Scope, aims and focus

Topic lead: Susan Murray, Solange Santos, Rebecca Wojturska
Last updated: 05/06/2023

The scope and aims of an academic journal include a brief explanation of the main reason it exists. The focus of a journal is usually on a specific research discipline or field of study, sometimes within a particular geographical region. Explaining a journal’s scope and aims simply and clearly is important to all authors, reviewers, contributors and for the team running the journal. A clear scope and aims will also support better discoverability via search engines.

Clearly outlining a journal’s scope and aims enables readers to swiftly grasp its relevance and ensures prospective authors submit pertinent manuscripts. This streamlines the process, saving time and effort for both authors and the journal’s managers.

Key components of a scope and aims statement

Typically, online journals have a dedicated ‘Scope’ or ‘Aims & Scope’ page, where this information is presented to readers. Typically, such a page would outline the journal’s unique objectives and the journal’s target demographic of scholars and practitioners. In some cases, the scope statement may describe the reasons the journal was founded as well as any specific focus, such as the subject area(s) and, potentially, geographic regions that the journal seeks to target (e.g. national vs international circulation).

It is recommended that the scope statement also covers the types of content accepted (e.g. original research articles, book reviews), the publishing model (for example diamond open access) of the journal as well as the chosen peer review policy (e.g. double blind, open). Other features that should be described include publication frequency and article selection criteria.

Setting and maintaining a journal’s scope and aims

While a new journal may be inclined to adopt a broad, multidisciplinary focus to attract more submissions, it is generally advisable to adopt a precise and targeted approach for the journal’s covered topics. This is primarily because new journals often emerge as a response to a perceived gap in the existing coverage of a research field.

For journals that are already well-established, it is advisable to occasionally revisit the scope, aims and focus to ensure that they remain accurate and relevant.

Share this article

Download this article