Journal of Industrial Ecology

Call for Papers:

Special Issue on

Meta-Analysis of Life Cycle Assessments

Deadline: December 1, 2010

The deadline has passed for submitting articles for this special issue.

The Journal of Industrial Ecology invites you to submit articles for a special supplemental issue on Meta-Analysis of Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) by December 1, 2010. Garvin Heath of the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Joyce Cooper of the University of Washington, and Miguel Brandão of the European Commission’s Institute for Environment and Sustainability, will serve as co-editors of the special issue.


The body of life cycle assessment (LCA) literature is vast and has grown over the last decade at a dauntingly rapid rate. Many LCAs have been published on the same or very similar technologies or products, in some cases leading to hundreds of publications. One result is the impression among decision-makers that LCAs are inconclusive owing to perceived and real variability in published estimates of life cycle impacts. Despite the extensive available literature and policy need for more conclusive assessments, only modest attempts have been made to synthesize previous research. A significant challenge to doing so are differences in the technologies considered throughout the life cyle and inconsistencies in methodological choices (e.g. system boundaries, co-product allocation) among the studies that hamper easy comparisons. A body of literature, however, on meta-analysis of LCAs with the potential to clarify the impacts of a particular technology, process, product, or material, and produce more robust and policy-relevant results is emerging. One example of such work is the article on biofuels published by Farrell et al. in Science in 2006.

The goal of this special issue is to contribute to the state of the science in LCA beyond the core practice of producing independent studies on specific products or technologies, by highlighting the ability of meta-analyses of LCAs to advance understanding in areas of extensive existing literature. The editors of this special issue classify meta-analyses of LCAs into two categories:

  1. Meta-analyses using current best practice as exemplified, for example, in the biomedical literature
  2. Meta-analyses that quantitatively adjust the findings in the underlying studies so that the various studies are consistent in key respects (but may not meet the state of practice of literatures with substantial research in this area)

We especially invite submission of both types of meta-analyses.  The editors will also consider publishing as part of the special issue high quality, critical reviews that advance understanding of the state of the science on relevant topics in ways similar to meta-analysis.  Meta-analyses (or critical reviews) on any technology, process, product, or material and quantitatively evaluating any metric for life cycle impacts are acceptable.  Also welcome, are contributions on methodology and related discussions of the role of meta-analysis in LCA.

The special issue will build on a series of meta-analyses of life cycle greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation technologies based on research conducted by the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Articles that are acceptable for publication but not within the scope of this special issue (or if too many articles are received that are within the scope of the issue) will be considered for publication in regular issues of the Journal.

Ancillary data relevant to articles can be posted on the journal's web site in the form of supporting information.  Provision of such data is strongly encouraged.

Support for this special issue is provided by the U.S. Department of Energy through the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.


Farrell, A. E., R. J. Plevin, B. T. Turner, A. D. Jones, M. O'Hare, and D. M. Kammen. 2006. Ethanol Can Contribute to Energy and Environmental Goals. Science 311(5760): 506-508.

How to Submit

Manuscripts should be original, previously unpublished, in English, and between 3,500 and 7,000 words in length. Submission implies that the manuscript has not been submitted for publication elsewhere and that it will not be submitted elsewhere while the review process is underway. All submissions will be reviewed according to the Journal's standard single-blind peer review process. Provide a list of 5 recommended reviewers and a list of any potential reviewers that you would prefer that we not use (e.g., with conflict of interest). Papers should be submitted electronically via ScholarOne Manuscripts (formerly called Manuscript Central) at Please indicate that this is a submission for the "Meta-Analysis" issue on the author checklist during the submission process. Details about the preparation of the manuscript can be obtained from the Journal's Web page or from the editor.

Send inquiries to:

Reid Lifset
Editor, Journal of Industrial Ecology
Yale University
School of Forestry & Environmental Studies
205 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT, 06511-2189  USA


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