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Choosing the Outstanding Paper

Understanding the process

The decision makers

The choice is made by more than one person and the Editorial Advisory Board (EAB) members are best placed to assist as they are closely involved in the aims of the journal and are familiar with its editorial objectives and the prevailing standards of current papers and research. There are a number of ways in which an editor can work with his/her EAB to pick the outstanding paper.

  1. Some editors compile a short-list of those papers which might merit the nomination and then the EAB members vote on their preferred choice.
  2. Some editors allow the EAB members to nominate papers to produce a short list and then all vote again
  3. One editor asks his EAB to pick three papers and rank them with a numerical score (1-3). When all the EAB members' choices are totalled then there is usually a clear winner.

This just demonstrates process options and all are acceptable but what about the criteria for choice?

There are certain factors which are prerequisites in any paper. They should provide or demonstrate:

  • Contribution of something new to the body of knowledge either in terms of approach or subject matter.
  • Excellent structure and presentation and well written.
  • Rigour in terms of argument or analysis.
  • Relevance – to practice and further research, in most cases.
  • Up to date – demonstrating that the latest/key works in the field have been cited.
  • A work which is clearly within the editorial scope and remit of the journal.

Over and above those factors, different types of paper require different approaches and content. A top-quality literature review, an innovative conceptual exploration, and a really well constructed case study will do different things, and can all demonstrate excellence in their own way.

The deciding factor

Ultimately, an outstanding paper should have that special something – something that raises it above all others and which the editor and EAB can recognize and define for the rest of us.