Waterlines: Instructions for Authors


Waterlines focuses on water supply, sanitation (including waste management) and hygiene in low- and middle-income countries.  Articles addressing these topics in rural or urban contexts, development or humanitarian emergency response settings, in politically stable or fragile states are equally valued. Research and practice in one place and time must be informed by what others are doing or have done elsewhere at different times.  Making the links between the specific research or practice reported in an article and the wider experience of the sector is essential.  The geographical scope of the journal is global. Waterlines is a practitioner-focused journal.  Articles written by academics, which make clear connections between research evidence and practice, are welcomed.  Articles written by practitioners based on field experience are also encouraged.  We wish to maintain high standards of research, evidence-gathering, learning and communication regardless of the origins of the papers which we publish or the form of publication.  Inter-disciplinary articles are strongly encouraged.

Themes include

  • Practical solutions are essential if the many of the difficulties experienced are to be addressed. However, the impact of government organizations, policy formation and institutional influence is also key to addressing all water, waste and sanitation issues.
  • Articles reporting on experimental results should include the implications of these results for practical situations.
  • Water and sanitation issues impact at every level of society from the village to the national level. How change at one level requires support from, or influences, another must not therefore be overlooked.
  • Waterlines tries to cover as wide a range of geographical areas as possible. Articles describing particular projects in a given country should also include international comparisons, or at least some discussion of how local practice relates to what is done in other parts of the world.
  • Sustainability is key to future solutions for the water and sanitation sector. This can mean how much programmes cost to run, and how far customer charges cover costs; it can also mean whether systems can be maintained into the future, and whether hygiene behaviours have been remembered.


The journal welcomes two forms of submission, each of which has specific requirements of authors and different guidelines for referees.  Research papers are up to 6000 words in length, and report on studies which usually include some primary data collection.  These papers must always include a critical review of literature, a complete description and justification of the methodology used, and succinct presentation and analysis of data.  Conclusions and recommendations should specifically include the implications for practice.  In those cases where human subjects are involved, the methodology must include clear statements about the ethical approvals and consents obtained.  Exceptionally a research paper may consist of a literature review with no primary data collection, but if so the review must be undertaken in a systematic and clearly described manner.
Practice papers are up to 3000 words in length.  They are used to describe innovations, trials, pilots and field experiences, or to present more general experience and learning in essay form.  They are expected to refer to the literature as appropriate, although generally not as extensively as in a research paper.  In the case of field work the methods adopted should be described in a way which makes it possible for others to repeat what was done.  The implications for wider practice, for scaling-up, or for changes to policy should be drawn out.  Recommendations may include, among other things, guidance for further research.

The Managing Editor welcomes authors sending in 100–250 word outlines of their proposed article for discussion and guidance prior to writing the full article.

All articles should be submitted via Waterlines online submissions site

For submission guidelines please see below

References and footnotes

Waterlines does not have footnotes. Material of this type should either be incorporated into the text (possibly in brackets) or omitted.

References should be given in the Harvard style e.g. (Smith, 2001) in the text, together with, in a list at the end:
Smith, John (2001) ‘Water coverage indicators’, DFID report.
Please include the DOI number at the end of the reference if available; also,for any websites, check the url is still live and give the [accessed date].

Tables and illustrations

Tables and illustrations

  • Tables should be set up in Word, referred to as ‘Table’ and numbered consecutively.
  • Graphs or diagrams that were originally composed in Excel, should be submitted as a separate file. Graphs and line images should be referred to as ‘Figure’ and numbered consecutively.
  • Line images should be submitted in black and white, with no areas of solid grey, and at a resolution of 600 dots per inch at the size you would like it published or larger.
  • Photographs and illustrations. If you are sending photographs, please save them in greyscale, preferably in TIFF or PostScript format (at least 300 dpi for size 12 cm wide). Please supply them as separate files, not embedded in the Word document.

Submission and editorial procedures

All articles should be submitted via Waterlines online submissions site, Editorial Manager

Please submit your article as a Word document containing the text, including title (up to 16 words), abstract (100–250 words), references, tables, boxes and figure captions. Please omit author details and affiliations from this ‘Anonymized manuscript’.Acknowledgments are not encouraged but if it is important to include them, please keep them to one sentence.

Please register on the site as an author then follow the instructions to give details of authors and co-authors, information about the submission, and upload the article itself.  Once  you have submitted the article, viewed the pdf generated and approved the submission, we will acknowledge receipt, and check that the article is within the scope of the journal. We will send your article to at least two other reviewers. When the reviewers’ comments have been received, usually within 2–3 months, we will send you the decision (Accept; Accept with minor revisions; Revise and resubmit; Decline to publish), together with the reviewers’ comments.

If you have been invited to make revisions or resubmit, you should resubmit your revised paper online, together with a copyright assignment form (see below). Your article will be checked and either accepted for publication or sent back for further revisions or declined.

Once your article has been accepted for publication it will be copy edited, at which point you may receive editorial queries from the copy editor. Once the article is typeset you will receive a pdf proof which we ask you to read and correct promptly.

Articles that have been accepted for publication but are not yet assigned to an edition of Waterlines are published on the journal website under ‘online preview’. When they have been assigned to a particular edition of Waterlines we will let you know. Once your article is published we will send each author a single copy of the issue.

Copyright Assignment

The journal's policy is to acquire copyright for all contributions. We do this to ensure the widest dissemination and protection against copyright infringement of your article.

Your research, in its written article form, has been subject to rigorous peer review, and authorial revision. Your article in its accepted form will now be published in its final, definitive, and citable form, for the first time, as the Version of Scholarly Record by Practical Action Publishing. In addition to facilitating peer review, we add value to your accepted manuscript and create the Version of Scholarly Record by editing the manuscript to a style consistent with community and journal conventions, converting it to a suitable digital form, incorporating digital reference links and metadata tags for feeds to abstracting and indexing services, registering the digital object identifier (DOI), and monitoring electronic usage and citation. We work to assure the integrity of the scholarly record and to protect copyright and associated author rights.

All named authors should therefore download, sign, and scan the copyright assignment form, and once the article has been reviewed and revised, the form(s) must be uploaded to the Editorial Manager site along with the revised article. The original copy should be posted to Journals, Practical Action Publishing, The Schumacher Centre, Bourton-on-Dunsmore, Rugby, Warwickshire, CV23 9QZ, United Kingdom or faxed to +44(0)1926 634401. Co-authors can sign a single form, or may each sign separate forms, whichever is more convenient.

Open Access

Practical Action Publishing provides authors or their research sponsors and funders with the option of paying a publishing fee and thereby making an article permanently available for free online access – open access – immediately on publication to anyone, anywhere, at any time. This option is made available once an article has been accepted in peer review.

Please visit here for further information.

The purpose of these guidelines is to simplify the process of submitting your article for publication in Waterlines. These steps will make it easier for the article to be reviewed, and make the production process run more smoothly once an article has been accepted for publication.

See also House Style Guide

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