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Instructions for authors: Scope and contribution types

This is one of two documents that authors intending a submission should consult. This document explains the journal’s topical scope and provides detail on the types of contributions welcomed from authors. The other document, Submission Guidelines, details the specific style and formatting requirements to which submitted manuscripts must conform.

This document is organized into the following sections:

1. Scope of the Journal
2. Types of Contributions
3. Things We Don't Publish
4. Special Issues and Sections

1. SCOPE OF THE JOURNAL

BEQ publishes original research on topics relevant to the ethics of business that fall within the journal’s ambit include (but are not limited to):

  • the internal ethics of business organizations;
  • ethical decision making and behavior in organizations;
  • the role of business organizations in larger social, political, and cultural frameworks;
  • corporate responsibility, corporate citizenship, and corporate political activity;
  • the ethical quality of market-based societies and market-based relationships;
  • the ethical roles of business persons, e.g., managers, entrepreneurs, and executives;
  • the ethical dimensions of corporate governance;
  • the legal and regulatory environment of business;
  • environmental and social sustainability;
  • the ethical dimensions of economic globalization;
  • justice and capitalism;
  • professional standards relevant to business;
  • the role of non-governmental organizations in capitalism;
  • marketing and consumer ethics;
  • ethical issues in finance and accounting;
  • public policy regarding business or markets.

You may find it helpful to review the tables of contents from recent years to get a sense of BEQ’s breadth of coverage; do not assume, however, that past practice defines the limits of the journal’s topical coverage. The journal is open to new ideas, new issues, and new approaches to questions of ethics in business. Submissions are encouraged from:

  • accounting
  • anthropology
  • economics
  • finance
  • history
  • law
  • management
  • marketing
  • philosophy
  • political science
  • psychology
  • religious studies
  • sociology
  • other relevant fields
2. TYPES OF CONTRIBUTIONS
Research Articles

BEQ publishes a variety of types of original research articles, including:

  • Theoretical work including analytical, conceptual, and normative articles;
  • Qualitative (e.g., interview, participant-observer, ethnographic, case-based) work that makes an original theoretical contribution;
  • Quantitative (e.g., experimental, field, measure development) work that makes an original theoretical contribution; or
  • Historical work that makes an original theoretical contribution.

An original theoretical contribution is present when the article offers a significant conceptual advance that moves scholarly conversations on the topic or question forward in a meaningful way. Contributions also must be original and novel in relation to the author’s prior published work.

Review articles (discontinued)

As per the recent change of editorship—August 2020—a new editorial policy has been established: BEQ no longer solicits proposals for review articles.

Noticing that most of the proposals for review articles fall short on the criteria that used to be in place for review articles, we decided no longer to maintain a separate submission section for review articles. In particular, the expectation that review articles “utilize that review [i.e. a summary of the existing scholarly literature on a particular subject] as a basis for making a novel theoretical contribution that advances our understanding of the subject and provides valuable directions for future research on the topic” (emphasis added) is rarely met. Instead, as we observe, most of the work that goes into preparing proposals for review articles is dedicated to summarizing the existing scholarly literature on a particular subject, whether in a systematic or narrative way. And indeed, as could be argued, this precisely what the label of a “review article” invites one to do. It is, moreover, quite a challenge to make the move from a summary of what has been published (answering a question such as “what do we already know?”) to making an informed and well argued novel theoretical contribution (answering a question such as “how should we better understand or explain?”). The latter is close to a conceptual argument as meant by the “theory only” submission category. It is what is intended and sought, but the former is often a stand-in-the-way for accomplishing the latter, such that the result is closer to the former. We find this an unsatisfactory and unfortunate situation and therefore decided to change the journal’s editorial policy in this respect.

Considering that making a novel theoretical contribution on a particular subject must rely on a solid reading of a comprehensive body of literature on that subject, we believe that it is more appropriate—because fairer in its expectation to prospective authors—to directly ask for such a contribution instead of making a detour through the effort of summarizing the existing scholarly literature on a particular subject. For sure, reviewing the existing scholarly literature on a particular subject is a necessary step in the process toward making a novel theoretical contribution; it is in this way that a review of literature is and should be valued. We believe that meeting the journal’s objective of publishing articles that develop understanding or explanation in an important way (i.e. that make a novel theoretical contribution) is better served by discontinuing the submission category of review articles. Hence the discontinuation of the submission category.

Commentaries

These are shorter, analytic articles that directly engage, at a theoretical level, recent work published in BEQ. Commentaries are not responses or rebuttals to some narrow aspect of the original article; they are fully formed essays that engage and/or challenge the original article’s central arguments and contribution, and in doing so make a contribution of their own by moving conceptual thinking on the topic forward. Commentaries are normally limited to 6,000 words and receive expedited review. Timeliness is essential: submissions are expected within one year of the original article’s publication in a print issue.

Book Reviews

In each issue we publish three or four critical reviews of new scholarly books on the various topics within business ethics listed above. The appropriate length for book reviews is in the range of 1,500–1,800 words.

We welcome inquiries from prospective book review authors. To suggest a book for review, or to express interest in reviewing a book for BEQ, contact the book review editor Miguel Alzola at BookReviewEditor@beqjournal.org. Book reviews are not sent out for external review; decisions are usually made by the book review editor.

3. THINGS WE DON'T PUBLISH

Here are a few examples of particular kinds or elements of submissions that are unlikely to be successful in our review process:

  • Case studies that are largely descriptive.
  • Pedagogically-focused research (such as articles on teaching business ethics), unless the pedagogical issue is presented as an opportunity for examining and developing business ethics theory.
  • Empirical research relying exclusively on student populations without significant work experience as participants. Such a study could be part of a package of studies using different sampling strategies. Even then, submissions using samples of students or others with limited work experience or a constrained age distribution must include a clear and convincing argument that use of such a sample is appropriate to the study’s purpose. For example:

          a.   the study is about an aspect of student behavior relevant to business ethics; or
          b.   the study is about a basic cognitive, emotional, or behavioral process (e.g., moral imagination, moral identity,
                 moral emotion) that is relevant to business ethics, even if not relevant  exclusively to business ethics.

4. SPECIAL ISSUES AND SECTIONS

Special issues are important in amending the agenda for business ethics research by developing new theoretical and/or empirical research on neglected or emerging topics in business ethics, corporate responsibility, sustainability, and related themes consistent with BEQ’s editorial aims.

Once a year, on average, BEQ publishes a special issue or section on a topical theme. For an active special-issue call, there will usually be a limited time window of a month or two during which manuscripts can be submitted. The call for submissions will always identify the guest editors of the special issue or section. Calls for submissions of manuscripts are published in the journal; they are also available in the “Special issue: open calls for submission” section on this web page: click here.

We welcome proposals for future special issues or sections from groups of 2–5 individuals who would compose a guest editor team. Proposals for a special issue are to be submitted, once a year, by November 30, to the journal’s managing editor (ManagingEditor@beqjournal.org). The editors select one of the submitted proposals. Their decision is communicated in January. The selected proposal may require further development; the final text is published on the journal’s website and in the July issue of BEQ. For further guidelines, please refer to the pdf.

Last updated 4 October 2022