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 that take on the role of Guest Editor of the Special Issue. Special Issues are composed of high-quality papers and are an important component of MDPI. A Special Issue is not an issue of the journal. These papers adhere to 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 labeled as belonging to a Special Issue. A single click on the webpage will organize all the Special Issue papers into a single page. Click here to see Guest Editors’ feedback on Special Issues.

Special Issue Proposals

Submitting a Special Issue Proposal

The Editorial Office of our journals usually invite scholars to guest edit Special Issues on topics of interest to the scientific community. We also welcome proposals from our readers and authors submitted directly to us on a topic within their field of expertise. 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.

Detailed Guide on Special Issue Proposals

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

To ensure each Special Issue addresses a unique subject of interest, please check that your proposed Special Issue subject is not already covered by a similar, open Special Issue. All open Special Issues can be found here.

The Special Issue proposal must include the following:

  • 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), SciProfile 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 6–10 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, no 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

The aim of this guide is to clarify the roles of the Guest Editor involved in the Special Issue process and provide more details about the editorial process of MDPI journals, facilitating efficient communication and thereby ensuring 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.

Ethical Responsibilities of Guest Editors

MDPI Policies on Publication Ethics can be found at here. Please check any individual journal guidelines that supplement MDPI guidelines. MDPI journals are members of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). We support its Code of Conduct and 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 which are 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 submissions from the GE(s), but the number of such submissions should be limited to a maximum of 20% based on the publications within each Special Issue. Guest Editors will be given a specific number of waivers per Special Issue to be used to commission research or review papers from experts in the field. Any paper submitted by a Guest Editor will be handled by an Editorial Board member.

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.

Duties of Guest Editors

  • 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 SI 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.

Benefits of Being a Guest Editor

  • Guest Editing is an ideal venue 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;
  • You have the privilege to publish a research paper or comprehensive review paper free of charge in the Special Issue;
  • 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.

How to Promote a Special Issue

Publications in a Special Issue are generally gathered by an invitation from the GE(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. One of the effective ways to maximize the visibility of a Special Issue and to increase submissions from general authors is to advertise from the very beginning. Examples of effective advertisement 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 GE(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 the following:


  • 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.

GE(s) have a responsibility to make decisions on the acceptance or rejection of submissions based on the collected review reports (depending on the journal’s policy—in some cases, they may make a recommendation to the Editor-in-Chief). Please kindly note that (a) if there are conflicts of interest between the GE(s) and authors, or if you are not available to make a timely reply to the Editorial Office on 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 GE(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.

Access to MDPI Online Submission System (SuSy)

An MDPI Editor will handle the whole editorial process via the MDPI online Submission System (SuSy). The GE(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 GE(s) can view the status of all submissions to the corresponding Special Issue.

Back to TopTop