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The JUA’s New Push for Critical Review Articles in Urban Studies

The output of research papers continues to accelerate for many reasons: new topics (such as the many dimensions of climate change, including adaptation), new methods (including big data), and of course the emergence of new urban systems, notably in China and India. In this intellectual marketplace, where more researchers are being serviced by more journals, it is paradoxically more difficult for individuals to remain informed about developments in their field or in adjacent specialties.

For these reasons, while continuing to focus on analytical papers, Journal of Urban Affiars (JUA) is encouraging submission of more synoptic manuscripts which can contribute to the urban discourse by drawing readers’ attention to the range of published material across the disciplines. Some of these papers will take a fairly traditional approach (often used for instance in early chapters of graduate publications), where the author summarizes what is agreed upon and what is under reappraisal in a field. Others will draw on more formal methods, especially those that assess trends in publication via analysis of keywords and/or citations which we can collectively term scientometrics. Holding yet more potential is in meta-analysis, which is common in STEM fields but less usual in the social sciences, although it has the potential to summarize areas where there is a great deal of empirical work, albeit in very different urban contexts and appearing in a range of disciplines, generating nuanced results (examples could include work on food deserts or the urban heat island).

The journal will referee these manuscripts with the same level of scrutiny that it gives to other papers, although it may use somewhat different criteria than with an empirical piece. Review essays may be longer than analytical papers, although comprehensive coverage of a topic is not a substitute for effective writing. Not every topic may be a successful competitor for space in the journal, and so potential authors are strongly encouraged to send a brief outline of their interests to andrew.kirby@asu.edu for feedback.   

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