Submission Resources

On this page you will find materials to help guide successful submission of research material for publication in Urban Studies. This includes information on some of the distinct article formats we have introduced to complement the standard research articles that form the majority of contributions to Urban Studies. You will also find guidance on journal referencing and statistical significance standards, the actual submission process and on who to contact for further information.

For guidance on submitting your paper to Urban Studies, please click here.

Author User guidelines for Manuscript Central.

Commonly asked questions.

Types of Submission

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be under simultaneous consideration by another academic journal – if this is found to be the case, your paper will be withdrawn immediately.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). One table or figure will count as approximately half a page of text or 250 words. If your paper exceeds the specified word limit it will be withdrawn.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: Policy reviews, Methodological papers and Review 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.

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 (currently in press) 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 Vanessa Watson at [email protected]. The target length is 4000–6000 words, including references.

 

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, Andrew Cumbers, at [email protected] in the first instance with a brief 150 word synopsis setting out the broad idea that they have in mind.

Methodological papers

Following the successful introduction of Policy reviews in 2013 as a distinct form of contribution, Urban Studies is launching Methodological papers as a further new article format.

In launching Policy reviews, we noted that the traditional research article format can act to squeeze out other possible and valid forms of contribution. Policy reviews and the longer established Critical commentary format have now moved us a long way towards resolving this problem. Methodological papers aims to deliver yet further progress.

Methodology per se occupies a particularly interesting position in regard to urban research, given the openness of the field to legitimate enquiry from across the full range of social science disciplines. First, many of the questions of interest within urban studies are addressed in systematically different ways by virtue alone of the author’s underlying social science discipline. This can lead to disconnected parallel debates, and to lost opportunities for true interdisciplinary advance.

Second, it is rarely the case that researchers from one domain of the social sciences explicitly seek to explore in their own work the potential of methodological lines of inquiry habitually adopted in others, which again may lead to missed opportunities and the reinforcement of a certain conservatism in the conduct of urban research. Third, methodology itself is a dynamic field of research endeavour; while Urban Studies is obviously not the appropriate journal for contributions entirely focused on methodological matters as subject, we would wish to see it play an active role in exploring the potential of recent methodological advances to inform the understanding of urban processes and outcomes. In short therefore, the editors of Urban Studies believe that it will be helpful to advance debate in the field of urban research through the promotion of Methodological papers as a specific new article format. Given that one of the objectives of the Methodological papers format is to encourage innovation, we do not wish to be prescriptive in terms of the scope and content of contributions that might be submitted for consideration. However, as an illustration, suitable papers might seek to:

  1. Outline and critique a new analytical approach that has recently been, or has potential to be, applied in the field of urban research

  2. Provide a detailed exposition, using some new or secondary empirical examples, of the application of a new technique (this is likely, but need not necessarily be, an applied or quantitative technique

  3. Examine areas of research that are strongly associated with a particular method, but which might benefit from a methodological re-think. This might potentially also include meta analyses of empirical results relating to areas of research that are reaching maturity, but for whose research questions there is not yet a clearly expressed consensus

Clearly, it is also imperative that contributions to the methodological papers section should demonstrate strong existing or potential applicability and relevance to researchers engaged with urban issues. If you would like to discuss a possible Methodological paper submission to Urban Studies then please contact the Methodological papers Editor Chris Leishman at: [email protected].

 

Policy Reviews

Research articles in Urban Studies are judged on whether they contribute to international literature. They are generally strongly rooted in mainstream academic disciplines and seek in some way to advance those disciplines or debates and theories derived from them. These attributes are more explicit than was the case in the past. Whilst this approach encourages authors to think more carefully about the wider implications of their papers, it has come at the cost of squeezing out articles with direct and explicit policy relevance. Such articles may have no ambition to make a theoretical contribution, yet often represent high standards of scholarship.

Policy Reviews aim to provide a platform for such articles. Policy Reviews may present the findings of new empirical research, such as a policy evaluation, or be based on a critical analysis of secondary sources in order to critique a policy. They should focus on policies that are of interest to an international audience and will be especially powerful when they are able to place a policy within an international context. Alertness to specific national or other contexts is essential, as are the roles of path dependency and the issues relating to transferability. Although Policy Reviews might reflect on long-standing policies, articles that address cutting-edge initiatives and current debates are likely to be of greatest interest to our readership.

The first paper in this series is by Philip Leather and Brendan Nevin (2013) and examines the Housing Market Renewal Programme, which operated in England between 2002 and 2010. The initiative aimed to tackle the problem of high vacancy rates in residential housing in declining industrial areas of the Midlands and North. The policy involved a combination of selective demolition and new build and was in some ways pioneering.

Policy Reviews may be up to 8500 words, although the preferred length is 4000–5000 words. If you would like to offer a Policy Review, please contact our Policy Review editor  Mark Stephens at: [email protected].

 

Special Issues

Special Issues of Urban Studies are an integral element of the journal. Widely appreciated by readers, the editors are committed to their continued publication. At present normally 3 or 4 Special Issues appear each year covering a wide range of topics.

Published as an issue of the journal, their publication raises two major challenges (which help distinguish the Special Issue from the edited book). 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 be fully aware of the strict publishing deadlines imposed by the production schedule. Urban Studies has in place procedures that ensure quality control, (the test of which is that Special Issue articles are regularly among the more highly cited manuscripts published in the journal).

 

Initial Steps

Many Special issues come about as a result of convenors of conferences or similar sessions wishing to establish whether, in principle, the Editors may be interested in publishing a collection of the papers. Initial contact along these lines is welcome though any support given at this stage can only be in principle. Potential guest editors need to be aware that conference papers, unlike their published counterpart, are much more variable in their quality, and therefore, need to be realistic in what is being proposed. At this stage it is as well to bear in mind that a Special Issue is normally about 90k words in length. (If papers average 8-9k words inclusive, and bearing in mind the need for an Introduction, possible comment papers and factoring in a ‘slippage factor’(rejections arising from the refereeing process etc), proposers should have an idea of the number of papers required and whether at this early stage a proposal for a Special Issue is feasible.)

The editors encourage discussion of a proposal at this stage. 

 

Making the Case

Decisions on Special Issue proposals are made collectively by the editors. Special Issue proposals should be no more than 5,000 words in length.  Potential Guest Editors need to submit a document that:

(1)          outlines the rationale for the Special Issue, the importance in publishing a collection of papers on this particular topic (up to 750 words);

(2)          provides a list of the paper titles and abstracts for each of these (maximum of 250 words per abstract). This list should include names of the potential authors and their affiliation;

(3)          provides an outline of the possible/desired timetable for initial submission of the articles (ready, that is, for sending to referees).

Please contact the Special Issues Editor Danny MacKinnon at [email protected]

 

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 the Editor in Chief via Ruth Harkin.

To discuss a possible Critical Commentary submission contact the Critical Commentaries Editor, Professor Vanessa Watson.

To discuss a possible Policy Review submission contact the Policy Reviews Editor, Professor Mark Stephens.

To discuss a possible Methodology Paper submission contact the Methodology Papers Editor, Professor Chris Leishman.

To discuss a possible Debates in urban studies submission contact the Debates in urban studies Editor, Professor Andrew Cumbers.

For all other queries, please contact one of our administration team, Ruth Harkin, Marion Baltzer or Lindsey Towers.