What Is a (Virtual) Special Issue?

(Virtual) Special Issues highlight important topics of current interest. These may be exciting scientific topics of interest to the scientific community or the proceedings of a scientific meeting. They may honor prominent and influential researcher(s), or celebrate a landmark scientific anniversary. Special Issues compile new content that is invited into the journal(s), either through an invitation or open call for papers. Special Issues can range in size from around 10 articles to 100+, depending on the journal and topic, and multi-journal Special Issues are possible. All articles submitted to a Special Issue are subject to peer review and held to the same rigorous editorial standards as all other articles submitted to the journal.

For Special Issues, accepted manuscripts are published and held online as ASAP publications with a DOI. When all the manuscripts are online, they are assembled in a specific journal issue with all other contributions for that Special Issue.

For Virtual Special Issues, accepted manuscripts are published online as ASAP publications with a DOI and published in the next available journal issue (with full citation). Later, when all contributions are online, all articles to the Virtual Special Issue are gathered into an online compilation.

What Is a Collection?

Collections are another mechanism to highlight important topics of current interest as discussed above. The key difference is that Collections compile content that has already been published in a journal or group of journals, into a topically related compilation. All articles gathered into a Collection have been fully peer reviewed and have been held to the same rigorous editorial standards as all other manuscripts submitted to the journal.

Throughout the rest of these guidelines, we will use the term "Special Issue" but these guidelines would also be applicable to Virtual Special Issues.

What Role Does a Guest Editor Play?

Some ACS journals utilize Guest Editors to help organize Special Issues. For guest edited Special Issues, ACS follows guidelines from the Committee on Publication Ethics. Guest Editors can add scientific expertise that complements the existing expertise of the editorial board and can help expand the network of potential authors to be invited to contribute to a Special Issue. Through this role, Guest Editors can expand their own network and work closely with journal editors to gain insight into the editorial process.

What Are the Responsibilities of a Guest Editor at ACS?

  • Guest Editors may either submit a proposal for a Special Issue (see details below) or a journal may invite a Guest Editor(s) to guest edit a Special Issue. Guest Editors work closely with the Managing Editor, Editor-in-Chief (EIC) and/or Associate Editor(s) (AEs) of the journal throughout the process.

  • Guest Editors can suggest names of potential authors to invite for the Special Issue. Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Respect is a core value for ACS, thus we request Editors and Guest Editors to keep this in mind when selecting researchers to invite for Special Issues. The list of invitees is subject to approval from the EIC and/or AE. Once the list is approved, the Guest Editors may invite the potential authors to contribute to the Special Issue, or the journal may choose to send the invitations (or both).

  • Guest Editors work with the journal editors to set deadlines for submissions and expected publication date of the Special Issue. Guest Editors prepare the editorial or preface to introduce the Special Issue, in collaboration with the EIC and/or AE. They may also be asked to group the articles into subsections or a particular order for the Special Issue and webpage.

  • Guest Editors do not receive an honorarium.

  • Guest Editors do not handle the peer review process of the manuscripts and may occasionally act as Reviewer on a small fraction of the manuscripts submitted to the Special Issue.

  • Guest Editors are invited to help promote the published Special Issue (through social media or email, for example).

  • Optional: Guest Editors may be asked to help answer pre-submission inquiries from prospective authors (in consultation with the EIC or AE).

  • Optional: Guest Editors may help prepare a Call for Papers for the Special Issue.

  • Optional: Guest Editors may be asked to prepare cover art for the Special Issue.

  • Optional: Guest Editors may submit an article to a Special Issue that they are guest editing; this will be held to the same editorial standards as any other submitted manuscript.

What Are the Editorial Policies for Special Issues?

All manuscripts in a Special Issue undergo a rigorous peer review process, handled by a current Associate Editor of the journal, and they are held to the same editorial standards as any other manuscript submitted to the journal. Full details of the editorial policies for any ACS journal can be found in the journal’s Author Guidelines located on the journal homepage or via the ACS Researcher Resources.

How Can I Propose a New Special Issue?

Proposals for new Special Issues should be submitted to the journal EIC office for consideration. Contact information can be found on the Editors and Editorial Board page for any ACS journal.

Proposals should include a list of suggested Guest Editors, a tentative title and timeline, details of the proposed topic, and a brief summary of why a Special Issue on the topic would be timely.

What Role Do Guest Editors Have in Collections?

Guest Editors may also be involved in the preparation of Collections. For Collections, Guest Editors are involved in the article selection and help prepare an introductory preface or editorial summarizing previously published content in ACS journals.