Journal of the American Planning Association Article Types

The three main JAPA article types all go through the same review process, so they are all double-bind refereed articles. This page draws on the JAPA author instructions and also provides examples.

A standard article (6,000 words of main text, not including references, notes, abstract, tables) is a standard scholarly study. Most are empirical but they can be more conceptual or theoretical.

A Planning Viewpoint is an article of up to 3,000 words of main text, not including references, notes, abstract, tables. For expert readers Viewpoints provide a new, clear, and provocative argument that engages with alternative interpretations. For the broader range of planners and others they provide a crisp statement of some interesting planning-related phenomenon. Authors are encouraged to include figures and tables that can provide evidence and clarify their conceptual frameworks. They are not just opinion pieces–they need to engage multiple sides of a scholarly literature and convey it to a broad audience. They do not need to be based on an empirical study.

Examples include:

A Review Essay is longer at 8,000 words of main text, not including references, notes, abstract, tables.

Review Essays fully engage with and synthesize the current body of scholarly work on the planning topic that the authors have chosen. The authors:

  • Examine the body of scholarly knowledge and professional/gray research and writing on the topic
  • Analyze the gaps in knowledge and the major questions or controversies in the area
  • Assess what previous researchers in overlapping disciplines have contributed to the understanding of these questions and conflicts
  • Evaluate the methods or approaches these researchers or practitioners have used to address these questions or to fill in data gaps
  • Identify the additional research needed to provide scholars and practitioners with useful information, and
  • Make clear the practice implications of the entire discussion, which often requires that the authors gather and assess professional and policy reports on the topic to effectively assess the state of current practice on the topic.

It is very difficult to do this entirely with narrative text. You will likely need to develop graphical conceptual frameworks or other analytical diagrams; comparative matrices or specific studies on a key topic; and the like. It is crucial to examine at least some studies in depth—explaining their methods and not just their findings.

It is particularly important to identify debates between and among researchers (and disciplines where relevant) and to weigh the body of knowledge on all sides of that debate. It is not necessary that authors resolve those debates or answer all outstanding questions that they have identified and discussed.

Examples include: