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Guidelines for Special Issue Proposals

On occasion, the Computational Linguistics journal publishes issues that are focussed on specific topic areas or themes; these are referred to as special issues. The origin of a special issue is a proposal from (typically) two or more active researchers in the area, who are willing to serve as guest editors of the special issue, and commit to soliciting submissions, managing the review process in collaboration with the CL Editor, and delivering the camera ready materials for publication.

Proposals for special issues are reviewed by the CL Editor and the Editorial Board, who decide whether or not they feel there is a good reason to collect submissions for a special issue, as opposed to simply encouraging regular submissions from the group suggesting a special issue. If a proposal for a special issue is accepted by the Editor and the Board, submissions for that issue are reviewed jointly by the guest editors and the CL Editor and Board, with half the reviews being solicited by each. Decisions on each submission are also made jointly by the CL Editor and the guest editors; the CL Editor has the final say in determining the content of the issue. Submissions to special issues by the editors of those issues are generally discouraged. It is CL policy that submissions to special issues be open to all who wish to submit; submissions cannot be limited, e.g., to attendees of a particular workshop.

Specialist workshops often serve as a source of inspiration for a special issue, but it should be borne in mind that a special issue of the journal is not a repackaging of a collection of workshop papers, in at least two regards: first, a journal paper will typically be longer, more substantive, and broader in scope or coverage than a workshop paper, and will be subjected to a longer and more detailed reviewing procedure; second, as noted above, it is expected that submissions for the special issue would be received from authors other than those represented at the workshop.

A proposal for a secial issue of Computational Linguistics should include the following:

  1. Guest Editors:

    Provide the names, institutions, and contact details of the guest editors, along with a brief explanation as to why these individuals are appropriate editors for the proposed special issue.

  2. Topic Area:

    Provide a statement of the topic area to be focussed upon, in sufficient detail that those unfamiliar with it can grasp the main problems and approaches, but probably not exceeding 3-5 paragraphs.

  3. The Case for a Special Issue:

    Provide some argument for why this particular area should be given a special issue, such as the lack of other suitable forum for the work, the timeliness of the topic, and so on.

  4. Submissions:

    Include some notion of the size and geographic/institutional distribution of the community the proposers would expect to draw upon for submissions to the issue, and any organizations or institutional activities which document the vitality of the community. Evidence of the vitality of the field could include publications in other conferences or collections of papers, or recent workshops on the topic. A list of potential contributors can be a good indicator of the likely level of interest.

  5. Timetable:

    Indicate the timetable envisioned for the issue. This should take account of the following elements:

    We send issues to MIT Press around the beginning of February, May, August and November; so, we need final versions from authors by about the middle of the previous month in each case. We can publish at most 165 pages per issue without incurring large costs, but that must include book reviews and (usually) squibs. This usually means you can count on publishing 4-5 papers per issue, depending on length.

Please send your proposal, in the form of a PDF file, to, clearly indicating in the subject line that the message contains a Special Issue Proposal.

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Last Modified: 8th July 2009