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Information for proposals

Why BJHS Themes?

BJHS Themes aims to publish open access, high-quality, scholarly, engaging collections of history of science papers, each collection of which will address a provocative theme. The journal is wholly open access - free to read online and normally free for authors too - funded through a collaboration between the British Society for the History of Science and Cambridge University Press. Now is the right time to launch a journal of this kind, because there is a need for an outlet through which edited collections of high quality history of science can reach a broad, scholarly audience. As a rigorously peer-reviewed, professionally-published, open access journals, BJHS Themes meets this need.

Like its sister publication, the British Journal for the History of Science, BJHS Themes is a journal of the British Society for the History of Science (BSHS), a major learned society for its subject. There is one issue per year, consisting of more than 256 pages.

What kinds of proposals are likely to be successful?

Edited collections are a familiar and productive genre of history of science scholarship. The themes successful under BJHS Themes are likely to be those that animate the history of science community – perhaps the theme of a stimulating conference or exceptional seminar series. The theme has to be focussed enough to generate maximum insight, original so that it breaks new ground, timely so that it is read with enthusiasm, but broad enough to be worthwhile exploring over 7-12 papers in a way that captures and keeps the attention of the field.

For the sake of example, if BJHS Themes had been around in 1989 we would have embraced The Uses of Experiment, while in 1991 we would have loved to pinch Osiris's 'Big Science' issue. They are collections that hit the historiographical moment, and were full of provocative arguments and rich stories.

Preferred structure of proposals

A proposal should take the following form:

  1. Title
  2. Outline. What is the theme that will be addressed? Describe briefly how the theme was chosen (eg building from a successful conference, etc.)
  3. Pitch. Justify the choice of theme in terms of focus (scope and depth), originality (how will the collection be different from past scholarship), timeliness (why should this collection be published now?), and breadth of readership (who will want to read this collection? In addition, are there advantages to this particular collection being available through open access?)
  4. Special Editor(s). Give brief (50-100 word) biographies of the proposed special editor(s).
  5. Table of contents. List the proposed paper titles and authors.
  6. Author biographies. Give short (50-100 word) author biographies.
  7. Article abstracts. Short (50-100 word) abstracts, summarising the individual contributions and relation to theme, should be provided for each paper.
  8. Status of papers. Please indicate what stage each paper is at: unwritten, early draft, late draft.

Proposals should be no more that 4,000 words in length, all-inclusive.

Selection and Production Cycle


The topic of each issue of BJHS Themes will be chosen through an annual competition. The annual cycle will be as follows. A call for proposals will be issued and advertised broadly. Proposals should be submitted by the specified deadline, including all of the information requested above. The selection of the winning proposal is the responsibility of the BJHS Themes Editor, whose decision is final. The BJHS Themes Editor will then work with the chosen Special Editors to ensure the timely submission, peer review, revision, and (with Cambridge University Press) copy-editing and publication of the BJHS Themes issue.

Each paper within a BJHS Themes issue is individually peer reviewed.  At least two reviews are collected for each piece, more when appropriate.  One of the two reviews is single blind, while the other is double blind. Further reviews are always double blind.

Next Competition for Proposals

The deadline for submission of proposals for the seventh volume is 15 July, 2020.

The successful proposal for BJHS Themes (2022) will be selected by August 2020. Successful and unsuccessful applicants will be immediately informed.

Production Cycle

The Special Editors will co-ordinate the collection and submission of drafts of individual papers to the BJHS Themes Editor by 1 March, 2021.

The BJHS Themes Editor will ensure that peer review comments are commissioned, delivered and fed back to Special Editors by 1 October, 2021.

The Special Editors will co-ordinate the collection and submission of final drafts to the BJHS Themes Editor by 1 December, 2021.

The BJHS Themes Editor will work with Cambridge University Press to produce and deliver copy-edited proofs of papers during Spring 2022.

Cambridge University Press will produce the issue of BJHS Themes (2022).

The expected publication date of BJHS Themes (2022) is 1 July, 2022.


Contributions should be sent to the BJHS Themes Editor, Dr Rohan Deb Roy, email They are considered on the understanding that the contributions proposed are unpublished and are not on offer to another journal or as an edited volume with another publisher. Contributions should be submitted in electronic form as an email attachment, in MS Word format.

Additional Information for Proposers

In all matters concerning the publication of a paper, the BJHS Themes Editor's decision is final. The BJHS Themes Editor and Council of the Society cannot accept responsibility for any views expressed by contributors in articles published by the Journal.

Copyright and Open Access

All BJHS Themes papers are published open access under Creative Commons licences. The version of the Creative Commons licence used for publication is the choice of the author, from a selection of three: CC-BY, CC-BY-NC-SA or CC-BY-NC-ND. All articles, without exception, will be made available for free online from the point of publication, but authors whose research grant includes an explicit APC contribution to publication will be expected to use such resources in support of publication.

For a detailed description of this policy please visit the Open Access pages here.