Policy Press

Publishing with a Purpose

Instructions for authors

What are looking for?

Research articles: Normally no longer than 8000 words, including abstract (150 words maximum), notes, tables, figures and references. Articles may cover research and analysis of any part of the voluntary sector or the third sector and civil society more generally and may include scholarly inquiry, research findings, and applied analysis of relevance to practitioners and decision makers. Contributions about research methods, especially those aimed at improving third sector research practice, are also welcome. A research article is more likely to be accepted for publication if it:

  • starts with a clear statement of the issue that it addresses, together with an explanation of why the issue is of interest to and important for readers of Voluntary Sector Review;
  • embeds the issue it addresses in the relevant literature, reviewing the most important and influential previous work that bears directly on it;
  • as appropriate, sets out the theoretical perspective or policy context or practice environment that informs the article;
  • where empirical findings are reported, describes the sample design, primary or secondary data collection methods and analysis techniques used in sufficient detail for the reader to be able to understand how to the study might be replicated;
  • where prior literature rather than, or as well as, empirical study provides the basis for the article, explains how that literature was selected and reviewed;
  • systematically sets out the key findings relevant to the issue addressed in the article, relating them to previous work covered in the literature review;
  • identifies to what extent and in what ways the findings and discussion contribute to new empirical knowledge about and/or better theoretical understanding of the voluntary sector;
  • considers the limitations of the study and the implications these have for the conclusions;
  • teases out the implications for future research, policy or practice; 
  • considers whether there are implications for countries beyond that which is the primary focus of the article.

Practice and Policy papers
: 2000–3500 words, including abstract (75 words maximum), keywords and references.

Practice papers are short contributions from practitioners commenting on governance, management, fundraising or operational issues, including case studies or examples of change and development within their own organisations, lessons learned and wider practice implications. Read our Guide to preparing Practice Papers.

Policy review articles should provide information about and comment on recent changes or new initiatives within the UK policy environment or within other comparable national or regional policy contexts, including formal proposals from government or policy ideas emanating from think tanks and voluntary sector agencies. The reviews should set out the context and purposes of the policy, describe its content (making reference to key documents or legislation) and comment both on its strengths and weaknesses and on its implications or significance for the voluntary sector. Where appropriate, reviews should include examples or case studies, and draw briefly on any relevant research, voluntary sector or other literature.

In all sections, contributions are welcome from the UK, and also from Europe and beyond, especially if they include cross-national comparisons that bear on the UK experience. 

All submissions will be subject to normal peer review processes. The Editorial Team aim to provide quick decisions and to ensure that submission to publication takes no more than twelve months. 

Book reviews: Books for review should be sent to James Rees, Book Review Editor, Voluntary Sector Review, Third Sector Research Centre, School of Social Policy, Muirhead Tower, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2RT, UK, +44 (0)121 414 8975, j.e.rees@bham.ac.uk.

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How to Submit

All submissions should be made online at the Voluntary Sector Review Editorial Manager website: http://vsr.edmgr.com, in Word or Rich Text Format (not pdf). New users should first create an account, specify their areas of interest and provide full contact details.

Submissions must be completely anonymised and uploaded without preliminary details, such as title, author, affiliations, abstract or keywords in the text file. All submissions will be subject to anonymous peer-review processes (unless stated otherwise) by referees currently working in the appropriate field.

The editors aim to provide quick decisions and to ensure that submission to publication takes the minimum possible time. Please note: submissions that, in the opinion of the editors, have not been anonymised for review will be returned to authors. The final decision on publication rests with the managing editors.

For help submitting an article via Editorial Manager, please view our online tutorial.

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Copyright and Permissions

Articles are considered for publication on the understanding that on acceptance the entire copyright shall pass to Policy Press as publisher of Voluntary Sector Review. Authors will be asked to sign a copyright agreement to this effect. All authors should agree to the copyright assignment. For jointly authored articles the corresponding author may sign on behalf of co-authors provided that s/he has obtained their consent for copyright assignment. When submitting online, the copyright assignment agreement is considered to be signed when the corresponding author checks the relevant box. The copyright assignment agreement can be read here.

Where copyright is not owned by the author(s), the corresponding author is responsible for obtaining the consent of the copyright holder. This includes figures, tables, and excerpts. Evidence of this permission should be provided to Policy Press.

General information on rights and permissions can be found here: http://policypress.co.uk/rights-permissions.

To request permission to reproduce any part of articles published in Voluntary Sector Review please email Policy Press: pp-info@bristol.ac.uk

Please also read our Journals Editorial Policies and Ethics Guidelines.

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  • British English spelling and punctuation is preferred.
  • Non-discriminatory language is mandatory.
  • Explanatory notes should be kept to a minimum. If it is necessary to use them, they must be numbered consecutively in the text and listed at the end of the article. Please do not embed notes in the text.
  • Please do not embed bibliographic references in the text, footnotes, live links or macros; the final submitted file should be clear of track changes and ready for print.
  • Tables and charts should be separated from the text and submitted in a Word or Excel file, with their placement in the text clearly indicated by inserting: ‘Table X here’. Please provide numbers, titles and sources (where appropriate).
  • Figures, diagrams and maps should be separated from the text and, ideally, submitted in an Encapsulated PostScript (.eps) file. Figures created in Word or Excel are acceptable in those file formats. If the figures, diagrams and maps are in other formats (i.e. have been pasted into a Word file rather than created in it) please contact dave.j.worth@bristol.ac.uk for advice. Please indicate where figures should be placed in the text, by inserting: ‘Figure X here’ and provide numbers, titles and sources (where appropriate).

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A custom version of the Harvard system of referencing is used:

  • In-text citations: give the author’s surname followed by year of publication in brackets
  • List all references in full at the end of the article and remove any references not cited in the text
  • Book and journal titles should be in italics
  • Website details should be placed at the end of the reference. Do not include dates of access to websites
  • Spell out all acronyms in first instance.


Example of book reference
Dorling, D, 2010, Injustice: Why social inequality persists, Bristol: Policy Press

Example of journal reference
Warin, P, 2012, Non-demand for social rights: A new challenge for social action in France, Journal of Poverty and Social Justice 20, 1, 41–53 

Example of chapter within edited / multi-authored publication 
Levitas, R, 2011, Utopia calling: Eradicating child poverty in the United Kingdom and beyond, in A. Minujin and S. Nandy (eds) Global child poverty and well-being: Measurement, concepts, policy and action, Bristol: Policy Press, 449–73

Example of website reference
House of Commons Debates, 2010, Work and pensions (CSR), Hansard, 4 November, col 337WH, www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm101104/halltext/101104h0001.htm

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English Language Editing Service

Policy Press collaborates with Enago to provide Academic English editing and translation services to help authors get their manuscript submission-ready. A special 20% discount is available for all Policy Press authors. Find out more at: https://www.enago.com/policypress/.


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