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Overview and Policies

What is Kairos?

Kairos is a refereed open-access online journal exploring the intersections of rhetoric, technology, and pedagogy. The journal reaches a wide audience—currently 45,000 readers per month—hailing from Ascension Island to Zimbabwe (and from every top-level domain country code in between); our international readership typically runs about 4,000 readers per month. Kairos publishes bi-annually, in August and January, with regular special issues in May. Our current acceptance rate for published articles is approximately 10%.

Since its first issue in January of 1996, the mission of Kairos has been to publish scholarship that examines digital and multimodal composing practices, promoting work that enacts its scholarly argument through rhetorical and innovative uses of new media. As the longest continuously-publishing online peer-reviewed journals in the field, Kairos is one of the premiere journals in English Studies, made so by its dedication to academic quality through the journal’s extensive peer-review and editorial production processes.

We publish "webtexts," which are texts authored specifically for publication on the World Wide Web. Webtexts are scholarly examinations of topics related to technology in English Studies fields (e.g., rhetoric, composition, technical and professional communication, education, creative writing, language and literature) and related fields such as media studies, informatics, arts technology, and others. Besides scholarly webtexts, Kairos publishes teaching-with-technology narratives, reviews of print and digital media, extended interviews with leading scholars, interactive exchanges, "letters" to the editors, and news and announcements of interest.

We invite you to share your views about Kairos, and we hope you'll consider submitting your work for our editorial review.

A Brief History of Kairos

Originally called Kairos: A Journal for Teachers of Writing in Webbed Environments, the first issue was released in January of 1996 and has continually published between one and four issues per year. Although Kairos is not the first peer-reviewed online journal in the humanities (or in composition/rhetoric), it is one of the oldest continually-published venues and the first to focus on the development of work that drew upon the new media of electronic networks as key elements of digital scholarship.

Founding editor Mick Doherty explained the impetus for the creation of the journal and the decision to name it Kairos in an early essay called Kairos - Layers of Meaning:

This new journal has a great deal to do with kairos, particularly in terms of its appropriateness and timeliness in our field at this time. As we are discovering the value of hypertextual and other online writing, it is not only important to have a forum for exploring this growing type of composition, but it is essential that we have a webbed forum within which to hold those conversations. With this journal, the Kairos staff and authors intend to push many envelopes--of theory and pedagogy, of technology, of composition, and of professional scholarship--at a time when these efforts are vital to continued growth of our field. In essence, we've tried to make this the most kairotic journal we could.

Kairos now boasts over 45,000 readers per month (which is a respectable circulation for an academic journal in a fairly specialized field); these readers come to the site from every country in the world, and there are now over 2,500 specific links to the journal and the webtexts that have been published in it over its history.

Open Access Statement

Kairos is a refereed, diamond open-access journal and has been since it began publication in 1996. In the spirit of inclusion and open access, Kairos does not charge any fees to authors or readers, including Article Processing Charges (APC), submission fees, or editorial processing fees. Webtexts published in Kairosare freely available for readers immediately upon publication in January and August with no embargo period. Readers do not need to create an account or register with the journal. Readers of Kairos are free to read, print (if the design of webtext affords useful printing), download, distribute, search, or link to webtexts. Most webtexts in Kairos are published with a Creative Commons license. (Authors are encouraged, upon acceptance of their webtexts, to select a Creative Commons license for their work, though they can select a traditional copyright. See our Copyright and Creative Commons statement below for additional information.)

Inclusive Editing and Reviewing

Kairos recognizes that scholarly publishing traditionally functions within white supremacy and works to actively reject those systems of oppression by creating anti-racist publishing practices that are inclusive and equitable for authors, staff, and peer reviewers. For Kairos, anti-racism interrupts systematic racial injustice that dismisses the capacious view of who can be a scholar–expert, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender identity, ability, sexual identity, and other identity markers. That is, anti-racism is intersectional in its approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Authors are encouraged to consider expanding the repertoire of works they cite to ensure a broader representation of voices, ideas, approaches, methods, and scholarship. Three exceptional resources in this area include Cana Uluak Itchuaqiyaq's MMU Scholar Bibliography, Andrew Hollinger's Alternative Texts and Critical Citations for Anti-Racist Pedagogies, and Cruz Medina's NCTE CCCC Latinx Caucus Bibliography.

Kairos is committed to following the inclusive editing and reviewing practices detailed in "Anti-Racist Scholarly Reviewing Practices: A Heuristic for Editors, Reviewers, and Authors".

Annually, the senior editorial team will review Kairos’s Inclusivity Action Plan to gauge the success or failure of our efforts and revise our plans, as needed.

Kairos strongly supports the Creative Commons project and has generated a CC-BY 4.0 license for its interface design and synthesis of the scholarly and editorial activities that produce the interface and structure of each issue. This license is linked at the bottom of Kairos’s informational pages. This CC-BY license states that anyone is free to copy, distribute, display, or perform the infrastructure and main user interface of Kairos under the condition that you give the original author(s) credit. Kairos is the entity created by the collective work and creative vision of the Kairos editorial staff and editorial board, regardless of the individuals who hold those positions; no individual or institution may claim ownership or place any restrictions on the form, format, content, or distribution of the journal.

We encourage authors to place a Creative Commons license on their work, which allows authors to declare what rights (if any) they are willing to grant to others to make use of their work. If no CC license is declared on the work, then the author(s) retain traditional copyright to their work except for the rights granted to journal to publish and archive as listed in the licensing agreement elsewhere in these guidelines. In all cases, the publication agreement (i.e., Acceptance Form that authors fill out once their work has been accepted for publication) with Kairos supersedes any other licensing provided by the author(s) of the work.

If you have any questions about copyright and licensing in webtexts, feel free to contact us.

Fair Use

Kairos is published in the United States and thus follows the U.S. Copyright Office’s Fair Use doctrine. The editors recommend that authors review the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Scholarly Research in Communication by the Center for Media and Social Impact at American University for guidance on copyright and fair use decisions.

Kairos encourages authors to exercise their fair use rights when appropriate and expects authors to educate themselves about the law and, accordingly, to make judicious decisions about when to seek permission for the use of copyrighted works. If the author(s) of a submission cannot craft a persuasive fair use argument that works within the structure of current copyright and intellectual property law, then the author(s) should err on the side of requesting permission. Authors bear full responsibility for their choices at all times. Before publication of any webtext, authors will be asked to certify that all material is original, utilized with permission, or utilized under fair use.

If you have any questions about fair use and copyright in webtexts, feel free to contact us.

Plagiarism Policy

Kairos strongly rejects plagiarism checkers such as TurnItIn because of their privacy and intellectual property abuses that have been widely documented for decades. We assume all authors will properly cite the work they implicitly or explicitly draw on. This also includes self-plagiarism—please cite yourself! Proper citation can take many forms and is addressed in our Submission guidelines.

A note about borrowing code: As the journal primarily publishes webtexts, the design of one’s writing should also not be plagiarized. We expect authors to borrow code from authors and templates, as needed, to create a new way of communicating their design. We recognize this form of adaptation is endemic to the open-source community, with which Kairos aligns, and we do not see this form of borrowing as plagiarism. We do, however, expect authors to tweak templates to make them their own, in alignment with the shape of their rhetorical arguments, as well as to acknowledge either in the surface text, in the HTML header, or in an HTML comment (as appropriate) where you got the code from, if attribution is expected or required.

Human Subjects Research

Authors submitting work to Kairos are responsible for securing and archiving any human subjects permissions pertaining to their research. Typical human subjects work in digital writing studies includes representations of students and their texts (in any medium), many types of surveys, and other forms of qualitative and quantitative data collection. Please check with your institution’s Institutional Review Board to see whether you need IRB approval before conducting your study. Even if your research does not require IRB approval by your institution, Kairos requires authors to have obtained, at a minimum, recorded written or oral consent (or assent) from students (or their guardians) to use their work or their likeness in your webtext. We will not review webtexts that contain such usages for which authors do not have permission.

Impact Factors and Metrics

Impact factors are rarely ascribed to digital-only journals and almost never to those in the humanities, due to humanists’ general belief that research is more valuable for its conceptual, theoretical, and experimental qualities than for its quantitatively measurable distribution. As a digital-only journal in the humanities—and one that publishes what might be considered experimental webtextual scholarship—Kairos is not listed in any indices that provide impact factors, as those indices have always favored print-based journals that are neither innovative nor interdisciplinary in their publications. Further, impact factors are generally unimportant in hiring or tenure and promotion processes for humanists in the U.S., and although Kairos is not a U.S.-only journal, its history and usage tends to be U.S.-centric. Scholars in other countries that have different kinds of impact metrics have proffered Kairos to those ranking lists with some success. Instead of quantifying its research product for authors, Kairos prefers a qualitative approach using methods that are alternative and humanistic by design. Authors might use alt-metrics to gauge the use of their webtexts or HUmetrics descriptors to narrate the value of their webtexts among the community of readers Kairos reaches. Therefore, Kairos does not have an impact factor and, further, has little use for them.

Licensing and Permissions

Authors of accepted webtexts assign to Kairos the right to publish and distribute their work electronically, including publication on the web and on CD-ROM, and to archive and make it permanently retrievable electronically. Authors retain their copyright interest in their work, however, so after their project has appeared in Kairos, they may republish their text in any manner they wish—electronic or print—as long as they clearly acknowledge Kairos as its original site of publication.

If you have media inquiries regarding the licensing and republication of Kairos webtexts, please contact the publisher regarding the journal and its design and the webtext author regarding individual webtexts. Permission to use screenshots of the webtexts we publish must be requested from both the journal (for the interface) and the individual author (for that author's work).

Code of Conduct

Kairos is committed to providing an inclusive and harassment-free environment for everyone. As a loose, anarchic community, we rely on the integrity and the good judgment of those who participate in Kairos events to support these values and commitments. We expect participants in Kairos events to commit to NOT engaging in the following behaviors; by engaging in a Kairos endeavor, the Editors, Editorial Staff, Editorial Board, and all other participants pledge that they will

  • Not exploit or discriminate against others on grounds including race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, religion (or lack thereof), or other group identity.
  • Not sexually harass anyone you come into professional contact with, including staff members, colleagues, event co-participants, vendors, authors, or students.
  • Not use language that is prejudicial or gratuitously derogatory.
  • Not make capricious or arbitrary decisions affecting publication status, academic freedom, working conditions, or professional status of anyone you work with.
  • Not misuse confidential information.
  • Not practice deceit or fraud on the academic community or the public, including plagiarizing the work of others.

This Code of Conduct applies to all forms of participation in the Kairos community, including, but not limited to:

  • Messages sent via Kairos communication channels, both internal (e.g., Slack, Listservs) and external (e.g., social media, video gatherings);
  • Participation in Kairos governance or working groups;
  • Participation in in-person and virtual events convened by Kairos or affiliated entities (e.g., conference sessions, Chats with an Editor, etc.).

Reporting Violations

In Kairos-based or -affiliated interactions, if you are being harassed, notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns or violations to report, please contact someone from the senior editorial team at The senior leadership team, who all receives this email, includes the Senior Editor and Publisher, the Editors, and the Managing Editors. You may also reach out individually to anyone on that team, if needed. Privately or as a group, depending on the situation and contact method, they will determine the appropriate course of action.

Courses of Action

Courses of action may involve mediation or immediate sanctions, as needed, to protect those being violated. Sanctions may include immediate removal from an event, permanent blocking from communication channels, and/or reporting to the onsite and offender’s Title IX office, as relevant. Sanctions issued by related organizations or strategic partners (CELJ, LPC, MLA, CCCC, etc.) may extend to Kairos participation as well. We will respect the judgment of our member associations regarding their Codes of Conduct.

The Kairos Code of Conduct was approved by the Editorial Team in June 2021, and is a compilation of codes stemming from the Modern Language Association, the Library Publishing Coalition, C4DISC, and CELJ. We thank those organizations for providing sharable versions of their codes for our mutual benefit and growth.