Special Issues are Like Buses
Behind the scenes at Exchanges right now we’re working hard on preparing for the launch of our first ever special issue, scheduled for very early in 2021. We’re also on the cusp of closing the call for contributions to our second special issue, but it’s not too late (yet) to submit! Meanwhile, I had the pleasure this week to travel down to meet with a couple of friendly academics from SOAS and the University of Oxford (hello Ben, hello Filippo), who wanted to propose a third special issue of Exchanges. This is rather exciting as while we’ve been thoroughly enjoying working with the Warwick and Monash scholars in preparation for the first two special issues, this time the approach has come from outside of Warwick and the IAS’ direct collaborating institutions.
We’re still in the process of finalising the exact theme, although I can reveal that broadly it will fall into the area of ‘interdisciplinary representations and evolutions of narratives of loneliness and nerds’. As a somewhat geeky nerd at heart , this rather appealed to me on a personal level. Moreover, the underlying plans to tie this proposed issue into a mid-2020 symposium and ongoing research work from an intrinsically diverse research community forms an especially welcome prospect. Diversity, in terms of geographical origin, research domain and seniority are also another core component of the proposed issue, which should add a wonderful diversity of voice, insight and opinion to the issue.
Incidentally, for Exchanges, working with these scholars absolutely resonates with our desire to continue to evolve away from our early Warwick-centric roots, and become a more integral part of the national and international early-career researcher publishing culture .
There’s also the additional bonus, that we will likely be able to engage with external post-graduate researcher communities to join us as associate editors for this issue. Hence, this very much matches our second core mission, to enable developmental experience within scholar-led publishing practice for emerging scholars. It also answers our third, and oft unnoticed, mission – to experiment and explore new publishing models and patterns that are attractive to our contributor community. Someone should really remind me in the new year to get round to formally publishing more about our experiences in this domain.
For Exchanges, this development chimes agreeably with our shift in 2019 towards publishing special issues. We have, in the past, published themed sections, but I strongly believe through offering these focussed individual issues, we’re witnessing the slow evolution of the journal into its second phase of existence. As our esteemed Institute Director, Prof Peter Scott said this new development is very much ‘Taking things to another level again’. It’ll also keep me surprisingly and gainfully busy alongside the day to day running of the title, I can assure you.
That said, it is currently early days for this third special issue. Indeed Ben and Filippo’s anticipated timescales are such that we’re likely looking towards a 2021 publication date, something which seems a vast time away right now, but doubtless will be upon us all before we know it. I’ll continue to update our readership and contributor community of developments as we move in to 2020.
 Something painfully obvious I’m sure to anyone who’s met me in the flesh, or listened to one of my (near) countless science fiction podcasts and videos!
 I include those scholars I’ve worked with on the other two special issues as well, it’s been a wonderful experience for myself as well as (I hope) for them.