The Modern Language Journal

Cover image for Vol. 100 Issue 3

Edited by: Heidi Byrnes, Editor-in-Chief; Charlene Polio, Co-Editor; Andrea Bryant, Editorial Assistant

Impact Factor: 1.188

ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2015: 42/181 (Linguistics); 71/231 (Education & Educational Research)

Online ISSN: 1540-4781

Author Guidelines

Author Guidelines for Contributors to the Modern Language Journal

Selecting a Journal for Your Research

Choosing the journal in which you want to publish your research is a multi-faceted process. While time to publication rightly ranks high, ultimately the most important factor is that your research is read by the audience that you would like to reach. The best way to assure that is to become a reader yourself of that journal. Widespread electronic access to a growing number of journals in the language studies field has made this a doable—and also a necessary—task.

Readership enables you to get a sense of a journal’s topical breadth and particular foci, its preferences regarding theoretical orientation and research methodologies, its treatment of research findings and their implications, its likely readership and interests and, last but not least, its formatting and style expectations and requirements. Publishing in a journal is akin to joining a professional conversation. Your submission is more likely to be handled in a timely manner and, even more importantly, more likely to be successful the more you are aware of a particular journal’s profile and publication niche.

Criteria for Preferred Papers

The editorial mission of the MLJ is to publish “research and discussion about the learning and teaching of foreign and second languages.” The MLJ is an international refereed journal that is dedicated to promoting scholarly exchange among researchers and teachers of all modern foreign languages and English as a second language. Because research addressing the teaching and learning of English has many publication venues, the MLJ is particularly interested in publishing high quality work in non-English languages. Its publication focus is further defined by linking the findings of research to teaching and learning in a variety of settings and on all educational levels. Article contributions are expected to meet the highest standards of scholarly excellence, advance theoretical knowledge, and explore clearly stated and well supported implications for teaching.

Audience Awareness and Methodological Rigor

The Modern Language Journal is committed to publishing methodologically rigorous studies that advance knowledge in the field and are accessible and useful to a range of readers around the world.

As you prepare your manuscript, be aware that MLJ readers have a variety of backgrounds and theoretical orientations. Thus, it is important to define terms with which some readers will not be familiar. This is best done with specific examples that relate the terms to a particular field or issue in language learning and teaching.

Irrespective of methodological orientation, authors should position their study within a theoretical framework. They should present complete and precise information about the study’s research questions and/or hypotheses, research design, and data collection. They should identify measurement or coding systems used and, where this is available, include information about their reliability as established through previous studies. They should detail the study’s coding practices and provide information about interrater reliability. In general, findings from the data should be handled separately from their discussion and interpretation, including implications. A study that is part of a larger research project should clearly state that fact and position the contribution made by this particular submission in relation to other published or yet to be published work.

In addition, authors of quantitative studies should relate the use of particular forms of descriptive and analytic statistics to the study itself and carefully consider best forms of presentation, including graphic representation (see the following separate note on the reporting of effect size). Similarly, authors of qualitative studies are expected to present rich descriptions of the naturally occurring data from diverse perspectives and illustrate these with well-selected examples. To assure the credibility, transferability, confirmability, and dependability of the research, such studies should present one or more forms of data triangulation.

Studies increasingly use both quantitative and qualitative data in order to be able to capture the complexity of language use, teaching, and learning. Therefore, authors of so called mixed methods studies are encouraged to observe the quality expectations associated with both research approaches.

Finally, all submissions to the MLJ should consider specific pedagogical implications of the reported study.

Reporting Effect Size

While there are many statistical measures, effect size has recently been singled out as a useful tool for making comparisons between the findings ofdifferent studies. In line with accepted practice in highly refereed journals and following the recommendations of the APA manual, the MLJ has as a standard expectation that authors provide a measure of the effect size, at least for the major statistical information provided in quantitative studies. Effect size is a measure of the strength of the influence of an independent variable on a dependent variable irrespective of the sample size. Effect sizes are usually reported along with reports of statistical significance although they do not depend on “statistical significance.” Manuscripts often benefit from reporting effect sizes of both the new study and studies cited in the literature review. To do the latter, it may be necessary for you to calculate the effect size measures from data summaries or test statistics given in those cited studies. Where effect size calculations are not possible confidence intervals are generally appropriate (e.g., Do the effect sizes in other studies fall within the confidence interval estimated from the current study? Do confidence intervals for effect sizes overlap in a particular region?). Beyond simply listing effect sizes, you should provide information about the practical significance of the obtained effect. That means interpreting and contextualizing the information in a way that goes beyond asserting a small, medium or large effect. For further information, you may wish to consult “Journal Article Reporting Standards Working Group. (2008).Reporting standards for research in psychology: Why do we need them? What might they be?American Psychologist, 63, 839–851,” and Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Other Useful Resources

As you prepare your study and write it up, you may find particularly useful an online repository for data collection materials used in second language research. IRIS includes data elicitation instruments such as interview and observation schedules, language tests, pictures, questionnaires, software scripts, url links, word lists, teaching intervention activities, amongst many other types of materials used to elicit data. IRIS is a free, searchable, up- and downloadable grant-supported resource. The MLJencourages authors whose submissions have been accepted to consider uploading their data collection materials to the IRIS database. Please see for more information.

Regarding all of these points, you may find it useful to consult other journals (e.g., TESOL Quarterly, Language Learning), for additional statements on research quality.

Previously Published Articles in Translation

To facilitate the dissemination of knowledge across languages, the policy of The Modern Language Journal allows for the publication of articles previously published in another language. Before submitting previously published, non-English articles to the MLJ, authors should refer to the original copyright agreement for the article to determine whether translation is allowed and, if necessary, seek permission from the original publisher to print a translated version. This information should be provided at the time of submission of the article for publication consideration in the MLJ. Such submissions will undergo the same blind reviewing process that is used for all submissions to the journal, with a note to reviewers that this is the translated version of a previously published article. If accepted for publication in the MLJ, such translated articles will clearly identify the original venue of publication.

Author Guidelines

Once you have decided to submit your research for publication consideration in the MLJ, please carefully read all of the submission guidelines andconsult the additional formatting requirements available here.

  • Language of Publication: English.
  • Manuscript Style: APA (Publication Manual of The American Psychological Association. 6th ed., 2009). For frequently asked questions about APA style, consult the APA Web Site at
    In addition, like most journals, the MLJ has developed its own formatting conventions. For the majority of authors the formatting requirements will address most issues; perusing articles that have been published in the journal is another way of having your questions answered.
  • Manuscript Length: Manuscripts between 8,000 and 10,000 words are preferred (including bibliography, tables, and notes). Longer or shorter articles are accepted, depending on merit.
  • Manuscript Format: Please follow the formatting guidelines available here. Manuscripts that comply with these requirements will assure timely movement through the editorial process. Manuscripts that deviate substantially may be rejected during the in-house reviewing process.
  • Submission Requirements:
    1. Manuscripts should be submitted online at Full instructions and support are available on the site and a user ID and password can be obtained on the first visit. Support can be contacted by phone (1.434.817.2040) or via the red Get Help Now link at the top right-hand corner of the login page.
    2. All electronic submissions must be formatted for American, letter-sized paper (8½ × 11 inches) using 12-point font and in MS Word, WordPerfect, or RTF (rich text format).
    3. The manuscript should include a 200 word abstract.
    4. Authors should also list up to 6 keywords for their submission.
  • Web-based Materials:If the manuscript includes lengthy appendices, audio or visual data, and/or transcriptions, particularly in a foreignlanguage, you may wish to consider right from the start whether some of these materials are more appropriately included as web-based material on the MLJwebsite. They should be submitted for review along with the manuscript, and reference to these materials should be made in the manuscript body.
  • Multiple Submissions for Publication Consideration in Different Venues:Manuscripts submitted simultaneously for publication elsewhere are not considered. Author(s) must inform editor at time of submission of similar/related versions of manuscript that have appeared or are being considered elsewhere.
  • Multiple Manuscript Submissions to the MLJ. The MLJ discourages authors from submitting multiple manuscripts to the journal until an editorial submission has been made on the first submission.
  • Purely Questionnaire and Interview-based Studies tend not to advance theoretical and empirical knowledge in any appreciable way. In general, such submissions are discouraged.

The Modern Language Journal employs a plagiarism detection system. By submitting your manuscript to this journal you accept that your manuscript may be screened for plagiarism against previously published works, including your own (‘self-plagiarism’).

Wiley’s English Language Editing Services (ELES)
For those wishing to assure that their submission meets expectations regarding English academic language use, Wiley English Language Editing Service is available for a charge. For more information visit: Please note that using this service does not guarantee that your paper will be accepted by this journal.

Wiley’s Author Services
Author Services enables authors to track their article—once it has been accepted—through the production process to publication online and in print. Authors can check the status of their articles online and choose to receive automated e-mails at key stages of production. The author will receive an e-mail with a unique link that enables them to register and have their article automatically added to the system. Please ensure that a complete e-mail address is provided when submitting the manuscript. Visit for more details on online production tracking and for a wealth of resources including FAQs and tips on article preparation, submission and more.

For Authors of Accepted Papers

Early View
The Modern Language Journal is covered by Wiley’s Early View service. Early View articles are complete full-text articles published online in advance of their publication in a printed issue. Articles are therefore available as soon as they are ready, rather than having to wait for the next scheduled print issue. Early View articles are complete and final. They have been fully reviewed, revised and edited for publication, and the authors’ final corrections have been incorporated. Because they are in final form, no changes can be made after online publication. The nature of Early View articles means that they do not yet have volume, issue or page numbers, so Early View articles cannot be cited in the traditional way. They are therefore given a Digital Object Identifier (DOI), which allows the article to be cited and tracked before it is allocated to an issue. After print publication, the DOI remains valid and can continue to be used to cite and access the article.

Online Open
OnlineOpen is available to authors of primary research articles who wish to make their article available to non-subscribers on publication, or whose funding agency requires grantees to archive the final version of their article. With OnlineOpen, the author, the author's funding agency, or the author's institution pays a fee to ensure that the article is made available to non-subscribers upon publication via Wiley Online Library, as well as deposited in the funding agency's preferred archive. For the full list of terms and conditions, see Authors wishing to send their paper to OnlineOpen will be required to complete the payment form available from the publisher’s website at: Prior to acceptance there is no requirement to inform an Editorial Office that you intend to publish your paper OnlineOpen if you do not wish to. All OnlineOpen articles are treated in the same way as any other article. They go through the journal's standard peer-review process and will be accepted or rejected based on their own merit.

NEW! Reducing Our Environmental Impact: Provision of PDFs to Authors Instead of Hard-Copy Issues
Beginning with MLJ 95.1, authors whose articles are accepted for publication in The Modern Language Journal will no longer receive gratis hard-copy issues from Wiley–Blackwell. Instead, PDF offprints of the published article will be provided in an effort to lessen the use of resources required for printing and delivering hard copies and reduce the journal’s carbon footprint. We appreciate the support and understanding of our valued contributors in making this small but significant change.

Frequently Asked Questions

10 most frequently asked questions from authors

1. I am not a native speaker of English. Is it acceptable scholarship to have a native speaker review and correct my manuscript?

All authors, especially those whose native language is not English, are encouraged to have colleagues with a very high level of proficiency in English read their manuscripts and suggest adjustments for language and style

2. What types of studies are likely to be published in the MLJ?

The MLJ considers for publication all studies or essays dealing with second or foreign language learning. While this includes manuscripts about studies that concern the teaching and learning English the journal is particularly interested in articles that address issues of concern to more than one language and more than one geographic location. Authors of case studies of single institutions are encouraged to discuss what the particular case offers toreaders who work in other locations or with other languages. For further information, see above.

3. Should I send an email with an abstract prior to submitting a manuscript?

This practice is not recommended because it is difficult to judge from an abstract whether a manuscript is likely to be accepted. You can assess whether the topic of your manuscript and how you have developed it match the parameters of the journal by familiarizing yourself with the journal as a reader.

4. The MLJ currently requests manuscripts of approximately 8,000 to 10,000 words in length, including tables, notes, appendices, and references. If my manuscript is longer than suggested in the submission guidelines, can I send it for consideration anyway?

Yes, manuscripts longer (or shorter) than suggested will be considered based on merit and adherence to submission requirements.

5. Is there a certain organization that all research studies must follow?

While research studies do not all follow the same format, your article should be organized in a fashion that reflects how the study was done and should help readers focus on the main data and results that the study offers to readers. At the same time, while the organization of studies may differ (typically qualitative and quantitative studies do not follow the same format of presentation) general expectations regarding format do exist. You will be able to discern those by consulting recent issues of the journal.

6. The APA manual (6th edition) encourages authors of quantitative studies to report effect sizes. Is this necessary?

See comments regarding the reporting of effect sizes here.

7. May I use figures or illustrations published elsewhere?

Yes, but you must obtain and supply written verification that the copyright holder will allow MLJ to reprint that material and note the source in the manuscript. The author must pay any fees required by the copyright holder. Usually these fees are minimal.

8. My manuscript status is “In Review”. What does that mean?

MLJ manuscripts undergo two stages of review, in-house review and external peer review. The in-house review may result in an editorial decision that the manuscript is not suitable for the MLJ. If your submission is retained for further publication consideration, it is sent out for external peer review. Manuscripts are designated as “In Review” once the initial administrative processing is complete. The “In Review” status also applies to the time when the manuscript is being evaluated by external reviewers.

9. When should I query the editor to check on the status of a submission?

For submitted manuscripts, the waiting time for an initial decision based on the in-house review is generally about 6 weeks. Obtaining external reviews and making an editorial decision based on those reviews generally takes another 2–3 months. The editorial office of the MLJ strives to make decisions sooner; however, sometimes reviewers are heavily committed and the review process takes longer.Please contact the editorial office only after 4–6 months have passed.

10. If my manuscript is rejected by the MLJ, can it be resubmitted to the MLJ?

Yes, if it has been revised after the initial submission. The author should call the editor's attention to the fact that the new submission is actually a resubmission of an article considered previously (please give the manuscript ID number of the previous submission), and include an explanation of the changes made, with specific reference to the comments of the reviewers and how they were addressed. The article will likely be sent to some of the previous readers as well as to some new readers.

Guidelines updated 1.19.2016.