Reflections on preparing a special issue

Professor Steve Cook and Professor Caroline Elliot share how they put together their own article collection, Economic and Econometric Tools for Teaching and Learning, with open access journal Cogent Economics & Finance.

The emergence of the Economics Network [1] in 1999 brought with it an increased focus on the nature of Economics education in the UK.  As a result of the multitude of activities undertaken, the extensive and varied information disseminated, the general increase in the discussion of learning and teaching in Economics it has stimulated, and the sharing best practice it has promoted, the Economics Network continues to generate an increased awareness of, and debate concerning, the provision of Economics education. 

More recently, this debate has been sharpened by a post-financial-crisis world in which the structure and delivery of Economics degree programmes have been questioned along with the perceived overdependence on a prevailing ‘mainstream’ approach.  This had led to calls for, inter alia, the adoption of pluralist approaches, an increased relevance of Economics syllabi and the increased development of practical skills in Economics students. [2] 

The focus on the learning and teaching of Economics prompted by the financial crisis has clearly added to the pedagogical interest and activity already present in the profession.  In recognition, and in response to this, we decided to prepare a special edition of Cogent Economics & Finance on learning and teaching in Economics.  Entitled Economic and Econometric Tools for Teaching and Learning, the intention of the special edition was to draw together the views on, experiences of and approaches to teaching of prominent economists in a structured collection of articles.

Following a call for papers in May 2015, the special edition emerged as a collection of 12 papers authored by 18 academics from 15 different institutions in the UK and US.  The use of ‘emerge’ is particularly relevant as it reflects the nature of the production of the special edition as a result of its online and open access format.  That is, as successful papers completed their journey through the review and revision process, it was possible for them to be released immediately to disseminate the information they provided to all. 

With regard to the material received in response to the call for papers, it was very apparent that the journal was able to attract extremely prominent individuals as reflected in their general standing in the profession, research profiles and, importantly for the subject matter of the special edition, classroom experience and recognition for teaching activities in the form of HEA awards and funding.  It goes without saying that the quality of the authors and papers captured in the special edition was a pleasing outcome.  That this has subsequently led to over 7,000 reads of the special edition as of 22 September 2016 is a further positive feature which illustrates the widespread dissemination of the research contained in the special edition such that teaching experiences, approaches and good practice can be shared.  In terms of areas covered by the special edition, the material spanned four general areas: innovations in the use of technology to support teaching and learning;  the use of games and experiments in the classroom;  promotion of the relevance of economics via the increased practical application of economics concepts and theories; and advances in the teaching of quantitative and econometric material.  All of these broad areas are particularly topical and allowed discussion of relevant issues such project-based learning, the use of case studies, the development of syllabi, the analysis of real world decision making and policy etc.  Each of the papers discussed recent advances in economics and econometric teaching and the online nature of the journal ensured that accepted papers could be published quickly. The hope is that as these open access papers are read and shared freely, they will inspire more academics to think creatively about their teaching, giving readers the confidence to introduce new methods and ideas into their own teaching.

As the above illustrates, the special edition sought to provide material and capture developments in relation to the very timely issue of Economics education, and disseminate these findings to colleagues through open access.  The ease of the production process, the quality of the authors and papers attracted and the attention already received in the short period since its completion have made the construction of the special edition a straightforward and successful process.  On the basis of our experiences, we would heartily recommend that others considering the construction of a special edition do pursue this option.


If you have an interesting idea for a special issue, then why not publish with Cogent OA? Simply suggest a topic and our international team of editors will work with you to turn proposals into exciting and influential new collections of work.

Visit our collections page.


[2]  These issues are captured in the work of Doyle, C. (2012). What’s the use of economics? Teaching the dismal science after the crisis. London: London Publishing Partnership.