Urban Studies Journal

An International Journal of Research in Urban Studies

Urban Studies Journal

Urban Studies Journal website

2 Year Impact Factor: 4.418

Urban Studies 10 out of 42 | Environmental Studies 41 out of 127


5 Year Impact Factor: 4.869

Urban Studies 9 out of 42 | Environmental Studies 38 out of 127


Full Journal Indexing and Metrics available here


  1. Aims and Scope
  2. Submission types
  3. Abstracting and Indexing
  4. Submission Guidelines

Aims and Scope

Urban Studies is an international peer-reviewed journal for urban scholarship. We welcome all original submissions that further our understanding of the urban condition and the rapid changes taking place in cities and regions across the globe. Contributions are welcome from across the full range of social science disciplines and are expected to advance empirical and theoretical knowledge of the urban from both positive and normative perspectives.  Such contributions may be formatted in a variety of ways:

  • As standard research articles of between 4,000 and 8,500 words.
  • As debates papers of between 8,000 and 10,000 words.
  • As critical commentaries of between 4,000 and 6,000 words.
  • In the form of guest edited special issues, comprising 10-12 thematically related contributions (of any of the above noted types) supported by an editorial introduction of around 5,000 words and reflective commentaries of around 3,000 words.

The journal favours contributions which move beyond the profiling of specific cities or phenomena that are relevant only to single or an extremely limited number of locations. Rather the journal seeks contributions that focus on matters that are intrinsically urban in nature and studies into urban process and urban outcomes that, while grounded in specific locations, contribute to a wider urban theoretical and conceptual understanding.

Urban Studies, which is published in association with Urban Studies Journal Limited, is committed to assisting the greatest practical extent of knowledge mobilisation of the material it publishes, including through social media, blogging and its website https://www.urbanstudiesonline.com/. The journal also publishes book reviews for relevant and significant new publications.

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Submission types

Research articles

Articles may be theoretical or empirical, but authors should note that in the case of empirically focused manuscripts the subject matter should be suitably positioned in theoretical and/or conceptual terms. All articles are expected to have original content. They should not have been previously published, nor be under simultaneous consideration by another academic journal – if this is found to be the case, your paper will be withdrawn immediately. Originality, clarity of writing style, logical structure of argument and integrity of empirical data are essential for an article’s acceptance. Authors are asked to submit articles that convey a strong sense of urban place. Relevant contextual background must be provided to enable an international readership to be fully cognizant of the urban location under study. Any local terms must be explained. The article should not assume any prior knowledge of the local setting. Authors are encouraged to reflect on urban debates in this journal and beyond. Authors need to choose an analytical structure that supports the logical unfolding of the text and assists the reader in following the argument. The structure of an article is greatly enhanced by a strong introduction and conclusion. The introduction is key to signposting what the article is about and the conclusion must highlight the article’s various finding and themes, inter-relating them and drawing attention to their more general analytical significance. The word restriction on submitted manuscripts is between 4,000 and 8,500 words (including references, notes, appendices, tables and figures). Each table or figure will count as 250 words (approximately half a page of text) regardless of size - please disregard its actual word count. If your paper exceeds the specified word limit it will be withdrawn.


Critical Commentaries

Urban Studies has been publishing Critical commentaries since 2008 as a distinct article format. They have subsequently been followed by the introduction of other article formats, including Debates papers. This reflects a concern that the conventional research article format can squeeze out other types of innovative contribution. The underlying aim is to encourage more critical debate and reflection in the journal.

Critical commentaries retain a distinctive place within the journal, alongside these other new article types. They aim to provide a forum for urban scholars and researchers to address some of the ‘bigger questions’ surrounding cities and urban development through critical argument and reflection rather than the primary research findings that underpin the conventional research article. They allow for a reasoned and powerful point of view to be presented in a somewhat less formal (and possibly more polemical) style. Relative to Review papers, Critical commentaries are envisioned as shorter, topical think-pieces rather than full-length review articles.  The target length is 4000–6000 words, including references.

Critical commentaries aim to provide a forum for novel viewpoints of urban issues and questions, where our aim as editors is to encourage submissions from authors capable of taking a critical urban issue and developing a reasoned argument, exposing, inter alia, its nature, context, presentation as discourse, contradictions and implications. Whilst often written from a deep knowledge of particular cities, the scope of Critical commentaries should not be confined to an individual city, seeking to always connect to broader aspects of the urban condition that are of interest to our international readership (see below).

Critical commentaries published by Urban Studies in recent years have covered topics such as urban resilience, the subprime crisis, gentrification and ‘smart urbanism’. We are particularly keen to encourage critical debate through the Critical commentary symposia format which incorporates short responses to the original commentary by other researchers, alongside a reply by the original author. The first of these (published in May 2016) is comprised of a set of responses to Loic Wacquant’s reflections on his Urban Outcasts book, while the second debates the meaning and significance of the post-political condition for cities.

If you would like to discuss a possible Critical Commentary submission to Urban Studies, please contact the Critical Commentaries Editor, Alison Bain.


Debates in urban studies

We invite critical review articles that outline and assess current trends and developments in key areas of urban studies, summarising existing literature on cities and regions and taking it forward by providing fresh perspectives and insights.

The new section will complement our existing and well-regarded Critical commentaries section. Critical commentaries allow for the development of a reasoned and powerful point of view in a somewhat less formal style than normal articles; short, topical think-pieces rather than full-length review articles. Articles in Debates in urban studies will engage with ongoing debates around specific concepts, trends and urban processes, but offer significant new insights or syntheses, extend urban debates into new areas, or capture an emergent literature around new urban phenomena. We invite papers that will promote new thinking and analysis on the broader urban condition, challenge existing thinking and wisdom, or foster debates within specialist subfields (politics and governance, economic development, culture, housing and real estate, finance and financialisation, labour markets, environment and climate transition, gentrification, marginalisation and exclusion, etc.).

Debates in urban studies offers a potential platform for early career researchers (ECRs) who, through their PhD work or post-doctoral research, have been involved in a substantive and critical engagement with a corpus of urban literature and debate; and also to established scholars wishing to offer meta-perspectives on progress and future directions in their chosen fields of inquiry. For both ECRs and established scholars, the Debates in urban studies section provides a space for new and provocative insights on the urban condition, which, at the same time, demonstrate in-depth and critical knowledge of established and ongoing work in the field.

We invite papers of between 8000 and 10,000 words for Debates in urban studies, to allow sufficient space for rigorous and critical dialogue with existing perspectives and traditions in urban research. We are not seeking extended literature reviews; papers must make a novel contribution, but this can be in a plethora of different ways. In this respect, innovation and creativity in approach are also encouraged.

For further information or advice prior to submitting a paper, prospective authors are strongly encouraged to contact the Debates Editor, Lazaros Karaliotas, in the first instance with a brief 150 word synopsis setting out the broad idea that they have in mind.


Special Issues

Special Issues of Urban Studies are an integral element of the Journal. At present normally 3 or 4 Special Issues appear each year, covering a wide range of topics.

Special Issue publication raises two major challenges. First is the need to ensure that the quality of the published articles is at least equal to that of articles published in ordinary issues of the Journal. Second, given that the Journal is published monthly and that each Special Issue will have been allocated to a particular month in advance, Guest Editors and contributors need to abide by the strict publishing deadlines imposed by the production schedule.

A Special Issue is about 90,000 words in length, with individual papers of around 8,500 words inclusive. Given the need for an introduction, and the possible value of including one or more commentaries (these are normally around 3,000 – 5,000 words long) potential Guest Editors should develop their proposal accordingly, also bearing in mind the possibility of one or more individual contributions failing to make it through the review process.


Proposal Submission and Assessment

Informal pre-submission inquiries on whether the Journal has a potential interest in particular topic areas are welcome. Such enquiries should be emailed to the Journal administrator responsible for Special Issues, Ruth Harkin.

Formal proposals can be submitted at any time. All formal proposals should be emailed to the Journal administrator responsible for Special Issues, Ruth Harkin.

Guest Editors are required to use the Urban Studies Special Issue Proposal Form to make a proposal submission. This form is designed to elicit information specifically used by the Journal to assess the submission. The form imposes strict word limitations on question responses. All aspects of the form must be completed and in doing so word limits must always be adhered to.

After submission, an initial check is made by the Special Issue Editor and the Editor-in-Chief to ensure that the proposal as submitted meets submission requirements and standards. Proposals not meeting requirements may be returned to Guest Editors for revision, or they may be rejected.

Special Issue proposals that do meet requirements are then assessed by a panel of Journal Editors. The rationale, coherence and innovativeness of the proposal are key criteria used by the Editors in this assessment. All included papers will also be expected make an original contribution to urban studies beyond their empirical subject-matter; descriptive local case studies are not acceptable. Strong submissions will also demonstrate a wide geographical range of contributions in the sense of proposals incorporating papers that examine how the main Special Issue themes play out across a range of countries and regions, as well as a broad geographical range of authors. The track record of Special Issue guest editors and paper authors is also considered.

Once the decision has been taken to advance a proposal to panel assessment, we will respond to proposers with a decision within six weeks. On the basis of panel assessment, the Special Issue Editor will issue a decision letter with one of four outcomes (Reject/Requires Major Revision/Requires Minor Revision/Provisional Accept) together with feedback on the proposal explaining the decision.


Following Proposal Assessment

Once a Special Issue proposal has been provisionally accepted, the designated Guest Editors will be issued with further guidance, which contains details of the administrative arrangements for progressing the Special Issue to publication, a publication timescale that includes important interim deadlines, and formatting requirements.

Prospective Guest Editors should note that they will be required to play an integral part in ensuring the quality of the Issue and thus of the articles comprising it. In particular:

  • Guest Editors themselves must assess each paper and advise the author(s) on changes required before it is submitted to the Journal, to ensure that their paper is likely to come through the refereeing process successfully. Individual papers may still experience difficulty in the refereeing process, including rejection. But as the loss of several papers will undermine the viability of the Special Issue it is imperative that the Guest Editor(s) ensure as far as is possible that papers are robust pre-submission.
  • Guest Editors are responsible for identifying reviewers acceptable to the Journal (active/expertise in the relevant field; absence of close links to paper authors – e.g. reviewers should not be at the same institution or have previously published with the authors) for each of the submitted papers. A minimum of 3 reviewers is required for each paper, but, as many choose to decline an invitation to review, Guest Editors should initially identify at least 6 potential reviewers per paper.
  • Guest Editors are closely involved in the decision-making process following paper review. Once all the referee reports on a SI paper have been received, Guest Editors must consider the comments of the reviewers and draft a decision letter for consideration by an assigned Journal Editor, who will retain the authority to reject or modify Guest Editor decision recommendations.
  • Guest Editors must ensure that, collectively, the individual papers submitted contribute to overall Special Issue coherence. Key will be ensuring that each of the papers clearly relates to the overall ambitions and purpose of the Special Issue. The introductory paper by the Guest Editors is pivotal here, providing the conceptual framework in which paper authors can position themselves. Papers must not read as separate case studies in which the connections to the ‘bigger issues’ raised in the Special Issue are left to the reader to identify.
  • Guest Editors must ensure that all papers are progressed timeously, so that the final set deadline for the submission of all copy is met. This will involve being proactive in maintaining progression of the papers through the review system.
  • Guest Editors must be proactive where the viability of the Special Issue is threatened by dilatory authors or by attrition of Special Issue substance through paper rejection. This will involve bringing problems to the attention of the Journal in a timely manner and discussing possible methods of resolving these problems.

Guest Editors will be required to sign an agreement document that confirms they understand and accept their responsibilities and undertake to fulfil them to the highest standards of editorial integrity.


Download the Special Issue Proposal Guidelines here.

Download the Special Issue Proposal Submission Form here.


Manuscript submission guidelines for Urban Studies

Submission FAQs.

Who to contact for more information:

For general information on suitability of a potential contribution in advance of submission, please contact Ruth Harkin.

To discuss a possible Critical Commentary submission contact the Critical Commentaries Editor, Prof Alison Bain.

To discuss a possible Debates in urban studies submission contact the Debates in urban studies Editor, Dr Lazaros Karaliotas

For all other queries, please contact one of our administration team, Ruth Harkin or Julia Macbeth 



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Abstracting and Indexing

Academic Abstracts FullTEXT Elite

America: History and Life

Avery Index To Architectural Periodicals

British Humanities Index

Current Contents / Social and Behavioral Sciences

Current Contents/ Social and Behavioral Sciences


Economic Literature Index

Family Studies Abstracts

Geographical Abstracts: Physical Geography

Historical Abstracts

IBZ: International Bibliography of Periodical Literature

IBZ: International Bibliography of Periodical Literature in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Index of Economic Articles

International Bibliography of Book Reviews of Scholarly Literature in the Humanities and Social Sciences

International Bibliography of Book Reviews of Scholarly Literature on the Humanities and Social Sciences

International Development Abstracts

Journal of Economic Literature (and JEL on CD)

Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts

Middle East Abstracts & Index

Multicultural Education Abstracts

PAIS International

Public Administration Abstracts


Social Science Abstracts

Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI)

Social Sciences Index

Sociological Abstracts

Studies on Women & Gender Abstracts

Urban Studies Abstracts

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