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Curating a Special Issue

Once a journal’s Editorial Board approves a proposed Special Issue (see the Proposing a Special Issue page for more details on this), it will be live and open for submissions through the journal’s website.

This page provides information on the various responsibilities the Lead Guest Editor of a Special Issue has to help ensure a Special Issue is successful.

Promoting your Special Issue

All new Special Issues have their Call for Papers added to the journal’s Open Special Issues page, and you can begin promoting the Call for Papers as soon as it is added. Lithosphere’s marketing team will conduct initial outreach on your behalf by sending the Call for Papers to researchers working in relevant fields.

Lithosphere undertakes significant promotional activities to increase visibility and reach, but the most successful Special Issues are those that are supported and promoted by their editors.

Any of the following techniques will increase the likelihood of the Special Issue receiving high-quality submissions.

  • Share your Call for Papers with researchers directly. It is more meaningful to receive an invitation from a friend or a colleague than from a publisher. Lithosphere provides a PDF version of your Call for Papers that you can send as an email attachment. Consider making personalized requests to contacts that you know are working in relevant fields.
  • Add a short description of the Call for Papers and a link to the online version to your email signature.
  • Include a one page slide at the end of conference presentations, alerting colleagues to your Call for Papers and inviting them to participate.
  • Use social media to promote the link to your Call for Papers. Tag Lithosphere—for example, using @LithosphereGSW on Twitter—and we will amplify your promotion.
  • Maintain contact with authors who have expressed an interest in participating in your Special Issue. Provide them with any support they require or send them to Lithosphere for assistance. But be wary of developing potential conflicts of interest. See our Code of Publishing Ethics page for more details.

Handling papers submitted to Special Issues

Special Issue articles follow the same peer review process as other articles in Lithosphere's journals. Guest Editors serve the same function as Academic Editors for submissions to the Special Issue. If Lithosphere identifies that a conflict of interest exists for the Guest Editors with a particular submission, that submission will be handled by one of the journal’s Academic Editors instead.

Our editorial staff provide Guest Editors with any administrative assistance they may need. Members of Lithosphere’s staff are responsible for contacting late reviewers, sending reminder emails to authors and reviewers, notifying authors of a Guest Editor’s decision, and tracking down missing material, among various other administrative tasks.

Guest Editors are responsible only for the tasks that require their subject-specific expertise, such as selecting appropriate reviewers for submitted papers and making the final decision of accepting or rejecting a paper based on the review reports.

The entire editorial process of the journal is handled using Lithosphere’s peer review system.

Guest Editors publishing in Special Issues

As a whole the Guest Editorial team is entitled to submit 3 (Research and/or Review) manuscripts and 1 Editorial (which is exempt from an APC) to their own Special Issue.

To ensure an impartial review process, submissions to the Special Issue by the Guest Editors will be handled by members of the journal’s Editorial Board.

Cost of publishing in Special Issues

Typically, Article Processing Charges (APCs) are paid by the authors of each published paper – the APC is the same amount as a regular submission to the journal the Special Issue is in. For more details on article processing charges, please see the Article Processing Charges section.

If Guest Editors wish to provide financial support for contributing authors to cover the APCs, either themselves or via a third party, this must be raised with Lithosphere’s staff at the point of proposing the Special Issue, or as soon as the Call for Papers has been issued. If approved, this may necessitate mention in the articles’ Conflicts of Interest statements and must be declared in the editorial that accompanies the Special Issue.

The Guest Editorial team receives three complimentary APC waivers.  The waivers can be used on any article in the Special Issue, including commissioned articles and articles authored by members of the Guest Editorial team. 

Publication of articles in a Special Issue

Manuscripts may be submitted for review as soon as the Special Issue opens. Accepted articles are immediately published in the Special Issue and become available to readers.

We typically allow 6 months from the initial Call for Papers to the final submission deadline. After the deadline, the Special Issue will no longer accept new submissions, but new articles will continue to appear in the Special Issue list as manuscripts make their way through the review process.

The last articles in a Special Issue will typically appear three to 55 months from the submission deadline, depending on the speed of reviews. The Special Issue is considered complete once the Guest Editors publish their introductory editorial.

Benefits of being a Guest Editor

The Guest Editorial team as a whole can contribute a maximum of three papers to their Special Issue, alongside an introductory short editorial (which is exempt from an APC). In addition, the Guest Editorial team receive three complimentary APC waivers that they can use either to commission Review articles or to publish Review or Research articles themselves.

Being a Guest Editor of a Special Issue is an excellent way to improve your academic profile. It provides the chance to interact with peers and marks you out as influential within your discipline. The relationships you develop will last beyond the publication of your Special Issue, establishing a network for future collaboration.

Lithosphere is Open Access, providing immediate, worldwide, barrier-free access to every published article. This increases the visibility and impact of work published in the Special Issue and improves the academic profiles of the Guest Editors.

Previous Guest Editors have highlighted the following as being among the most rewarding aspects of assisting in the development of a Special Issue:

  • Being at the forefront of scientific communication
  • Exerting creativity in the inception and development of a topic
  • Assembling and working with a strong team of Editors
  • Handling manuscripts close to their professional interests
  • Gaining a better understanding of editorial processes
  • Networking with like-minded colleagues around the world
  • Forging new contacts with field leaders
  • Contribution to, and recognition from, the research community
  • Seeing articles from their Special Issue referenced and cited in future articles
  • Feeling they have contributed to the development of the journal


In recognition of the Guest Editors' efforts, and to provide full transparency about the journal’s review process, the name of the Guest Editor who accepts a manuscript will be included in the published version of the article.

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