Submitting Special Issue Proposals

About Special Issues

Approximately one issue per year of Pacific Affairs is dedicated to a special issue that is guest edited. We welcome proposals for Special Issues on topics of significance in contemporary Asia and the Pacific. The themes, topics, and methodologies are open, but we normally require that at least two countries, and preferably two regions in Asia and the Pacific (e.g. East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Pacific islands), be covered. We are open to considering historical themes; however, this is only if the editor(s) make a strong case for clear relevance to the contemporary scene. In addition, cohesion of the entire set of papers (abstracts) and inter-area coverage are crucial to the success of Special Issue proposals.

A strong proposal should contain: (a) a coherent, overarching puzzle or question that binds the papers together; (b) differentiation from and/or positioning within the relevant theories; (c) logical (rather than merely logistical, i.e. conference roster) for case or area selection criteria (whether geographical or subject area); (d) explanations of methodology or methodologies used; and (e) individual paper abstracts that have clear questions and indicate a working thesis (rather than just promises to examine a question/subject).

Sample Special Issue Proposal

Please note that unlike Special Issues of some other journals, at Pacific Affairs, the journal Editor remains involved in all stages of the review process along with the Guest Editors, and retains all final decision rights regarding acceptance. These and other details are outlined in the letter of understanding between the Editor and the Guest Editors.

Once received, a Special Issue Proposal will undergo the following review process:

Pre-review of Proposal

The Pacific Affairs board will pre-review the proposal, and assess whether it should move forward as is, or invite a revised resubmission, or decide to decline. Most proposals are asked to make revisions and resubmit. We will usually re-review proposals only once. We strongly prefer that resubmissions or proposals take place within six months of the initial decision.

Please note that around 50% of all Special Issue proposals are rejected at this stage. Those proposals not rejected at the pre-review stage will still likely be asked to “revise and resubmit.” We usually re-review proposals only once (i.e. there is only one possible round for systematic revisions to the proposal). We usually require that resubmissions of proposals take place within 6 months of the initial decision.

External Review of Special Issue Papers

If the proposal is accepted (or a revised version accepted), the editor will issue a letter of understanding outlining the duties of the guest editors. Please note that after this stage, the special issue editors will be responsible for submitting masked MS Word versions of all papers (including the Introduction) by the agreed deadline, suggesting reviewers, and later, submitting revised versions of papers. The issue editors will also be responsible for communicating with individual contributors regarding revisions and deadlines. The requirements for regular submissions — empirical depth, theoretical awareness or engagement, clear writing, and adherence to our Style Guide — also apply to Special Issues papers.

Then, all the papers, including the Introduction, will be subject to our usual practice of double-blind external review. The external referees will assess the papers as either accept, revise and resubmit, or reject. If a sufficient number of papers pass the refereeing process, the special issue will proceed.

Please note that some papers from the original proposal may have to be dropped and/or replaced at this point, and in the worst-case scenario, the entire Special Issue may have to be abandoned if an insufficient number of papers are deemed acceptable by the referees and the Editor. Pacific Affairs retains the right to publish individual articles from a Special Issue that has not passed review as a whole.

Publication of Special Issue

Pacific Affairs does not guarantee a specific volume and issue of publication until after the final acceptance of the Special Issue papers (i.e. all the aforementioned steps have been cleared). We make every effort to keep the review cycle as close to that of our regular article submissions as possible.

Please also note that in instances where the publication of a conference or edited volume is planned, Pacific Affairs insists on the first right of publication (i.e. right to publish the articles prior to the conference volume). In general, we require the copyright year of any conference volume to be later than the year of publication in PA.