Author Guidelines

Editorial Scope and Philosophy


portal: Libraries and the Academy, focuses on qualitative or quantitative research about the role of libraries and librarianship within the academy. Articles may address the scholarship of library and information science or examine the role of libraries in fulfilling the mission of their parent institution. Other papers deal with such topics as archival practice, copyright, data management, digital humanities, library as place, new approaches to research and teaching, open access, and organizational theory. Still others link librarianship to other disciplines, including law, management, and public history.

Both basic and applied research papers, including case studies, are welcome, as are essays that explore the more theoretical or philosophical underpinnings of the library profession. The journal welcomes the submission of inquiries and proposals for topics that authors have under development and will provide guidance on the suitability for publication in portal.

The editors and Editorial Board of portal consider it critical for the library profession to engage a global audience, and so the journal gladly receives submissions from other countries. To ensure clarity and readability, portal encourages international authors to seek a thorough review of any manuscript by a professional colleague who is fluent in English.

Feature Articles

Feature articles are edited but typically not peer-reviewed. They may be shorter than other articles and sometimes lack a research focus. Send proposals or questions about features and related communications to the appropriate feature editor, with copies to Marianne Ryan and Sara Dreyfuss. The following features appear regularly in portal:

  • Reports from the Field, Editor Diane Dallis-Comentale,, showcases individual and local experiences and lessons learned, institution-specific initiatives, or research that is more limited in scope.
  • Global Perspectives, Editor Ellysa Stern Cahoy, Penn State University,, is designed to underscore the increasing internationalization of higher education and the essential role of libraries in global engagement. It spotlights submissions that explore partnerships and initiatives with an international emphasis.
  • Worth Noting, Editor Maribeth Slebodnik, University of Arizona,, covers noteworthy trends in academic libraries or in higher education more broadly. Worth Noting has presented pilot programs, interviews, and success stories. Occasionally, it features reviews of books and technology solutions.

Principles and Practices

The editors and Editorial Board of portal have endorsed the principles and practices in the documents “A Statement of Ethics for Editors of Library and Information Science Journals” and “A Guide to Best Practices for Editors of Library and Information Science Journals,” both issued in 2009 and revised in 2010, and posted at We encourage authors, reviewers, and other editors and publishers to follow these standards for integrity and responsibility.

Through its editorial practices, portal supports the development and evolution of inclusive language, including the use of the singular they. The journal encourages authors to refer to themselves by their chosen pronouns and to honor that practice for individuals referenced in their articles.

The Manuscript Review Process

Submissions to portal go through a double-blind review process: the reviewers of the paper do not know who the authors are, nor do the authors know the identity of the reviewers. The managing editor redacts any information or embedded metadata from the manuscript that could identify the authors and sends it to two referees, members of the portal Editorial Board.

The portal reviewers rate the submission using a standard assessment rubric. It asks them to evaluate the manuscript in several areas, including appropriateness to the journal’s readership, originality, literature review, research methodology, and clarity of writing. Some referees also provide authors with a marked-up manuscript with additional comments and suggestions. The assessment framework asks referees to indicate when a submission has merit but needs additional work before publication. If they determine that an author should revise and resubmit a manuscript, the editor will forward that recommendation to the author. Once the author has incorporated the suggestions of the referees, the revised manuscript will go back for review, usually to the original referees but occasionally to other members of the Editorial Board. Over time, we have seen this process produce outstanding results.

When the manuscript is accepted, with or without revisions, the editor will notify the author as soon as possible, suggesting a deadline for resubmission of the next iteration. Upon final acceptance, the editor will provide an estimated publication date and, if possible, indicate the journal volume and issue number. If, at the end of the peer-review process, the editor decides not to publish, she will inform the author with an explanation for that decision.

Manuscript Preparation

Writing Style

Write in a clear, readable style. Use mostly short, declarative sentences, and vary the structure of your sentences. portal prefers that the active voice is used as much as possible.

Keep yourself out of your article. Many experts believe that the first person is inappropriate for scholarly writing. Refer to yourselves as “the authors,” “the researchers,” or “the investigators” instead of “we.” Keep your opinions out of your article, too. Present your information in an open-minded, objective manner. Avoid editorializing, value judgments, and loaded words and phrases.

Pay careful attention to grammar and spelling. Write in complete sentences, with a subject and a verb in each. Subjects and verbs must agree—that is, a plural subject requires a plural verb, and vice versa. Make sure pronouns have an appropriate antecedent. 

Editors and reviewers often judge misspellings, typos, and grammatical errors harshly; they can undermine a good first impression. Such flaws raise concern about the overall quality of the submission and the meticulousness of the author. Use your software’s spell check, but remember that it will not catch every error. Review your manuscript carefully.

Proofread the edited version carefully as well. Authors are responsible for reviewing any editorial changes, including copyediting, to ensure that errors have not been introduced inadvertently.

Manuscript Preparation

portal’s requirements for the preparation of manuscripts include:

  • Write in Microsoft Word™ or a similar word-processing application. Once accepted, manuscripts must be prepared in Microsoft™ applications for submission to The John Hopkins University Press.
  • Avoid using any enhanced features of the software, such as fixed headers or footers, the numbered list option, or automatic footnotes.
  • Target a manuscript length of approximately 25 to 35 pages double-spaced. Length is not an exact science, and the portal editors often make exceptions for longer submissions, but short papers of just a few pages are not suitable.
  • Send your article as an attachment to an e-mail in which you provide your full name, academic title, affiliation, mailing address, and e-mail address.
  • Submit manuscripts and related communications to Editor Marianne Ryan,, with a copy to Managing Editor Sara Dreyfuss,
  • If your paper has multiple authors, designate one person as the corresponding author.
  • Ensure that you have not published the article previously nor have submitted the manuscript elsewhere simultaneously.
  • Provide an abstract of approximately 100 words highlighting the scope, methodology, and conclusions of your paper. See the following section on “The Abstract” for additional information.
  • Include headings and subheadings. These signposts make it easier for readers to follow your paper.
  • Keep use of the passive voice to a minimum.
  • Use standard United States spelling. Consult the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary ( for questions related to spelling and word division.
  • Spell out acronyms and abbreviations the first time you use them in the text.
  • Include the full name of any author cited in the text when first mentioned, rather than using only the last name.
  • Obtain copyright permission for any materials from other publications to be reproduced in your article.
  • Scrupulously prepare references as endnotes in the Chicago Manual of Style humanities style. See the following “References” section for further details.


The rules for references in portal include:

  • Prepare your endnotes according to the 17th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style.
  • Provide an endnote citing the source for any direct quotation of a sentence or more as well as for any summary or paraphrase of an author’s ideas. If you need several sentences to explain an author’s reasoning, one note number and one endnote should suffice, but make it clear in the text that you are still citing the same author.
  • Do not use long strings of ibids in endnotes.
  • If possible, place note numbers at the end of a sentence or at the end of a clause.
  • Avoid using more than one note number in a single location. If you want to cite more than one source for a passage, group the citations into a single endnote, separated by semicolons, and put them in the same order as the corresponding material appears in the text.
  • When available, provide a URL (uniform resource locator) or DOI (digital object identifier) for references that will enable readers to access them online.
  • Do not include an access date on which you consulted an online source; it is not necessary. Such dates have minimal usefulness. An author may return to a source several times over days or months when writing an article, and editors cannot easily verify any date an author reports.

Tables, Figures, and Illustrations

Include appropriate charts, graphs, tables, drawings, and photographs to support your text and summarize your findings. In portal nomenclature, a “table” consists of words and numbers displayed in columns, created entirely on a keyboard. Graphic material, such as pie charts, bar graphs, drawings, and photographs, are called “figures.” portal’s rules for tables and figures include:

  • Submit all tables and figures as individual files, separate from the article manuscript.
  • Create tables and similar material in Microsoft Word using the table function or inserting tabs to create space between columns. Do not use Excel.
  • Submit all figures in a high-quality graphics format, such as a tiff (tagged image file format), gif (graphics interchange format), or jpg (Joint Photographic Experts Group) file, with a minimum resolution of 300 dpi (dots per inch). Do not submit figures in Word because the image quality will be poor.
  • Ensure that all figures are coherent in gray scale because portal does not print in color.
  • Number tables and figures in the order in which they are first referenced in the text, using Arabic numerals.
  • Indicate in the text approximately where each table or figure should go.
  • Provide a title for each table and a caption explaining each figure.

Parts of an Article

The Title

Give your paper a short, engaging title. If the main title does not provide a good description of your article’s content, add a brief subtitle. portal uses large type for titles, so shorter titles look much better.

The Abstract

The abstract should briefly introduce your topic, summarize your findings, and explain their possible usefulness. Be sure to use keywords that will later help researchers discover your paper. Many databases display only the title, author, and abstract of a journal article on the first screen, and readers must then decide if they want to download the full text. Many more researchers will read the full article if the abstract piques their interest.

The Literature Review

Use the literature review to support your work and to show where your findings add to or diverge from past studies. Make sure your review includes the most important and current writings on your topic. Referees often have concerns with scant literature reviews that cite only older sources or omit seminal works on a topic.

The Discussion and Conclusion

These final sections should synthesize and interpret your findings and make the case for why your article is worth publishing. Many writers fail to explain the importance of their discoveries. The conclusion, especially, should describe what is new in your work and what it contributes to the profession of librarianship.

The Acknowledgments and Appendices

In portal articles, the “Acknowledgments” section typically appears at the end of the main text, before the author information, appendices, and endnotes. Authors may list those who made contributions to the work but are not coauthors in the acknowledgments, along with their function or contribution. Authors may also acknowledge sources of support, such as grants, in this section.

Survey instruments, rubrics, long lists of participating institutions, and similar materials typically appear in one or more appendices after the main article. If the appendices must be deleted because of space limitations, portal can supply links to such materials in the Project MUSE database. Authors will receive information about how to do so during the manuscript revision process.

Manuscript Posting

The Johns Hopkins University Press allows authors to post manuscripts on their own personal or departmental institutional database or on-line site, in their institutional repositories, and, if required by law, to an open access archive. A copyright agreement between the press and the author is executed at the time the manuscript is sent to the press for publication. Authors should not post prior to signing this agreement. The agreement gives the press the right to publish the article, but the author retains permission to use and republish the material if he or she includes a copyright notice.

Articles accepted for publication and copyedited for the upcoming issue of portal are posted on a preprint server hosted by the Journals Division of the Johns Hopkins University Press. There is a link to these articles on the portal homepage, portal is available in the Project MUSE collection,, and as a paper publication.

We hope that you will enjoy the authoring and publication experience.

Marianne Ryan,, Editor