Special Issues Guidelines

MDPI Special Issue

What is a Special Issue?

Special Issues (SIs) are collections of papers centered around a subject of special interest and are organized and led by subject experts who take on the role of Guest Editor of the Special Issue. A Special Issue is not an issue of the journal. All submissions follow the same peer review process as regular papers and are published in the regular issues of the journal when they are accepted, but are additionally labelled as belonging to a Special Issue and are discoverable within the collection. Click here to see Guest Editors’ feedback on Special Issues.

Benefits of Publishing in a Special Issue

  • Greater discoverability: Articles published in Special Issues benefit from greater discoverability and more frequent citations than articles spontaneously submitted to the respective journal, due to their connectivity within the article collection.
  • Ease of navigation: Clustering papers within specific topics helps scholars to easily navigate through the content of broad scope journals.
  • External promotion: Articles in Special Issues are often promoted through the journal’s social media channels for the relevant subject areas to increase visibility and readership.
  • Rigorous peer-review: Articles in Special Issues follow the same rigorous and independent peer review process as regular papers and are published in the regular issues of the journal. They are generally handled by a Guest Editor who is an influential researcher in the discipline.
  • Expand your research network: Special Issues are a great place to find new collaborators among the authors of other manuscripts published within the collection of articles.
  • e-Book: Articles in Special Issues with more than 10 articles have the opportunity to appear in a Special Issue e-book. MDPI Books encompasses all the benefits of open access—high availability and visibility, as well as wide and rapid dissemination.

Special Issue Proposals

Submitting a Special Issue Proposal

The Journal Editorial Office usually invite scholars to guest edit Special Issues on topics of interest to the scientific community. We welcome proposals from our readers and authors submitted directly to us on a topic within their field of expertise. The journal’s Editorial Team and the Editor-in-Chief will oversee Guest Editor appointments and Special Issue proposals, checking content for relevance and ensuring the suitability of the material for the journal. If you have an idea for a Special Issue, please fill in all the required information to submit the proposal via the journal’s website.

Special Issue Proposal Application

Detailed Guide on Special Issue Proposals

The information below will help guide you through important points that will support the success of the Special Issue.

The Special Issue proposal must include:

  • The journal title you are submitting your proposal to: Please ensure that the topic of your proposal is within the scope of the journal.
  • The Special Issue’s tentative title: The title should clearly reflect the subject of interest.
  • Submission deadline: A Special Issue can be open for submission for 6–12 months.
  • List of Guest Editor(s): Names, affiliations, email addresses, websites, research interests, and social media accounts (optional), ORCID (optional), SciProfiles account (optional). Guest editing requires time and may become demanding; therefore, most Special Issues are led by a team of Guest Editors. Please feel free to invite 1–3 colleagues or scholars in this field to co-edit the Special Issue with you if needed and decide on each person’s responsibilities and work distribution as a group.
  • A summary of the Special Issue (about 150–200 words) and relevant keywords (about 3–10 words): Briefly describe the motivation behind the Special Issue, the main topic and areas covered, and the types of submissions that would fit the scope of the Special Issue.
  • Information for at least eight planned papers or a list with at least 20 potential authors (Following the peer review process, not all planned papers may be suitable for publication. We recommend to take this into account and propose more planned papers than you would expect to have included in the Special Issue): This includes the names, emails, and affiliations of the authors and optionally the tentative title of the planned paper.
  • The customized Call for Papers letter prepared by the Guest Editor(s) (optional): The call for papers letter will be used to invite scholars to submit their research to your Special Issue. It should contain a brief description of the Special Issue and motivate the potential contributors to submit their research. The editorial office can help you contact scholars by either providing you with a list of potential contributors or sending out invitations on your behalf.
  • The plan to promote the Special Issue (optional): Promoting the Special Issue is crucial to ensuring its success. Please let us know how do you intend to advertise your Special Issue and attract potential contributors. Please also let us know how we can assist you.
  • Previous experience as Guest Editor for MDPI journals.

MDPI Guest Editor Guide

This guide clarifies the role of the Guest Editor/s involved in the Special Issue process and provides more details about the editorial process of MDPI journals, facilitating efficient communication and thereby supporting the success of a Special Issue.

In general, the Guest Editor will be in charge of the Special Issue’s contents, while MDPI in-house Editors will provide administrative assistance.

Guest Editor Responsibilities and Ethics

MDPI Policies on Publication Ethics can be found at here. Please check any individual journal guidelines that supplement MDPI guidelines. MDPI is a member of COPE. We fully adhere to its Code of Conduct and to its Best Practice Guidelines.

Content Relevance: The Guest Editor must ensure the published content within the Special Issue is in line with the title and stated scope of the journal.

Citation Policies: The Guest Editor must not ask authors to include references merely to increase citations to their own or an associate’s work, to the journal, or to another journal they are associated with. The addition of references not relevant to the work is strongly discouraged. See MDPI Publication Ethics. In accordance with COPE guidelines, we expect that “original wording taken directly from publications by other researchers should appear in quotation marks with the appropriate citations”. This condition also applies to an author’s own work. COPE have produced a discussion document on citation manipulation with recommendations for best practice.

Editor’s Submission: The special issue may publish contributions from the Guest Editor(s), but the number of such contributions should be limited, to ensure the diversity and inclusiveness of authorship representing the research area of the Special Issue. Any article submitted by a Guest Editor will be handled by a member of the Editorial Board.

Confidentiality: The Guest Editor should protect the confidentiality of all material submitted to the journal. This includes all communications for Editors only and the identity of reviewers, unless it is an open peer review after publication and reviewers have signed their review report.

Conflicts of Interest: All those involved in the peer review process must carefully consider and declare any conflicts of interest when participating in the review, decision-making process, and publication of a paper. All associations that interfere with, or could be potentially perceived as interfering with, the full and objective assessment, peer review, and decision-making process must be declared. Even if an Editor believes that the existence of a conflict of interest, or several conflicts of interest, will not impact the peer review or decision-making process, the Editor should remove themselves from the process to avoid the perception of a conflict of interest and to protect the integrity of the peer review process. In the event of a conflict of interest, an alternative Editor will be found. Please check here for more information.

Declaration of Competing Interests: Any potential editorial conflicts of interest should be declared to the publisher in writing prior to the appointment of the Editor and then updated if and when new conflicts arise. The publisher may publish such declarations in the journal. The Editor shall apply MDPI’s policy relating to the disclosure of potential conflicts of interest by authors and reviewers, e.g., ‘Disclosure of Interest’ by the ICMJE guidelines.

Guest Editor Duties

  • Preparing the Special Issue’s title, summary, and keywords to introduce this issue to authors and readers;
  • Providing a list of potential contributors and inviting investigators in the field to contribute;
  • Pre-screening and supervising the whole peer review process and making decisions about new submissions in their Special Issue;
  • Promoting the Special Issue at conferences if the opportunity arises or on social media and on other relevant platforms.

Normally, a successful Special Issue consists of 10 or more papers, in addition to an editorial (optional) written by the Guest Editor(s). To achieve this goal, we recommend collecting more than 10 planned papers, as some manuscripts might not pass the peer review process or might not be submitted.

Please note that the Guest Editor is considered to be an expert in their field of research. The Guest Editor may choose to include early career researchers as part of their team; however, the supervision of the peer review process and decisions on manuscripts must be undertaken by the Guest Editor alone.

Guest Editor Benefits

  • Guest Editing is an ideal opportunity for networking and communication with scholars in the research community;
  • You will help accelerate the dissemination of science around the world and initiate new collaborations;
  • Special Issue Reprints: MDPI provides the option of having the Special Issue reprinted in a book format. Reprints are free to read on our platform and interested scholars can order print copies on demand at a cost. MDPI Books encompasses all the benefits of open access—high availability and visibility, as well as wide and rapid dissemination. Reprints are indexed in DOAB and available through various channel partners. If a Special Issue publishes more than 10 papers (excluding editorials), it may be published as a reprinted Special Issue book with an ISBN, and each Guest Editor will receive a free hardcopy. In addition, Guest Editors can purchase print copies at a 20% discount.

Promoting your Special Issue

Publications in a Special Issue are generally gathered by an invitation from the Guest Editor(s) or a wide call for papers from the Editorial Office. Nevertheless, submissions from the wider community to any Special Issue should not be neglected. An effective way to maximize the visibility of a Special Issue and increase submissions is to promote your Special Issue from the very beginning. Examples of effective promotion from the Guest Editor’s side include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • To start, simply add the title and URL of your Special Issue to your email signature.
  • Social media, with its instant dissemination and wide coverage, is also a convenient yet highly effective tool for advertisement. You are encouraged to publish a post on Twitter and LinkedIn, together with a Special Issue banner provided by the Editorial Office, or to announce the project on ResearchGate. Thus, more peers will be aware of the Special Issue. Please always tag MDPI or the journal’s Twitter account when you post a new Tweet; our staff will help to amplify the message.
  • Announcing your Special Issue on the homepage of your website is another way to increase its visibility. MDPI staff will gladly send you images or text in all formats that suit your needs. In addition, you can inform us of related research websites that could list your Special Issue or relevant mailing lists which are applicable.
  • Promoting your Special Issue using MDPI’s new initiative, SciProfiles—Discussion Group Service. Discussion Group is a function that allows you to initiate a discussion on the SciProfiles platform with your peers and other academics about the Special Issue topic or any other topic you want to discuss.
  • Introducing your Special Issue onsite at academic events to colleagues is recommended. Special Issue flyers and posters can be delivered to you. If you are going to give a presentation at a conference and are willing to broadcast the open call for submission to your audience, a slide about the Special Issue can be prepared for you.

Editorial Procedure of Submissions to the Special Issue

Special Issue submissions are peer-reviewed and published following “The MDPI Editorial Process”.

The Guest Editor(s) can select one of the following actions in response to a submission: accept, reject, ask author for revision, or ask for an additional reviewer after the peer review process. When making an editorial decision, you are expected to verify:


  • Overall suitability of the manuscript to the journal/section/Special Issue;
  • Manuscript adherence to high-quality research and ethical standards;
  • Standards of rigor to qualify for further review.

First or Final Decision

  • The suitability of selected reviewers;
  • The adequacy of reviewer comments and author response;
  • The overall scientific quality of the paper.

If there is any suspicion that a paper may contain plagiarism, an MDPI Editor will recheck it using the industry standard anti-plagiarism iThenticate software.

Decisions regarding the acceptance or rejection of submissions made by Guest Editors are based on the collected reviewer reports, and it should be noted that the Editor-in-Chief and/or Editorial Board Members maintain oversight and may also be involved in the decision-making process in some cases. This collaboration ensures the quality and integrity of the Special Issue.

Additionally, please kindly note the following: (a) if there are conflicts of interest between the Guest Editor(s) and authors, or in the case of unresponsiveness to the Editorial Office regarding matters of acceptance or rejection, we will invite another Editor from the journal’s Editorial Board with an appropriate research background to check and make decisions; (b) if the Guest Editor(s) supports the acceptance of a manuscript despite a reviewer’s recommendation to reject, MDPI staff will seek a second independent opinion from an Editorial Board member or the Editor-in-Chief before communicating a final decision to the authors; and (c) any article submitted by a Guest Editor(s) will be handled by a member of the Editorial Board.

Accessing to MDPI Online Submission System (SuSy)

An MDPI Editor will handle the whole editorial process via the MDPI online Submission System (SuSy). The Guest Editor(s) will be able to monitor the whole process after registering and logging into SuSy with the email address announced on the Special Issue website. Clicking on the Special Issue title, the Guest Editor(s) can view the status of all submissions to their Special Issue.

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