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Active Learning in Higher Education

eISSN: 17412625 | ISSN: 14697874 | Current volume: 25 | Current issue: 1 Frequency: 3 Times/Year

Active Learning in Higher Education is an international, refereed publication for all those who teach and support learning in higher education and those who undertake or use research into effective learning, teaching and assessment in universities and colleges. The journal has an objective of improving the status of teaching and learning support as professional activity and so looks at academic theory and practice applicable in/to all disciplines and contexts/countries in higher education.

"This journal has, so far, more than met my expectations. It is refreshing to see both a high practically-oriented content in an educational journal, and material that can be easily understood by those of us without training in Eduspeak." Mark Davies

"Active Learning in Higher Education serves as a medium for everyone interested in how to improve educational practice… the journal has a clear value in the field of learning and instruction." Mien S R Segers

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This journal is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).

Active Learning in Higher Education is an international, refereed publication for all those who teach and support learning in higher education (HE) and those who undertake or use research into effective learning, teaching and assessment in universities and colleges. The journal is devoted to publishing accounts of research covering all aspects of learning and teaching concerning adults in higher education.

Non-discipline specific and non-context/country specific in nature, it comprises accounts of research across all areas of the curriculum; accounts which are relevant to faculty and others involved in learning and teaching in all disciplines, in all countries.


Virginia Clinton-Lisell University of North Dakota, USA
Editorial Board
Carla Bohndick University of Hamburg, Germany
Edith Braun University of Giessen, Germany
Alice Brown University of Southern Queensland, Australia
Jennifer L. Cooper Stonehill College, USA
John Cowan Napier University, Scotland, UK
Craig Deed La Trobe University, Australia
Chris Evans University College London, UK
Rosemary Fisher Swinburne University of Technology, Australia
Dr. Gina Fox University of Leicester, UK
David Gijbels University of Antwerp, Belgium
Megan Good James Madison University, USA
Michael Grimley University of Canterbury, New Zealand
Tony Harland University of Otago, New Zealand
Isabel Hopwood Office for Students, UK
Sonia Ilie University of Cambridge, UK
Alison Kelly University of North Dakota, USA
Roger Lewis Education Consultant, UK
Anna Mountford-Zimdars  
Liisa Postareff Häme University of Applied Sciences, Finland
Michael Ralph Gould Evans, USA
Maureen Reed Toronto Metropolitan University, Canada
Tiffany Roman Kennesaw State University, USA
Franziska Trede University of Technology Sydney, Australia
Gert Vanthournout University College Antwerp, Belgium
Dr. Sandris Zeivots The University of Sydney, Australia
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  • The Educational Journal

This Journal is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics.

Please read the guidelines below then visit the Journal’s submission site [] to upload your manuscript. Please note that manuscripts not conforming to these guidelines may be returned. Remember you can log in to the submission site at any time to check on the progress of your paper through the peer review process.

Only manuscripts of sufficient quality that meet the aims and scope of Active Learning in Higher Education will be reviewed.

There are no fees payable to submit or publish in this Journal. Open Access options are available - see section 3.3 below.

As part of the submission process you will be required to warrant that you are submitting your original work, that you have the rights in the work, and that you have obtained and can supply all necessary permissions for the reproduction of any copyright works not owned by you, that you are submitting the work for first publication in the Journal and that it is not being considered for publication elsewhere and has not already been published elsewhere. Please see our guidelines on prior publication and note that Active Learning in Higher Education may accept submissions of papers that have been posted on pre-print servers; please alert the Editorial Office when submitting (contact details are at the end of these guidelines) and include the DOI for the preprint in the designated field in the manuscript submission system. Authors should not post an updated version of their paper on the preprint server while it is being peer reviewed for possible publication in the journal. If the article is accepted for publication, the author may re-use their work according to the journal's author archiving policy. If your paper is accepted, you must include a link on your preprint to the final version of your paper.

        If you have any questions about publishing with Sage, please visit the Sage Journal Solutions Portal

  1. What do we publish?
    1.1 Aims and Scope
    1.2 Article Types
    1.3 Writing your paper
  2. Editorial policies
    2.1 Peer review policy
    2.2 Editorial procedure
    2.3 Criteria used in the review
    2.4 Authorship
    2.5 Acknowledgements
    2.6 Funding
    2.7 Declaration of conflicting interests
    2.8 Research Data
  3. Publishing policies
    3.1 Publication ethics
    3.2 Contributor's publishing agreement
    3.3 Open access and author archiving
  4. Preparing your manuscript
    4.1 Formatting
    4.2 Artwork, figures and other graphics
    4.3 Supplemental material
    4.4 Reference style
    4.5 English language editing services
  5. Submitting your manuscript
    5.1 ORCID
    5.2 Information required for completing your submission
    5.3 Permissions
  6. On acceptance and publication
    6.1 Sage Production
    6.2 Online First publication
    6.3 Access to your published article
    6.4 Promoting your article
  7. Further information


1. What do we publish?

1.1 Aims and Scope

Before submitting your manuscript to Active Learning in Higher Education, please ensure you have read the Aims and Scope.

1.2 Article Types

Articles: The suggested word count for an article is up to 7500 words. This includes absolutely everything; from the first word of the title to the very last word in the list of references, or tables/figures (or whatever the article ends with). Texts of a length greatly exceeding this will be considered as interest warrants and space permits. Upon submission, please also include a seperate title page with title, abstract and author information.

Registered Reports:  These allow you to submit a prospective manuscript for a study that you have not yet run. The review is completed in 2 stages. At Stage 1 (before results) the manuscript will be assessed on the basis of how strong the hypotheses are and whether the methodology and design are robust and promising. At this point the paper can be accepted in principle or rejected. If accepted in principle then the final article should be accepted unless the final manuscript fails to conduct the study originally described. The Stage 1 manuscript should include: introduction - spelling out why the study is important; methods - including information to interpret whether the study is sufficiently well-powered to find a positive result (or to interpret a null result); analysis - detailing as fully as possible the analysis steps that will be used. The Stage 1 submission may also include pilot data, but this is not required. You may write in the past tense, but must have an explicit statement at the top to make sure readers of the Stage 1 manuscript understand this. Stage 1 acceptance is conditional on the authors also submitting, immediately after Stage 1 acceptance, a formal registration to an appropriate repository such as the Open Science Framework (see At Stage 2 (after results), you should add the data and analyses previously described, and a discussion, so the final paper is similar to a  Article. Additional data and/or analyses, not included in Stage 1, can also be provided at this stage but these must be clearly distinguished from the a priori analyses.  For queries about this format, please contact the editor: Virginia Clinton-Lisell,  
Replication Studies: In research it is often said that “one study is just one study.” Therefore, in order for the findings of a study to be trusted, it needs to be replicated with novel aspects to assess whether an intervention, effect, or phenomenon generalizes. For this reason, Active Learning in Higher Education has an option to publish replication studies. A manuscript on a replication study must be based on empirical data, replicate previously published work (this work could have been published in any reputable journal on teaching in higher education), and have a novel component that differentiates it from the previously published work. Replication articles have a word count maximum of 4,500 words and need to have practical implications for active learning in higher education.

1.3 Writing your paper

The Sage Author Gateway has some general advice and on how to get published, plus links to further resources. Sage Author Services also offers authors a variety of ways to improve and enhance their article including English language editing, plagiarism detection, and video abstract and infographic preparation.

1.2.1 Make your article discoverable

When writing up your paper, think about how you can make it discoverable. The title, keywords and abstract are key to ensuring readers find your article through search engines such as Google. For information and guidance on how best to title your article, write your abstract and select your keywords, have a look at this page on the Gateway: How to Help Readers Find Your Article Online.

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2. Editorial policies

2.1 Peer review policy

Sage does not permit the use of author-suggested (recommended) reviewers at any stage of the submission process, be that through the web-based submission system or other communication.

Reviewers should be experts in their fields and should be able to provide an objective assessment of the manuscript. Our policy is that reviewers should not be assigned to a paper if:

•  The reviewer is based at the same institution as any of the co-authors
•  The reviewer is based at the funding body of the paper
•  The author has recommended the reviewer
•  The reviewer has provided a personal (e.g. Gmail/Yahoo/Hotmail) email account and an institutional email account cannot be found after performing a basic Google search (name, department and institution).

2.2 Editorial procedure

All articles/manuscripts are initially reviewed by the Editor.  Only those articles/manuscripts that meet the standards of the journal, and fit within its aims and scope, will be sent to expert reviewers.  Authors of articles/manuscripts can expect a decision normally within three working days as to whether or not their article/manuscript will be sent to the reviewers or instead be rejected at this stage.  Should the decision be to ‘desk reject’ it at this stage, authors can be assured of a supportive response which offers feedback that is constructive and helpful in nature.

If an article/manuscript is sent to the reviewers, all references to the author name and institution are removed from the article/manuscript.  Active Learning in Higher Education recognises that authors are keen to get a decision as soon as possible, and reviewers are asked to return their decisions to the Editor within four weeks so that the decision can be sent to authors within that timeframe.

At that stage, authors get one of the four standard decisions, that is, ‘accept, as is’, ‘conditional accept, but minor changes are required’, ‘conditional accept, but major changes are required’ or ‘reject’.  Active Learning in Higher Education recognises that authors, and the Journal, are keen to ensure that any article/manuscript accepted for publication is the best that it can be and so authors can be assured of comprehensive, constructive comments from the reviewers and the Editor.  Authors whose work has been considered by Active Learning in Higher Education regularly praise this, and also the fast turnaround time, as two of the strengths of this particular journal.

When revisions have been satisfactorily completed, the Editor explains the next steps in the publication process, including when the article/manuscript is likely to appear in print, hard copy (it will appear in Online First within a very short timescale and long before it appears in print, hard copy).

2.3 Criteria used in the review

The emphasis is very much on research.  This is taken to mean that the study described within the article/manuscript should make a contribution to the body of knowledge (‘fill’ a ‘gap’ in this body of knowledge) about an aspect of the learning and teaching of adults in higher education, regardless of discipline, and regardless of context/country.  Examples of the kinds of topic which affect us all, regardless of where/what we teach, are assessment, induction, personal development planning, the use of technologies, etcetera.  Articles/manuscripts should not be ‘a description of what we do/did with our own students’, as this is a study which makes a contribution to the knowledge of the authors rather than making a contribution to the body of knowledge.  It should instead address a common and particular problem, a challenge, an issue identified in the literature, and so report a piece of research which has shed some light on that problem, challenge, issue.  It should fill this particular gap in our knowledge by making its contribution to practice and the theory or theories underlying this.

A description of such a piece of research normally comprises the following.  A review of the literature is followed by the identification of the problem, challenge or issue and this is normally expressed in terms of research questions or similar.  A section describing the suitably rigorous research methods used to address these then follows, and the findings/results presented after that.  A discussion of the findings/results concludes the piece of research, and it is here that it is evident that there is a contribution to knowledge, because the findings/results are discussed in light of the literature.  Rather than simply ‘here are the results’, given the aims and scope of Active Learning in Higher Education, although not a requirement, the article/manuscript usually ends with something that the reader can take from that work and use, in some way, in their own context.

2.4 Authorship

All parties who have made a substantive contribution to the article should be listed as authors. Principal authorship, authorship order, and other publication credits should be based on the relative scientific or professional contributions of the individuals involved, regardless of their status. A student is usually listed as principal author on any multiple-authored publication that substantially derives from the student’s dissertation or thesis.

Please note that AI chatbots, for example ChatGPT, should not be listed as authors. For more information see the policy on Use of ChatGPT and generative AI tools.

2.5 Acknowledgements

All contributors who do not meet the criteria for authorship should be listed in an Acknowledgements section. Examples of those who might be acknowledged include a person who provided purely technical help, or a department chair who provided only general support.

Please supply any personal acknowledgements separately to the main text to facilitate anonymous peer review.

2.5.1 Third party submissions
Where an individual who is not listed as an author submits a manuscript on behalf of the author(s), a statement must be included in the Acknowledgements section of the manuscript and in the accompanying cover letter. The statements must:

•    Disclose this type of editorial assistance – including the individual’s name, company and level of input 
•    Identify any entities that paid for this assistance 
•    Confirm that the listed authors have authorized the submission of their manuscript via third party and approved any statements or declarations, e.g. conflicting interests, funding, etc.

Where appropriate, Sage reserves the right to deny consideration to manuscripts submitted by a third party rather than by the authors themselves.

2.6 Funding

Active Learning in Higher Education requires all authors to acknowledge their funding in a consistent fashion under a separate heading.  Please visit the Funding Acknowledgements page on the Sage Journal Author Gateway to confirm the format of the acknowledgment text in the event of funding, or state that: This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

2.7 Declaration of conflicting interests

Active Learning in Higher Education encourages authors to include a declaration of any conflicting interests and recommends you review the good practice guidelines on the Sage Journal Author Gateway

2.8 Research Data

The journal is committed to facilitating openness, transparency and reproducibility of research, and has the following research data sharing policy. For more information, including FAQs please visit the Sage Research Data policy pages.

Subject to appropriate ethical and legal considerations, authors are required to:

  • Share your research data in a relevant public data repository
  • Include a data availability statement. This should:
    • Indicate if data is available and shared
    • In certain cases, indicate if research data is available but not shared, and why. If you cannot share your data and this is a requirement of publication, consult the journal editorial office.
    • Indicate if there is an absence of data
  • Cite data in your research

If the author(s) can't publicly share data then you will be required to explain that in your cover letter.

2.9 Open Science Framework badges 
The editorship of Active Learning in Higher Education acknowledges the importance of research data availability as an integral part of the research and verification process for academic journal articles. We strongly urge all authors to share their data and materials.

If you wish to apply for Open Data, Open Materials, or Preregistered OSF badges, please ensure you indicate this with your submission. Any required data/materials should be hosted on a publicly accessible website in a format that is time-stamped, immutable, and permanent. For more information about the badges and how to earn them, please see the OSF Wiki. 

Active Learning in Higher Education requests all authors submitting any primary data used in their research articles alongside their article submissions to be published in the online version of the journal, or provide detailed information in their articles on how the data can be obtained. This information should include links to third-party data repositories or detailed contact information for third-party data sources. Data available only on an author-maintained website will need to be loaded onto either the journal’s platform or a third-party platform to ensure continuing accessibility. Examples of data types include but are not limited to statistical data files, replication code, text files, audio files, images, videos, appendices, and additional charts and graphs necessary to understand the original research. The editor(s) will also grant exceptions for data that cannot legally or ethically be released. All data submitted should comply with Institutional or Ethical Review Board requirements and applicable government regulations. For further information, please contact the editor, Virginia Clinton-Lisell,
2.10 Preregistration of Studies and Analysis Plans 
Researchers are encouraged to consider pre-registering their research design prior to data collection or analysis in advance with an established registry, such as Open Science Framework.

For preregistered studies, the following requirements apply: 

  • Authors must, in acknowledgments or the author note on the title page, indicate that research was preregistered with a link to the preregistration.
  • The author must:
    • confirm in the text that the study was registered prior to data collection or analysis, and that the preregistration adheres to the disclosure requirements of the institutional registry or those required for the preregistered badge with analysis plans maintained by the Center for Open Science.
    • report all pre-registered analyses in the text, or, if there were changes in the analysis plan following preregistration, those changes must be disclosed with explanation for the changes clearly distinguish in text analyses that were preregistered from those that were not, such as having separate sections in the results for confirmatory and exploratory analyses (these changes may be added as a separate document linked to the text of the main paper). 

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3. Publishing Policies

3.1 Publication ethics

Sage is committed to upholding the integrity of the academic record. We encourage authors to refer to the Committee on Publication Ethics’ International Standards for Authors and view the Publication Ethics page on the Sage Author Gateway.

3.1.1 Plagiarism

Active Learning in Higher Education and Sage take issues of copyright infringement, plagiarism or other breaches of best practice in publication very seriously. We seek to protect the rights of our authors and we always investigate claims of plagiarism or misuse of published articles. Equally, we seek to protect the reputation of the journal against malpractice. Submitted articles may be checked with duplication-checking software.

Where an article, for example, is found to have plagiarised other work or included third-party copyright material without permission or with insufficient acknowledgement, or where the authorship of the article is contested, we reserve the right to take action including, but not limited to: publishing an erratum or corrigendum (correction); retracting the article; taking up the matter with the head of department or dean of the author's institution and/or relevant academic bodies or societies; or taking appropriate legal action.

3.1.2 Prior publication

If material has been previously published it is not generally acceptable for publication in a Sage journal. However, there are certain circumstances where previously published material can be considered for publication. Please refer to the guidance on the Sage Author Gateway or if in doubt, contact the Editor at the address given below.

3.2 Contributor's publishing agreement

Before publication, Sage requires the author as the rights holder to sign a Journal Contributor’s Publishing Agreement. Sage’s Journal Contributor’s Publishing Agreement is an exclusive licence agreement which means that the author retains copyright in the work but grants Sage the sole and exclusive right and licence to publish for the full legal term of copyright. Exceptions may exist where an assignment of copyright is required or preferred by a proprietor other than Sage. In this case copyright in the work will be assigned from the author to the society. For more information please visit the Sage Author Gateway.

3.3 Open access and author archiving

Active Learning in Higher Education offers optional open access publishing via the Sage Choice programme and Open Access agreements, where authors can publish open access either discounted or free of charge depending on the agreement with Sage. Find out if your institution is participating by visiting Open Access Agreements at Sage. For more information on Open Access publishing options at Sage please visit Sage Open Access. For information on funding body compliance, and depositing your article in repositories, please visit Sage’s Author Archiving and Re-Use Guidelines and Publishing Policies.

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4. Preparing your manuscript for submission

4.1 Formatting

The format for your manuscript is Word. Please ensure your paper is in Arial font, 10pt size, single spaced and includes page numbers.

4.2 Artwork, figures and other graphics

For guidance on the preparation of illustrations, pictures and graphs in electronic format, please visit Sage’s Manuscript Submission Guidelines 

Figures supplied in colour will appear in colour online regardless of whether or not these illustrations are reproduced in colour in the printed version. For specifically requested colour reproduction in print, you will receive information regarding the costs from Sage after receipt of your accepted article.

4.3 Supplemental material

This journal is able to host additional materials online (e.g. datasets, podcasts, videos, images etc) alongside the full-text of the article. For more information please refer to our guidelines on submitting supplementary files.

4.4 Reference style

Active Learning in Higher Education adheres to APA. Click here to review the guidelines on APA to ensure your manuscript conforms to this reference style.

4.5 English language editing services

Authors seeking assistance with English language editing, translation, or figure and manuscript formatting to fit the journal’s specifications should consider using Sage Language Services. Visit Sage Language Services on our Journal Author Gateway for further information.

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5. Submitting your manuscript

Active Learning in Higher Education is hosted on Sage Track, a web based online submission and peer review system powered by ScholarOne™ Manuscripts. Visit to login and submit your article online.

IMPORTANT: Please check whether you already have an account in the system before trying to create a new one. If you have reviewed or authored for the journal in the past year it is likely that you will have had an account created.  For further guidance on submitting your manuscript online please visit ScholarOne Online Help.

All papers must be submitted via the online system. If you would like to discuss your paper prior to submission, please contact the Editor at the following address:


As part of our commitment to ensuring an ethical, transparent and fair peer review process Sage is a supporting member of ORCID, the Open Researcher and Contributor ID. ORCID provides a unique and persistent digital identifier that distinguishes researchers from every other researcher, even those who share the same name, and, through integration in key research workflows such as manuscript and grant submission, supports automated linkages between researchers and their professional activities, ensuring that their work is recognized. 

The collection of ORCID IDs from corresponding authors is now part of the submission process of this journal. If you already have an ORCID ID you will be asked to associate that to your submission during the online submission process. We also strongly encourage all co-authors to link their ORCID ID to their accounts in our online peer review platforms. It takes seconds to do: click the link when prompted, sign into your ORCID account and our systems are automatically updated. Your ORCID ID will become part of your accepted publication’s metadata, making your work attributable to you and only you. Your ORCID ID is published with your article so that fellow researchers reading your work can link to your ORCID profile and from there link to your other publications.

If you do not already have an ORCID ID please follow this link to create one or visit our ORCID homepage to learn more.

5.2 Information required for completing your submission

You will be asked to provide contact details and academic affiliations for all co-authors via the submission system and identify who is to be the corresponding author. These details must match what appears on your manuscript. The affiliation listed in the manuscript should be the institution where the research was conducted. If an author has moved to a new institution since completing the research, the new affiliation can be included in a manuscript note at the end of the paper. At this stage please ensure you have included all the required statements and declarations and uploaded any additional supplementary files (including reporting guidelines where relevant).

5.3 Permissions

Please also ensure that you have obtained any necessary permission from copyright holders for reproducing any illustrations, tables, figures or lengthy quotations previously published elsewhere. For further information including guidance on fair dealing for criticism and review, please see the Copyright and Permissions page on the Sage Author Gateway

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6. On acceptance and publication

6.1 Sage Production

Your Sage Production Editor will keep you informed as to your article’s progress throughout the production process. Proofs will be made available to the corresponding author via our editing portal Sage Edit or by email, and corrections should be made directly or notified to us promptly. Authors are reminded to check their proofs carefully to confirm that all author information, including names, affiliations, sequence and contact details are correct, and that Funding and Conflict of Interest statements, if any, are accurate.

6.2 Online First publication

Online First allows final articles (completed and approved articles awaiting assignment to a future issue) to be published online prior to their inclusion in a journal issue, which significantly reduces the lead time between submission and publication. Visit the Sage Journals help page for more details, including how to cite Online First articles.

6.3 Access to your published article

Sage provides authors with online access to their final article.

6.4 Promoting your article

Publication is not the end of the process! You can help disseminate your paper and ensure it is as widely read and cited as possible. The Sage Author Gateway has numerous resources to help you promote your work. Visit the Promote Your Article page on the Gateway for tips and advice.

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7. Further information

Any correspondence, queries or additional requests for information on the manuscript submission process should be sent to the Active Learning in Higher Education editorial office as follows:

Editor: Virginia Clinton-Lisell

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