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Q&A with Rochelle Dalla

Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Human Trafficking

We sat down with Rochelle Dalla, Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Human Trafficking, to better understand the kind of research the Journal publishes

and how the Journal supports authors to make an impact with their research.

Here is what she had to say: 

Can you share your professional background and your relationship with Journal of Human Trafficking 

Sure! I am a Professor in the department of Child, Youth and Family Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) and have been with UNL since 1996.  My Ph.D. is in Human Development and Family Studies.  My scholarship, for the past 20 years, has focused on women trafficked into the commercial sex industry. This work began with investigations of street-level trafficked women in the United States and has now expanded to included sex trafficked women in both urban and rural areas of India.  

I am the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Human Trafficking.  The idea for creating the Journal came to me as I pondered outlets for disseminating my own human trafficking research.  Because human trafficking is altogether multi-disciplinary, human trafficking scholarship was published across an expanse of disciplines.  I was questioning not only who would find my work but, more importantly, who would miss it!  Thus, the Journal was created based on the principle belief that the generation, dissemination, and application of new knowledge is fundamental to the eradication of human trafficking and allied forms of slavery.  

For those who may not know, can you give us a bit of background to the Journal?  

Once the idea of creating a new journal hit me, I discussed ideas with colleagues—namely Donna Sabella (now an Associate Editor for Journal of Human Trafficking), Celia Williamson (also an Associate Editor of the Journal), and Dominique Roe-Sepowitz—about what the new journal could/should offer, how to develop the proposal, etc.  The proposal for a new journal—Journal of Human Trafficking—was submitted to Routledge/Taylor & Francis in late 2012.  It was created as a journal that would meet a clear need for a centralized outlet for the publication of research and scholarship devoted specifically to human trafficking and modern slavery.  At the time, we recognized that attention to the phenomenon of human trafficking, scholarship, and practical work conducted on issues relating to prevention, intervention, protection of victims, and prosecution of criminals was growing at unprecedented rates world-wide.  However, an academic journal devoted to the dissemination of scholarship on human trafficking did not exist (or, if one did, it was not open to general submissions).  Thus, human trafficking work was being published in a host of disparate journals—ranging from geography and law, to anthropology, medicine, and gender studies.  In effect, a search of the last trends in human trafficking would likely miss a great deal of impactful scholarship!  Journal of Human Trafficking was envisioned as a platform to rectify this gap.  Amazingly, our inaugural issue was published in March of 2015! We are so glad Routledge/Taylor & Francis recognized the need for Journal of Human Trafficking, as well! 

How is this journal unique from others in the field?  

It is unique from other trafficking, human rights, or modern slavery journals on a number of fronts, in that Journal of Human Trafficking is:  

  • international in scope;  
  • interdisciplinary in nature. That is, we welcome submissions from any natural or social science discipline; 
  • open to research methods across the qualitative/quantitative spectrum and are particularly interested in mixed-methods investigations;  
  • interested in empirical research, evidence-based practice, legal analyses, as well as discussion pieces;  
  • supported by Routledge/Taylor & Francis—which means we have a tremendous team assisting in the marketing, production, and publication process!  

What kind of research does Journal of Human Trafficking look to publish and how do you ensure quality? 

As noted earlier, if the research focuses specifically on human trafficking or allied forms of slavery, we welcome any type of research methods and analysis processes.  We publish a variety of content including, case study analyses, research involving complex statistical designs, and even that involving secondary and meta-analyses.  In addition, we are extremely interested in cutting-edge methodologies, as well as evidenced-based practices, discussion pieces, and legal analyses.  We aim to publish insightful and influential research and practice—without prejudice to method or discipline.  

Journal of Human Trafficking is diverse—one of our amazing features!!  But the question of quality is critical.  Quality is ensured through our robust double-blind review process.  Each manuscript is blind reviewed by at least two—and often more—content experts.  If the manuscripts involve unique methodologies, we add reviewers who are experts in the methods and the subject matter.  

With such a broad scope, how are you able to publish all this research?  

First, Journal of Human Trafficking publishes four issues annually and, depending on the manuscript length, each issue is comprised of five to six articles.  This translates into twenty to twenty-four high quality pieces in each volume.  Second, because of our fabulous production team, once manuscripts have been formally accepted, the process of moving to publication are seamless and timely.  In effect, we have few manuscripts in “back log”.  

Have there been any exciting developments with the Journal recently? 

Yes, we’ve just been approved for indexing in SCOPUS—this was a critical step for us as a new journal!   

Additionally, we are extremely pleased to have been selected by Routledge as one of their “high impact” journals. Journal of Human Trafficking was chosen because its published content has positively impacted society and policy making. We will leverage this prestige to continue to attract more impactful authors in our quest to combat human trafficking and contemporary slavery. 

“Impact” is difficult to quantify.  However, the concept in relation to “high impact” journals is framed by the United Nations’ (UN) 17 Sustainable Development Goals.  These goals provide a global blueprint for ending poverty, improving health and education, reducing inequality, and growing the economy—on a global level.  In effect, the ultimate goal is overall health and wellbeing for the planet, as well as all of the planet’s peoples.     

Please share why you have selected the respective UN Sustainable Development Goal(s) for Journal of Human Trafficking? 

  • Goal 5- Gender Equality 
  • Goal 12- Responsible Production and Consumption  
  • Goal 16- Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions 

These three Sustainable Development goals were selected because each is—either directly or indirectly—associated with the elimination of human trafficking and slavery.  Goals 5 (Gender Equality) and #6 (Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions) are clearly related to anti-trafficking scholarship.  Goal 12 is less obvious to some.  However, Goal #12 (Responsible Production and Consumption) is directly related to the promotion of Fair Trade production, advocacy, and marketing practices, in addition to consumer knowledge and choice.  When one considers the amount and types of scholarly work related to Fair Trade practices, the connection to Goal 12 with the mission and scope of Journal of Human Trafficking is evident!   

How do you empower authors to make an impact with their research?  

To empower authors, Journal of Human Trafficking provides a resource for the international community to combat human trafficking, develop effective, evidence-based policy, and lessen the knowledge gaps.  By publishing in Journal of Human Trafficking, authors’ efforts serve to inform the knowledge base of those indirectly or just beginning their scholarly or research-related efforts and allows both readers and authors to find important information through one source.  Journal of Human Trafficking also grants free access to a number of articles, thus making information accessible to anyone interested in being more informed. Finally, Journal of Human Trafficking is interdisciplinary, allowing both readers and authors exposure to and an opportunity to learn from those with different backgrounds. As human trafficking is a multi-faceted issue, it is vital that there is interdisciplinary exchange of information and collaboration.  

Are authors seeing the real-world impact of their research after they have contributed to Journal of Human Trafficking? 

I have heard from multiple authors that the constructive feedback they’ve received on their manuscripts has substantially improved the focus and perceived contributions of their papers—this is not unusual at all.  Beyond this, I can safely say that the work of any given author often impacts and influences the work and knowledge base of subsequent author(s) — as clearly seen in how prior work/research/scholarship is cited in subsequent articles— and often referred to by others as a platform or foundation on which they build their own work.    

I can also share an email I received when we were in the initial stages of getting Journal of Human Trafficking published; as someone pouring tremendous energy into the development of the Journal, this was incredible moving for me—and reflective of the impact Journal of Human Trafficking would eventually have!   

Dear Dr. Dalla, 

I stumbled across your effort to create a journal for human trafficking, and I just wanted to thank you.  As an Iowa pastor, I used to think nothing good could come out of Nebraska, but you have certainly dispelled that presupposition!  One of the great difficulties we have had with law enforcement and politicians around the country has been the availability of peer-reviewed data which can inform decision and policy-making.  I cannot help but think such a journal will be a powerful tool for forcing people in power to act.  They are sometimes affected by the personal stories of survivors, but they are often blown away by quantifiable data.  Thank you so much for your effort to get this done! 

Where do you see the Journal in 5 years’ time? Is there anything specific you want to achieve?  

We are fortunate to have seen the early years of Journal of Human Trafficking as promising ones, with steady growth in a number of areas, including high-quality submissions, and increased recognition and respect among readers and authors.  Moving forward, we hope to continue growth in these areas and to also see an increase in submissions from authors, researchers, and scholars from outside the US, Canada, and the UK. We are also presently in the process of developing a professional organization open to those working in the field that the Journal would be a major part of.    

Finally, how can authors contribute impactful research to Journal of Human Trafficking 

The research obviously must be done well and must address an issue that is important and essential to any of the numerous and inherent aspects related to human trafficking. Impactful research begins at the feet of the researcher.  Our role at Journal of Human Trafficking is to continue to provide a platform where that type of work and scholarship can be heard as far and as wide as possible. 

Rochelle L. Dalla


University of Nebraska at Lincoln