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As part of the submission process, authors are required to check off their submission's compliance with all of the following items, and submissions may be returned to authors that do not adhere to these guidelines.

  • The submission has not been previously published, nor is it before another journal for consideration (or an explanation has been provided in Comments to the Editor).
  • The submission file is in Microsoft Word.
  • All tables are created in Microsoft Word.
  • Where available, URLs for the references have been provided.
  • The text is single-spaced; uses a 12-point font; employs italics, rather than underlining (except with URL addresses); and all illustrations, figures, and tables are placed within the text at the appropriate points, rather than at the end.
  • The text adheres to the stylistic and bibliographic requirements outlined in the Author Guidelines.

Brief Instructions for Authors

Ordinarily, manuscripts should be 6,000 to 12,000 words in length, accompanied by a 150 to 200-word abstract. All copy should be typed, double-spaced in Times New Roman 12-point or similar font.


Manuscripts should include a cover sheet with the title, author’s name, address, phone number, and email address, along with a brief biographical statement (2–3 sentences). Ordinarily, the submitting author’s email address will be used as a contact address for communication from the editors and will be published with accepted manuscripts. If the article was authored by more than one person, coauthors’ names, phone numbers, email addresses, institutional affiliations, and biographical statements should also be included. However, to assure appropriate blind review, the author’s name and identifying information should NOT appear in headers, footers, reference lists, or other portions of the manuscript text. Information that would identify the author should be replaced with the word “Author” in lieu of the author’s name or identifying information.


Place references, tables, and figures at the end of the manuscript. All tables and figures should be included in the electronic file. Use centred brackets to indicate the approximate place of the table or figure in the text. Use Word to draw tables. Do not add shading, remove or change the appearance of gridlines, or vary the type size or appearance in the table. It is preferable to avoid footnotes. Use only one space after a period (full stop). References must be presented in APA format. Operant Subjectivity accepts manuscripts using British or American English spelling and grammar.

Specific Guidelines for Applied Research

‘Applied research’ refers to reports of a study in which Q methodology was used. The best applied research is of interest to readers of Operant Subjectivity when it shows contributions from the study of subjectivity to knowledge in new or neglected topic areas. Stephenson frequently argued that Q could be useful where other (often objective) research was found wanting.

Here are some additional guidelines and some exceptions to the above that should be considered when developing an applied research manuscript.
To be accepted, the paper must make an original contribution to an understanding of subjectivity in its substantive topic area (such as teacher training or hospice care). If it also makes an original contribution to Q methodology as a methodology (such as demonstrating a new technique with non–verbal Q sorting or an innovation in comparative research design), it is not considered solely applied research and the guidelines below need not be followed in every detail.

Readers of Operant Subjectivity are knowledgeable about the basics of a Q-methodology study. For such readers, papers must supply information on the important parameters of the research design, implementation and analysis. Do not include routine explanations of the methods used (such as is required for a non–Q audience), diagrams of the sorting grid or similar basic information.
Applied research articles will normally be between 6,000 and 8,000 words. These articles will be peer–reviewed along the lines of the guidance in this section. By emphasizing the contribution to the study of subjectivity in an applied study published in Operant Subjectivity, authors may be able to publish a second paper from the same study in a disciplinary journal (without contravening the conventions of academic publishing). The disciplinary paper would reverse the emphasis, by explaining the Q study in detail, and providing specialist–specific discussion on the substantive value of the findings.

A suggested format for such papers follows (headings to be tailored by authors):

  • Introduction
  • Literature Review: a brief consideration of the salient literature in the applied area in order to situate the Q findings in their context. (Check: would subject experts agree with your context–setting?) If other Q studies have been done in related areas, these should be summarized, and the continuing gap in understanding highlighted. From your review, a non–specialist reader needs to see why specialists might find the study of interest.
  • Research Design: a brief description of the parameters of the design (including the research question or purpose, preparation of the Q sample and numbers of items, selection of participants, sorting condition [face–to–face, online, email]and condition(s) of instruction, information about follow–up interviews, software employed, methods of factor extraction and rotation, correlations between factors), and significant loaders on each factor.
  • Findings: a presentation of the factor interpretations in a manner that makes full use of the factor array. Do not simply report a few high - or low - scored items, or paraphrases of them. Normally only a few tables will be needed. These should include  the factor arrays. However, the text itself should convey the salient information.
  • Discussion: a brief section on how the study has advanced understanding of subjectivity in the applied field.
  • Conclusion: a summary statement of the insights gained and how they have advanced knowledge of subjectivity in the applied field.