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Instructions for Contributors

Part 1: General Guidelines for Manuscripts

The African Studies Review (ASR) is the flagship scholarly journal of the African Studies Association (USA). The ASR publishes the highest quality African studies scholarship in all academic disciplines. The ASR’s rigorous interdisciplinary peer review seeks to contribute to the development of scholarly conversations of interest to the diverse audience of the Association’s membership and to the growth of African studies in North America, on the African continent, and in a global comparative context.

All manuscripts should be submitted through the ScholarOne site for the African Studies Review. Prior to submitting the manuscript, the author should ensure that the manuscript complies with the following guidelines:

  1. 1) Length: a manuscript should be between 7,000 and 10,000 words (INCLUDING ALL NOTES/REFERENCES). Manuscripts that are slightly over or under these guidelines may be considered, but the editors may require that the manuscripts be edited to bring them into this range in order to be published.
  1. 2) All manuscripts are subjected to double-masked redacted anonymous peer-review.  The manuscript itself may not contain the author(s)’s name or affiliation, anywhere in the text, notes, or references. To assist with this process the key items that need to be observed are as follows:
  • Use the third person to refer to work the Author(s) has/have previously undertaken, e.g. replace any phrases like “as we have shown before” with “… has been shown before [Anonymous, 2007]”.
  • Make sure figures do not contain any affiliation related identifier
  • Do not eliminate essential self-references or other references but limit self-references only to papers that are relevant for those reviewing the submitted paper and cited anonymously.
  • Cite papers published by the Author in the text as follows: ‘[Anonymous, 2007]’.
  • For masking in the reference list: ‘[Anonymous 2007] Details omitted for double-masked redacted anonymous reviewing.’
  • Remove references to funding sources
  • Do not include acknowledgments
  • Remove any identifying information, including author names, from file names and ensure document properties are also redacted entirely and anonymized. 

Manuscripts that do not meet all these criteria will be returned to the author without review.

  1. 3) An English-language 100 word abstract concisely describing the topic of the manuscript and its scholarly significance must accompany all submissions. Authors are encouraged to also submit an abstract in French and/or Portuguese.
  1. 4) Sole Source: any article submitted must not have been published elsewhere, in any language, and it may not be under simultaneous consideration at any other journal. If you have any questions about this requirement, please contact one of the editors directly via email before submitting the manuscript.
  1. 5) The African Studies Review is a journal of the African Studies Association, and the Editors prioritize submissions that appeal to a diverse and interdisciplinary African studies audience. One way to become familiar with the language and framing of interdisciplinary African studies is to read multiple articles from different issues of the ASR. 

Specific style and formatting guidelines for manuscripts appear in Part 4, below.

Part 2: Guidelines for Proposing a Forum for the African Studies Review

The African Studies Review periodically publishes a topical forum consisting of between three and five articles. The publication of a forum as part of a regular issue of the journal allows our readers to explore a topic in greater depth and from multiple perspectives. If you would like to propose a forum, and once you have received commitments from individual authors for contributions, here are the steps to follow.

1. Email the journal Editor-in-Chief (Benjamin Lawrance, and explain what you have in mind as a topic. You will receive an initial expression of interest or rejection. Upon receipt of a positive reply, please prepare a formal proposal in the capacity as “sub-editor” for consideration by the entire editorial team. In drafting your forum proposal, please provide in one single document:

  1. (1) a forum title and abstract that indicates the common thread or thematic focus that unites all of the proposed articles, and the appeal of the topic to the ASR’s multi-disciplinary readership, along with forum sub-editor(s)’ name, affiliation, and contact details;
  2. (2) the individual contributing authors’ names, titles, contact details, tentative article titles, 300-word abstracts, and list of any and all images, maps, and video or audio files, along with a statement that all contributions have not been published anywhere else in any form, and are not under consideration for publication in any other venue in any way;
  3. (3) a complete social media outreach and publicity strategy detailing how and where you will promote your forum (and if the proposal is accepted, this will be further developed with Cambridge University Press); and,
  4. (4) an outline of the role of the proposed forum’s sub-editor(s) vis-à-vis reading, revision, feedback, and other editorial work.

Forums may include either an introductory article (of 7,000 words) or a brief (3,000-word) introductory essay. Ideally, the introduction should be written by the guest editor(s). If the introduction is to be a full scholarly article, it will be sent out for peer review and thus it has to be submitted at the same time as the other articles; alternatively, if it is a shorter essay, it may not be peer-reviewed, and may be submitted via ScholarOne after all of the revised articles have been submitted and the editors have made final decisions about publication. The number of papers must be capped at 4 plus a comprehensive introduction, or 5 plus a short 2,000-3,000 word introduction. Alternatives will be entertained but must not exceed a total of 50,000-60,000 words including all notes and bibliography.

All submissions will be assessed using various rubrics, but attention will be paid to the diversity of backgrounds and origins of contributors. Editors proposing forums are strongly encouraged to ensure African and/or Africa-based authorship is a central element to any proposal.

2. The editors will make a decision based on an assessment of the relevance of the topic for the ASR readership, the diversity of the contributors, and current production constraints. If we accept the proposal, we will ask you to ensure that each author submits their article individually via ScholarOne. As part of that process each author must ensure that the manuscript conforms to our guidelines for contributors, outlined above. We strongly suggest that the guest editors, prior to the individual authors’ submitting their manuscripts to the journal, review the individual submissions and decide independently how well the various pieces will fit together as a group.

3. As we receive each manuscript, the editors will determine whether we believe it is appropriate for the journal, and whether to send it on for peer review. If we do choose to have it reviewed, we will send it out for double-masked redacted anonymous peer review. Guest editors may make suggestions about possible peer reviewers, but the editors reserve the right to select the final list of appropriate reviewers. Once we have received a minimum of three reviews of each manuscript, we will share the reviews with the guest editors, and we will jointly decide whether to accept the individual manuscript, to ask for re-submission of the manuscript after revisions, or to reject it. The editors reserve the right to make the final decision about whether an individual article will go forward in the process to publication.

4. We will set deadlines for the submission of revised manuscripts (usually 60 days from the date we send the peer reviews and the decision letters to the authors), and tentatively assign a publication date. We suggest that guest editors ask the individual authors to send them via email copies of the revised manuscripts once they are completed in addition to uploading the revised manuscripts to ScholarOne. Please note that publication dates can shift as a result of a number of external factors as well as factors relating to the particular forum itself.

5. Once we receive each revised manuscript, the editors will review it, and, in consultation with the guest editors, decide whether to send it for further review, to accept it, or to ask for additional revisions, or to reject it. If and when we accept the manuscript, it will go to copy-editing at a time appropriate for the tentative publication date. Each author should expect that, in the copy-editing stage, he or she may be asked for some additional revisions.

We are eager to work with guest editors to produce compelling forums, and we are prepared to adjust these guidelines in individual cases. Forums, however, should not be viewed as a substitute for special issues or edited anthologies. Our mission is to publish significant articles in the social sciences and humanities that reflect original research and are of interest to a multi-disciplinary audience of African studies scholars and students. 

Part 3: Book and Film Reviews

All book reviews and film reviews are solicited by the Review Editors.

Part 4: Requirements for the Formatting of Manuscripts Submitted to the ASR

All submissions are made via ScholarOne. Authors must answer all questions before final submission is accepted. Submissions that do not conform to all style and format requirements, stipulated below, will be returned by the Managing Editor. Please consult any recent issue of ASR for examples of correct style.

The manuscripts should be prepared as an MS WORD document (.docx). Manuscript text should be single-spaced throughout.

Please include the following sections in the following order:

  • MS title (in boldface). Please note that for the sake of search-engine visibility, it is preferable to place the main clause of the title first, with any subtitle (e.g., the “poetic” or evocative phrase) following, rather than preceding, a colon.
  • Author name(s)
  • A short (~100 words) bio for each author, including institutional affiliation, e-mail address, and other relevant information (e.g., recent publications, ongoing research interests, etc.)
  • A short abstract (100 words) that summarizes the essential points of the paper (it is not meant to be an introduction or a mere list of topics).
  • Key Words (a short list, 5-10 words or short phrases)
  • Text (please do not number the pages or include any headers or footers)
  • Acknowledgments (if desired)
  • References (please note that this is essentially a works cited section; it should contain only references to works that have been cited in the text)
  • Notes
  • Tables or figures (each on a separate page). Please make sure that all such graphic elements are referred to parenthetically in the text (e.g., “see table 1”)
Textual Elements

PARAGRAPHS The first sentence of the article (or the first sentence after a subheading) is placed flush left. All other paragraphs are indented (you can use the .5 setting of the paragraph indentation setting in MS WORD). Do not leave a blank line between paragraphs. Text should be left-justified throughout except for block quotations, which are indented. Insert only one space between sentences. Use the New Times Roman 12 font.

SPELLING The primary spelling authority for the ASR is Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary ; the spell check function of MS WORD (set for U.S. English) will also suffice. In general, please use U.S. rather than U.K. spelling, except for direct quotations. When abbreviations are used, they carry periods (i.e., e.g.) except for the most familiar acronyms (such as UNESCO). Abbreviations for phrases such as “such as” or “for example” are acceptable only within parentheses; if they appear in the sentence itself, they should be written out. For state names, ASR prefers the conventional abbreviation rather than the postal code (Mass., not MA). All names and titles must be spelled out the first time they are introduced in the text, with the acronym placed in parentheses: for example, African Studies Association (ASA).

TEXTUAL EMPHASIS The only forms of textual emphasis used in ASR production are italics and bold (for section headings). Please do not format any text by underlining. Please note, however, that italics for emphasis within a sentence should be used sparingly, and mostly for the sake of disambiguating the meaning.

ITALICS Words in languages other than English are italicized at the first occurrence only; use appropriate orthography, including diacritical marks and accents. Subsequent occurrences of these words should not be italicized. Please note that italics are not needed for non-English names of organizations. Titles of published works (books, newspapers, journals) and of films are italicized. Foreign words and phrases in common usage (and found in an English dictionary) should not be in italics.

BOLDING is only used in the following contexts:

  • The title of the article
  • The word Abstract that precedes the abstract text
  • Section and subsection headings

HEADINGS If you wish to divide your article into sections, section headings may be used. Please do so sparingly, however—normally, only first-level headings (Head 1s) are needed. Head 1s should be placed flush left and in boldface. If Head 2s seem necessary, they should be formatted in boldface and italics. Do not use numbers as part of the section headings.

NUMBERS Numbers from one to one hundred are spelled out in the text, unless part of an enumeration that contains a number larger than one hundred (“67 infants, 114 children, and 50 adults”), in an arithmetical expression (“a frequency of 1 in 18”), or in a vote (“the bill passed, 76–69). Numbers from 101 upward are written as numerals, except for round numbers: three hundred, fifteen hundred, six thousand. Percentages are expressed in figures, with the word spelled out (98 percent). In reference to parts of books, numerals are not spelled out (“chapter 6,” “page 5”). Century designations are spelled out: “seventeenth century,” “nineteenth-century labor practices.” A decade is referred to as “the 1960s” or “the sixties” (not “the 1960's”). When inclusive pages are cited, digits are elided in the following manner: pages 100–103, 103-4 (not 103–04), 174–76. A span of years cited within a single century should appear as “1978–79” (not “1978–1979”). Please note that inclusive numbers or a span of numbers in a date (June 6–8) are separated by a one-en dash, not a hyphen. Dates should be written as June 14, 1980 (not 14 June 1980 or June 14th, 1980). Ordinal numbers, where necessary, should not be written in superscript (14th, not 14th; 2nd, not 2nd). Hours of the day are written as, e.g., 2:00 a.m., 6:00 p.m. Currencies are written with international currency codes with no space between code and amount as, e.g. USD200, GHS50, ZAR100 (not $200, or USD 200).

PUNCTUATION Use American-style punctuation: double quotation marks (but single quotation marks for quotes within quotes), periods and commas inside quotation marks, colons and semi-colons outside quotation marks. ASRuses the serial comma (“There were three children, thirteen adults, and six pets.”) A parenthetic dash should appear as a one-em dash with no space before or after the dash.

QUOTATIONS Direct quotations exceeding four manuscript lines of type should be set off from the text by indenting the entire quotation one stop from the left (i.e., .5 inches). No further indentation is necessary for the first quoted paragraph; the first line of subsequent paragraphs in the same block quote should have an additional paragraph indent. Any clarifying material added by the author within the quoted portion should be enclosed in square brackets. (However, minor syntactical changes do not require brackets around a single letter, as with an initial capitalization.) If the source of the citation is not clear from the text immediately preceding the quotation, it should be provided in parentheses at the end of the block quote, after the period. Omissions in a quotation are indicated by an ellipsis: three periods (each separated by a space) where one or more words have been omitted. If the omission occurs at the end of a sentence, an initial period after the last word precedes the ellipsis.

CITATIONS IN TEXT Parenthetic citations should be used in the text sparingly, and mostly for the sake of identifying the source of a quotation. They may also be used to point readers to important sources on a certain topic (e.g.: “see Smith 1996”). Please note that in-text citations are not needed for purely factual material (although important sources on a particular topic can be cited with a “see” note, as above, or explained in the body of an endnote). Please use self-citations (i.e., an author’s citation to him- or herself) sparingly; citations to the author’s previous work can also be explained in an endnote. Parenthetic citations should contain the name of the author and the date (no comma is used), and the page number of the quotation (please note the ASR does not use ibid):

(Smith 1996:132); or Smith (1996:132) if the citation is included as part of a sentence in the text.

(Bascom & Herskovits 1970); or Bascom and Herskovits (1970) in the body of the text. (Please note the use of the ampersand [&] in the former case.

For three or more authors use the abbreviation “et al. (Greene et al. 1991) or Greene et al. (1991)

Citations to several different authors (e.g., as important sources for the subject matter of the article) should be separated by semi-colons. Please note, however, that very long strings of parenthetic citations tend to be unpleasing cosmetically; in many cases, they should be moved to the endnotes section.

(Jones 1991; Smith 1982; Wilson 1986); or Smith (1982), Jones (1991), and Wilson (1986)

Citations to several references by the same author are separated by commas.

(Green 1985, 1990, 1996) or Green (1985, 1990, 1996)

If no author is specified, cite the issuing group or the publisher of the report.

(United Nations 1993), (Committee on Ethics 1991)

Interviews and personal communications should be cited in the text but not in the References section. Include the location andthe date of the interview or conversation.

Jane Doe (interview, Nairobi, August 21, 1998).

REFERENCES The References section is essentially a “works cited” section. Except for personal communications (which are only cited in the text proper), ###emll references cited in text must appear here. However, do not include any references that do not appear as citations in the text. Most Reference sections list only books and articles. In some cases (especially for manuscripts that contain a great deal of ethnographic data), it is useful to provide a list of quoted interviewees, along with relevant identifying information. Manuscripts that cite archival data also will need to include a separate subsection for archival references. In such cases, the copy editor will communicate with the author to request specific modifications to the usual References section.

Alphabetize the reference list by author’s last name. Two or more works by the same author or authors should be listed chronologically; two or more by the same author or authors in the same year should be alphabetized by the first significant word in the title and differentiated by lowercase letters following the date (e.g., 1977a, 1977b).

The following are examples of references. Please note the hanging indent form. Also note that inclusive pages (e.g., 1–35) are separated by an en-dash rather than a hyphen.

1. Book, single author.

Ainsworth, Mary D. S. 1967. Infancy in Uganda. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Note. Full first name(s) of author(s) should be included if possible. If a publisher has offices in two cities, only the first city named in the book should be included.

2. Book, multiple authors.

Hammond, Dorothy, and Alta Jablow. 1992. The Africa That Never Was: Four Centuries of British Writing About

Africa. 2nd edition Prospect Heights, Ill.: Waveland Press.

Note. Place only the first author’s name in reverse order. For name of publisher, do not include "and Company," “Inc.,” “Publishers,” “Publishing Company,” and so forth. If the city is not well known, include state name or country with place of publication unless the location is clear from the name of the publisher (e.g., a state university press). “Cambridge” should be differentiated as “Cambridge, Mass” or “Cambridge, U.K.”

3. References with more than one entry for an author.

Mudimbe, V. Y. 1988. The Invention of Africa: Gnosis, Philosophy and the Order of Knowledge. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

_________.1991. Parables and Fables: Exegesis, Textuality, and Politics in Central Africa. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

Note. A three-em dash followed by a period takes the place of the author's name in the second entry.

4. Edited book, listed by editor(s).

Douglas, Mary, and Phyllis Kaberry, eds. 1971. Man in Africa. Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor Books.

5. Article in edited book.

Werbner, Richard. 1996. “Introduction: Multiple Identities, Plural Arenas.” In Postcolonial Identities in Africa, edited by Richard Werbner and Terence Ranger, 1–28. London: Zed Books.

Note. Full first name(s) of editor(s) should be included if possible. The “pp.” abbreviation is unnecessary before the page numbers.

6. Dissertation.

Ciekawy, Diane Marie. 1992. Witchcraft Eradication as Political Process in Kilifi District, Kenya, 1955–1988. Ph.D. diss., Columbia University.

7. Article in journal.

Geschiere, Peter. 1988a. “Sorcery and the State: Popular Modes of Political Action among the Maka.” Critique of Anthropology 8 (l): 35–63.

8. Manuscript in press.

Mamdani, M., and Achille Mbembe. In press. “CODESRIA and Neocolonialism.” In Comparative Approaches in Development Economics, ed. Jonathan Jones, Jennifer Flowers, and William J. Clinton. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.

Note. Use this form only if the manuscript has been accepted for publication.

9. Unpublished manuscript. Note that the very absence of publication information indicates that a manuscript is unpublished (there is no need to note “unpublished”). Both the title of an article and the title of an unpublished a book-length monograph appears in quotation marks (rather than italic font for the latter).

Munroe, Ruth H., and Robert L. Munroe. 1971. “Quantified Descriptive Data on Infant Care in an East African Society.”

10. Paper presented at meeting.

Onuegeogwu, M. 1978. “Urbanization in the Kano Close Settlement Zone.” Paper presented at the 7th Annual Meeting of the Nigerian Sociological and Anthropological Association, Ibadan, November 15–19.

11. Foreign publication.

Laburthe-Tolra, P. 1988. Initiations et sociétés secrètes au Cameroun. Paris: Karthala.

Note. The city name is anglicized, but the publisher's name is not. It is the author's responsibility to provide the correct form of names (“Alvarez Garcia, Manuel," not “Alvarez, Manuel Garcia"). Capitalization of non-English titles is in sentence style (only the first word of the title and any words always capitalized in the language are capitalized).

12. Translated publications.

Bourdieu, Pierre. 1977. Outline of a Theory of Practice. Translated by Richard Nice. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.

13. Internet sources.

References to Web pages should contain the website address instead of publication information. In general, the Internet address can be shortened to provide just the general address of the site. Please delete any automatically generated hyperlink.

NOTES All notes should be formatted as endnotes following the References section. Note numbers should be inserted manually as superscript numbers in the text. Please do not use the “Insert Endnote” function of MS WORD; in other words, the notes should not be “embedded” in the document. In most cases, superscript note numbers can appear at the end of the sentence in the text; avoid placing note numbers in the middle of a sentence. Note numbers should never be attached to display material (the title or subheadings).

Where possible, combine notes within a paragraph; generally, one composite note at the end of the paragraph is sufficient.

Endnotes are useful mostly for added discursive material that cannot be included conveniently in the text or that is somewhat peripheral or inessential to the main argument. Particularly long strings of citations can also be moved from the text to the Notes section.

TABLES, MAPS, FIGURES, GRAPHS, PHOTOS, ETC. For articles containing graphic elements, the copyeditor will consult with the publisher, Cambridge University Press, and with the author regarding the adequacy of the images provided and any modifications that are needed. Please note that only black-and-white images can be reproduced in print, although color images can appear in the online version of the article. Graphics can be used only with the permission of the original source (which must be obtained in writing) and source information must be provided in a caption.

Language Editing Services

Contributions written in English are welcomed from all countries. Authors, particularly those whose first language is not English, may wish to have their English-language manuscripts checked by a native speaker before submission. This is optional, but may help to ensure that the academic content of the paper is fully understood by the editor and any reviewers. Cambridge offers a service which authors can learn about ###a href="">here. Please note that the use of any of these services is voluntary, and at the author's own expense. Use of these services does not guarantee that the manuscript will be accepted for publication, nor does it restrict the author to submitting to a Cambridge published journal.