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We know that there is a lot to take on when assuming the role of guest editor. We have therefore put together this guide, which leads you through the most important aspects of the role and what you can expect from the process of editing a special issue.


Special issues of a journal are generally centered around a theme. These articles can come from papers/presentations at workshops, symposia, or conferences. The guest editors can also issue a call for papers about a particular topic. And some special issues are festschrifts honoring a certain scholar’s contributions to their field.

In the past, Sign Language Studies has featured special issues on

  • Linguistic ethnography and sign language studies (guest editors: Annelies Kusters and Lynn Hou; vol. 20, no. 4)
  • Creative sign language in the Southern hemisphere (guest editors: Rachel Sutton-Spence and Michiko Kaneko; vol. 20, no. 3)
  • Rural sign languages (guest editors: Connie De Vos and Victoria Nyst; vol. 18, no. 4)
  • Language planning and sign language rights (guest editor: Joseph J. Murray; vol. 15, no. 4)
(This is not an exhaustive list of our special issues—it’s just a sampling.)


As a guest editor, you are assuming the responsibilities of the journal editors. They will be available to give advice but you are responsible for the following:

  • coming to an agreement with the SLS editors on a specific deadline to submit the final version of the papers to SLS
  • gathering the initial submissions
  • identifying appropriate peer reviewers and asking if they are available to peer review
  • sending out and tracking the submissions for peer review (you may have to nudge some reviewers to meet your deadlines)
  • deciding whether or not to accept the submissions as is, with revisions, or whether to reject
  • communicating your decisions to the submissions’ authors
  • sending out the contributor contracts to the accepted submission authors
  • gathering all the signed contributor contracts and forwarding them to GU Press along with each author’s snail-mail address (in order to facilitate sending out the comp copies after the issue is printed) and each contact author’s email address
  • submitting a table of contents to GU Press to indicate the articles’ order and to help market your issue
  • writing an introduction to the special issue
  • submitting the final manuscripts with all of their art, tables, appendixes, etc., to GU Press by the established deadline
  • reviewing the typeset proofs (these will also be sent to the article authors)


Unless one of SLS’s editors has directly approached you about guest editing an issue, you will need to submit a proposal. The proposal should include:

  • the potential papers and authors with a brief description of each paper (these papers don’t need to be already written, though they might be in progress)
  • the timeframe in which the special issue could be produced (include time for paper writing, peer reviewing, and submission of final copy to the journal) if the proposal is accepted
  • short biographies of all authors and guest editors
  • any special timing, associated events, funding support, partnerships, or other links or relationships that could influence the issue
  • any other information that you feel is relevant

A special issue normally contains around five full-length articles, in addition to an editorial written by the guest editors (occasionally the SLS editors might want to include their own editors’ note).

Please submit your proposal to sls.journal@gallaudet.edu.

Disclosure and Conflicts of Interest

Conflict of interest exists when an author (or the author’s institution), reviewer, or editor has financial or personal relationships that inappropriately influence (bias) their actions.

The special issue may publish submissions from the guest editors but the number should normally not exceed one by each guest editor (except where specifically approved by the SLS editors). The guest editor cannot be involved in decisions about papers that they have written themselves. Peer review of any such submission should be handled independently of the relevant guest editor/coeditor and their research teams.



The guest editor should protect the confidentiality of all material submitted to the journal and all communications with reviewers. The guest editor must not disclose reviewers’ identities.

Selection of Papers and the Decision Process

You are responsible, along with any other guest editor(s), for making sure that the review process is conducted in an appropriate manner and in line with normal review practices for the journal. You may consult with the SLS editors about the procedure to be followed.

You will make the decision on all manuscripts based on peer review and your own expertise (as well as that of any co-guest editors).

Selection of Reviewers

As guest editor, you should select reviewers who have expertise in the field. You also must ask for and review all disclosures of potential conflicts of interest made by reviewers in order to determine whether there is any potential for bias.


Once all the peer reviews are finished and you are satisfied with the final accepted articles, they should be submitted with all of their art, tables, videos, contact email addresses, and any other supplementary material to deirdre.mullervy@gallaudet.edu. She will review the articles to make sure they are complete and then they will be sent out for copy editing.

Once the copy editor has finished, the articles will be returned to their respective authors for their review. Typically, there is a one- to two-week turnaround. Once the authors are finished, the manuscripts are returned to GUP for clean-up. If time is available, the clean version of the articles is re-sent to the authors for a final check before being sent to typesetting.

After the issue is typeset, proofs of each article are sent to their respective authors and a proof of the entire issue is sent to the guest editor(s). At this point in the process, we are checking for typos and any serious factual errors. Changes such as rewriting paragraphs or moving figures and tables around are not acceptable at this stage (anything that affects the pagination is very costly to change and the authors may be charged for these changes).

The article authors have the prime responsibility for proofreading their typeset articles but you may also review them and submit corrections. Once all the proofs have been returned, Deirdre will combine all of the changes onto a single marked-up proof and will return that to the typesetter. GU Press will then check all subsequent proofs to make sure the changes have been me correctly.

Final “print-ready” files are then sent to the printer, Project Muse, JSTOR, and ERIC (Education Resources Information Center). Once the issue is printed, hard copies of the issue will be sent to each of the guest editors and article authors.