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Instructions for authors

Download the Cambridge Archaeological Journal instructions for contributors here: Download Instruction for Contributors in PDF. (199.269 KB)

Download the Cambridge Archaeological Journal style guide here: Download Instruction for Contributors in PDF. (199.269 KB)

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Cambridge Archaeological Journal : Instructions for Authors

1. About the Cambridge Archaeological Journal

2. Processes and policies

3. Instructions to authors preparing manuscripts for initial submission

1. About the Cambridge Archaeological Journal

1.1 Scope

The Cambridge Archaeological Journal (ISSN 0959-7743) was founded in 1991 as one of the key initiatives of the newly-founded McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at Cambridge University. Initially envisioned as a Cambridge-based initiative to explore cognitive archaeology, the journal quickly evolved to publish key works in an eclectically-defined social archaeology not narrowly tied to a specific theoretical “school”. From 2006, CAJ expanded from two to three issues a year, increasing again to publish four issues annually from 2015. Past editors include Chris Scarre through 2005, and John Robb from 2006 to the present, joined by co-editors Augusta McMahon (2015-2019) and Elizabeth DeMarrais (2015 – present). CAJ has is recognized as one of the leading journals in archaeological theory.

CAJ publishes original research articles, usually as individual contributions, but sometimes as part of thematic special sections addressing current debates and new theoretical approaches. The journal is published four times a year (February, May, August and November), with articles available online ahead of print in many cases. Cambridge Archaeological Journal is indexed in all major journal indexes. All articles published in CAJ are peer-reviewed; peer review is usually completed within 2–3 months from submission.

The editors are Elizabeth DeMarrais ( and John Robb ( The editors are advised by an international Editorial Board .

1.2 What we seek to publish: themes and topics

CAJ publishes original research in all areas of archaeology. CAJ places no restriction on period or place, and we are happy to receive material from authors focused upon any part of the world. Recently published papers have covered aspects of the entire global range of archaeology from the Lower Palaeolithic to contemporary archaeology and heritage. We also publish purely theoretical discussions; the journal’s focus is upon social interpretation. We are keen to receive manuscripts dealing with broadly defined social, symbolic and cognitive issues such as art and iconography, burial and ritual, social process and change, meaning and material culture, representations and symbolism, and the evolution of human cognition. We encourage work both in traditional core areas of archaeological thought, and in fast-developing areas of social theory and debate, from evolutionary theory to material culture theory, contemporary archaeology, critical feminism and posthumanism, and ontology and indigenous perspectives in archaeology.

The hallmark of CAJ articles is their thematic interpretation of ancient and modern societies. The editors often ask authors to identify their principal intended audience; if an article has detailed findings of relevance only to a small group of specialists, that manuscript should be sent to a journal for that specialism. In contrast, CAJ’s editors welcome manuscripts that engage with broad themes and theoretical approaches, syntheses of ideas or findings, and new results whose interpretation is relevant to CAJ’s diverse readership across the whole of world archaeology.

1.3 What we publish: formats

While most contributions to CAJ take the form of individual research articles, we aim to provoke discussion and debate, and the editors are open to many other forms of publication.

  • Special thematic sections. These usually involve 5–10 contributions, usually of shorter length (up to about 5000 words, sufficient for a statement of position and a brief case study), focusing upon a central theme of theoretical importance. Thematic sections can provide a focused and incisive forum for a timely, topical discussion or debate. In recent years, CAJ thematic sections have focused upon a wide range of ideas, from the agency of the dead through posthumanism, assemblage theory, definitions of “art”, and the symbolism of materials in human evolution. Proposals for thematic sections, to be sent to both editors, should include a brief (2–3 page) statement of the proposed theme, its theoretical context and significance, and a list of proposed contributors with titles and abstracts.
  • Review features. For a work defining an important position in archaeology, a review feature will present a summary of the position, followed by expert commentaries from a range of perspectives.
  • Discussion features, with shorter statements on a theme or topic of importance or controversy, with contributions from scholars taking a wide range of views.

We are also open to new features of other kinds, such as pictorial essays, debates, narratives and so on. If you are interested in developing a thematic section or feature, please contact the editors to discuss the possibilities.

1.4 Who publishes in CAJ

In a word, anybody with something important and interesting to say about archaeology.

  • CAJ authors come from all continents and all scholarly traditions; at last count, first authors of our articles have come from about 40 countries and we are always seeking to increase this! We recognise that scholarship is international and we welcome manuscripts from authors whose first language is not English. While incoming manuscripts should be in the best written English possible and must be comprehensible enough to be reviewed, we can help copy-edit the final versions of accepted manuscripts.
  • CAJ welcomes work by early career researchers. While our authors include established and eminent scholars, early career researchers frequently contribute new ideas and exciting research findings. The editors are happy to offer guidelines to help less experienced researchers negotiate the learning curve of academic publishing (see below).
  • We recognise that gender is important in academic life, and we aim to improve the gender balance represented by our authors, our editorial board, and our peer reviewers.

1.5 What do we not publish

  • CAJ typically does not publish papers whose principal focus is developing methods or archaeological science. Many of our papers incorporate scientific data, of course, but these results are typically the basis for social interpretations. Papers whose goals are to define archaeological methods or present scientific data for their own sake are much better published in a specialist journal for their topic.
  • As noted above, CAJ typically does not publish articles whose goal is to present empirical findings about a specific place or period and whose principal audience will be specialists in that place. Such contributions may be of excellent academic quality, but they are much better published in a regional or period-oriented journal where they will reach the appropriate specialist audience.
  • Finally, CAJ limits articles to 10,000 words; we very rarely publish works that exceed this length, which is already longer than that allowed by most journals. Like all journals, CAJ works within a page budget, and it serves our readers better to publish more articles of moderately substantial length rather than fewer, longer articles. We also find (though authors rarely believe it) that most longer manuscripts are improved by some compression; it makes them more focused and punchier. (Note that authors should not submit longer manuscripts claiming that, if accepted, the text will be cut to length; this is unfair to reviewers, who need to be able to evaluate the text in the form it would be published. It is the author’s responsibility, not the reviewers, to decide what needs to be cut).

2. Processes and Policies

2.1 Submission

  • All manuscripts should be submitted via CAJ’s online submission system . Guidelines for authors on how to prepare a manuscript for its first submission are given in section 3 below.
  • CAJ wants to make the submission process easy and straightforward. Manuscripts can be submitted formatted in whatever style you work in; if your manuscript is accepted, you will be asked to format the final text according to CAJ’s style sheet.
  • Figures. All figures will be published in colour online, and they can be published in colour in the print version of the journal as needed.

2.2 Open Access

CAJ is a hybrid journal which means that it can publish Gold Open Access and subscription articles. The journal also has Green OA policy and social sharing policies. Please visit Open Access at Cambridge for information on our open Access policies, compliance with major finding bodies, and guidelines on depositing your manuscript in an institutional repository.

Specific information about Open Access publishing options that are available for CAJ may be found here.

2.3 Conditions of submitting work

Submission of an article is taken to imply that it has not previously been published and is not under consideration for publication elsewhere. Note that the journal uses the CrossCheck/iThenticate software to screen papers for unoriginal material. By submitting your paper to CAJ, you are agreeing to any necessary originality checks your paper may have to undergo during the peer review and production processes. When the final version of a manuscript is accepted, authors will be asked to sign a standard warranty acknowledging responsibility for their work.

2.4 Author publishing agreement

The policy of the Cambridge Archaeological Journal is that authors (or in some cases their employers) retain copyright and grant the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research a licence to publish their work. Authors must complete and return an author publishing agreement form as soon as their article has been accepted for publication; the journal is unable to publish without this. Please download the appropriate publishing agreement here .

For open access articles, the form also sets out the Creative Commons licence under which the article is made available to end users: a fundamental principle of open access is that content should not simply be accessible but should also be freely re-usable. Articles will be published under a Creative Commons Attribution license (CC-BY) by default. This means that the article is freely available to read, copy and redistribute, and can also be adapted (users can “remix, transform, and build upon” the work) for any commercial or non-commercial purpose, as long as proper attribution is given. Authors can, in the publishing agreement form, choose a different kind of Creative Commons license (including those prohibiting non-commercial and derivative use) if they prefer.

2.5 Offprints

Contributors will receive a code they may use to download an electronic copy of their paper for their personal use.


CAJ now requires that all corresponding authors identify themselves using their ORCID ID when submitting a manuscript to the journal. ORCID provides a unique identifier for researchers and, through integration in key research workflows such as manuscript submission and grant applications, it increases the discoverability of your publications, helps to automatically link activities to your ORCID record, and provides a place to store and (if you choose) share validated information about your research activities and affiliations. If you don’t already have an ORCID ID, you’ll need to create one if you decide to submit a manuscript to Cambridge Archaeological Journal. You can register for one directly from your user account on Scholar One or via

3. Instructions to authors preparing manuscripts for initial submission

Before submitting a manuscript, please prepare it according to these guidelines, which have been designed to streamline the process as much as possible.

  • All submissions should be through the online submission system
  • Articles should normally be up to 10,000 words (including abstract, references and captions).
  • The abstract, text, references, captions, etc. should all be in one manuscript file in Microsoft Word or an equivalent open-source software. Please list the name, affiliation, and email address of each author on the title page. Include a biography of up to 50 words for each author specifying current academic position, subject interests and any relevant publications after the bibliography and before the table and figure captions.
  • As the online system prompts you, please supply an abstract of up to 180 words, along with keywords.
  • Don’t worry about details of manuscript formatting or references; if your manuscript is accepted, formatting and references can be put into CAJ house style (see below; link to style sheet), but it can be sent out for review in whatever format you normally work in. (If you want to put the bibliography into house style from the outset, CAJ uses Harvard-style references).
  • When a manuscript is accepted for publication, high-resolution figures will be needed (600 dpi resolution, preferable in tiff format) and you should have obtained express permission to use all images. Many authors prefer to submit high-res files from the outset of the process; it is good practice to make sure that they are ready for use. However, when you are submitting a manuscript for review, you can use lower-resolution images, as long as they can be seen clearly, and they can be embedded in the manuscript text rather than submitted as separate files – this can make the uploading process quicker.
  • Acknowledgements should include all sources of funding, permit-granting persons and individuals, collaborators, collaborations with non-academic stakeholders, and people supplying figures.
  • There is some scope for including online supplementary material; the online system will prompt you about this.


Cambridge Archaeological Journal now requires that all corresponding authors identify themselves using their ORCID iD when submitting a manuscript to the journal. ORCID provides a unique identifier for researchers and, through integration in key research workflows such as manuscript submission and grant applications, provides the following benefits:

  •  Discoverability: ORCID increases the discoverability of your publications, by enabling smarter publisher systems and by helping readers to reliably find work that you’ve authored.
  •  Convenience: As more organisations use ORCID, providing your iD or using it to register for services will automatically link activities to your ORCID record, and will enable you to share this information with other systems and platforms you use, saving you re-keying information multiple times.
  •  Keeping track: Your ORCID record is a neat place to store and (if you choose) share validated information about your research activities and affiliations.

If you don’t already have an iD, you’ll need to create one if you decide to submit a manuscript to Cambridge Archaeological Journal. You can register for one directly from your user account on Scholar One or via

If you already have an iD, please use this when submitting, either by linking it to your Scholar One account or supplying it during submission by using the “Associate your existing ORCID ID” button.

Last updated October 2020