in Special Issue   Posted on March 6, 2020 

Information for the Special Issue

Submission Deadline: Fri 27 Nov 2020
Journal Impact Factor : 3.954
Journal Name : Computers in Industry
Journal Publisher:
Website for the Special Issue: https://www.journals.elsevier.com/computers-in-industry/call-for-papers/special-issue-on-robotic-process-automation-for-computers
Journal & Submission Website: https://www.journals.elsevier.com/computers-in-industry

Special Issue Call for Papers:


Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a relatively new technology comprising software agents called ‘bots’ that mimic the manual path taken by a human through a range of computer applications when performing certain tasks in a business process. The tasks that bots perform are typically rule-based, well-structured, and repetitive. Examples of tasks that bots perform include data transfer between applications through screen scraping, automated email query processing, and collation of payroll data from different sources.

The popular interest in this topic is huge. According to the Google Trends Analysis conducted on the topic, the topic of ‘RPA’ only started to become a trendy topic (score: 25/100) in March 2017, increased to a score of 50/100 in Nov 2017 and reached the score of 100 in Sep 2018, which indicates the peak popularity for the term.

Contrasting with this popular interest is the hitherto relative lack of attention to RPA in the academic literature. A systematic literature study that we conducted at the end of 2018 resulted in the identification of 125 relevant papers, of which only 36% are of an academic nature (45 out of 125). Therefore, it seems an appropriate time for a special issue on RPA, which can serve as a landmark publication for the conceptualization, application, advancement, and evaluation of this technology.

Industry Need

Organizations with successful RPA adoption and efficient business processes have experienced positive impacts on their strategic goals, staff productivity, and customer service [2]. RPA is of particular interest to industries that have traditionally been quick in the uptake of new technology, in particular process-aware information systems (e.g. banking, insurance) as discussed by Lacity, Willcocks, and Craig [3] and Tarquini [4]. Demand for RPA technologies is rapidly increasing and it is estimated that 90% of large and medium size organizations will opt for RPA solutions by 2020 [1].

Despite the existence of a large number of RPA vendors and products in the market, there is a lot of hype around what RPA is, as well as uncertainty on how to utilize this technology successfully. The various guidelines and frameworks offered by vendors and consultants for the selection and implementation of RPA do not always provide unbiased information, either. Therefore, a special issue on the topic of RPA may also cater for an industrial need for guidance, best practices, proven methods, and technological advancements.

Expected Results

The special issue is intended to serve (1) as a reference for the state of the art on RPA-related research, and (2) as a signpost for the academic development of RPA-related research. By putting out a literature study along with the call for papers, we allow the research community to pick up on these insights and use it to position their work and relate to it. This will improve the coherence and the accessibility of the special issue. Also, authors may want to pick up on the challenges that we have identified at this stage for work to be published beyond the special issue itself.


  • Submission of extended abstract (2 pages, via email directly to h.a.reijers@uu.nl): October 16, 2020
  • Submission deadline: November 27, 2020
  • Completion of first-round reviews: end of January 2021
  • Revised papers: end of March 2021
  • Target of the second (last) round of reviews: end of April 2021
  • Target for sending the accepted manuscripts to the publisher: end of May 2021

The SOTA paper is intended to properly introduce the prospective authors to the aims and scope of the Special Issue, see at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0166361519304609

Special Issue Guest Editors

Prof. Moe Thandar Wynn
Head of Business Process Management Discipline
School of Information Systems, Science and Engineering Faculty
Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia

Asst. Prof. Inge van de Weerd
Department of Information and Computing Sciences
Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands

Prof. Arthur ter Hofstede
Head of the School of Information Systems
School of Information Systems, Science and Engineering Faculty
Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia

Prof. Hajo Reijers
Head of the Business Process Management & Analytics Group
Department of Information and Computing Sciences
Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands


  1. Gartner. (2018). Competitive landscape: Consulting and System Integration Service Providers for Robotic Process Automation (tech report). Author. Retrieved from www.gartner.com/doc/reprints?id=1-5CSS61I&ct=180814&st=sb
  2. Lacity, M., & Willcocks, L. (2016). Robotic Process Automation at Telefonica O2. MIS Quarterly Executive, 15 (1), 21-35.
  3. Lacity, M., Willcocks, L., & Craig, A. (2016). Robotizing Global Financial Shared Services at Royal DSM. LSE Outsourcing Unit Working Paper.
  4. Tarquini, T. (2018). Practical Robotics in Insurance – The Future is here Already. In The Insurtech book (pp. 231–235). FINTECH Circle Ltd.

Other Special Issues on this journal

Closed Special Issues