Editor Interviews

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Read all the editors' answers to Duotrope's interview question: What is a day in the life of an editor like for you? Learn more.

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Here is a small sampling from our recent Editor Interviews. We have interviewed over 1,625 editors.

Q: What is a day in the life of an editor like for you?

A: Go the website and read submissions. If there is something good, I copy edit it. Depending on the story, I may do extensive editing. In other instances the piece is ready for publication and I don't touch it at all. Then I contact the author to have them review and approve any and all edits, and sometimes the author and I will discuss the editing further.

A: I'm a faculty member in the Physics Department at Carnegie Mellon University, where I teach astronomy.
Nights and weekends, I read stories and work with my slush readers, training them how to edit an anthology. I started the Triangulation series in 2003. Since then, many local writers have taken their turn seeing what life is like from the other side of the desk. It's an eye-opening experience for a writer. I am ever so grateful for the help from last year's Triangulation editor, Douglas Gwilym, without whom this venture would not have been possible.

A: Colleagues tend to underestimate all the work that goes into editing an international journal. In the case of Centaurus, this is not only following up the day to day management. Because the journal is taking a new start with a new editorial team, it is also about putting the journal on a new and more stable footing, creating growth and developing a vision for the future. The task list of an Editor is very diverse: from checking minute details in the proofs of an article, to scouting for interesting manuscripts or developing a general vision for the future of academic publishing.
I usually start the day checking if there are any new submissions in the system. We aim to reduce the time from submission to publication as much as possible. The average time from submission to decision used to be 3 months and we were able to drastically lower this time to 3 weeks, without any compromises in regard to quality. That is a major accomplishment. This means that I have to be vigilant all the time, immediately processing new submissions from the moment they arrive. This also means spending a lot of effort finding the right experts who can evaluate manuscripts without much delay, and checking-in with them regularly to see how they make progress.
Being an Editor requires a lot of planning, keeping to strict timelines and using flexible management techniques. Our focus right now is on attracting and selecting interesting thematic issues that will be published over the next two years. I am also revising the procedures for evaluating these special issues. This is part of a more general overhaul of procedures for following up more closely the time-lines of special issues avoiding delays in publication. Unexpected problems can always turn up, of course, ranging from unresponsive authors to difficulties with converting Chinese or Sanskrit fonts, and it is important to take such surprises into account in your planning.
We are reinvigorating, expanding and growing the profile of the Journal, and this means making changes at all levels. This is currently taking a lot of my time. We are changing the overall style of the articles as well as the overall style of the journal. We have increased the transparency of the journal’s processes and put in place a conflict of interest policy. The journal is growing and that means creating new structures as well as managing procedures. The publisher now has a dedicated Centaurus office, for instance, and we have to create systems that bring together all the stakeholders, facilitating communication between them. Indeed, as an Editor I am constantly exchanging with my editorial team, with the publisher, with the production team, with authors, experts, mentors and board members, as well as with the ESHS, the scientific society that supports Centaurus.
I am also active more generally in the world of scientific publishing and I am contributing to the future of scholarly communication. Besides Wiley, I’m also working with other publishers such as Elsevier, Springer Nature, Brepols and I am on the Advisory Board of the ECR platform of F1000, an innovative open access publisher that also promotes open peer review and open data. Next week, I will be a speaker in the session of the Society for Scholarly Publishing at the International Conference Academic Publishing in Europe, for instance, at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences. We will focus on the methods and tools that academic publishers must cultivate to successfully meet the challenges posed by ongoing disruption in the scholarly communications ecosystem. I am also working with the European Commission to develop new sustainable models of academic publishing. A recent piece in Nature reports on some of these developments and debates in which I have been involved.
Innovating the world of academic publishing and participating in international debates is only a small aspect of my work as an Editor. First of all, I need to keep close tabs on what is happening in my own field, in the history of science. This means going to workshops and conferences, reading what appears in other journals, and continuously exchanging with peers. I am also assisting our book review editors, making suggestions for interesting books to review or publishers to contact. In deciding what should or should not be published, an Editor bears considerable responsibility as he or she is shaping the discipline. Later this year, we will publish a special issue that explores the role of the editor in scientific publishing. The guest editors Aileen Fyfe and Anna Gielas put it well: investigating the individual backgrounds of editors, their editorial personas as well as their editorial activities will cast new light on processes of knowledge production, transformations of scientific communities, and the idea of what makes a scientist a scientist. This will be the first thematic issue studying the impact that editors have made on their disciplines: a really exciting project!
Stay tuned to Centaurus in 2019: there are many exciting articles and thematic issues in the pipeline!

Koen Vermeir, Editor-in-chief of Centaurus, 06 January 2019

A: Two editors read it and edit the piece. If the writer's second round of edits don't address the initial round of edits sufficiently, there's a chance we'll kill the piece.

A: I generally check our submissions daily. I'll read the stories and decide if they have potential and provide some comments/editing. Then stories get filed until we make our final selections. At that point, the fun begins because we get to work with the author to polish their story until it shines. Each editor wants their stories to be the best of the month!

Lisa Godfrees, Editor of Havok, 28 December 2018

A: Open the blog. Check the stats. Share new stuff on social media. Share old stuff on social media.
Open the mailbox, check new submissions. Write responses. Prepare new blogposts, put them to the schedule.

A: Due to the extreme volume of submissions we receive, I can't read everything that hits our Submittable account, but I do read most of it. My student editors work in teams to make sure that each piece gets at least three pairs of eyeballs before it goes on to the next round of consideration or is rejected. Once we narrow things down to a tentative TOC, all of the editors read across genres and we make little tweaks: filling holes and swapping pieces in and out. Meanwhile, we're also soliciting writers, trying to raise awareness of the journal, trying to raise money, trying to innovate. My favorite moments are those in which a special project suddenly synthesizes. (For example, our recent suite of writer-made collages or our Ambitious Student Writers category/award.) But I'm not afraid to fail. I also love those moments where we figure out why something doesn't work. The feeling of pushing the work forward and bringing creative people together is what I'm after. I don't experience that every day, but it's a frequent enough occurrence to keep me going.

A: I write and read as well in stolen moments for a deep dive into what matters most.

A: This isn't my only project, but every Wednesday (ideally) is set aside just for reading MSFFP subs. I put on music without lyrics (I have a special Spotify playlist for these occasions) and I read subs all day long that day. Then one day per month (usually the last monday) is set aside for recording and editing all of the podcast episodes for the following month. It used to take a lot longer each episode took a full day when I first started the project) but I've gotten a lot faster at recording and editing in the last few years. I've also gotten faster at reading and evaluating submissions, but since the volume of submissions has gone up even faster, I'm usually a little behind, despite. :O

A: In the fall, the magazine is put together through a class, so in this class, each day we're reading and making decisions. Each pieces is read by two readers, then by an editor, then by me. We decide final decisions in a group meeting, and then send out our rejections and acceptances. The rest of the semester, then, is devoted to putting the journal together.

SJ Sindu, Managing Editor of Shift, 11 December 2018

A: Two to three times a week I sit down at a local bar, order a whiskey and soda, then read through everything in my submission inbox. If a submission is of interest, I'll mark the email and make notes regarding what appeals to me in the writing. No submission is accepted (and very few are rejected) upon this initial reading -- instead, I'll return to the submission a few days later to read it anew and see if it still feels like a good fit for the magazine and how much editorial work would need to be done before publishing. Most accepted submissions are reviewed 3-4 times before the author is contacted

A: When we're open for submissions, I read submissions almost every single day. I read most submissions online, but if I see a poem that I'm particularly interested in, I will print it up and consider it on paper. I might spend several days considering one poem. It's important for me to spend time with a poem to fully appreciate it. I also compile a shortlist as I read. I have a yes, no and maybe pile - which will be in flux throughout the month. Once submissions are closed, and all our readers have handed in their shortlists, final decisions are made.