Policy & Politics

Advancing knowledge in public and social policy

  • Editors

    Sarah Ayres, University of Bristol, UK, Steve Martin, Cardiff Business School, UK, Felicity Matthews, Sheffield University, UK, and Diane Stone, University of Canberra, Australia and University of Warwick, UK (Consulting Editor)

  • Frequency

    Four issues per annum: January, April, July and October

  • ISSN

    0305 5736

    1470 8442 (online)

  • Impact Factor & Rank

    Impact Factor: 1.939; 
    11th of 47 in Public Administration 
    38th of 165 in Political Science

  • CiteScore

    2016 CiteScore: 1.88

Impact Factor BadgeImpact Factor News: Policy & Politics has achieved an impressive result in this year's Journal Citation Reports with an Impact Factor of 1.939. This places the Journal firmly in the top quartile of international journals in both the public administration and the political science categories.

Policy & Politics
is a world-leading journal that is committed to advancing our understanding of the dynamics of policy-making and implementation.  By exploring the interplay between political actors, governing institutions and policy issues, the journal contributes to theories of the policy process. By reflecting on the evolving context in which these interactions occur, it provides critical insights that are timely and fresh.

Policy & Politics has an international reputation in the fields of political science, public administration and social policy.  It is committed to publishing articles that are original and innovative; that engage with the world’s most pressing policy issues; and that have relevance both within and beyond academe.  The journal welcomes manuscripts that are empirical, conceptual or theoretical, as long as the broader international relevance of the argument is explicit.

It is critical that all articles demonstrate a clear contribution to knowledge, and it is crucial that articles are explicit about the specific empirical and/or theoretical advance that it offers. One of the hallmarks of the journal is the manner in which its articles generally shift from the micro to the macro (or vice versa) by addressing the link between ‘policy’ and ‘politics’. For example, while single-case studies might form the basis of an article, the broader significance and relevance of that study must be made explicit. Where articles deal with broad macro-political or economic issues they may also drill-down to some discussion of the micro-level implications of that analysis. Successful articles will generally demonstrate both analytical breadth and depth in the coverage of their subject matter. Articles must be written in a clear and accessible style suitable for a multi-disciplinary and global audience.

Policy & Politics welcomes manuscripts that contribute to its reputation as a platform for state-of-the-art research. The editors are especially interested in articles that:

1. Challenge dominant disciplinary assumptions.
2. Open up new research frontiers, and by doing so, set the agenda for subsequent debates.
3. Innovate in the use of methods, theories and concepts in order to deliver new insights.
4. Make connections across and between disciplines and sub-fields.
5. Offer relevant and timely analyses of emerging debates within political science, public management and administration, and social policy and from a comparative perspective.

What people are saying about Policy & Politics

"The specific quality of Policy & Politics is that it provides high quality articles that recognize the interrelatedness between the complexities related to getting things done in public policy making and the inherently political aspects of this endeavour." Professor Eva Sørensen, Roskilde University

“From its origins in British local government and urban studies to today’s broad vistas, Policy & Politics has grown into an established international journal of high repute”. Professor R. A. W. Rhodes, University of Southampton

"Policy & Politics brings into focus two subjects that should be studied together. It provides a platform for informed, reflective and rigorously evidenced research and does so in a way that addresses issues that matter." Gerry Stoker, Professor University of Southampton, UK and Centenary Research Professor, University of Canberra, Australia

"For too long researchers have studied and published on policy and politics separately, but policy is always political and politics is fundamentally about changing policy. Policy & Politics understands this relationship and is the leading journal for those academics that want to understand what is happening and why.” Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography, University of Oxford


Abstracting and indexing

Policy & Politics is abstracted in ASSIA (Applied Social Science Index and Abstracts), Australian Family & Society Abstracts, British Humanities Index, EBSCO Publishing Library Services, GEOBASE (Online and CD-Rom), Geographical Abstracts: Human Geography, International Bibliography of the Social Sciences (IBSS), International Development Abstracts, ISI Journal Citation Reports, Social Science Edition, Political Science and Public Administration categories, PAIS (Public Affairs Information Service), Scopus, Social Science Citation Index (ISI), Studies on Women Abstracts and Social Care Online.

Policy Press also publishes the New perspectives in policy and politics series.

Management Board

Sarah Ayres (Co-Editor), University of Bristol, UK
Steve Martin (Co-Editor), Cardiff Business School, UK
Felicity Matthews (Co-Editor), University of Sheffield, UK

Diane Stone (Consulting Editor), University of Canberra, Australia
Alex Marsh (Chair of the Board), University of Bristol, UK
Paul Fawcett (Associate Editor - Australasia), University of Canberra, Australia
Karin Ingold (Associate Editor - Europe), University of Bern, Switzerland
Ting Gong (Associate Editor - East Asia), City University, Hong Kong 
Paul Willis (Associate Editor - Digital Engagement), University of Bristol, UK
Nikolaos Zahariadis (Associate Editor - North America), Rhodes College, USA 
Julia Mortimer (Publisher) , Policy Press, University of Bristol, UK

Editorial Advisory Board 

Felicity Boardman, Warwick University, UK
Christine Cheyne, Massey University, New Zealand
Thomas Elston, University of Oxford, UK
Isabelle Engeli, University of Bath, UK
Julia Gumy, University of Bristol, UK
John Hudson, University of York, UK
Shona Hunter, University of Leeds, UK
Yijia Jing, Fudan University, China
Thomas Johnson, University of Sheffield, UK
Fiona MacKay, University of Edinburgh, UK
Paul Maginn, University of Western Australia
Michael Moran, Swinburne University of Technology, Australia
Zachary Morris, University of California Berkeley, USA
Jon Pierre, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
Mark Purcell, University of Washington, USA
R. A. W. Rhodes, University of Southampton, UK and Griffith University, Australia
Richard Simmons, University of Stirling, UK
Thomas Schillemans, Utrecht University, Netherlands
Katherine Smith, Edinburgh University, UK
Randall Smith, University of Bristol, UK
Eva Sørensen, Roskilde University, Denmark

How to Submit
Submit a Research Provocations piece (PDF)
English Language Editing Service
Editorial review process
Open Access
Tips for Acceptance (PDF)
Editorial Guidelines on Maximising Impact (PDF)
Video Abstracts (PDF)
Contact Us


All submissions must include an abstract of not more than 100 words, up to four key words and be between 5,000 and 8,000 words in length (including references). Submissions must be completely anonymised and uploaded without preliminary details, such as title, author, affiliations, abstract or keywords in the text file. All submissions will be subject to anonymous peer-review processes (unless stated otherwise) by referees currently working in the appropriate field. The editors aim to provide quick decisions and to ensure that submission to publication takes the minimum possible time; most papers can be published online via FastTrack ahead of print publication. Please note: submissions that, in the opinion of the editors, have not been anonymised for review will be returned to authors. The final decision on publication rests with the managing editors. 

Those submissions most likely to be accepted for publication are ones which:

  • Advance academic debate by offering a clear and explicit contribution to knowledge;
  • Anticipate and analytically frame those topical and important trends which are likely to shape governance and policy over the next decade or more at an international, national and local level; 
  • Investigate and compare public sector institutions, services, cultures and goods, including in relation to other sectors (markets, civil society and so on); 
  • Offer a comparative analysis which is historical and/or geographical and designed to draw lessons, e.g. About policy transfer and cross-national influences, for an international audience; 
  • Achieve a high degree of theoretical sophistication and innovation, especially in relation to empirical data, methods and methodologies; 
  • Provide an analysis of the social, economic and political impacts (including public attitudes and effects on service users) of key social and public policies; 
  • Helpfully summarise and reflect on a comprehensive body of literature and knowledge in the form of review articles; 
  • Propose arguments which are potentially controversial while still achieving a high level of rigor and professionalism in scope, research and presentation; 
  • Extend or critique previously published material, articles and debates in Policy & Politics.
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How to Submit 

All submissions should be made online at the Policy & Politics Editorial Manager website: http://policypol.edmgr.com. New users should first create an account. 

If you are interested in public policy and adjacent subjects, such as politics and social policy, we encourage you to either register at, or log in to, the Editorial Manager site and specify your areas of interest so that you can be invited to support the journal by reviewing articles relevant to their expertise.

For help submitting an article via Editorial Manager, please view our online tutorial.

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Copyright & Permissions

Articles are considered for publication on the understanding that on acceptance the entire copyright shall pass to Policy Press as publisher of Policy & Politics. Authors will be asked to sign a copyright agreement to this effect. All authors should agree to the copyright assignment. For jointly authored articles the corresponding author may sign on behalf of co-authors provided that s/he has obtained their consent for copyright assignment. When submitting online, the copyright assignment agreement is considered to be signed when the corresponding author checks the relevant box. The copyright assignment agreement can be read here

Where copyright is not owned by the author(s), the corresponding author is responsible for obtaining the consent of the copyright holder. This includes figures, tables, and excerpts. Evidence of this permission should be provided to Policy Press.

To request permission to reproduce any part of articles published in Policy & Politics please email Policy Press: pp-info@bristol.ac.uk

Please read our Journals Editorial Policies and  ethical guidelines for authors, editors and reviewers.

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  • British English spelling and punctuation is preferred.
  • Non-discriminatory language is mandatory.
  • Explanatory notes should be kept to a minimum. If it is necessary to use them, they must be numbered consecutively in the text and listed at the end of the article. Please do not embed notes in the text.
  • Please do not embed bibliographic references in the text, footnotes, live links or macros; the final submitted file should be clear of track changes and ready for print.
  • A reasonable level of self-citations that substantiate your argument are acceptable; however they should not enable reviewers to identify you as the author. Consequently you should not use phrases which could undermine your anonymity such as 'as I argued previously.'
  • Tables and charts should be separated from the text and submitted in a Word or Excel file, with their placement in the text clearly indicated by inserting: ‘Table X here’. Please provide numbers, titles and sources (where appropriate).
  • Figures, diagrams and maps should be separated from the text and, ideally, submitted in an Encapsulated PostScript (.eps) file. Figures created in Word or Excel are acceptable in those file formats. If the figures, diagrams and maps are in other formats (i.e. have been pasted into a Word file rather than created in it) please contact dave.j.worth@bristol.ac.uk for advice. Please indicate where figures should be placed in the text, by inserting: ‘Figure X here’ and provide numbers, titles and sources (where appropriate).
  • Further guidance may be found in the Policy Press editorial guidelines
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A custom version of the Harvard system of referencing is used:

  • In-text citations: give the author’s surname followed by year of publication in brackets
  • List all references in full at the end of the article and remove any references not cited in the text
  • Book and journal titles should be in italics
  • Website details should be placed at the end of the reference. Do not include dates of access to websites
  • Spell out all acronyms in first instance.

Example of book reference

Dorling, D, 2010, Injustice: Why social inequality persists, Bristol: Policy Press

Example of journal reference

Warin, P, 2012, Non-demand for social rights: A new challenge for social action in France, Journal of Poverty and Social Justice 20, 1, 41–53 

Example of chapter within edited / multi-authored publication 

Levitas, R, 2011, Utopia calling: Eradicating child poverty in the United Kingdom and beyond, in A. Minujin and S. Nandy (eds) Global child poverty and well-being: Measurement, concepts, policy and action, Bristol: Policy Press, 449–73

Example of website reference

House of Commons Debates, 2010, Work and pensions (CSR), Hansard, 4 November, col 337WH, www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm101104/halltext/101104h0001.htm

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English Language Editing Service

Policy Press collaborates with Enago to provide Academic English editing and translation services to help authors get their manuscript submission-ready. A special 20% discount is available for all Policy Press authors. Find out more at: https://www.enago.com/policypress/
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Editorial review process

The practice of editorial review is at the heart of good scholarly publishing and is carried out on all reputable journals. To maintain high standards of academic rigour, Policy & Politics employs double-blind review, where both the referee and the author remain anonymous throughout the process, and all submissions are handled according to the procedure below:

Initial manuscript evaluation
All new submissions are screened for completeness and adherence to our house style and word limit as well as for fit with our editorial statement. Those that pass are then assigned to a Co-editor for consideration for sending for peer review.
Co-Editor evaluation
The assigned Co-editor reads the paper and makes a recommendation to either send the paper for peer review or to reject without review. This recommendation is second checked by at least one other Co-editor who also reads the paper. All decisions are discussed and agreed collectively. Those manuscripts deemed suitable for peer review are passed to at least 2 expert referees for review. If the decision is taken to reject the paper without review, authors are given feedback to explain this.

Reviewer selection
Reviewers are sought according to their expertise. We welcome suggestions for reviewers from authors, though these recommendations may or may not be used.

Reviewer reports
Reviewers are asked to evaluate the manuscript and provide constructive anonymised comments for the author. Reviewers are not expected to correct or copy edit manuscripts.

Duration of review
Typically the manuscript will be reviewed within 30 days from the date it was sent out, although this can vary significantly depending on the availability of reviewers for the particular subject. Should the reviewers' reports contradict one another or a report is unduly delayed, a further expert opinion will be sought. If necessary, revised manuscripts may be returned to the initial reviewers. Co-Editors may request more than one revision of a manuscript, and alternative reviewers may also be invited to review the manuscript at any time.

As a result of the peer review process, the possible decisions are (i) reject (ii) request major revisions (iii) request minor revisions (iv) conditionally accept subject to minor amends (v) accept. Please note that the requesting of major or minor revisions does not guarantee that a revised paper will be automatically accepted.Once again, all decisions are collectively agreed by the Co-Editors. This decision is sent to the author along with any recommendations made by the referees.The above process ensures that all submissions are considered transparently, fairly and on merit. The Co-Editors’ decisions are therefore final.

Time to publication
On acceptance, after receipt of the final version of the manuscript, it takes, on average, 10 weeks for the final citable article to be published online via Fast Track. Subsequently this is compiled into an online and printed issue which can take up to several months.

Special Issues
Special Issues have different peer review procedures involving, for example, Guest Editors and/or Advisory Editors. Authors contributing to these projects may receive full details of the peer review process on request from the editorial office at pp-pp@bristol.ac.uk.

Contact Us

If you have queries regarding the submission process, please email the Policy & Politics office for assistance: pp-pp@bristol.ac.uk

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Annual Lecture 2018

Lady Margaret Hodge6pm, 7 March 2018, The Great Hall, Wills Memorial Building, University of Bristol
Attendance is free, but booking is required

The 2018 Policy & Politics Annual Lecture will be given by Lady Margaret Hodge on 'Calling Government to Account: How corporate bad behaviour and government waste combine to cost us millions'.

Based on her term as Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Margaret Hodge will horrify and amaze us with her jaw-dropping account of tax avoidance and wasted money by successive governments: revelations which will shock - and appeal - right across the political spectrum.

Sponsored International Panels

We are now sponsoring panel sessions at major international conferences. To find out more or propose a session, please visit http://www.bris.ac.uk/sps/policypolitcs/fund-for-sponsoring-international-panels/.

2016: International Symposium on Ambiguity and Crisis: Disasters, Governance and Social Risk, Birmingham, USA

2015: 8th European Public Health Conference, Milan

2014: European Consortium for Political Research conference, Glasgow

Annual Lecture

2017: Will Self

2016: Rev. Richard Coles

2015: Lord Anthony Giddens

2014: David Blunkett MP

2013: Baroness Jean Corston

2012: Sir Malcolm Jack KCB PhD

2011: Chris Mullin

2010: Shami Chakrabarti CBE

2009: Jonathan Evans

2008: The Lord Jay of Ewelme GCMG

2007: Rt Hon Nick Raynsford MP

2006: Sir Stephen Wall

2005: Dr Geoff Mulgan

2004: Professor Francesca Klug

2003: Ms Frances Cairncross 

2002: Professor Christopher Andrew 

2001: Sir Marrack Goulding 

2000: Lord Williamson 

1999: Dame Pauline Neville-Jones 

1998: Professor Archie Brown 

1997: Sir Alistair Hunter 

1996: The Honourable Neal Blewett  


2015: Democracy, Inequality & Power


2017: Evidence-Based Policy; Public Services & Reform; Welfare State
In celebration of APPAM’s Fall Research Conference theme this year which looks at the importance of measurement in evaluating policy and performance, we have developed a virtual issue of recent research articles based on the conference theme, along with two other themed collections which are free to access from 1-30 November 2017.

Evidence-Based Policy

Public Services & Reform

Welfare State

2016: Human Rights, Equality and Sexuality

To celebrate the 2016 Annual Lecture on Same Sex Marriage and the Church by Rev. Richard Coles, Policy & Politics is pleased to offer a collection of related papers from the journal. They will all be free to access from 29th February to 15th March 2016. 

2015: The Environment

To celebrate the 2015 Annual Lecture on the Politics of Climate Change by Lord Anthony Giddens, Policy & Politics took great pleasure in making articles from the journal on similar themes free for a week in April 2015. Although the papers are no longer freely available, you can still access them online either through your institution's subscription or by using pay-per-view. We hope you enjoy.



The Ken Young Best Paper Prize

The Bleddyn Davies Early Career Prize


Jo Ingold and Mark Monaghan

Evidence translation: an exploration of policy makers' use of evidence

Zachary Morris

Constructing the need for retrenchment: disability benefits in the United States and Great Britain


Michael Howlett, Ishani Mukherjee and Jun Jie Woo

From tools to toolkits in policy design studies: the new design orientation towards policy formulation research

Owen Corrigan

Conditionality of legal status and immigrant occupational attainment in Western Europe


Will Leggett

The politics of behavioural change: nudge, neo-liberalism and the state

Caroline Kuzemko

Politicising UK energy: what “speaking energy security” can do


Mark Purcell

The right to the city: the struggle for democracy in the urban public realm

Katherine Smith

Institutional filters: the translation and re-circulation of ideas about health inequalities within policy


The 2017 Winners

Bleddyn Davies Early Career Prize: ‘Constructing the need for retrenchment: disability benefits in the United States and Great Britain’, Zachary Morris, University of California Berkeley, USA

In this excellent paper, Zachary Morris seeks to address an important and politically timely question - Why are some welfare state programmes more susceptible to retrenchment than others? The paper examines why the major disability benefit programme in the United States has proved resistant to austerity measures while the comparable disability programme in Great Britain has been repeatedly scaled back. This engaging comparative analysis reveals that both structural differences matter greatly, as does the way that policy ideas are communicated to the public. In Britain, the portrayal of beneficiaries as underserving proved critical for constructing the need for retrenchment. This paper is a worthy winner of the 2016 Bleddyn Davies Early Career Prize for the following reasons. First, the focus of the paper is highly relevant to policy both in academic and political circles. Questions about how policy makers seek to manage and reframe policy in the context of austerity continue with zeal. Second, the paper is underpinned by a robust comparative methodology that provides a valuable opportunity for international critique and reflection. Like all articles in Policy & Politics the paper has a strong theoretical underpinning, drawing on institutionalist and ideational accounts to explore the framing of disability policy in Britain and the United States. As a consequence, its findings are of interest and relevance to scholars beyond the case of disability itself. This is an excellent article from a worthy winner of this year’s early career prize.

Ken Young Best Paper Prize ‘Evidence translation: an exploration of policy makers’ use of evidence’, Jo Ingold and Mark Monaghan, University of Leeds, UK

In this impressive paper, Jo Ingold and Mark Monaghan combine the evidence-based policy making and ‘policy as translation’ literatures to illuminate the process by which evidence from home or overseas contexts is incorporated into policy. A conceptual model of ‘evidence translation’ is introduced, comprising five key dimensions which influence how evidence is used in policy: the perceived policy problem, agenda-setting, filtration processes, the policy apparatus and the role of translators. The paper highlights the critical role of ‘evidence translators’ throughout the process. This paper stands out as being a worthy winner of the 2016 Ken Young Best Paper Prize as it draws on a rare ‘insider’ account of how policy makers at the heart of UK government utilize and translate evidence from domestic and international sources. It makes a unique contribution to the field by bringing together the often overlooked need to combine our understanding of evidence- based policy with the art of translation. While the case study is UK specific, the literature and analysis is positioned within international academic debates on evidence translation. Policy & Politics seeks to publish work that combines both scientific excellence with the principle of ‘engaged scholarship’. This article is a great example of that. It makes a clear contribution to the academic debate, while also providing insights and lessons of practical value to policy makers and practitioners.


The Ken Young best paper prize is awarded to the paper published in the previous year’s volume judged to represent excellence in the field. The winner’s paper will receive publicity and a period of free electronic access to their article to encourage use and citation.

  • the selected paper must have been published in the previous year’s volume
  • all papers, including research provocations, are eligible
  • individual authors and teams of authors are eligible
  • the nominations will be shortlisted and selected by the co-editors
  • metrics on downloads and citations are used as part of the selection
  • a short written summary statement is published on the rationale for the selection

The Bleddyn Davies early career prize is awarded to the best paper published in the previous year’s volume by an early career author. The winner’s paper will receive publicity and a period of free electronic access to their article to encourage use and citation.

  • the selected paper must have been published in the previous year’s volume
  • early career authors are those who completed their PhD no more than 4 years ago
  • individual authors and teams of authors are eligible
  • the nominations will be shortlisted and selected by the co-editors
  • metrics on downloads and citations are used as part of the selection
  • a short written summary statement is published on the rationale for the selection


About the Prizes

Thanks to the initiative of Bleddyn Davies and Ken Young in the early 1970s, we celebrated 40 years of the journal in 2012 and we are delighted to name two annual prizes after them in recognition of their innovative ideas and determination to put interdisciplinary analysis of and for policy firmly on the academic map in the UK and beyond.

The first issue of Policy & Politics, published by Macmillan, appeared in September 1972, with Bleddyn Davies (LSE) as founding editor and Ken Young (also at the LSE) as Associate Editor. Both had been heavily involved in the deliberations about the launch of a new journal which initially focused on local government "whilst drawing on a variety of disciplines and approaches". By September 1974 (Vol.3, No.1), publication had moved to Sage, its scope and coverage had been broadened in the sphere of public policymaking and Bleddyn and Ken became joint editors, both having moved to the University of Kent at Canterbury. The next change occurred with the January 1979 issue (Vol.7, No.1) as a result of the move by Ken to the University of Bristol, bringing the journal with him to be published by the then School for Advanced Urban Studies (SAUS). Bleddyn became a member of the Editorial Board and Ken was the Managing Editor of the journal until he handed on to Michael Hill in January 1980 (Vol.8, No,1). The journal continued to be published by SAUS until the School merged with the School of Applied Social Studies (SASS) in 1995 to form the School for Policy Studies, after which the newly created Bristol University based publisher, The Policy Press, took over the production of Policy & Politics.

Call for special issue proposals 

The journal’s co-editors invite proposals for a special issue to be published online in 2019 and in print in 2020 that will make a significant contribution to our understanding of public or social policy and/or politics.  

We receive a large number of enquiries about and proposals for special issues which means that we are in the enviable position of selecting only the very strongest. To be successful, proposals need to offer a coherent set of excellent original research articles that will re-frame or develop knowledge on a topic which is at the leading edge of current debates and is clearly relevant to the journal’s worldwide readership. Proposals may include a mixture of theoretical, conceptual and empirical cases and a range of research methods, but must demonstrate how they will make a significant and lasting contribution to the field.

Special issues of this significance generally take at least eighteen months to two years from the acceptance of a proposal through to final publication.  In return, we can offer a fast-track publication service for all articles with turnaround times of 2-3 months from delivery of the final manuscript to publication. In addition, we undertake significant article-level marketing for special issues, and all special issues are eligible for consideration for publication in book form, in the Policy & Politics series published by Policy Press.

Please read our guidance document on how to develop your proposal, to ensure that you include all the information we will need to evaluate it. If you would like to talk through any aspect of your proposal, please do not hesitate to contact us.

The timetable for evaluating proposals is set out below:

Call for proposals open; submit to sarah.brown@bristol.ac.uk 30 June 2017
Deadline for submitting proposals 8 December 2017
Decision on selection of one proposal announced 28 February 2018
Initial draft of articles submitted By 29 June 2018
Peer reviews and feedback given By 7 December 2018
Revised articles submitted and finalised First quarter of 2019
Articles published online as fast track Second quarter of 2019
Special issue print edition 2020