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Instructions for authors

Instructions for authors

Studies in Second Language Acquisition, a leading publication in the field of second language acquisition, is a refereed journal devoted to problems and issues in non-primary and heritage language acquisition. Theoretically-driven essays as well as theoretically-motivated empirical studies in any area related to second or heritage language acquisition and use or the interface of acquisition and use with pedagogy are acceptable.

SubmissionsSSLA uses the ScholarOne system for on-line submissions, Authors may go to to create an account if they do not have one, and upload all requested information and documents there. Manuscripts should be uploaded as Word documents (.doc or .docx); please do not upload PDFs.

For queries regarding manuscripts and submission information, please contact the editors at

Types of manuscripts

Research Article. These manuscripts may be essays or empirical studies, either of which must be motivated by current theoretical issues in second and subsequent language acquisition or heritage language acquisition. Maximum length is 11,000 words all-inclusive (i.e., abstract, text, tables, figures, references, notes, and appendices intended for publication).

Research Report. These manuscripts are shorter empirical studies motivated by current theoretical issues in second and subsequent language acquisition or heritage language acquisition. Very often, these are narrowly focused studies or they present part of the results of a larger project in progress. The background and motivation sections are generally shorter than research articles. Maximum length is 6,000 words all-inclusive (i.e., abstract, text, tables, figures, references, notes, and appendices intended for publication).

Replication Study. These manuscripts are shorter empirical studies motivated by a previously published study. The background and motivation sections will necessarily be shorter compared to research articles as the maximum length is 6,000 words all-inclusive (i.e., abstract, text, tables, figures, references, notes, and appendices intended for publication).

State-of-the-Scholarship Article. These manuscripts are essays that review the extant research on a particular theme or theoretical issue, offering a summary of findings and making critical observations on the research to date. Manuscripts in this category typically fall within the 11,000-word limit of regular research articles.

Critical Commentary. These manuscripts are shorter essays (i.e., non-empirical) motivated by current theory and issues in second and subsequent language acquisition or heritage language acquisition, including methodological issues in research design and issues related to the context of learning. Maximum length is 6,000 words all-inclusive (i.e., abstract, text, tables, figures, references, notes, and appendices intended for publication).

Methods Forum. Recognizing the need to discuss and advance SLA research methods, these manuscripts seek to advance methodological understanding, training, and practices in the field. Submissions can be conceptual or empirical; we also encourage articles introducing novel techniques. All research paradigms, epistemologies, ontologies, and theoretical frameworks relevant to SLA are welcome. The target length is up to 11,000 words although longer manuscripts will be considered with justification.

All manuscripts in all categories are peer reviewed and subject to the same high standards for publication in SSLA. Manuscripts should not have been published previously or be under consideration for publication elsewhere in any form. All submissions are double-blind peer reviewed.

Format. All SSLA submissions must conform to the requirements of the latest Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA). These requirements include formatting, headings, language use, presentation of data, citations, references, and all other aspects of manuscript preparation. Where we depart from APA on initial submission is that we ask that all figures and tables be embedded directly in place in the manuscript text rather than as separate files. At a minimum, manuscripts should be formatted as follows:

·         Double spaced

·         Times New Roman size 12 font

·         All figures and tables embedded

Blinding. When referring to one’s own previous work, authors should cite their own work as if citing the work of others; the wording should not indicate in any way that the author also authored the previous work. Rather than “In our previous work (Plonsky & Oswald, 2017), we found….”, the reference should say “Plonsky and Oswald (2017) found…" This includes published work as well as work that is in press or in FirstView.

Competing interests declaration in Title Page. All authors must include a competing interests declaration in their title page document (the title page that includes author details). This declaration will be subject to editorial review and may be published in the article. Competing interests are situations that could be perceived to exert an undue influence on the content or publication of an author’s work. They may include, but are not limited to, financial, professional, contractual or personal relationships or situations.

If the manuscript has multiple authors, the author submitting must include competing interest declarations relevant to all contributing authors. Example wording for a declaration is as follows: “Competing interests: Author A is employed at company B. Author C owns shares in company D, is on the Board of company E and is a member of organisation F. Author G has received grants from company H.” If no competing interests exist, the declaration should state “Competing interests: The author(s) declare none”.

Quantitative Research. There is a growing awareness in SLA and in applied linguistics more generally regarding the importance of completeness and transparency in quantitative data reporting practices. In order to maintain the highest possible level of transparency in SSLA, authors are required to adhere to the following guidelines, in addition to those provided by the latest edition of the APA publication manual. Authors of quantitative research reports must be sure to include:

·         research questions and/or hypotheses being tested;

·         whether and how statistical power was considered in determining the sample size;

·         reliability coefficients for all instruments employed;

·         whether the assumptions of all statistical tests were met and, if not, whether any adjustments were made to the data;

·         means, standard deviations, and confidence intervals for all analyses based on mean scores;

·         exact p values for all statistical tests;

·         effect sizes for all statistical tests along with a meaningful, contextualized interpretation.

In addition to reporting these statistics, authors must also be sure to interpret statistical results in ways that add to the manuscript's substantive contribution. The types of analyses presented should be appropriate for your dataset.

Supplementary Material. It is customary for authors to describe and include examples of stimuli, treatment materials, assessment tasks, and so on, within the text of their paper for the reader’s convenience. However, authors should also include complete supplementary materials at the end of their papers as part of the original submission. These complete supplementary materials are not normally included in the print version and instead will be made available as on-line materials on the SSLA website or through one of the research databases (e.g., IRIS) upon publication. They should be marked at the end of the paper as “On-line Supplementary Materials” and referenced accordingly in the manuscript.

Data collection materials. SSLA strongly encourages authors to consider uploading their data collection materials to the IRIS database, an online repository for data collection materials used for second language research. This includes data elicitation instruments such as interview and observation schedules, language tests, pictures, questionnaires, software scripts, url links, word lists, teaching intervention activities, among many other types of materials used to elicit data. Please see for more information and to upload. Any questions may be addressed to

Badges to Acknowledge Open Practices

In line with recent trends in language science research, Studies in Second Language Acquisition will participate in the awarding of badges based on the work in Open Science. Following is a list of the two types of badges that an SSLA author can earn and have included with an article at the time of publication.

Open Data Badge.

This badge is awarded to researchers who share their data publicly so that it can be accessed for replication purposes. Data must be shared publicly with open access (e.g., a university repository or a database on the Registry of Research Data Repositories, A codebook or metadata must be included to provide enough information for other researchers to reproduce the analyses and results and the data must have an open license.

Open Materials Badge. This badge is awarded to researchers who share their materials publicly so they can be used to replicate research procedures and analyses. These materials should be shared on an open-access repository such as the IRIS Digital Repository of Data Collection Materials ( and be accompanied by an explanation of how the materials relate to a given methodology.

It is not necessary to apply for open science badges in order to publish in Studies in Second Language Acquisition. These badges, however, are incentive for researchers to participate in open communication by sharing evidence for their findings and thereby facilitating replication, critique, extension and application.

Additional information on earning badges will be provided during the submission process.

Open Accessible Summaries in Language Studies (OASIS). SSLA is part of a field-wide initiative (see seeking to ensure that applied linguistics research is visible and accessible to those both within and beyond academia. Authors of all accepted articles are invited to write a one-page, non-technical summary of their study so that it is accessible to a wide audience. For guidelines on writing an OASIS summary, see here:

References. SSLA follows the APA<="" i="" style="box-sizing: border-box;"> format, with recent updates summarized here. Per APA, sources cited or referred to in the text should indicate the author's surname, publication date, and page number(s) when pertinent: (Gass, 1994; Lightbown & Spada, 1994, p. 563); if more than one, citations should appear in alphabetical order. When the author's name is part of the text, follow this form: "Schumann (1994) argued that…."

All in-text citations must be listed in full in the reference list at the end of each article following the specifications of the APA manual and all references listed must be cited somewhere in the text. Begin the reference list on a separate page entitled "References" and double-space it throughout. Each entry must include the author's name, co-authors (if any), publication date, and title of work. For a journal article, also provide the name of the journal, volume number, and page numbers for the article. For an article in an edited volume, list the editor's name, title of the collection, and page numbers of the article. For a book or monograph, list the edition, volume number, series, place of publication, and name of publisher. Articles that are in press or FirstView should be cited accordingly. Please see the examples below:

Boersma, P., & Weenink, D. (2008). Praat: doing phonetics by computer (Version 5.0.25) [Computer software].

Gass, S. M., & Mackey, A. (Eds.). (2012). The Routledge handbook of second language acquisition. Routledge.

Geeslin, K., with Long, A. (2014). Sociolinguistics and second language acquisition: Learning to use language in context. Routledge.

Hulstijn, J. H. (2012). Is the second language acquisition discipline disintegrating? Language Teaching. Advance online publication. 10.1017/S0261444811000620.

Keating, G. D. (2014). Eye-tracking with text. In J. Jegerski & B. VanPatten (Eds.), Research methods in second language psycholinguistics (pp. 69-92). Routledge.

Lakshmanan, U. (1989). Accessibility to Universal Grammar in child second language acquisition (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Plonsky, L. (2013). Study quality in SLA: An assessment of designs, analyses, and reporting practices in quantitative L2 research. Studies in Second Language Acquisition35, 655-687.

Révész, A. (2011, March). Working memory and the observed effectiveness of recasts on different L2 outcome measures. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Applied Linguistics, Chicago, Illinois.

VanPatten, B. (2013). Mental representation and skill in instructed SLA. In J. Schwieter (Ed.), Innovative research and practices in second language acquisition and bilingualism (pp. 3-22). John Benjamins.

Copyright. Authors are responsible for obtaining written permission to publish material (quotations, illustrations, etc.) for which they do not own the copyright. Contributors of accepted articles will retain copyright and sign a license to publish with Cambridge University Press.

Proofs. First proofs of an article or review article will be sent to the lead author as a PDF attached to e-mail. Within 4 business days of receipt of proofs, a list of corrections should be returned to the editor (via e-mail). Published PDF. The lead author of an article or review article will receive a PDF of his or her article without charge.

Open Access. Please visit Cambridge Open Access for information on our open access policies, compliance with major funding bodies, and guidelines on depositing your manuscript in an institutional repository.

First View. SSLA articles are now routinely published online through First View in advance of their appearance in a print issue.

Review Process

  1. Author submits
  2. In-house review (possible outcomes: accept for external review, return for additional work, reject)
  3. External review (at least two evaluators and at least one editor or associate editor)
  4. Editors' decision (based on the recommendations received in step 3, possible outcomes: accept, accept with revisions, revise and resubmit, reject)
  5. Author informed of editors’ decision, proceeds accordingly

A good manuscript…

  1. Fits within the scope of the journal;
  2. Is well organized;
  3. Has research questions that are clearly articulated and motivated by the background;
  4. Has appropriate statistical analyses with data that are clearly laid out;
  5. Has a discussion section that sticks close to the data and does not go beyond them. Additionally, the discussion ties back to the background, motivation, and research questions;
  6. Strictly follows the latest edition of the APA manual (at a minimum, Times New Roman 12 point font, double spaced, figures and captions embedded)

Major Reasons for Rejection

  1. The paper does not fit within the mission or the scope of the journal.
  2. There is a major shortcoming in the research design (i.e., the study cannot address what it claims to address).
  3. The paper is poorly written and/or suffers from poor organization.
  4. The paper does not address current research issues.
  5. The paper does not contribute in a meaningful way to our understanding of SLA.

Further Reasons for Rejection

  1. providing a "Literature Review” or "Background and Motivation" that is inappropriate in content and length;
  2. lacking in explicit research questions or hypotheses;
  3. a discussion section that is too long, or does not adequately provide for an appropriate interpretation of the results and/or does not connect back to the motivation section;
  4. selective reporting of data, or inappropriate interpretation.

Authors are strongly encouraged to consult the latest APA Manual for considerations of what makes for a good manuscript in terms of appropriate length and scope of the background and motivation section, explicit research questions and hypotheses, and the nature and scope of the discussion section.

Note: SSLA is committed to providing publication opportunities to a wide range of scholars.  In order to diversify contributions, we limit each author to two articles per volume (calendar year), with no more than one single authored in each volume.  Thus, one can have one single-authored article plus a co-authored article or two co-authored articles per year. 


Studies in Second Language Acquisition 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 Studies in Second Language Acquisition. 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 28 December 2020