RIS issues

Reflections from the outgoing Review of International Studies editors

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As the 2020-2023 editorial team for our journal Review of International Studies (RIS) finish their term and make way for the new 2024-2027 team, it's a great time to look back on the achievements of the past four years. We would like to say an enormous thank you to lead editor Professor Martin Coward, and to all his team.

Read on for the final editorial of Martin's term, followed by some short video clips reflecting on the highlights and challenges of editing a journal during the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as some advice for early-career colleagues. Please also go on to take a look at the current issue of RIS - a special issue on Existentialism.

It has been a privilege to curate RIS for the past four years. We have received 1123 submissions and published over 160 articles. By the time we finish we will have published 4 special issues and 3 editors’ forums. We’ve organised workshops, conference panels, and early career mentoring. Journal editors are lucky to get a broad overview of the trends that are shaping the leading edge of the discipline. We hope we have contributed to pushing the boundaries of research on international politics broadly construed. With special issues on the multiple origins of international politics, on pluriversal relationality, and on multispecies international politics, we have hopefully played a role in generating new conversations about the many forms that politics takes on a global scale.

Inevitably our time editing RIS was shaped by the impact of Covid. We started our editorial term in January 2020. Very quickly academic life was reshaped by the various measures put in place to control Covid, not least working from home (with all the problems of balancing home life and work life that raised) and travel restrictions (especially on international air travel). It's hard to disentangle the various impacts of Covid. However, we think there are at least two worthy of mention here. On the one hand as a team, we were unable to meet in person until the summer of 2022, halfway through our editorial term. As such, this meant that most of our strategy discussions had to take place online. Moreover, we had to rethink how we edited RIS, not least adapting to new ways of working, the demands of home schooling, and Covid infections. Secondly, we had to rework all the plans we had for conference panels, workshops, outreach and engagement. For example, editors forums and special issues became online workshops (e.g. Disruption By Design).

While the impacts on the editorial team were significant and uneven, there was a greater impact on the number and source of submissions. This impact was both immediate and lasting. In particular, we are concerned that women (and we assume other marginalised groups, although we do not have data on this) were disproportionately impacted by Covid and that this affected their ability to complete and submit articles. While RIS continues to achieve gender parity in its published articles, there was a significant dip in submissions by women. It is hard to identify the cause of this, but we suspect it was related to the disproportionate impact of home schooling and other care responsibilities on women. In response we organised two workshops for women early career scholars in 2021. One workshop provided space and feedback for authors to enable them to bring articles to the point of submission. Because of the overwhelming demand, we also organised another that provided an opportunity to ‘meet’ others who had similar experiences and find ways back to writing and submitting.

These workshops are a part of a wider initiative on the part of the editorial team to make RIS a more inclusive and representative space. The aim was to publish authors who might otherwise be underrepresented in mainstream international politics journals. For example, we have increased the number of articles by authors working in places historically underrepresented in anglophone international politics journals (particularly outside Western Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand). While we do not think that journals are able to change the nature of the discipline, we do feel that it is our responsibility to better reflect the multiple voices that comprise the global international politics community.

We leave RIS on the cusp of its 50th volume. In 2024, we will be publishing a 50th anniversary issue - Global politics: the next fifty years. The aim of this special issue is to think through the key challenges facing international politics – as a discipline and set of empirical problems – in the next 50 years. We particularly want to think about the agendas and problems that will emerge in the near, mid and long term future of international politics, broadly construed. We hope this issue will broaden our understanding of what comprises international politics, and the challenges that we face both conceptually and empirically. We hope this issue will embody the ethos of the editorial team and make RIS a place where key conversations that shape the discipline occur.

As we finish our editorial term, we would like to say thank you to some people without whom we could not have published RIS. Firstly Ellie Phillips, our editorial manager has ensured that RIS is run in a professional manner throughout some very challenging circumstances. Ellie has worked tirelessly to coordinate a globally dispersed team and ensure that the editorial process keeps moving. Secondly, Beatriz Buarque did a fantastic job as our social media assistant. Publication is just the beginning of an article’s life. Promotion and dissemination through a variety of media channels is central to ensuring that articles reach the audience that they deserve. Beatriz ensured that the reach and visibility of the research that RIS publishes has grown consistently over the past four years. Chrissie Duxson has provided absolutely essential support with the promotion of RIS, making sure that our authors reach BISA members and beyond. Chrissie has worked to implement key projects such as video abstracts, which have meant that our authors have found new readers. Our editorial board members have been an important source of support for the journal, not only in writing a significant number of article reviews but also judging the annual article prize. We would also like to thank Juliet Dryden, Ruth Blakeley and Kyle Grayson at BISA, who have provided key infrastructure and financial support throughout our editorial term. Lastly, David Mainwaring, Jim Ansell, Jack Pendred, and James Thomas at Cambridge University Press provided invaluable advice and logistical support throughout the last four years. We hope that RIS has published research that challenges the boundaries of international politics, broadly construed. We wish the new editorial team the best of luck for the next four years – we are confident they will do an amazing job.

Highlights 2020-2023 - Martin Coward

Martin gives a short round up of his highlights editing RIS, including some fantastic special issues.

Submitting your first article - Mat Paterson

Mat talks 'revise and resubmit' and why it shouldn't feel like a failure, as well as how to navigate the review process. What outcome should you expect? And what does it really mean?

The challenges of editing a journal during the pandemic - Nisha Shah

Nisha Shah discusses the challenges of editing a journal during the covid-19 pandemic and how they pivoted work to keep the journal functioning through such a difficult time.