Proposing special issues

Africa Today typically publishes one or two special issues a year on topics that illuminate emerging or under-represented areas of inquiry in African Studies. The editors seek topics that lend themselves to interdisciplinary exchanges and analysis. Past special issues have focused on topics such as African artistic practices and new media, the sociocultural life of bus stations in Africa, and family-based healthcare in Ghana. The editors prefer single over double special issues and particularly encourage special issues whose authors or guest editors are based on the African continent. Guest editors should keep in mind that a typical special issue is shorter than an edited volume and has approximately five or six articles that are 8,000 to 10,000 words each, inclusive of notes and references.

Africa Today is a platform for approaches that are possible only in an interdisciplinary journal. Being a guest editor of a special issue is an opportunity to bring innovative research and methodologies to a broad audience. Those interested in guest editing a special issue are encouraged to submit a proposal for consideration to

Proposals should include the following elements:

  • Information about the guest editor(s): contact details, brief CVs, and discussion of how the special issue relates to the current scholarship of the guest editor(s).
  • Description of the special issue (1000–1500 words in length), including:
    • a working title for the special issue;
    • an overview of proposed aims, scope, and intended focus;
    • justification for the topic; i.e., the extent to which the proposed special issue:
      • makes an original, coherent, innovative contribution to the topic;
      • stimulates wide-ranging debate and informed discussion that would appeal to a broad interdisciplinary audience of African Studies scholars;
      • crosses intellectual boundaries and makes a compelling case for why the topic matters within disciplinary fields, and beyond them, extending outside the scholarly community;
    • the theoretical framework and empirical content of the special issue;
    • discussion of the special issue’s relationship to existing scholarship and recent Africa Today content, and how the contribution will advance knowledge in African Studies;
    • elaboration on originality of approach and conceptualization in the papers;
    • timeline for submission of papers for double-blind peer review.
  • Proposed titles and abstracts for each paper (300-450 words each) containing:
    • clear and original argument;
    • findings and their significance;
    • relevance and/or what it adds to our knowledge on its subject;
    • identification of the sources used;
    • relationship to existing scholarship on the subject.
  • Proposed contributors' bios or brief CVs, and contact details.

Africa Today editors will evaluate the proposal based on the preceding criteria and the expected quality of the articles. If the proposal passes this initial review, then all papers in the proposed special issue will be double-blind peer reviewed.

Once a proposal is accepted, the authors submit their papers for peer review via Indiana University Press’s Open Journal System (OJS), which is the required web-based interface for communications during the processes of peer review, revision, editing, and publication.

Role and obligations of guest editors

Guest editors are responsible for assisting the Africa Today editorial staff in: 1) reviewing the articles for possible publication, and then 2) processing articles accepted for publication.

1. Reviewing the articles for possible publication

Guest editors work to ensure that contributors submit their manuscripts in OJS. The guest editors also assist Africa Today editors and editorial staff as each manuscript moves through the double-blind review process. Guest editors should guide authors in making timely and complete revisions based on the comments of peer-reviewers. Guest editors also may wish to suggest possible reviewers for individual papers.

If a paper is not accepted for publication based on the review process, then it will not be included in the special issue. If several papers are not accepted after peer-review, then Africa Today editors will discuss with the guest editor(s) whether the accepted papers can be published as a special issue. If not, then the accepted articles will appear as individual articles in a future open issue, if authors agree.

2. Processing articles accepted for publication in Africa Today

Once papers have been accepted for publication, guest editors assist the editorial staff in receiving information from authors, such as Consent to Publish Forms, Contributor Information Forms, high-resolution images, artwork permissions for figures (if relevant), and other information.

Guest editors are responsible for writing an introduction. Guest editors also may ask a senior scholar to write an afterword for the special issue. Introductions and afterwords are reviewed by Africa Today editors, who may make suggestions for revision.

Guest editors work with the editorial staff and authors as the submissions move through the process of copyediting and proofing.

Guest editors are welcome to promote the special issue in relevant scholarly forums, after publication of the special issue, in consultation with Africa Today editors and Indiana University Press.