We sat down with Brian Pratt, Editor-in-Chief of Development in Practice, to better understand the journal. We wanted to get a better idea of the kind of research the journal publishes, how the journal helps authors to make an impact with their research, and where Brian sees the journal in the coming years. Here is what he had to say.
First, can you give us a bit of background to the journal and its mission?
- "The journal was started in 1991 by Oxfam to provide a platform for the practice of development, as opposed to the then-dominance of academic theory among development titles. It aims to stimulate new thinking and ways of working related to development and humanitarianism globally, and we publish a broad range of authors, including practitioners, scholars, policy shapers, and activists. We are committed to encouraging submissions from new writers, Southern authors and from those outside of academic institutions. We also actively encourage and support authors whose first language is not English."
What is your background and how did you become part of the journal?
- "In the 1980s and early 1990s I was working in Oxfam on policy, institutional learning, evaluation and research, after a period as a regional director for Oxfam in Latin America. I was one of the team within Oxfam that founded DiP, and became its first editor. I left Oxfam and the journal soon afterwards to help establish INTRAC, and was Chief Executive there until 2013. When Oxfam sold the journal to T&F in 2010, INTRAC was approached to take over the editorship and I once more became editor. I currently undertake development consultancy projects alongside being editor of the journal, so I’m still actively involved in development practice."
Have there been any exciting developments with the journal over the past few years?
- "The huge increase in electronic subscriptions and article downloads has made the journal far more accessible to people globally, and we have seen our international readership grow across an increasing range of countries. Alongside this, our popularity with authors as a place to submit articles continues to increase – 2018 saw the highest number of manuscript submissions since we took over editorship of the journal."
How did you achieve this?
- "With vital help from T&F in terms of providing the platforms and avenues for readers to access our material, and with our ongoing active commitment and adherence to our policies of attracting authors, reviewers and readers from across the globe. Around 60% of all authors of submitted articles are based outside of Europe and North America, around 35% of all authors of submitted articles identify as being based outside of academic institutions. Our peer reviewers mirror the geographic spread of our submitting authors in terms of proportions based outside of Europe and North America."
What kind of research does the journal publish?
- "Ideally the research for a full article should bridge the academic-practice axis, so an article which is based on real experiences in development, that sits alongside a rigorous analysis. We also publish and encourage shorter practical notes - usually on specific experience or topic, but which has broader interest and potential application – and viewpoints, which reflect on a current policy or practice concern."
Is there anything you are looking to achieve in the coming years with the journal?
- "We strive to reflect and address the changing patterns of international development and increasing concerns such as the effects of climate change. We will also continue to ensure that those people actually engaged in development policy and practice have access to the journal, both as authors and readers."
How do you support authors who are looking to make an impact in policy documents or news reports?
- "By offering two shorter forms of submissions – practical notes and viewpoints, both around 3,000 words – whose accessibility makes them more likely to be read or picked up by those involved in putting together news items or policy documents.
- Our overall focus on the practice of development, rather than just the theory, also helps to make our published articles more attractive to policymakers and others looking for examples of how to make a difference in development. We encourage all authors to emphasise the practical application and benefits of their work.
- The high readership figures and breadth of the global audience our articles reach increase the likelihood of articles having an impact."
Have you seen research you publish make an impact beyond academia?
- "Given that we know that over 35% of our authors (and readers) come from non-academic institutions, it seems clear that our articles are read and circulated far beyond just academia."
Can you give an example of where research has made an impact beyond academia?
"Recent analytics show that DiP articles feature across a wide range of social media and other non-academic channels, and not just a small number of traditional academic journals."
Finally, how can authors contribute their own research to Development in Practice?
- "As we publish eight issues a year – somewhere in the region of 100 articles - and usually have at least one special guest-edited issue each year, there is plenty of scope for writers to submit articles, viewpoints or practical notes, depending on their interests.
- Full details of our aims and scope, instructions for authors, and examples of recently published articles can be found at https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/cdip20/current#.U7O2S5RdWSo. We’re also very happy to answer queries and offer guidance to potential authors – please email email@example.com in the first instance."
I hope you enjoyed reading my Q&A
Professor Brian Pratt
International NGO Training and Research Centre (INTRAC), Oxford, UK.