Focus and Scope

Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees is a non-profit, open access, peer-reviewed academic journal. It is bilingual and welcomes submissions in both English and French. It is interdisciplinary and publishes both theoretical and empirical work from a wide range of disciplinary and regional perspectives from academics, advanced graduate students, policy-makers, and practitioners in the field of forced migration. The journal provides space for discussion of emerging themes and debates. The journal also features a book review section and occasionally publishes special issues on specific themes related to forced migration. All works submitted to Refuge must be original and must not be submitted for consideration with other journals. Refuge does not publish personal reflections on forced migration experiences, fiction, artwork or poetry. 

Historical Evolution of Refuge

In the late 1970s, coinciding with the large scale resettlement of Indo-Chinese refugees in Canada, a literature began to emerge concerning the origin and dynamics of refugee movements and the policies related to the reception and integration of refugees in Canada. In 1981, Refuge was founded at York University to serve as a communications medium for this new interdisciplinary field of enquiry.

Relatively short academic articles summarized the “state of the art” in various domains related to refugees. Special emphasis was directed towards policy issues and the dynamics and impact of refugee movements to Canada.

In 2000, Refuge began to solicit longer, in-depth articles. The transition to a fully academic journal was assisted, in 2002, by a special initiatives grant from SSHRC. This grant also funded the development of bilingual promotional material, the launching of Refuge’s website, and outreach to new contributors and subscribers. Refuge has been fortunate to have received multiyear funding from SSHRC under its Aid to Scholarly Journals program since 2005.

Since 2013, Refuge has implemented an open access policy, whereby all current and archived issues are available free of charge through our website. This policy is motivated by a desire to make high-quality research available to a broader audience outside of academic institutions in the global North. By making our full archives more widely available and accessible, Refuge underscores its history and unique position in the field of refugee studies as one of the oldest journals in the field. This accessibility also facilitates the ability of scholars to cite articles of Refuge, thereby increasing our global academic impact.

Peer Review Process

Refuge publishes high-quality, original, empirical and theoretical research. Refuge takes care to publish only those manuscripts deemed acceptable through peer review.  Submission of a manuscript to Refuge does not mean that it will be published.

 All submissions are first subject to an initial review for quality and thematic fit, undertaken by the journal’s editorial team, in consultation with individual editorial board members, where necessary. If found suitable for further consideration, the editorial team then identifies at least two experts in the field to undertake a double-blind peer review of the manuscript.  Double-blind means that neither the authors nor the peer reviewers know each others’ identities.

The average length of time for the initial review by the editorial team is one month from the date of submission. The average length of time for peer review is six weeks per reviewer in addition to the time needed to secure a peer reviewer.  In cases where one peer reviewer rejects a manuscript, Refuge must find a third peer reviewer, extending the process. The average peer review process takes between three to six months. Delays may occur in the process depending on the volume of new articles that are being received, the order in which they are received, the ease of finding a willing peer reviewer and our publication schedule.  

Publication Frequency

Refuge is published on a bi-annual basis. In exceptional cases, Refuge may publish three issues per year. 

Open Access Policy

Refuge is an open access electronic publication, available free of charge through our website. All archived issues can be accessed through the Archives page. This ensures that the journal is accessible to readers who may not have access to academic libraries, including practitioners, people in situations of forced migration, and readers from the global south.

We do not charge article submission or processing fees. 


Refuge authors retain the copyright over their work, and license it under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial License International (CC BY-NC 4.0) to the general public. This license allows for non-commercial use, reproduction and adaption of the material in any medium or format, with proper attribution (see - human readable summary at

Guidelines for Special Issues/Focus Proposals

Of the issues Refuge publishes annually, at least one must be a general issue. In addition, Refuge typically publishes one special issue each year or one general issue with a special focus.  Special focus/issues often emerge from panels, workshops or specific research projects/groups. A Special Issue contains at least five peer reviewed academic papers and a Special Focus contains four academic papers.  Both require the guest editors to write an introduction which can be peer reviewed or not. In exceptional circumstances, we may make room for an additional special issue, resulting in three issues in the same year. 

All individuals wishing to publish a special issue with the journal must submit a proposal with the following components here: 

  • A proposed title
  • Names, titles and email addresses of all guest editors
  • A 1-paragraph summary of the topic; its relevance to forced migration studies; and the proposed contribution to knowledge
  • A list of authors, titles and abstracts for papers being proposed for publication OR  A draft call for papers 
    • A minimum of 5 publishable papers is required for a special issue and 4 papers for a special focus of a general issue
    • We recommend that all authors who wish to publish a Special Issue submit at least 8 paper abstracts as some will likely be eliminated in peer review 
    • We recommend that all authors who wish to publish a Special Focus submit at least 6 paper abstracts
  • A proposed list of 2-4 books to be included in a book review essay and a name of a potential book review essay author
  • A proposed list of other recent books related to the topic, as well as potential book review authors, for consideration by the book review editor
    • We please ask authors to consider both French and English books 
  • Any funding that could be used to offset publication costs 

The proposal can be submitted by email to The Refuge editorial team will review the proposal and will, within approximately one month, respond to the guest editor(s) with their decision and/or with requests for further information. 

Privacy Statement

The names and email addresses entered in this journal site will be used exclusively for the stated purposes of this journal and will not be made available for any other purpose or to any other party.

Sources of Support

Refuge is a non-profit, independent journal, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and supported by the membership of the Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies.