Reference Services Review (RSR)

Publication Profiles > LIS Scholarly Journals > Reference Services Review (RSR)


Publication analysis

About the publication

Title: Reference Services Review: Reference and Instructional Services for Libraries in the Digital Age (RSR)

ISSN: 0090-7324


Purpose, objective, or mission: Reference Services Review (RSR) “is a leading journal dedicated to the enrichment and advancement of reference knowledge and the improvement of professional practice.” Further, the journal “raises questions, explores new frameworks for user services, advances fresh analyses and research and proposes solutions to diverse operational issues facing librarians and information professionals.”1

Target audience: Librarians, information professionals, and LIS students, especially those interested in reference, instruction, and public services.

Publisher: Emerald Publishing.2

Peer reviewed? Yes.

Type: LIS scholarly journal.

Medium: Online.

Content: RSR articles “draw upon traditional areas of inquiry within the fields of information studies and education, as well as from newer interdisciplinary perspectives such as critical pedagogy” and relate to “all aspects of reference and library user services in a digital age.”3 RSR regularly publishes special issues, such as 2017’s two-part Transfer Students and Students in Transition.4

Frequency of publication: Quarterly.

About the publication’s submission guidelines

Location of submission guidelines: Author Guidelines.

Types of contributions accepted:  RSR publishes research papers, viewpoints, technical papers, conceptual papers, case studies, literature reviews, and general reviews. The author guidelines provide a description of each article type in the Article Classification section.5 Topics are wide ranging, including user research, instruction, digital services and software, assessment, management, and any topic relevant to improving and innovating reference services.

Submission and review process: Articles are submitted to RSR using ScholarOne Manuscripts. The editor reviews the manuscripts and sends those that are appropriate for the journal to at least one independent referee for double-blind peer review.6  Reviewers are “distinguished practitioners, managers, administrators, educators, and scholars from library and information studies and higher education, as well as other fields.”7 Additional manuscript requirements and a production cycle with approximate dates and deadlines for the current volume are available on the Author Guidelines page.8

Editorial tone: Professional and academic.

Style guide used: Harvard style in-text citations and reference list. Examples are provided in the Author Guidelines.9

Conclusion: Evaluation of publication’s potential for LIS authors

RSR is a strong choice for librarians and information professionals looking to publish scholarship and research on topics relating to reference and readers’ advisory, instruction, information literacy, and public services. It is interdisciplinary in nature, so LIS authors who write from other disciplines or perspectives (for example, critical pedagogy) will find an outlet here. Furthermore, RSR is a leading journal that “provides a quick and efficient service to first-time authors.”10


Audience analysis

About the publication’s readers

Publication circulation: RSR “is available as part of an online subscription to the Emerald Library Studies eJournals Collection.”11

Audience location and language or cultural considerations: RSR is a North American English-language journal. It is widely abstracted and indexed.12 The editorial board consists of LIS professionals from North America, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Canada, so although the articles have an overall North American focus, the reach of the journal is international.

Reader characteristics: Readers include LIS practitioners, managers, administrators, educators, scholars, and students, with a wide range of professional interests in the area of reference services. RSR “is valued reading by the majority of North American library schools with its ‘au courant’ focus.”13

Knowledge of LIS subject matter: Readers will have a high familiarity with terminology, trends, and best practices relating to reference services; they will also be LIS graduate students familiar with but learning about these topics.

Conclusion: Analysis of reader characteristics and their potential impact on authors

A typical reader of this journal will be an LIS professional or graduate student looking for innovative approaches and thoughtful analysis that is written in an accessible style.

Last updated: March 6, 2018.


Show 13 footnotes

  1. “Aims & Scope,” Reference Services Review, accessed March 6, 2018,
  2. “Aims & Scope.”
  3. “Aims & Scope.”
  4. See Reference Services Review 45, no. 2(2017),,  and 45, no. 3 (2017),
  5. “Author Guidelines,” Reference Services Review, accessed March 6, 2018,
  6. “Author Guidelines.”
  7. “Aims & Scope.”
  8. “Author Guidelines.”
  9. “Author Guidelines.”
  10. “Aims & Scope.”
  11. “Aims & Scope.”
  12. “Aims & Scope.”
  13. “Aims & Scope.”
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