Frequently Asked Questions

General FAQs:

Q: How frequently is the journal published?

A: Spark is published once per year, normally at the beginning of the academic year.  

Q: Who can submit a piece to the journal?
A: Anyone in postgraduate study, from both taught and research positions. We are an interdisciplinary journal, and welcome contributions from all academic fields.
Q: How long does the publication process take, from article submission to final publication?

A: We circulate the Call for Papers in January; the cut-off point for submissions is around March/April (the precise date is stated on the call for papers). The complete process – peer reviewing and feedback to authors, author amendments, copy editing, and final publication – takes approximately 35 weeks.

Q: Can I become a journal staff member, and if so, what prior experience do I require?
A: Certainly! Spark is always looking for new members to fill editorial roles, including advertising, budgeting, and website design positions. We are also on the lookout for peer review and copy editing staff too. No prior experience of running an academic journal is required; we welcome those who are familiar with academic journals and newcomers alike. Part of the aim of Spark is to provide postgraduates with the skills of running an academic journal and thereby enhance their CV.
Q: How long does an individual journal staff member assume a position for?
A: There is no specific time limit affecting a staff member’s occupation of a particular role. Typically, a staff member will retain a presence on the journal throughout their postgraduate period of study, which varies by discipline and degree – from one to three years. There is no obligation to remain on staff for the entirety of this period, however – nor do you have to remain in the one role during your time with Spark. You can manage your input as suits your core academic commitments, enabling flexibility regarding your position in Spark and the time you devote to it.
Q: How do you decide on an issue’s central topic?
A: The editors meet fortnightly to discuss and steer the progress of the journal. At the end of each academic year, we decide upon a theme that reflects important events taking place in each of our disciplines, which is inclusive to all academic fields of study.
Q: Who reads the journal, and how aware are academics of it?
A: Currently, we are in a period of transition regarding the online presence of Spark. We have just developed a new, more visually pleasing website with which to host the journal – one that increases our brand awareness, links us more thoroughly with the University of Stirling’s web site, and provides us with an improved Search Engine Optimisation. Therefore, statistics on the influence of our journal and its readership are forthcoming.

Submission FAQs:

Q: How and when should I submit my article to Spark?

A: Spark is normally published annually. The call for papers for the current issue of Spark has closed, but can be read here. The next call for papers will be announced later this year. 

Spark usually accepts article submissions in March or April. In some years a preliminary submission of abstracts is requested. Submission dates and procedures for submission are available on our current call for papers. 

Q: What format is required for submissions?

A: Spark’s preferred format for full paper submissions is MS Word docx. If you wish to submit using another format please contact the editors.

Q: Can anyone of any academic discipline submit an article to Spark?
A: Yes, we accept articles from an all-inclusive standpoint within academic scholarship, provided your submitted piece fits with the issue’s central theme.
Q: How long should my submission be?

A: For articles, between 3000 and 6000 words (including quotes but not bibliography/list of works cited list); for letters to the editor, between 1500 and 2000 words; for book reviews, between 750 and 1250 words.  

Q: What referencing system does Spark use?

A: We use Harvard Style. You can access a guide to this referencing style online hereNote that we use British English spellings. 

Q: How many references should I use for my article?
A: This question is left somewhat to authors’ discretion. Your article should contain enough reliable supportive evidence to position your argument among established critics in your field of research, but not so much that it obscures your own contribution to the topic. Part of the skill in adding to a body of knowledge is in striking a balance between knowing and building upon the existing scholarly terrain of your area, and providing an original argument or counter argument of your own.
Q: What constitutes a reliable source of information?
A: Articles in academic journals (in print or online), field reports, and experiments that have been peer reviewed by experts in the field. Newspaper articles, websites and forum posts are okay for general, background references or sparsely and in exceptional circumstances, but these should not be relied upon to support the main bulk of your argument.
Q: How does the peer review process work?

A: Your submission will be read anonymously by a fellow student whose area of expertise is that of your own. They will suggest amendments to your piece using anonymous track changes, and provide a brief summary of your content with general impressions for improvement, and a final statement on whether or not they recommend it be included in the issue you have submitted for. 


Note: Peer Reviewers, see our Top Tips for Peer Reviews.

Q: Then what should I do?

A: If you article has been recommended for publication pending revision, go through the track changes, fulfilling the recommended changes to your submission where you feel they are pertinent and necessary. We understand article revision can be time-consuming, especially when situated among other academic commitments and duties. We thus allocate a generous amount of time for the revision of contributions to Spark. Generally, we allow approximately four months for the entire revision process, although your initial revision may be required two to three months after initial submission. Email correspondence with Spark will indicate when any specific draft will be required to be revised and resubmitted to us.

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