Policy Press

Publishing with a purpose

Instructions for authors

What are we 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.

Policy and Practice papers
: 3000–4000 words, including abstract (75 words maximum), keywords and references.
Policy and Practice papers are short contributions from researchers, policy makers and practitioners discussing policy developments, research findings or practical insights that will be of relevance and value for policy makers and practitioners. For more information read our Guide to preparing Practice Papers.

Research notes: 2000-4000 words.
Research notes may follow a less strict paper structure than full papers but still need to make a contribution to the study of voluntary sector. They must have an abstract, use standard referencing and their formatting must adhere to the style set out below.

Research notes are scientifically valid research outputs that cannot be considered as full research or methodology articles. Research notes can present intriguing initial and/or time-sensitive observations or a novel idea, advance a new idea, theoretical perspective, methodological approach or data or publish a brief summary of a study that is usually difficult to publish (e.g. with non-significant results), or any other scientific contribution in a short format.

The aim of research notes is to encourage debate in voluntary sector studies. Therefore, when writing a research note, it is important that the author(s) are clear on what kind of contribution they want to make to the field of voluntary sector studies, that they present a clear argument and that they bring in a novel view to the attention of the journal’s readers. The role of the research note is thus to serve as a form of incubator for new thinking in the field of voluntary sector studies. Research notes can also be invited by the editorial team.

In general, research notes will be peer reviewed using following criteria: suitability for the VSR, contribution to the field, scientific rigour, strength and clarity of the argument, urgency, and international relevance.

Book reviews:
Books for review should be sent to:
Eddy Hogg, Book Reviews Editor, Voluntary Sector Review, Room CNE 110, Cornwallis North East SSPSSR, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NF.
Tel: +44 (0) 1227 82 7328. Email: E.Hogg@kent.ac.uk

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. 

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How to Submit

All submissions should be made online at the Voluntary Sector Review Editorial Manager website: http://www.editorialmanager.com/vsr/default.aspx.

Editorial Manager

Manuscripts must be 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.

Preparing your anonymised manuscript

Your initial submission must consist of the following separate files:

    1. A cover page including: the article title, author name(s) and affiliations (institution affiliation and country only, no department details required), the article abstract (up to 150 words), up to 5 key words/short phrases and the article word count including references. A cover page template is available to download here.

    2. A fully anonymized manuscript which does not include any of the information included in the cover page. It should not include any acknowledgments, funding details, or conflicts of interest that would identify the author(s). References to the authors' own work should be anonymised as follows: "Author's own, [year]". Please note that submissions that have not been sufficiently anonymised will be returned.

    3. If you have any Figures and Tables please upload them as separate files at the end of the manuscript. Please indicate where these should be placed in the text by inserting: ‘Figure X here’ and provide numbers, titles and sources where appropriate. 

All authors should comply with the Bristol University Press/ Policy Press ethical guidelines.

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

Once a submission has been conditionally accepted, you will be invited to submit a final, non-anonymised version.

Checklist: what to include in your final, accepted non-anonymised manuscript

    1. A cover page including: the article title, author name(s) and affiliations (institution affiliation and country only, no department details required), the article abstract (up to 150 words), up to 5 key words and the word count.

    2. Funding details: list any funding including the grant numbers you have received for the research covered in your article as follows: "This work was supported by the [Funding Agency] under Grant [number xxxx]."

    3. Conflict of interest statement: please declare any possible conflicts of interest, or state "The Author(s) declare(s) that there is no conflict of interest" if there are none. Find out more about declaring conflicts of interest in the Bristol Universty Press/ Policy Press Ethical Guidelines.

    4. Acknowledgements: acknowledge those who have provided you with any substantial assistance or advice with collecting data, developing your ideas, editing or any other comments to develop your argument or text.

    5. Figures and Tables: should be included as separate files at the end of the manuscript. Please indicate where these should be placed in the text by inserting: ‘Figure X here’ and provide numbers, titles and sources where appropriate. For advice about less common file formats please contact dave.j.worth@bristol.ac.uk.

    6. Supplemental data: We recommend that any supplemental data are hosted in a data repository (such as figshare) for maximum exposure, and are cited as a reference in the article.
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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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Download the Endnote output style for Bristol University Press and Policy Press Journals.

Bristol University Press uses a custom version of the Harvard system of referencing:

  • 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
  • Spell out all acronyms in the 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. pp. 449-73.

Example of website reference:
Womensaid (2016) What is domestic abuse?, https://www.womensaid.org.uk/information-support/what-is-domestic-abuse/.

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