Tourism Geographies is a social science journal and we primarily publishing papers that address theoretical issues grounded in the social sciences. Your paper lacks a significant theoretical research question (or at least it was not clearly defined) and is mostly dealing with issues related to a specific, though very detailed, case study. Your conclusions, for example, only address the case study and do not offer findings that inform a debated conceptual problem that would be of interest to a global audience. Because of this issue, I will not be sending it out for review.
When I tell people this in writing workshops that I sometimes conduct, someone often asks if that means I would never accept a case study. The answer, of course, is no. Case studies are important. But they are not the most important part of a good paper. Here is some advice that I once received about doing research, and which I try to instill in people (students and colleagues) who I advise.
- "When you think about your research, the primary research problem should be entirely unrelated to any one specific case study. You should temporarily forget the case study and just focus on defining your conceptual problem, making sure it is well grounded in theory. You should be able to ignore your case study completely, and still clearly see what the theoretical research problem is. That problem should be one that can be answered by different case studies, not just the one that you happen to be in a position to pursue at this time."
"Once you have defined the research problem in this way, then you can turn to the case study. The main question about the case study then becomes, why is this case study especially suited to answering or addressing the theoretical research problem that you have defined."
This is what I am looking for when authors submit a paper to Tourism Geographies. I have no problem that there is a case study, but most importantly I want to know what the conceptual problem is that the case study is helping to resolve. Secondarily would be the question of why this case study is especially good in addressing the conceptual problem.
This approach has helped me enormously in my own conceptualization of research projects and papers. Hopefully this tip will help others, as well.
Alan A. Lew
Update 24 May 2016 - METHODOLOGY & OTHER ISSUES: Following the guideline above will not, of course, guarantee that you will avoid a desk rejection from a Tourism Geographies editor. Some of the other issues that our group looks for include:
- methodological rigor,
- originality and significance of the topic (including potential reader interest), and
- overall depth of thought and expository style.
Update 24 May 2016 - LACK OF OTHER RESEARCH: One indication that a paper is a case study that does not contribute to theory is when authors state that their research is significant because very few others have looked at their topic. This is made worse when the lack of other research is the one and only reason that the research paper is considered a significant contribution to the literature. Lack of research on a topic does not equal significance -- it could mean that others found the topic too insignificant to pursue. It also does not demonstrate a contribution to theory. In my experience, the use of this justification usually points to a mostly descriptive case study.
Update 8 October 2016 - "TOURISM PLACES" SPECIAL EDITION: Starting in 2017, Tourism Geographies will publish a special edition titled Tourism Places: Critical Perspectives on Tourism Development and Experiences. This special edition will feature well crafted case studies that give insight into tourism in a place, with less concern for the development of social science theory. One special edition is planned for 2017, but two or more editions may come out in future years based on demand. Additional information on the Special Edition of the journal can be found on the Author Notes page of this website.