Submission Types & Audience

CSSC does not publish traditional scholarly research papers. Rather, the focus of the journal is to publish case studies suitable for use in teaching and learning contexts, similar to the form and use of Harvard Business School cases and the cases of the Arthur W. Page Society competition. Authors interested in publishing traditional scholarly papers in strategic communication should pursue other venues.

At this time, CSSC is only interested in real case studies of actual organizations and campaigns (i.e., no hypothetical cases).

As an online journal, CSSC is not bound by word limits. Cases may be very short (a few thousand words) or quite long, however a normal length tends to be 5,000-8,000 words. Authors should inquire with the editor before submitting a case that is longer than 8,000 words. These lengths exclude references, tables, figures, exhibits, and appendices.

Cases may be tightly focused on a single strategy, tactic, research method, or evaluation method used in a real instance of strategic communication, or cases may examine entire campaigns. These longer cases that examine entire campaigns contain much more substantial analysis, discussion, and exhibits.

CSSC is intended for an international audience of scholars, teachers, practitioners, and students. Authors should avoid jargon and dense scholarly writing style.

Understanding the difference between case study research and a teaching case study

There is a fine line between a case study fit for the classroom and a scholarly research paper that employs case study methodology. CSSC seeks to publish teaching case studies, not research papers.

Writing style and purpose
The writing style of a teaching case study is much more like a story rather than a typical social scientific research paper. That is, a teaching case study often begins with a main character (a person, an organization) that is faced with a challenge to overcome. An organization faces some sort of challenge (i.e., how to successfully launch a new product, how to handle a crisis, how to boost public opinion) and the case unfolds in a way that takes the reader from this beginning state through a campaign process and toward a final outcome.

The first few sentences of this case study illustrate this sort of tone:

In the fall of 2009, Charlotte Observer Editor Rick Thames wondered what his newspaper would look like a year hence. For more than 120 years, the Observer had not only covered Charlotte, but had set the public agenda for 40 counties across southern and western North Carolina. But like so many metro dailies, the Observer since 2000 had suffered circulation declines, weakened print advertising sales, and a steady migration of its audience to online alternatives.
— Joseph E. Williams. (2011). Buy it or make it? The Charlotte Observer and the Associated Press. Knight Case Study Initiative (#CSJ-11-0037.0), Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University.

From this opening, the author identifies a main character and establishes the challenge facing the organization. He establishes the problem for the next few paragraphs, then concludes the introduction of the case study with a series of choices or questions facing the main character:

Thames and his leadership team faced numerous choices. Should the paper try to remain the source for its readers of all categories of news–the longtime model for a metro daily? Or should it focus on local reporting?
— Joseph E. Williams. (2011). Buy it or make it? The Charlotte Observer and the Associated Press. Knight Case Study Initiative (#CSJ-11-0037.0), Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University.

By the end of the introduction to this case study, then, the reader understands what the problem is. The remainder of the case explains the actions taken by the organization to address the challenge.

Compare this kind of writing with a typical scholarly research paper. Scholarly papers, even those that employ case study methodology, are primarily interested in creating, testing, or advancing theory. The examination of a case study in a scholarly research paper serves to support this theoretical work. The writing style of a typical scholarly research paper is often much more objective, detached, and focused on describing a case as a site for empirical analysis rather than telling the story of a case as a process for understanding practical decision making.

Authors should strive to write case studies that focus on the practical decision making processes of strategic communication campaigns. Telling the story of this process, rather than the objective fact of the process, is what distinguishes a teaching case from a research paper that employs case study as a method. Each author has a different writing style, and some cases in this journal will look and feel more like a scholarly research paper or more like good storytelling. This range of style is fine, but the key to getting published in CSSC is to present the case study as a challenge that unfolds through a series of strategic decisions.