The theme of this special issue originates from a principle that has underpinned CDAS since its inception by Dr Glennys Howarth in 2005, namely of being innovative in topic, approach, dissemination and collaboration. It is anticipated that this special issue will be an eclectic range of papers that will address these different facets of innovation, being about death studies as a topic but also how you ‘do’ teaching and research in death studies, the potential and/or products from collaboration, and the future of the end of life. As you may know, innovation at the end of life is the theme of the 2023 CDAS Conference and we anticipate that this special issue, to be published in 2025, will include papers from the 2023 conference and original submissions.

Why innovation?

In recent years innovation has become a recurrent theme and driver in policy, the environment, health, public services and academia. Simply put it can be something new (policy, product, service, practice or organisational change) or an existing intervention or idea applied in a new setting. At the same time it may represent a radical departure from existing practice (rare events which transform societal paradigms of production) or a smaller incremental or discontinuous levels of change, which build upon existing skills or needs (Osborne & Brown, 2013). Whilst attention has been given to the way in which innovation might help address social needs (OECD, 2010; Santoro, Ferraris, & Vrontis, 2018), discussion about how innovation might be generated, implemented and utilised is much less common. Of the work that does exist, innovation has been considered through mapping change in the hospice movement and the funeral industry (Abel, 1986; Beard & Burger, 2017), ‘digital death’ (Moncur, 2016), the development of public health approaches to the end of life and bereavement (Aoun et al, 2018), and the effects of technological innovations on ageing and death (Bishop, 2019). Consequently, there is scope for exploring how innovation might be applied more broadly, such as in end of life care , deathcare practices, and in the academy.

To this end, we invite 200 word original abstracts on the theme of innovation, to be submitted to editor Kate Woodthorpe ( by Monday 22nd May 2023. If your paper is selected for the special issue we will send full details of the timeline for submission. At this early stage, we expect first drafts of 8000 word papers to be submitted by the beginning of December 2023, with the second (and final) drafts submitted by the beginning of May 2024. Please bear in the mind the need to commit to this timeline when you submit your abstract.

Topics can include, but are not limited to:

  • End of life care, provision, and support

  • Disposal technology

  • Risk management practices within death-related industries and sectors

  • Entrepreneurialism and enterprise

  • Creative policy making and innovative approaches to policy implementation

  • Innovatory practices in relation to interdisciplinary collaboration

  • Theoretical innovation

  • Capacity and community building

  • Families, relationships, communities and networks

  • Pedagogy and education

  • Digital innovation

  • Research methodologies and knowledge exchange

  • Responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and other public health emergencies

  • Re-thinking bereavement

  • Socio-legal decision making within end-of-life care

  • International examples or comparisons of innovation in end of life care

  • Environmental innovation

In this special issue we will be open to different definitions of the term innovation if these are clearly explained and applied. We are also open to papers which take a critical stance towards innovation, failed innovation, or papers that highlight barriers to innovative practice such as resources, managing risk or tensions between innovative approaches and regulatory frameworks. We seek a rich mix of international authors at different career stages and from different disciplines, to ensure theoretical, empirical and conceptual diversity, and welcome abstracts that propose alternative forms and styles of writing as an example of innovation in dissemination of knowledge, for example through memoir, fiction or poetry. As part of our commitment to this special issue we are providing advice on writing for peer reviewed publications, reviewing, and editing journals. For those new to academia, or who would like to publish in a peer reviewed journal, here is some guidance on how to write a good abstract:

How to write a good abstract

  • Address the theme of the special issue explicitly (this applies to conferences too!)

  • Remember that for an interdisciplinary journal such as Mortality those reading the abstract (and your eventual paper) will come from a wide range of disciplines and from practice. You cannot assume prior knowledge about topics, concepts or theories.

  • Clarity and brevity (being clear and succinct) is as important – if not more important – than ‘sounding academic’. Your reader should not be having to do any work to understand your argument.

  • For a short abstract such as this, you can conceptualise it as having four points:

  1. To introduce the reader to the topic and define any key concepts

  2. Define a gap in the literature (in theory or research)

  3. To provide a very clear overview of what the paper will argue, outlining the specifics of your project (your theories, research design, or case study)

  4. To conclude what the paper will show overall and its contribution to (at least one of the following) the journal, knowledge, theory, evidence, policy, or practice.