Journal of Interpretation Research

Research Manuscript Submission Guidelines

The purposes of the Journal of Interpretation Research are to communicate original empirical research dealing with environmental, cultural, historical, and heritage interpretation and to provide a forum for scholarly discourse about issues facing the profession of interpretation. The Journal strives to link research with practice. The Journal of Interpretation Research is published by the National Association for Interpretation, the preeminent professional association representing the heritage interpretation profession.

General Information
The primary function of the Journal is to disseminate original empirical research regarding interpretation. However, the Journal of Interpretation Research takes a broad view of the field of interpretation and publishes manuscripts from a wide-range of academic disciplines. The primary criteria for deeming a research manuscript appropriate for the Journal are whether it clearly communicates a problem statement, employs sound methods, makes valid interpretations of the data, and adds to the current state-of-knowledge for practitioners, researchers, academics, or administrators who work in the field of interpretation. 

In recognition of how diverse the relevant literature is, the Journal will also publish reviews of recent books, government publications, original literature reviews, and bibliographies dealing with interpretation. Abstracts from dissertations, private consultant materials, and reports from public agencies will be published in the Journal in a section called “In Short: Reports and Reviews.” This section will also provide an outlet for summaries of research studies with limited scope. Interpretation research often consists of small “in-house” program evaluations and basic visitor studies. The purpose of this section is to communicate current research activities, allow readers to identify colleagues with similar interests, and provide practitioners and administrators with useful information and direction for conducting their own mini-research projects. Submissions for the “In Short: Reports and Reviews” section should be limited to 1,000 to 1,200 words and will be reviewed by the editor and two associate editors. 

Additionally, the Journal will publish thought pieces that exhibit excellence and offer original or relevant philosophical discourse on the state of interpretation. The “In My Opinion” section of the Journal encourages the development of the profession and the practice of interpretation by fostering discussion and debate. Submissions for the “In My Opinion” section should be limited to 600 to 800 words and will be reviewed by the editors and two associate editors. 

Research Manuscript Submission Guidelines
All research manuscripts are first reviewed by the editors-in-chief for an initial assessment of their suitability for potential publication in the Journal. Following the initial review, suitable manuscripts are then  reviewed anonymously by an associate editor and by at least two other reviewers. Based on the nature of the manuscript, special efforts are made to identify well-qualified associate editors and reviewers to evaluate the manuscripts. From the recommendations of the associate editor, the editors make the final decision of the manuscript’s disposition and communicate this information to the author.

Manuscripts will be accepted with the understanding that their content is unpublished and not being submitted elsewhere for publication. 

  • All parts of the manuscript, including title page, abstract, tables, and legends, should be formatted in 12-point font in Microsoft Word with one-inch margins and 8.5” x 11” pages. 
  • Manuscript pages should be numbered consecutively in the top right corner. 
  • All papers must be submitted in English.
  • Word limit for full-length research manuscripts is 7,500 (excluding figures and tables). The editors will consider longer manuscripts on an individual basis.
  • All full-length research manuscripts should include a section with the heading “Implications for Practice.” This section should explicitly translate research findings into meaningful lessons for practitioners in the field. 

Must be as brief as possible (six to 12 words). Authors should also supply a shortened version of the title, suitable for the running head, not exceeding 50 character spaces.

On the title page include full names of authors, academic, and/or other professional affiliations, and the complete mailing address of the author to whom proofs and correspondence should be sent. An email address and phone number should also be included. As all manuscripts will be reviewed anonymously, the name(s) of the author(s) should only appear on the title page.

Each paper should be summarized in an abstract of no more than 150 words. The abstract will preface the paper and should be a comprehensive summary of the paper’s content, including the purpose or problem, methods, findings, and implications or applications. It should enable the reader to determine exactly what the paper is about and make an informed decision about whether to read the entire paper. Abbreviations and references to the text should be avoided. All abstracts shall be listed on the Journal of Interpretation Research website (

Authors must supply five to 10 key words or phrases that identify the most important subjects covered by the paper. 

References and Citations
Include only references to books, articles, and bulletins actually cited in the text. All references must follow the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA), version 6.2. References in the text should cite the author’s last name, year of publication, and page (if appropriate). All references used in the text should appear at the end of the typed script in alphabetical order using APA version 6.2 style.

Examples of References
McCool, S. & Braithwaite, A. (1992). Persuasive Messages and Safety Hazards in Dispersed and Natural Recreation Settings. In M. Manfredo (Ed.), Influencing Human Behavior. Champaign, IL: Sagamore Publishing.

Ryan, C. & Dewar, K. (1995). Evaluating the Communication Process Between Interpreter and Visitor. Tourism Management, 16(4): 295-303.

Tilden, F. (1977). Interpreting Our Heritage (2nd ed.). Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

All figures must be discussed in the text and numbered in order of mention. Each figure must be submitted as a print-ready digital file. Label each figure with article title, author’s name, and figure number by attaching a separate sheet of white paper to the back of each figure. Each figure should be provided with a brief, descriptive legend. All legends should be typed on a separate page at the end of the manuscript.

All tables should follow APA standards and must be discussed in the text and numbered in order of mention. Each table should have a brief descriptive title. Do not include explanatory material in the title: use footnotes keyed to the table with superscript lowercase letters. Place all footnotes to a table at the end of the table. Define all data in the column heads. Every table should be fully understandable without reference to the text. Type all tables on separate sheets; do not include them within the text.

If any figure, table, or more than a few lines of text from a previously published work are included in a manuscript, the author must obtain written permission for publication from the copyright holder and forward a copy to the editor with the manuscript.

Under U.S. copyright law, the transfer of copyright from the author to the publisher (National Association for Interpretation, DBA Journal of Interpretation Research) must be explicitly stated to enable the publisher to ensure maximum dissemination of the author’s work. A completed copyright form sent to you with the acknowledgment must be returned to the publisher before any manuscript can be assigned an issue for publication.

All proofs must be corrected and returned to the publisher within 48 hours of receipt. If the manuscript is not returned within the allotted time, the editor will proofread the article, and it will be printed per his/her instruction. Only correction of typographical errors is permitted. The author will be charged for additional alterations to text at the proof stage.

Please submit a digital (Microsoft Word) of your manuscript to Marc J. Stern and Robert B. Powell at the addresses below. Authors whose manuscripts are accepted for publication must submit final manuscripts electronically.

If you have comments or questions regarding the Journal of Interpretation Research, please contact the editors: 
Marc J. Stern, Ph. D.
Dept. of Forest Resources & Environmental Conservation
Mail code: 0324
304 Cheatham Hall
310 West Campus Drive
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Robert B. Powell, Ph.D.
George B. Hartzog, Jr. Endowed Professor and Director of the Institute for Parks
Department of Parks, Recreation, & Tourism Management
283 Lehotsky Hall
Clemson University
Clemson, SC 29631

If you have questions regarding subscription rates or delivery services, please contact the National Association for Interpretation toll-free at 888-900-8283, online at or by mail at 230 Cherry St., Fort Collins, CO 80521.