Author Guidelines

General Guidelines

To guarantee a transparent editorial process for authors, editors, reviewers, readers and indexing systems, Íkala uses the online Open Journal System (OJS) publishing platform, which follows international standards for scientific journals. Before uploading your manuscript to this platform, please note the following:

  1. Íkala publishes original and unpublished material related to research, practice, and reflection in the areas of language and culture, linguistics, literature, translation, and language teaching and learning. Manuscripts that do not fall within this scope or those that have been previously published in other journals, in part or in full, or are in the process of being published elsewhere, will be rejected regardless of the channel used for publication.
  2. Manuscripts submitted for consideration to a regular or special issue must meet the highest standards of academic excellence, advance theoretical knowledge, address current and cutting-edge topics in applied linguistics, and contribute to or stimulate current discussions in the field, while offering new and original interpretations on issues within the focus and scope of Íkala.
  3. Regardless of the type of manuscript, authors are expected to demonstrate rigor in the collection and analysis of data; present interesting results, discussions and conclusions; display a great depth of analysis; and write with sophistication, precision and conciseness, avoiding biased or prejudicial language.
  4. Íkala publishes articles in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese. Manuscripts written in other languages or with sections using non-Roman alphabets will not be considered, since the journal does not have the human and technological resources to evaluate and publish content in those languages.
  5. Íkala only accepts empirical studies, literature reviews, theoretical articles, methodological articles, case studies and book reviews. Manuscripts that do not fall within these categories (e.g., reflections, pedagogical experiences, and translations), will not be accepted.
  6. Manuscript reception does not imply its acceptance or publication. Following the criteria of the refereed scientific publications, journal editors will be in charge of judging the relevance of the submitted manuscripts according to their field of knowledge. After a preliminary editorial review, the manuscripts that they consider not publishable (outside the scope of the journal, with serious methodological flaws, etc.) will be rejected and returned to the authors. Only those manuscripts that conform to the characteristics described in this section will be submitted to a double-blind peer review process.
  7. Accepted manuscripts may NOT be published in the following issue, since Íkala publishes the articles in order of acceptance, with the exception of those that have been selected for publication in a special issue.
  8. The journal’s editor-in-chief is responsible for the final decision regarding the acceptance or rejection of a manuscript. This decision is final.
  9. Once accepted by the reviewers for publication, the manuscripts will undergo an additional review by the editors. Once this is done, the manuscripts will be sent to the copy editors so they can adapt them in structure and form to the journal guidelines, make them more visible in the indexing systems, and make sure that their strengths are highlighted, and they meet the highest standards of the wider linguistic and academic community. In this process, copy editors will be able to make changes that refine the clarity and conciseness of ideas, unify terms and formats, and improve style.
  10. Authors who do not agree with the changes will have the opportunity to discuss these with the journal Editor. In any case, they are expected to return the manuscript within a maximum period of two weeks. If the corrections are not received in the indicated time, the manuscript may be published in a later issue, other than the one previously agreed upon.
  11. Íkala follows the Committee of Publications Ethics (COPE) guidelines, and, in accordance with these, rejects all forms of plagiarism. This is why when the peer review process is completed, but before copy-editing, the accepted manuscripts are run through a similarity detection software called Crosscheck (based on iThenticate). Manuscripts with a similarity percentage greater than 25% will be rejected and this decision will be final. So will be manuscripts that appear to be redundant or duplicate publications, even if they are written in a different language.
  12. In terms of authorship, the journal abides by the guidelines of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors which prescribe that "Authorship credit must be based on substantial contributions to all of the following: (a) the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; (b) the drafting of the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; (c) the final approval of the version to be published. Besides, all authors must agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work and ensure that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved. This is why, before publication, authors are asked to sign a Copyright Transfer Agreement and Authorship Statement.
  13. Changes in the number or order of the authors will only be accepted in the first phase of the submission and review process, and must be duly justified and supported.
  14. Authors who have published an article in Íkala must wait two years to be published again. An exception to this is when they are participating in a special issue.

Style Guidelines

The writing style of manuscripts submitted to Íkala is reviewed several times in the publication process: when initially received, during peer review, and during copy editing and layout. To ensure that your manuscript passes the first review, consider the following:

  1. All manuscripts must be anonymous. That is, not include the names of the authors anywhere. The manuscript must also be sent in an editable file, such as OpenOffice, Microsoft Word or in rich text format (.rtf).
  2. Manuscripts must fall within one of the following categories: empirical study, case study, literature review, methodological article, theoretical articles, and book reviews. For more information on the structure of each of these articles, please refer to the APA Publication Manual (7th), numeral 3.3.
  3. All manuscripts, with the exception of literature reviews and book reviews, should be between 8,000 and 8,500 words, including the abstracts in three languages and the references. Literature reviews should be no longer than 11,000 words long, with no less than 50 bibliographic references. Book reviews should be in the range of 2,500 to 3,000 words and must be about recent scientific publications (publications made within the last two years) related to the profile of the journal.
  4. Titles should be maximum 15 words long and include one or two key words. They should also feature the most specific part of the article at the beginning so that the topic of the article is the most visible part. For more information on how to write the title, consult the section Writing the Title, Abstract, and Keywords section below or the APA Manual.
  5. Abstracts must be written in the original language of the manuscript and in the other three languages declared by the journal. However, at the time of submission only the abstract in the original language is required. The abstracts in the other three languages should be included after acceptance of the manuscript, during the copyediting stage.
  6. The abstract included in the manuscript must have a maximum of 200 words and must be adequately structured. To know how to structure the abstracts properly, depending on the type of manuscript (literature review, empirical study, case study, etc.), please refer to the Writing the Title, Abstract and Keywords section or to the APA Manual.
  7. Keywords must be a minimum of five words and they must be entered on the metadata of the article one by one, by pressing “enter” after each. To chose them, follow the guidelines provided in the section Writing the Title, Abstract, and Keywords.
  8. The line spacing must be 1.5. The font size must be 12 points
  9. The italic font attribute should be used instead of underlining (except in URLs) and only to denote terms written in languages other than the main text, or terms on which you want to draw attention.
  10. All manuscripts must include a title, an abstract, five keywords and a list of references. In addition, empirical or case studies must include clearly defined introduction, theoretical framework, method, results, discussion and conclusions sections.
  11. The references must be sufficient, relevant, current, and reliable, and follow the norms proposed by the APA Publication Manual.
  12. All illustrations, figures, and tables must be inserted in the text (body of the manuscript), not at the end of it or separately, and follow APA guidelines for presentation.
  13. Footnotes should be used instead of endnotes. However, as suggested by the APA Publication Manual (chapter 2, 2.13), these should not include complicated, irrelevant, or nonessential information, or be used to provide bibliographic references because all these can be distracting to readers. Also, they should convey just one idea and be less than a paragraph.
  14. The headings must present a clear hierarchy that accounts for the structure of the manuscript according to its type and the required sections. They should not be numbered. Due to the length and type of texts published in Íkala, three levels of subordination for headings should be sufficient to develop the authors’ ideas. However, there may be exceptions.
  15. Paragraphs should be well structured (develop an idea, have a logical connection with the previous paragraph and the one that follows, use logical connectors to show the relationship between sentences, etc.) and keep the format as simple as possible. This mean without indentation, unless there are direct quotations with more than 40 words; and without bullets, page breaks, justification, or enumerations, since the journal has its own style sheet.
  16. Self-citation must not exceed 10 percent of total number of citations in the manuscript.
  17. If the article is derived from a thesis or dissertation, you need to: (a) make sure this is not published in any open access database, unless the focus of the article is different enough so that this is not considered a duplicate publication; (b) state that the article derives from a thesis in the “Source” slot of the article’s submission metadata.
  18. If the project from which the article is derived received funding, this must be specified in the article’s metadata as well under “Supporting agencies.”
  19. Authors’ names should be written on the platform the way the authors wish for them to appear on the article.
  20. Categories that are not required, such as author’s affiliation, country and bio statement of maximum 60 words should be filled as well. The ORCID link must be double clicked so that the organization can send you a validation message.
  21. If there are any acknowledgments, these should be written in the slot “Comments to the Editor” and occupy a single paragraph of no more than 100 words. In this, authors should clearly identify contributors, including funding sources or editing services, and briefly describe their role (e.g., research design, data collection, data analysis and interpretation, preparation of the manuscript).

Guidelines for Writing the Title, Abstract and Keywords

The title, abstract and keywords are the most visible parts of an article. They are used by abstracting and indexing services to cross reference. As such, they must be written carefully and strategically. 

The Title: The title is perhaps the most important part of an article, as it acts as an advertisement for the article, can lead readers interested in the topic to your article, and can help them predict its content. (How to get your Research Published……and then Noticed, Elsevier). Therefore, when writing their manuscript’s title, please to take into account the following:

  1. Ensure that it accurately reflects the content of the manuscript so that readers can easily identify if it is of relevance to them or not.
  2. Make sure that it is clear, specific, brief, and where possible, complete.
  3. Avoid unusual abbreviations or jargon, and phrases such as: "a study of", "investigations of", "observations on".
  4. If it is becoming difficult to write it, identify the research problem and start from there.
  5. Try to make it interesting, attractive and ingenious so that people are motivated to read the article (How to Get your Research Published… …and then Noticed by Elsevier, and APA Publication Manual by American Psychological Association).
  6. Titles should be a maximum of 15 words, include one or two keywords, and place the most specific part of the article’s content at the beginning so that the topic of the article is more visible.

The Abstract: The abstract plays a vital role in effectively cataloging research in many online databases accessible to scholars around the world such as Google, PubMed, Academic Search Premier, Thomson Reuters (now Web of Science), EBSCO Host, and many others. These databases allow work to be more easily discovered, read, used, and cited by scholars who might not otherwise be able to reach it. Therefore, it is very important to be strategic when writing this section. When doing it, please remember to:

  1. Include many, if not all, of the keywords associated with the manuscript.
  2. Use accessible language that is easily understood by a wide audience and avoid both non-standard abbreviations and citations.
  3. Highlight the most interesting elements of your work.
  4. Use numbers, not their names, except for numbers at the beginning of a sentence.
  5. Use double parentheses and the letter (a), if they include lists in English; and a single parenthesis and number, if they include lists in Spanish, French or Portuguese.
  6. Faithfully represent the article, so that it can be used by indexing and documentation services, and other stakeholders in the field of scientific publication.
  7. Summarize the problem, state the purpose of the research, clearly define where and with whom it was done, the methods of data collection and analysis employed, the main results and implications of the study, if it is part of a research article.
  8. Be accurate and detailed (i.e., express, where, how, with whom, when, for what purpose) so that readers can easily decide whether or not to read the entire article.
  9. Make sure it is written in a single paragraph and is self-explanatory since abstracts are often separated from the article (APA Publication Manual, Chapter 3, 3.3).

To learn more about how abstracts are written, depending on the type of article, you can consult the APA Publication Manual, Chapter 3, 3.3.

The Keywords: They are important words that, along with those in the title, capture the essence of the article effectively and are used by abstracting and indexing services to make cross references. Therefore, choosing the correct key words can increase the chances that other researchers will find your article. In general, when writing your keywords, please remember that these should:

  1. Be specific and avoid general terms such as “philosophy” or “philology,” plural terms, and multiple concepts (for example, “and”, “of”).
  2. Include only abbreviations that are firmly established in the field (e.g., EFL, ESL, SFL).
  3. Number at least five, be written in small caps, in any order, and separated by semi-colon.

For more information about how to define the keywords of a manuscript, authors can consult the following sites which provide lists of terms used for retrieving documents and publications in different academic field: Unesco Thesaurus and ERIC online

Writing the Introduction, Theoretical Framework, Method, Discussions and Conclusions Sections

The Introduction: In research articles, in general, the introduction begins with a broad topic that narrows as the reader progresses. Then, it presents the following aspects in a clear and concise manner: (a)  the research problem, (b) the importance of the research for the field (c) the  research or theoretical gap, (d) the research purpose and question,  (e) the context, the type of study and the participants, and (f) a preview of  the following sections.

The Theoretical Framework: In research articles, this section clearly outlines the perspective(s) from which the research is being done, and the specific theories and key concepts on which it is based. In addition, it includes a synthesis of similar studies conducted on the subject in the context of the study and around the world, and a summary of the main issues surrounding the topic under discussion.

The Method: In Íkala, all research articles must include a Method section. In general, this Method section includes a brief description of the following: (a) the research tradition or type of study that was conducted, (b) the participants of the study, if any, and (c) the data collection and analysis procedures used (e.g.,, what, when, how, how often, how many, from whom and for what purpose). Besides, following guidelines from APA, which state that “Authors [should] be required to state in writing that they have complied with APA ethical standards in the treatment of their sample, human or animal, or to describe the details of treatment.” (APA Certification of Compliance with APA Ethical Principles); the section should also include this note.

The Discussion and Conclusion: In Íkala, these two sections can be presented together. Whether they are presented together or separately, they should contain: a summary of (a) the results obtained and the main arguments and a statements made, (b) the inconsistencies between the results presetned and those of other studies, and (c) possible causes for this. Besides, this section should contain an explanation of the following: (a) how the study clarifies, expands or contradicts what others have done; (b) the meaning of the results or the “so what?”; (c) the value or contribution of the results for the field; (d) the theoretical or practical consequences or implications for professional development, research, or language policies, etc.; (e) the limitations of the study, if any; and (f) the questions for futher research stemming from the findings. For more information on how to write the introduction, the theoretical framework, the method, and the discussion and conclusions section, see the APA Publication Manual (7th)

The Editorial Process

Once your manuscript is received, Íkala will follow several steps which can be divided into five key stages: reception, peer review, editorial preparation, publication, and post-publication. It is important that you are familiar with these stages and follow them on the platform OJS, as this will indicate if the article has passed through any of them.


This stage includes the following steps:

  1. The journal editor does a preliminary reading of the manuscript to verify that it meets the minimum requirements in terms of content, format, number of words, etc.
  2. If the manuscript does not meet the minimum requirements, it will be rejected and the author(s) will be notified via email.
  3. If the manuscript meets the minimum requirements, the editor will do an initial review to decide if it meets the journal’s criteria for selection. The editor can take up to two weeks to do this review, depending on the number of new submissions.
  4. If after the initial review, the editor considers the manuscript not worthy of a peer review, it will be rejected and the author(s) will be notified by email.

Peer review

If the manuscript is deemed worthy of a peer review, the following steps will be taken:

  1. The editorial team will search for scholars who are considered experts in the topic to do the review and notify the author(s) that the process has begun. This process may take from 3 weeks up to six months, depending on how long it takes the journal to find evaluators. If these are not ensured within this time, the author(s) will be notified to decide whether to continue waiting or to withdraw the manuscript.
  2. Peer reviewers who receive an invitation will be given three weeks to complete the review.
  3. If peer reviewers do not complete the peer review within this time, the manuscript will be sent to a second set of peer reviewers.
  4. If, when both peer reviews have been submitted, a contradictory recommendation is noticed, the editorial team will search for a third reviewer. However, the final decision could be made by the editor based on the available reviews and the editor’s academic judgment.
  5. If the manuscript is accepted by the two reviewers, and at least one of them suggests modifications, the manuscript will be returned to the authors for correction. They should follow the suggestions and send a revised version of their manuscript along with a letter to each reviewer explaining the modifications made. A period of three weeks is usually provided for this.
  6. If the revisions are accepted by the two peer reviewers, the manuscript will be sent to the Editorial Committee for a final content revision and authors will be notified that their manuscript is undergoing a final review and that they may need to do some content corrections before final acceptance.
  7. If the corrections made by authors are deemed appropriate by the Committee, the manuscript will be officially accepted and authors will be notified that their manuscript will now proceed to copy editing. 

Editorial Preparation

The duration of this stage depends on the number of manuscripts accepted for publication. As Íkala publishes issues three times a year (four-monthly), it must prioritize the manuscripts that are scheduled for the upcoming issue. In general, this stage includes the following steps:

  1. Before sending the manuscript to copy editing, the editorial team will do a textual review of the manuscript, making sure it contains all of the metadata, references, citations, and so on. Then, they will send it to copy editing.
  2. The copy editor will ensure that the manuscript conforms to APA publication standards and may ask that the authors make some corrections related to the following aspects: content (to complete or clarify a passage); grammar (punctuation, use of passive and active voice, verb tenses, syntactic organization of sentences); lexical (use of some words or expressions, referents); textual (cohesion, coherence, flow of ideas, construction of paragraphs, etc.); para- and extra-linguistic features (italics, bold, exclamation marks, citations, footnotes, titles, subtitles, citations, references, acknowledgements, figures, tables, etc.). These corrections will follow the norms of the language in which the manuscript was written. At this stage, authors will only be allowed to correct aspects suggested by the editor or by the copy editors.
  3. After all the suggested corrections have been made, the manuscript will be sent for layout design.
  4. Once the layout is done, the editor will make a final review of the manuscript and send it to the authors for their approval, along with the Assignment of Rights and Declaration of Authorship form, which must be signed by all authors.


Once all the authors have signed the Assignment of Rights and Declaration of Authorship, the manuscript will be ready for publication in the corresponding issue. 


After the article is published, it is necessary that the authors take several steps to guarantee its diffusion through media and its reach of wider audiences.

Some of these steps are the following:

  1. Upload your article to ResearchGate.Net and These two networks are designed to help researchers increase their readership and citations which are two key aspects of measuring the impact of their work. Having the information and articles on these websites is very easy and it takes only a few minutes. Also they are free. If you already have an account, you just have to upload the article. If you don’t have one, click on the links below to register and share your work.
  2. Obtain an Open Researcher and Contributer ID (ORCID ID) if you don’t have one. ORCID is an open and independent registry that helps identify and connect researchers around the world.  It provides researchers with an ID number so they are clearly identifiable by others. Sharing this ID number with colleagues around the world will enable them to track your work. Also, journals can connect your publication DOI to your ORCID account, omitting the need to upload anything. To create an account in this registry, go to the following link: Orcid
  3. Share your article in the following spaces and media:
    • At conferences
    • In a classroom for teaching purposes
    • With your colleagues
    • On your personal blog or website
    • In the institutional repository
    • In a subject repository (or another non commercial repository)
    • In academic collaboration networks such as Mendeley o Scholar Universe
    • On social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.

Flow Charts of the Publication Process

The following graphs show the publication process in two stages: The first goes from receipt of the manuscript until it is sent to copy editing (Flowchart 1). The second goes  from when the manuscript is sent to copy editing until its publication (Flowchart 2).

flowchart editorial process

editorial process flowchart

Assignment of Rights and Declaration of Authorship

Íkala joins the Creative Commons initiative and publishes its licensed articles under this initiative. This implies that its content is not only accessible to readers at no cost, but that it is freely reusable "for the good of research and humanity" (ARAL). However, for Íkala to be able to publish and disseminate the articles it receives, it needs to have the corresponding copyright and publication rights and a declaration of authorship. These rights are defined in the Copyright Transfer Agreement and Authorship Statement that is sent to authors before the manuscript is published and it must be signed by all the authors. This document is a legal agreement between the parties, and it protects and defends both the work and reputation of the authors and the journal. By signing it, the authors agree to the following: transferring copyright and publication rights to the journal, accepting the terms of the Creative Commons license under which the journal operates, making an authorship declaration.

Copyright Transfer Agreement

This means that the authors grant all their rights as authors and copyright owners to the journal for a term stipulated in the publishing agreement that may be extended or renewed. These rights include, but are not limited to,  publication, republication, communication, distribution, or any other use of the article in whole or in part, in any language, in an electronic version of the journal, or in any other known media or media to  be developed.  

This transfer of rights allows and recommends authors to share the published article through academic networks, institutional repositories and others, such as Mendeley, ResearchGate, or personal web pages, once the publication process has been completed. By doing so, interesting academic exchanges and an increased number of citations of the published work may occur.

Declaration of Authorship

With this declaration, the authors agree to the following:

  1. The work described has not been published previously (except in the form of a summary, published lecture or academic thesis).
  2. It has not been submitted for publication to another journal elsewhere.
  3. Its publication was approved by all the authors, and tacitly or explicitly, by the authorities responsible for the place where the work was done.
  4. It will not be published in the original language or in another language in another place including electronic media, without the written authorization of the copyright holder.
  5. All the authors contributed substantially to the publication of the manuscript (including its conception, design, analysis, writing and revision) and assume responsibility for all its content.
  6. All persons who made substantial contributions to the work described in the manuscript (such as technical support, editing and editing assistance, general support), but who did not meet the authorship criteria are mentioned in the acknowledgements and have given their written authorization to be named. If an acknowledgements section was not included, it is understood that the authors did not receive substantial contributions from other people.

Resources for Authors

When writing your manuscript, there are a number of free resources you can use. Some of them are described below:

  1. Mendeley: This system allows you to not only generate references, citations and bibliography in various styles but also build networks with other researchers.
  2. The APA Style Manual (7th Ed.): This manual contains a complete list of style guidelines that should be taken into account when writing scientific articles. It provides a description of the different types of articles published in Íkala(sections 1.1 to 1.8), ethical considerations, and the publication process.
  3. Language Service Providers: The School of Languages has a Translation Agency that offers services for writing, revising, and editing manuscripts in different languages, as well as translation services for individuals and companies.

Promoting your Article once Published

Íkala encourages authors to promote their articles after it is published because this can enhance the impact of their research in the field, increase the number of people who read and cite their research, strengthen their reputation, lead to collaboration with other academics around the world, and inspire and inform readers from around the world (5 Ways to Promote Your Articles, ARAL)

Some promotion resources they are encouraged to use are the following: 

  1. Social networks: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn
  2. Personal blogs
  3. Video summaries or podcasts which can be shared on the journal’s webpage
  4. Academic networks such as,, Mendeley y ORCID

These researcher networks are designed to help academics increase their readership and citations, two key aspects in measuring the impact of their work. ORCID, for example, provides researchers with an identification number that, through an agreement with CrossRef, can be linked to the DOI of their publications so that they are automatically updated in their accessible curriculum on the page.

FAQ from Authors 

  1. Can I email an abstract of my paper before submitting a manuscript?

No. Decisions about manuscript are made based on the whole document, not on the abstract alone, as this only captures part of the elements of the publication.

  1. Can I submit a research in progress for publication?

No. Íkala only reviews and publishes manuscripts of complete or terminated research.

  1. If a manuscript appears as “Awaiting Assignment” on the platform. what does it mean?

It means that a preliminary editorial review of  a new submission is being done to ensure that the topic of the manuscript fits the focus and scope of Íkala and meets the journal’s requirements.

  1. If a manuscript appears “In Review” on the platform, what does it mean?

It means that the manuscript is ready to be sent to peer reviewers, or it has already been sent to them. However, a final editorial decision has not been made.

  1. Can I resubmit a manuscript rejected by Íkala after making corrections?

No. Given that the manuscripts that show potential are not rejected after their first revision but sent back for corrections, Íkala suggests that if your manuscript was rejected in the first review, or after peer evaluation, you send for publication in other journal, where it may have better chances of being published.

  1. How long does the publication process take?

It generally takes approximately three months for a final editorial decision to be made about a manuscript. However, several factors may affect this process such as difficulty in finding expert peer reviewers; receiving contradictory peer reviews, which means that a third reviewer must be appointed; getting an “revisions required” recommendation from peer reviewers, which means that corrections need to be made before deciding whether to accept the manuscript or not; and delayed submission of  corrections by authors, when these have been suggested.