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Academic Libraries and the Costs of Higher Education

Special issue call for papers from Reference Services Review

Reference Services Review seeks journal article contributions for a special issue that will explore how academic libraries are thinking about, engaging with, and addressing affordability issues on their campuses. This issue will be focused on the micro-level costs faced by our students, such as textbooks or course materials, rather than the macro-level economic challenges in higher education, such as student loans, interest rates, or tuition rates. The issue will be published in August, 2020 (Volume 48, issue 3).

The guest editors are encouraging topics that fall in the broader categories of social justice, the student experience, library administrative decisions or priorities, open education initiatives, and strategic partnerships. Some examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Definitions of affordability in specific contexts, such as technical colleges, liberal arts universities, or large research institutions, and discussions on how those definitions are created.
  • Sustainability of affordability initiatives.
  • Affordability initiatives and implications for student privacy.
  • Student perspectives, involvement, and/or partnerships with affordability initiatives.
  • Libraries tackling the costs of course materials, including traditional texts, electronic textbooks, non-book supplementary materials, and more.
  • Libraries supporting and/or developing open education initiatives on campus.
  • Library collaborations with the university, consortia, and other institutions of higher education.
  • Library collaborations with publishers and other organizations that are not institutions of higher education.
  • Navigating and researching institutional culture and encouraging participation in affordability initiatives.

The journal welcomes conceptual papers, case studies, literature review, and research papers about issues and trends that address specific opportunities or challenges related to academic libraries and the cost of getting an education. For complete author guidelines, please consult the journal's website (…). Potential contributors are encouraged to be creative in developing topics. Abstracts will be evaluated for submission using a rubric, which is below.

Examples of previous special issues can be found on the RSR website:

  • Academic Libraries and the 45th President (48/1, 2020)
  • Student success (47/1, 2019)
  • Library Services to People with Disabilities (46/3, 2018)
  • Emergent Literacies in Academic Libraries (46/2, 2018)
  • Transfer Students and Students in Transition (45/2 and 45/3, 2017).

The publication schedule for Volume 48, Issue 3 is:

  • September 20, 2019: Abstract Submission Due
  • October 15, 2019: Abstract acceptance notification
  • March 2, 2020: Manuscript due
  • March 2 – April 1: Double blind peer review
  • April 1 – May 11: Final Revisions
  • May 15: Final issue due to Emerald Publishing

Topic proposals should be submitted to Lydia Bello and Chris Granatino via the web form at Topic proposals should be no more than 500 words in length. Please feel free to contact them with questions at [email protected]

Criteria Under-Developed Developing Developed
Relevance to Issue theme Does not address issue theme or the connection to theme seems tangential or disconnected Loosely tied to theme, or connection to theme is articulated but unclear Clearly aligned with the issue theme in a substantive way
Contribution to professional discourse Topic is not relevant to current conversations, and does not acknowledge important and current trends Builds on existing and relevant conversation, but the unique contribution is unclear Adds to existing and relevant conversations or starts a new and timely conversation
Originality Does not present new or significant information Suggests new information or a unique application, but does not make a robust connection Contains new and significant information on the theme or a unique application of information
Potential to be a successful paper Abstract does not indicate enough substance for a full-length article Abstract has potential for a full-length article but lacks depth Abstract indicates that there will be enough material to write an article with appropriate scope