quality practice

Research for All journal: what have we learned so far?

updated on 28 Jul 2023
4 minutes

Sophie Duncan introduces the third issue of Research for All and reflects on her learning from co-editing an interdisciplinary journal.


Sophie Duncan, NCCPE Deputy Director, introduces the third issue of Research for All  and reflects on her learning from co-editing an interdisciplinary journal with diverse audiences and contributions.

It was with great joy that we launched the third issue of Research for All earlier this year, and we are grateful to the many authors, associate editors, and peer reviewers who have contributed so much to the publication. This open access, free to publish, free to read, international, peer reviewed journal is a partnership with the UCL Institute of Education and UCL IOE Press. The core editorial team, made up of myself, Sandy Oliver and Pat Gordon-Smith, have been working really hard to turn the dream into a reality.

When we started the journey three years ago, I had little experience of academic publishing. That it can take such a long time to get from first submission to final publication surprised me. Our team work hard to reduce the time taken, although this is challenging given the nature of the journal.

For me, there has been some interesting learning emerging from the process so far…

Extending the invitation

There is a big appetite for a journal covering the landscape of engaged research – and we have lots of people wanting to contribute to it. We are keen to extend the invitation to participate across the world, and encourage you to share the journal with anyone you know who might be tempted to write for it, or read it.

Peer reviewing process

In common with other interdisciplinary research journals, the scope of Research for All is both a blessing and a challenge. That such diverse perspectives on engaged research, across different disciplines and different participant communities, can be shared in one place is wonderful. However, the peer reviewing process is not straightforward and we sometimes struggle to find peer reviewers who are comfortable reviewing Research for All articles. Some who we invite from outside academia feel unsure of what is expected, despite our guidance, and it can be difficult for them to find the time for something where there is no tangible reward. Many academics, on the other hand, are keen to review our articles but are challenged by the broad scope of some of the contributions we receive. Therefore we are incredibly grateful to the 130 reviewers who have stuck with it and who have provided us with rich guidance for our first issues. We would love to hear from others keen to get involved.

How to write accessibly

It is important that the journal articles are accessible to anyone with an interest in engaged research, but writing accessibly and writing succinctly don’t always go hand in hand. Whilst we try to support writers, the tone and style of the journal are themselves evolving as we begin to understand what is most effective for readers interested in engaged research.

Engagement with research

The journal focusses on the processes of engagement with research – which spans anything from science communication to participatory research methodologies and everything in between. However we often get article submissions that are great pieces of research, but where the focus of the article is the research rather than the engagement itself.

Our latest issue

Our most recent issue has a special feature on public engagement with research with schools. One particular highlight is the ‘Who inspired my thinking?’ piece, where the inspirational Becky Parker shares her love of learning, and encouraging young people to do authentic research. This is further explored in an article on one of her programmes, Authentic Biology.

For those who love exploring the territory of the journal, our editorial picks up some of the tensions in creating a journal for diverse audiences with diverse contributions, and explores this in some depth.

We encourage you to read the journal. It has been a pleasure to read all the articles that now feature in our most recent issue – and we have learnt a lot. For anyone intrigued about the processes of engaged research, with a curious mind and an appetite to explore, there will be something that captures your interest.