The main measure of the modern research publication is its scientific value. This is what defines whether a particular paper is to be accepted for further publication or not.
Currently a research study according to its scientific level and presentation style can be published as a conference proceedings paper, as a stand-alone paper or as a paper in a special issue. Based on the widely accepted definition, the term “Special Issue” can be defined as an aperiodic collection of high quality peer reviewed papers around a specific subject. Often it is published as a part of the regular journal issues. Special Issue is edited in the style of parent journal and has a potential to increase usage and citations of the journal and to attract new authors, readers and subscribers. As a rule, the scientific level of the Special Issue publication is higher than the conference proceedings.
Presently there can be distinguished three special issue types:
- Honorary Special Issue;
- Topical Special Issue.
Honorary Special Issue publication is confined to some significant events, in most cases these can be anniversary dates of institutions, research societies or great scientists. Sometimes it is dedicated to the memory of outstanding scientists. Such publication has a high scientific level, since the authors try to promote their best articles. On the other hand, here the principal subject of special issue is disturbed – all the papers should be around a specific scientific topic.
Proceedings. The papers should go through the thorough selection in order to find the papers which are dedicated to the particular topic. From this point of view such special issue is quite good. However initially all the papers were prepared for the conference. That is why such papers are not big enough and do not uncover the full idea of their works.
Generally, when people talk about the special issue they understand the Topical Special Issue or so called Special Topic Volume. This is the case of classic special issue publication. Here we have full text research studies, which are around a predefined specific topic.
Organization and preparation of a special issue is a task of special issue editors (often 2-3 editors). In this case the editors are also the managers of the publication or its coordinators. They should compose a special issue topic, find and contact authors, reviewers and publisher. The management is not only the editor’s task. Foremost an editor must be a scientist in a specified research area, it’s desirable to have a scientific degree and experience. Ultimately the decision concerning the papers acceptance/rejection, especially in some conflict cases, is up to the editors only.
Each publishing company sets out terms, conditions and requirements of how to arrange and prepare the special issue publication. They concern the number of reviews for each paper, the number of editors, technical recommendations for paper organization. Finally, the success of special issue publication depends on the following criteria (separately and in combination):
- Accuracy of special issue title;
- Quantity and quality of the papers;
- Editor’s personal scientific experience;
- Communication interrelation between editor, publisher, authors and reviewers.