting a proposal
Instructions on how to submit a proposal for a theme issue and guidelines on what we’re looking for in a proposal can be found here.
For more information or to make a pre-submission enquiry please contact the Editorial Office.
Structure of an issue
The introductory article is generally written by the guest editor team and is absolutely critical to the theme issue. A strong introductory article will be accessible to the readers, and convince them that the topic is crucially important. It should explain why the topic deserves a dedicated issue and why it is something that the reader should spend their time on. Introductions to theme issues are freely available online, so it will often be the article that readers will read to get a sense of the issue and use to judge whether it is worth them reading the rest of the issue.
A good introduction will discuss the other articles in the issue and set the context for the rest of the issue, defining what ground each article in the rest of the issue will be covering. At this point the 'road map' which has been set out for the authors will become apparent to the reader.
You may also wish to include a separate short preface, which is usually written by a leader in the field. This is entirely optional.
The other papers in the theme issue will generally fall into two categories:
Research articles: Some articles (aim for at least 50%) should present new data or ideas, however this must be in the context of the wider issue and be accessible and of interest to a broad audience so is likely to be written in a slightly different style to specialist reports. As a rough guideline, we would suggest that two thirds of each research article discuss and explain the accepted data, and a third present new data. It is important to remember to explain the accepted data first, in order to lay the ground and set the context for the new data. By explaining the current data and then discussing the new data, you lead naturally to looking forward towards the future of the field, and exciting the reader about the possibilities of research in this area. The authors of research articles should have a clear understanding of what the precise topic of their article is, and what it is not, before they start writing.
Review and opinion articles: It is also important to include some review articles that explain the implications of this topic to other areas of science. This is important for making the publication appeal to a wide audience, and to explain the value of this field to specific other areas. Reviews must offer a novel, interesting insight into the subject area.
We also encourage you to include other types of article, such as perspectives, mini-reviews, commentaries, policy papers etc in the issue. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Editorial Office.
Articles submitted to the journal must not have been published previously or be under consideration for publication elsewhere. Furthermore, the main findings of the article should not have been reported in the mass media. Philosophical Transactions B employs a strict embargo policy where the reporting of a scientific article by the media is embargoed until the online publication date.
Guest editor responsibilities
Full details of what is expected and the practicalities of putting together an issue will be sent to you on acceptance of the project. However here is an overview to give you an idea of what will be required.
Planning the issue
The guest editor(s) have the responsibility of defining the subject matter, and role, of every article in the issue. Editors should not simply leave each article to the discretion of its author, but rather give each author an idea of what their article should cover so that it fills into the issue as a whole. An excellent theme issue will have a cohesion that owes much to its guest editor. It is important to spell out the boundaries of each article, to ensure both a complementary approach and the absence of overlap. Above all, the guest editors should work to cover all the relevant angles of the topic, while minimizing any repetition between the articles.
All theme issues should be based around important scientific topics and contain strong contributions. However, for an issue to be really successful, it is important for the editors to set out a 'road map' of the issue, so every author can understand what is to be achieved by their article, and the issue as a whole. This must be circulated to all authors at an early stage, along with any specific instructions that you feel necessary.
If there are several editors involved, determine the precise individual responsibilities at an early stage. In addition to writing the Introduction to the issue, each guest editor may be an author on a maximum of one article in the issue.
Key points to consider are:
- Carefully plan the content of the issue to ensure broad coverage of the subject
- Ensure that all authors know what is expected from their papers
- Circulate a 'road map' for the issue so that all authors are aware of the overall content of the issue
Schedules and deadlines
You will be asked to agree dates for draft paper submission and final issue submission with the Editorial Office at an early stage. As we publish 26 issues a year our schedule has to be planned far in advance, so please try to meet these agreed dates. Keep the Editorial Office informed of any changes to the schedule, and let them know if you need help with overdue contributors or referees.
An issue tends to take around 10 - 14 months from proposal acceptance to publication. An example schedule could be:
Proposal accepted: 1st December
Draft manuscripts submitted: 1st March
Peer review: March-May
Revisions in: 1st August
Final papers ready for production: 15th September
The Editorial Office will send reminders to authors and answer author queries, however the guest editor also has an important role in ensuring that the project runs to schedule. Projects can be delayed significantly by one author, allowing other contributions to become outdated and momentum to be lost.
Changes to the line-up
If at any time post-approval you need to make changes (e.g. if an author withdraws and you want to add a replacement paper), please contact the Editorial Office as we need to approve the change.
As guest editors you are responsible for managing the papers and for the quality of the content. Every paper in your issue must maintain the quality standards for the journal. Research papers must be scientifically excellent, and all content must be novel and interesting to a general readership. Some papers for your issue may have to be rejected, so please be prepared to do this, and ensure that your authors know that this is a possibility. Guest editors are also responsible for helping the Editorial Office to ensure that all papers meet the journal’s policies.
Guest editors will manage the review process using our online paper management system, and make decisions on the papers. Each article must be sent to at least two referees besides the guest editors of the issue for comment. More information on what reviewers should be commenting on can be found here.
Acceptance and finalization
When all of your papers have been accepted, including the Introduction, we can put the issue into production. During the production process the papers will be typeset, proofread, and sent to the authors for checking.
The time to online publication depends on when the next available publication slot is, but it is generally within 2-3 months of final delivery to us. Print publication will be approximately 6 weeks later.
Open access sponsorship
All papers are made freely available one year after publication, and individual authors will also be given the opportunity to pay for immediate open access. However, some time-sensitive or particularly high-impact issues in the past have been made fully open access by sourcing funding from external bodies, e.g. funding agencies. This can lead to greater exposure than normal issues. If you would like to explore the feasibility of this model for your issue please get in touch and we can discuss the options.
After publication we will market the issue at particular conferences and meetings and send you up to 20 complimentary copies of the issue to distribute to colleagues and associates. We can also send you flyers offering the issue at a discounted rate for you to distribute.