Call for Papers for Special Issue of Drugs and Alcohol Today on co-production in the field of substance use research

Proposal of Special Issue on

Co-production in substance use research

in Drugs and Alcohol Today


Dr Jo Cairns1,2 and Dr James Nicholls1,3

1 Alcohol Research UK

2 Newcastle University

3 London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine


Contact details:

Alcohol Research UK, 27 Swinton Street, London WC1X 9NW

1. Theme and topics

In this special issue, we are inviting authors to submit papers which explore key principles, methods, ethical considerations, and practice or policy implications of co-production in the field of substance use research. Unlike the fields of social care, social work and mental health there has been little sustained focus on co-production in substance-use research specifically. This special edition aims to start a wider conversation, while capturing the learning from innovations in the field today.

We invite papers from anyone carrying out research projects that involve co-production, or papers exploring the wider conceptual and practical issues involved.  We do not impose a strict definition of ‘co-production’, but view it broadly as ‘research carried out ‘with’ or ‘by’ people with lived experience rather than ‘to’, ‘about’ or ‘for’ them’[1]. We also agree with Peter Beresford, who states that ‘what distinguishes user involvement in research from traditional approaches is the emphasis it places on experiential knowledge’ (2013:141). Experiential knowledge may be derived, in this case, from substance users, people in treatment or recovery, patients (or potential patients), carers, family members, people using health and social care services, people representing or working in services, and so forth. We are mindful that the terminology is contested in the area of public involvement and co-production, and welcome contributions that discuss or challenge existing definitions.

Potential topics may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Empowerment i.e. can involving those with lived experience of substance-related harm in the research be empowering?
  • Ethics i.e. at what stage can someone in recovery get involved in research (are there risks of relapse, for instance, if the person is in early stage of recovery)?
  • Impact i.e. what types of impact may be achieved through co-productive research? (both in terms of practice and policy)
  • Sense of purpose and value i.e. does being involved in research contribute to a sense of purpose and feeling valued?
  • Reciprocity i.e. what are the mutual benefits of working co-productively?
  • Barriers i.e. how do we overcome barriers to involvement? (academic barriers may include, for instance, language, funding, research culture but there will also be wider barriers for those with lived experience to become involved)

We welcome submissions using any relevant method, particularly interdisciplinary ones. We also encourage academic researchers to co-author papers with those involved in the research and creative styles of writing.

2. Format of articles

Articles should be between 3000 and 6000 words in length inclusive of references and appendices. More information on author guidelines can be found at:

3. Consolidation of submissions, review of articles and expected numbers

Submissions are invited from delegates who presented at or attended our annual early career symposium and conference ‘Working Together: People, Practice and Policy in Alcohol Research’ which took place between 4-5 April 2017.

Each paper is reviewed by the guest editors and, if it is judged suitable for this publication, it is then sent to at least two independent referees for double blind peer review.

To submit your article please use the Journal’s submission site and make sure you select the Special Issue on ‘Co-production in substance use research’:

4. Provisional Timetable

Date of submission: 30th August 2017

Review deadline: 8th November 2017

Author’s revisions: 20th December 2017

Expected publication date: Provisionally March 2018 (with the possibility of earlier online publication)


[1] INVOLVE. What is public involvement in research? Available at: [last accessed 15/05/17]