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Instructions for authors

Instructions for Contributors Download Instruction for Contributors in PDF. (38 KB).

Instructions for prospective Guest Editors of a Themed Section Download Instruction for Contributors in PDF. (180 KB).

Social Media Guidelines Download Instruction for Contributors in PDF.

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Social Policy and Society

1. Contributors should send an electronic copy of the manuscript formatted in Microsoft Word, text or rich text format, by electronic mail to Mark your message in the subject box ‘New article for SP & S’. Keep a copy of the typescript for correcting proofs. Papers should be anonymised (including the document's properties), ready for sending to referees. Where papers have more than one author, the contact author should be clearly specified. All contributions should be accompanied by a detachable title page providing information about the word length, the position/s held by the author/s, full correspondence and email addresses and full details of any acknowledgements. If it is necessary to correspond by mail the address for such correspondence is:

Social Policy and Society Administrator
Department of Sociological Studies
University of Sheffield
Northumberland Road
Sheffield S10 2TU
United Kingdom

2. Social Policy and Society uses double-blind peer review to inform the editors’ decisions on submissions. All manuscripts are sent to reviewers chosen on the basis of subject or methodological expertise. Decisions are made by the editors on the basis of reviews from at least two reviewers. Typically submissions are reviewed within three months, although in some instances the process can take longer.

3. We encourage articles that engage with, extend or critique debates previously published in Social Policy and Society.

4. Articles should be up to 6,000 words long including endnotes, but excluding tables and bibliography. Word length must be stated.

5. Contributions should be clearly typed on A4 paper. All material should be typed double-spaced with generous margins.

6. Contributions should be accompanied by an abstract of between 100 and 150 words, up to five key words and details of any acknowledgements.

7. Contributions should conform exactly to the Social Policy and Society style. Authors should follow the advice below and check the format of their own contribution with that of a recent issue of the journal (or seek advice from the Managing Editors and/or Guest Editor(s) as appropriate) paying particular attention to references and tables. Other examples include the use of UK spelling, the use of ‘per cent’ rather than ‘%’ in the text, dates should be in the form of ‘1997-9’ or ‘1997-2003’, while indented quotes should not be enclosed in quotation marks. References to ‘this paper’, etc., should be replaced by ‘this article’. All numbers less than 100 should be written in words. The only exceptions are percentages, numbering of figures, tables, and amounts of money. These may be kept as figures, as may all numbers 100 or larger.

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. We offer a language editing service in partnership with American Journal Experts, and suggest that authors contact as appropriate. 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.

8. Discriminatory language should be avoided. Further guidance on avoiding sexist, racist and disablist or other inappropriate language is published by the British Sociological Association (BSA) – see The editorial team are happy to advise authors on the most suitable terminology to use, particularly with respect to subjects not covered by the BSA guidelines, such as age.

9. Such notes as are essential should be referred to in numerical order throughout the text and the numbers shown as superscript. These notes should be endnotes rather than footnotes and should be placed after the body of the text and before the references.

10. The Harvard (author/date) system should be used and reference to page numbers in the text should be shown as follows: (Maltby, 2002 :1) and not (Maltby, 2002, p. 1).

11. Citations of authors in the text should be presented in ascending chronological order, e.g. (Alcock, 1997; Mann, 2000, 2002; Whyte, 2000; Ridge, 2004).

12. References in the bibliography must be arranged alphabetically under author(s) name(s) and then in chronological order if several papers by the same author(s) are cited. The full title of the paper must be given together with the first and last page numbers. Book titles should be followed by the place of publication and the publisher. References to websites should contain the full URL and date the site was accessed. Examples of correct formatting include:

BBC (2010) ‘Theresa May pledges immigration abuse crackdown’, [accessed 04.11.2010].

Bonoli, G. (1997) ‘Classifying welfare states: a two-dimensional approach’, Journal of Social Policy, 26, 3, 351–72.

Castles, F. (2004) The Future of the Welfare State: Crisis Myths and Crisis Realities, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) (2010) The Coalition: Our Programme for Government–Jobs and Welfare, London: Department of Work and Pensions, [accessed 05.11.2010].

Martin, R., Nativel, C. and Sunley, P. (2003) ‘The local impact of the New Deal: does geography make a difference?’, in R. Martin and P. Morrison (eds.), Geographies of Labour Market Inequality, London: Routledge, 175–207.

Siaroff, A. (1994) ‘Work, welfare and gender equality: a new typology’, in D. Sainsbury (ed.), Gendering Welfare States, London: Sage, 82–100.

Williams, Z. (2011) ‘Jargon is spreading like nits in the coalition’s playground’, The Guardian, 11 November.

13. Tables and figures should be clearly laid out and designed to fit onto a page 18 cm. x 12 cm. Vertical lines between columns should be omitted, and horizontal lines limited to the top and bottom of the table, with an additional one below the column headings. Totals and percentages should be labelled, and units identified.

14. Charges apply for all colour figures that appear in the print version of the journal. At the time of submission, contributors should clearly state whether their figures should appear in colour in the online version only, or whether they should appear in colour online and in the print version. There is no charge for including colour figures in the online version of the journal. If you request colour figures in the printed version, you will be contacted by CCC-Rightslink who are acting on our behalf to collect Author Charges. Please follow their instructions in order to avoid any delay in the publication of your article.

15. If an article is accepted for publication, first proofs will be sent to the contact author as an electronic link to a pdf document which the author downloads. Only typographical errors may be changed at proof stage. The publisher reserves the right to charge authors for correction of non-typographical errors.

16. Submission of an article is taken to imply that it has not previously been published, and has not been submitted for publication elsewhere. If an author is publishing a related article elsewhere, this fact should be stated.

17. Authors of articles published in the journal assign copyright to Cambridge University Press (with certain rights reserved) and will receive a copyright assignment form for signature on acceptance of their paper. Contributors are responsible for obtaining permission to reproduce any material in which they do not own copyright, to be used in both print and electronic media, and for ensuring that the appropriate acknowledgements are included in their manuscript.

18. Upon publication the corresponding author will receive a pdf of their article.

19. Please visit for information on our open access policies, compliance with major funding bodies, and guidelines on depositing your manuscript in an institutional repository.

20. Contributors of accepted articles will be asked for a "tweet" of no more than 140 characters and will also be invited to consider writing a blog post about their article. This should be between 300-1,000 words and might provide an engaging summary of the article to be published, or a broader engagement with current events or policy developments, for example. The particular content of the blog post is about exposing the authors work and the journal to as wide an audience as possible so it would be good to bear this in mind when preparing it. The content and style up of the blog will be left up to the author, however, it will be read by both Co-editors of Social Policy & Society (although not externally refereed), and the authors should be willing to respond to any suggested changes and avoid simply repeating the abstract.

The Social Policy Association

The Social Policy Association supports the study of all aspects of Social Policy and Administration through the sponsorship of the Journal of Social Policy and Social Policy and Society, the publication of a newsletter, the organisation of an annual conference and a small grants scheme. It represents its members through contact with a range of bodies, including the ESRC. For further information about the activities of the SPA, consult the SPA website at:

Last updated 10th February 2019

Social Policy and Society: Instructions for prospective guest editors of a Themed Section

Following a change in editorial policy the annual deadline for themed section proposals has been removed. Prospective Guest Editor(s) of a Themed Section are therefore invited to submit a proposal for consideration by the Editorial Board at any time. Please note the following:

1. Proposals for a Themed Section should be submitted in Microsoft Word format by e-mail to This proposal will include:

  • the envisaged title
  • the names and institutional affiliations of the proposed Guest Editor(s)
  • a rationale for the Themed Section that outlines the key issues to be explored and justifies the authors chosen (no more than two A4 pages in font size 12)
  • a list of contributors and their institutional affiliations
  • an ordered list of contents that conforms with the requirements set out in (3) below.
  • the author(s), title and a 500 word abstract of each proposed article.

2. Themed Sections must contain the following:

  • An ‘Introduction’, usually written by the Guest Editor(s) providing a short introductory piece to the Themed Section
  • a 'state of the art' article, which is also peer reviewed (see below for further details)
  • a set of peer reviewed articles of similar length - usually between four and six articles in total
  • a short ‘Some Useful Sources’ guide to key sources in the area, in the style of an annotated bibliography.

Proposals for themed sections which draw upon only one country should endeavour to provide a comparative element, or to highlight the theoretical or empirical contribution that they make to the wider understanding of the issue or issues that they are addressing.

‘State of the art’ article: Guest editors should note the importance of a high quality ‘state of the art’ article (not necessarily labelled as such), both for drawing potential readers into the topic of the themed section, and for providing potentially valuable information for those who might wish to explore the subject further. These articles should summarise the state of knowledge on a specific subject, and should demarcate research frontiers and identify promising areas of future research. ‘State of the art’ articles are also excellent reading material for teaching. These types of articles are highly successful with respect to citations and downloads.

3. The total word limit for an entire Themed Section is no more than 40,000 words. This is to include all tables, endnotes and bibliographies.

4. It is the responsibility of the guest editor(s) to give guidance to individual authors regarding the length of their articles, in order to ensure that the total word count does not exceed 40,000 words.

5. Each individual article must conform to the Instructions to contributors

All proposals are reviewed by the Editorial Board. Guest Editors whose proposals are subsequently accepted, will be invited to publish a Themed Section in the journal. Guest Editor(s) will then receive further detailed guidance from the Managing Co-Editors about their responsibilities e.g. the required refereeing process, production deadlines etc.

Liam Foster, University of Sheffield
Majella Kilkey, University of Sheffield
Managing Co-Editors, Social Policy & Society

Last updated 28th February 2017