Policy Press

Publishing with a Purpose

Themed issues

New call for themed issue proposals

Policy & Politics has been publishing cutting-edge papers on public and social policy, and politics for over 40 years and is committed to continuing to advance understanding of the dynamics of policy- making and implementation.

The journal’s co-editors invite proposals for themed issues that address some of the most critical challenges currently facing policymakers, and in doing so make a significant contribution to the field. Reflecting the significance and salience of these challenges, this call provides scholars with a unique opportunity to showcase new ideas and set the research agenda, with themed issues enjoying fast turnaround and prompt publication to maximise their impact.

We are particularly interested in proposals on the following topics and questions:

1.       Locating the ‘public’ in public management

How should citizens and service users be involved in public policy making and implementation?
And how should they be involved in the design and delivery of services?
How effective is co-production as a mode of governance?
How can policymakers build capacity for public involvement?
How should public involvement be reconciled with other forms of governance and accountability?

2.      The challenge of behavioural change

What are the most effective approaches to behavioural change?
What are the ethics of ‘nudging’ the public to change behaviours?
Are there limits to behavioural approaches, such as behaviours, policies and/or groups that are resistant to ‘nudge’?
How can behavioural change be sustained?

3.       Populism and policymaking

Is populism a symptom of a failure of existing approaches to policy making?
What are the implications of populism for approaches to public policy design and implementation?
What are the implications of populism for public service delivery?
How have policymakers responded to the so-called ‘populist threat’?
What are the implications of populism for future policy making?

4.       Welfare crisis and social (in)security

Has austerity created a crisis of welfare?
Can the state still deliver social security for all its citizens?
What is, or should be, the role of non-state actors in welfare policy/provision?
What are the implications of the welfare crisis for state legitimacy?
Emerging models of welfare provision in non-western countries.

5.       Poverty and inequality in the twenty-first century

Have the causes of poverty been changing and what are the implications for policy?
How should we measure poverty? What are strengths and weaknesses of existing metrics and alternative approaches?
Can government policies tackle inequality?
What is the role of non-state actors in tackling poverty?
How can policymakers give voice to individuals and communities experiencing poverty?


Themed issues need to comprise a coherent set of 4-5 excellent original research articles that reframe or develop knowledge in a way that will be of interest to the journal’s international readership. All papers will be subject to our usual editorial review process, but as far as possible will enjoy fast turnaround to ensure prompt publication.

Proposals can include papers that make theoretical, conceptual and/or empirical contributions. They can use qualitative, quantitative or mixed research methods. The key requirement is that they demonstrate how they will make a significant contribution to the field in terms of scholarly understanding.

If you would like to talk through any aspect of your proposal, please do not hesitate to contact us.


The timetable for evaluating proposals is set out below:

Call for proposals open; submit to sarah.brown@bristol.ac.uk  -  January 2019

Deadline for submitting proposals  -  21 March 2019

Decision on selection of one proposal announced  -  28 March 2019

Initial draft of articles submitted  -  By 7 June 2019

Peer reviews and feedback given  -  By 6 September 2019

Revised articles submitted and finalised  -  1 November 2019

Articles published online as fast track  -  December 2019


What are we looking for from a Policy & Politics themed issue?

The aim of a themed issue of Policy & Politics is to bring together a coherent set of cutting-edge research articles that attempts to reframe or develop a specific debate or topic. This may include theoretical, conceptual or empirical  cases  but  must  very  clearly  take  forward an area of the discipline. This  is a critical point. There is an expectation that Policy & Politics themed issues will make a significant and lasting contribution to the field.

Please ensure that your proposal includes the following sections:

1.       Title: 
This should accurately reflect the subject and content of the themed Keep it short (8-10 words), literal and ensure it includes the key terms that researchers would use to search on.

2.       Descriptor: This should be a 500-word statement about the main intellectual ‘hook’ of the proposal, how the content of the proposed themed issue engages with a set of significant issues, and its contribution to the field. Elements of distinctive ‘added value’ (theoretically, comparatively, ) should also be highlighted.

3.       Draft contents page: This should set out the structure of the themed issue with a very clear statement of whether the named contributors are confirmed or A 150-word abstract for each of the articles included in the collection must also be provided. (Themed issues are generally a collection of 4-5 papers of 8,000 words each.)


How are proposals assessed?


The journal’s co-editors will review all initial proposals and come to a collective decision on whether they feel each project is viable. If a proposal is deemed by the editors to stand little chance of acceptance, the proposers will be advised of this immediately to enable them to approach other journals (or book publishers) without undue delay. In assessing proposals, the following two criteria are of key importance.

Intellectual significance, originality and rigour
Questions that help inform this dimension include: How does this proposal seek to challenge dominant assumptions? How might this themed issue set the agenda in terms of future debates? Does the proposal have particularly novel, timely or innovative dimensions? Is it attempting to fill a significant gap in the current literature? Will it have international appeal?

Profile of contributors
Policy & Politics is committed to supporting scholars from all backgrounds, disciplines and parts of the world. Therefore a themed issue proposal might consider the following questions: Does this proposal contain a mixture of established scholars and ‘rising stars’ of the profession? Does it offer an appropriate gender balance? Is the proposal internationally inclusive?

Marketing plans

If your proposal is accepted, we will ask you to complete a marketing questionnaire and provide promotional copy (eg blogs) to help us promote your themed issue.