Notice to Authors

Due to the overwhelming number of submissions to IRRODL, the journal has already met its publication quota for 2019. As a result, for a period that will not exceed six months, IRRODL will no longer be accepting submissions after May 1, 2019. In order to improve our service to the academic community, and to ensure a six month review to publication cycle, IRRODL will be moving to a regularized publication schedule in 2020. More information will be provided later this year.

We thank our authors, reviewers, and readers for their unwavering and exceptional support in making our journal one of the world’s most successful, open access journals in the field of open and distributed learning.

Focus and Scope

The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning ( is a refereed, open access e-journal that disseminates original research, theory, and best practice in open and distributed learning worldwide. IRRODL is available free-of-charge to anyone with access to the Internet, and there are no article submission or access charges for publication in this open journal.

The Journal targets both researchers and practitionares of open and distance education systems. It thus aims to improve the quality of basic and applied research while also addressing the need for this knowledge to be translated into polices and activities that improve educational opportunity for students and teachers.

Peer Review Process

All submissions to the Research Articles section of The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning ( undergo double blind peer review by a minimum of two subject experts in the field. This means that neither the authors nor the reviewers are made aware of the identities of each other.

An initial review is done by the Editor(s) and articles are screened before external review for relevance to our IRRODL subscribers, for quality and for contribution of new knowledge to our discipline. If successful the submission is distributed to a minimum of two qualified reviewers. The Editor then makes a final decision based upon the reviewers' assessment and their own experience. Generally only articles with qualitative and or quantitative data are published, through we occasionally publish high quality theoretical articles.

Please consult Submissions page for detailed submission guidelines. 

Typically, authors receive the first round of opinions on their submission in two to three months, pending the availability of qualified peer reviewers. If accepted, submissions are usually published in the next available issue, meaning that the time from submission to publication can take as little as two to three months. The mean time from submission to acceptance, however, is six months.

Peer reviewers are chosen based upon their research interests and their expertise in the research method.

Peer reviewers are asked to evaluate and judge submissions using the following criteria:

  1. complete, coherent, and well-organized presentation;
  2. sufficient explanation of the significance of the problem;
  3.  clear demonstration of the relevance to the field (beyond the case presented); 
  4. original contribution to open and distance learning;
  5. compelling presentation of the problem within a theoretical framework (where appropriate);
  6. establishment of a relationship between the problem and ODL and other relevant literature;
  7. appropriate research design and method;
  8. accurate and useful interpretation; 
  9. sound argument and analysis; 
  10. effective conclusion about the implications for distance education theory, research, and/or practice.

Peer reviewers are asked to indicate their assessment of each criterion above as excellent, satisfactory, unsatisfactory, or not applicable and also to offer comments. Reviewers' comments are extremely important to help the authors revise and improve their papers.

Publication Frequency

The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning ( follows a continuous batch publication process, which means that a new issue is published upon acceptance of a sufficient number of original research articles (N = 6). Based on current submissions versus rejection rates, will be published between three and six times per year. If submissions are of sufficient rigor and quality, they can be published in as little as two months after receipt.

Open Access Policy

The copyright of any IRRODL article rests with the author(s). As a condition of publication, the authors AGREE to release their copyright under a shared licence, specifically the Creative Commons - Attribution International 4.0 (CC-BY) License. See: <>.

This licence allows anyone to reproduce IRRODL articles at no cost and without further permission as long as they attribute the author and the journal. This permission includes printing, sharing and other forms of distribution.

We would like to know when IRRODL articles are reproduced, so please let us know by contacting us at

An example of attribution language is below:

This article has been reproduced from the International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning (IRRODL) Volume x, Issue y, using a Creative Commons Attribution International 4.0 licence. © 200? Author Name(s).


CLOCKSS system has permission to ingest, preserve, and serve this Archival Unit.

Citation Indices

SCImago Journal & Country Rank IRRODL is indexed by all the major citation indexing systems (see the indexing list below). In 2016, more than 55% of IRRODL articles are cited by authors in other Scopus indexed journals. CiteScore is 2.50 SJR1.034; SNIP 2.018. IRRODL's percentile standing is 93% and it is the highest ranked Canadian Education Journal in SJR. IRRODL has an SSCI impact factor of 0.734 with a H5 index of 36 and a five year impact factor of 1.003. The Scimago (SCOPUS) H index is 40. The ResearchGate Impact factor is 0.69. According to Google Scholar in 2017, IRRODL has a ranking of 5th among Educational Technology Journals and a rank of 9th of all Education Journals (h5 index = 41; h5-median = 68). It is the only fully open access journal in the top 20.

· Scimago Journal and Country Rank

· Ask4Research Journal Information

Scholarly Journals Related to Open or Distance Education and/or Educational Technology
Journal Title Acronym CiteScore SJR SNIP Rank Open Access Distance Education
Journal of Research on Technology in Education JRTE 3 1 2 1    
Educational Technology Research and Development ETRD 3 1 2 2    
British Journal of Educational Technology BJTE 3 1 2 3    
International Review of Open and Distributed Learning IRRODL 3 1 2 4 Y Y
Educational Technology and Society ETS 2 1 2 4 partial  
Distance Education DE 2 1 2 6   Y
Australasian Journal of Educational Technology AJET 1 1 1 7    
Technology Pedagogy and Education TPE 1 1 1 8    
International Journal of Technology in Higher Education IJTHE 1 0 1 9 Y  
American Journal of Distance Education AJDE 1 1 1 10   Y
Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education TOJDE 0 0 1 11 Y Y
International Journal of Distance Education Technologies IJDET 0 0 0 11   Y
Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology TOJET 0 0 1 11    

Q & A

A Q & A on Responsible Scholarly Publishing

Inspired by a paper by Lily (2016) to respond to the concerns that he raises about scholarly journal publishers and Editors.  The following Q & A has been created.

Lily, A. (2016). Academic journals through the lens of socialism: A narrative from the disciplines of education and technology. Publishing Research Quarterly, 32(2), 113-124. Retrieved from doi: 10.1007/s12109-016-9451-x

* the term 'Editor' refers to the two Co-Editors of IRRODL and/or a Special Edition Editor.

Questions and Answers

How is are IRRODL Editors selected?

IRRODL is owned by AUPress and Athabasca University (AU), who are legally liable for the journal. For this reason, the Editor must be an employee of AU. At present there are two Co-Editors, one of whom is an employee and the other is a former employee, retired from AU.  These are volunteer positions without pay. In addition, there is an IRRODL Managing Editor, who is a paid employee of AU. The Centre for Distance Education at AU appoints IRRODL’s Editors.

How is the IRRODL Advisory Board selected?

The Board is selected by the Editors, based on the prestige and credibility of the members, both Canadian and International. As befitting an international journal, the Board is comprised of citizens of 12 countries, three of which are in the global south. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) insists on having several Canadian researchers on the Board as a condition of its grant to IRRODL. UNESCO has also provided funding to IRRODL, insisting that the Board contain UNESCO Chairs in Open Educational Resources.

What is the policy of the journal regarding open access and transparency?

IRRODL is the first open access journal in Canada. As such, all articles are licensed under a Creative Commons – Attribution International 4.0 licence. This allows anyone to copy any article as long as they attribute the author and IRRODL.  Copyright for all articles is vested in the authors. IRRODL is committed to transparency in its work, while abiding by privacy regulations and upholding the conditions of double-blind review.

What is the role of the Editor?

The Editor's role is to be responsible for the functioning and reputation of the journal, including accepting and declining articles based on double-blind peer review.

What is the role of the Managing Editor?

The Managing Editor is responsible for administering and co-ordinating the editorial processes from the point of article submission to publication. This includes the assignment of articles for peer review to the Editors, primary contact for Editors and authors, pre-screening submissions for suitability, managing timelines, copyediting, proofreading, ghost writing, conversions, and addressing technical issues.

Does IRRODL keep a blacklist?

Yes. If authors are caught plagiarising or have submitted the article to two journals at the same time; we maintain a record and we no longer accept submissions from them.

Is it the Editor’s responsibility and duty to respond to authors and to address their complaints?

The Editors try to respond in a timely fashion to all queries. While we receive and listen to complaints, we do not always agree with the complainant.

If there are more submissions, are more Editors employed?

No, we do not have the resources to train and manage more Editors. In very busy times, while we do not give less attention to each submission, managing the process from start to finish can take more time.

What software platform does IRRODL use?

IRRODL uses the Open Journal Systems (OJS). OJS is a journal management and publishing system that has been developed by the Public Knowledge Project (PKP). See While the OJS is largely automated, there is a fair amount of manual input required for each submission which is both time-consuming and can also result in error.

The Review Process

What are the steps in the review process?

Papers that are submitted online to IRRODL are received and processed by the Managing Editor. This process can take several days due to volume. In the next stage, the paper is evaluated for suitability and readability. If there are problems with the suitability or readability, or with the APA formatting, it is returned to the authors with instructions to revise.  If it is readable and in APA style, even with second language errors, we do not reject it.  The paper is then submitted to Turn-It-In to check for possible plagiarism. If no plagiarism is detected, it is then sent to one of the Editors for reviewing.  The Editor reads over the paper and then checks IRRODL’s vast database for appropriate reviewers. The Editor then assigns the papers to approximately four reviewers, giving them one month to conduct the double-blind review.  When the reviews come in, the Editor makes a decision and notifies the author(s). Submissions are either accepted outright (rare); with minor revisions (a very frequent decision); with major revisions; or declined. If a major revision is required, the article is returned to the authors who must then resubmit for a second review. When a paper is declined, it cannot be re-submitted to IRRODL.

What is the average time from submission to copy editing to publication?

For 2016, the average time to copy editing was eight weeks; and to publications, 284 days.

How many reviews are needed to make a decision?

At least two good reviews are needed. If two good reviews are not forthcoming, then more reviewers are called on.

What happens when Turn-It-In reports instances of copying?

When Turn-It-In finds significant copying of previously published material (+30%), the author is notified and an explanation is requested. Using content from an author's thesis or unpublished school paper is acceptable. Self-plagiarism from a published source is not acceptable. Plagiarism is not acceptable and authors caught plagiarising will be blacklisted.

Who are the reviewers?

Reviewers are IRRODL members. The full list of those who completed at least one review in 2017 is available here.

How are reviewers selected?

Reviewers are self-selected. IRRODL depends on peer-review; any author who is published in IRRODL, as a peer, is asked to join the reviewers’ database. Known experts in open and distributed learning are also invited to join from time to time. Sometimes, a reviewer recommends a colleague who is encouraged to join the database. Some reviewers, however, do not have the expertise to properly evaluate a paper and their responses can be either limited and unsophisticated or otherwise unsuitable. The Editors take these situational factors into account when evaluating submissions. Editors do not alter reviews in any way, but send them as they have been submitted by the reviewers.

Are reviewers charged with evaluating or editing the format of papers?

No, but most of our reviewers are teachers and they cannot help themselves. These technical edits are generally well received by authors.

How are reviewers evaluated?

Editors evaluate reviewers on a number system:
5: A good review, thorough and academically sound.
4: An adequate but not great review.
3. A review with boxes checked but with few or no comments.
2. A reviewer commits to doing a review and does not do so.
1. No response from the reviewer to our request to review.
Our reviewers can be peripatetic; many change jobs and email addresses, so a '1' usually signifies that they are no longer available. Reviewers with a combination of 1s, 2s or 3s are removed from the database. Note that we do not overburden our good reviewers. We limit requests to two a year and rarely issue three requests.

What if a reviewer is insensitive to authors in his/her evaluation?

This is problematic for Editors because we do not want to be accused of altering any reviews, so we leave all comments as they are written. Our authors, reviewers and readers are multi-cultural and so we request that reviewers be sensitive to this and request our authors to not be overly sensitive. Of course, any consistently offensive reviewer would be removed from our database. However, since the founding of IRRODL in 1999, we have not had to do this.

How do Editors choose reviewers for a specific article?

IRRODL maintains a database of reviewers. Reviewers provide their research interests. Editors conduct a search of the database for reviewers who have expressed a research interest in the subject area of the article. Editors then check the database to find reviewers who have not completed a review in the last six months. We try to limit requests to review to two per year and we have a maximum of three reviews per year except in special cases. Sometimes it is difficult to find appropriate reviewers for specific papers.

Why is the review process taking so much time?

Editors are at the mercy of the reviewers. Editors always choose at least four reviewers, with the expectation of receiving at least two good reviews. On average, we get one or two positive responses within the monthly time limit.  We also quite often get no reply to our request (see above on evaluating reviewers) from one or two reviewers.  Most reviewers who reply positively complete the review within the one-month deadline. However, many do not complete a review and need to be reminded.  Some respond positively but still do not complete the review.  So, quite often, Editors revisit the database to add more reviewers. Contacting six reviewers to get two good reviews is not unusual.  We have sometimes contacted up to 16 reviewers before getting two reviews. This all takes time but is necessary for a fair review.

Why is the publication taking so much time once a paper is accepted?

IRRODL is committed to publishing far more papers than most scholarly journals. The editing process is also time consuming, especially when authors are slow in returning their copies and do not attend to Editor comments sufficiently. Due to the volume of accepted articles for publication, and the attention each article receives from start to finish, delays are not unusual.

Can the Editor edit the reviews?

No, Editors cannot alter a review.

Does IRRODL give preference to known experts in the field of open and distributed learning?

No. We give preference to newer authors and those from developing countries. Likewise, we give them every opportunity to excel as reviewers and learn more about scholarly publishing by actively participating.

When a majority of reviewers "accept" an article (with or without required revisions), is it accepted by the Editors?

Normally, that is the case, but when reviewers recommend acceptance of a paper and the reviews are weak, whereas the negative reviews are strong, Editors can choose to decline an article. This happens most often with papers with statistical analyses. Many reviewers do not understand the statistics and so provide a favourable review of articles that have major problems with the analysis of statistical data.

Why doesn't IRRODL accept declined articles once they have been revised according to reviewers' comments?

Once an article is declined, we do not accept it for re-evaluation. This is out of respect for the reviewers and to save time. Appeals are not accepted unless there is a grave reason. Authors of declined papers can address the criticisms (or not) and submit their paper elsewhere.

Why are some papers rejected by the Editors without sending for review?

The Managing Editor rejects papers that are poorly written, do not conform to APA style, or word length. Authors can address the problem(s) and resubmit. The most common reason for the Editors declining a paper is that it is not appropriate for this journal. IRRODL focuses on open and distributed learning, so more general education research, or even educational technology research, is not appropriate for our readers unless the research pertains to IRRODL's focus area. Other reasons for declining submissions by Editors may include an assessment of the quality, originality, or other shortcoming of the paper. Reasons are explained to the authors in an email.

What is double-blind review? Can a reviewer's or author's name be revealed during review?

Double-blind review means that the author does not know the reviewers and the reviewers do not know the author. This information is kept private. However, sometimes a reviewer can guess who the author is. When this happens, the reviewer must contact us and we will reassign the review. Sometimes, the author can guess who the reviewer is. If the author has concerns about the review because of this, we can send the paper to another reviewer or the Editors can review it.  This is one of the few cases where we might consider a re-review.

Why do you insist on specific APA formatting for submissions before they are accepted?

In our experience, articles that are not correctly formatted before submission create a negative effect in reviewers. IRRODL reviewers judge not only quality methodology, and analysis, but also writing style. Moreover, incorrect formatting and not conforming to APA style can become a major problem for the copy editor after acceptance, often requiring multiple back-and-forth communication with the authors.  IRRODL is an academic educational journal. Authors in our field need not spend hours reformatting even if they do not know APA style. They can and should use Reference Management Software. For information on Reference Management Software:

Why do you insist on a 7000 word maximum limit for article submissions?

Unlike a paper journal, IRRODL, as an online journal, does not have to accommodate printing limits. The IRRODL limit is a guide. We believe that this allows sufficient space for nearly all articles and it is a reasonable maximum for our reviewers and readers. It is worth noting, for authors, that conciseness results in a better article in most cases. The limit of 7000 words is a strong guideline (we can accept submissions with more words, when it is adequately justified, but rarely do so). Normally, over long articles are returned for resubmission by the Managing Editor.

How do I know when IRRODL releases a new issue?

The Managing Editor places new publications on the website homepage. Additionally, an announcement is mailed out to subscribers once the publication is complete. If you would like to be placed on the subscriber list, email with your request.

Sources of Support

The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning ( receives support from Athabasca University, the Aide to Scholarly Publications Program of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and UNESCO.


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