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Editor in the Spotlight: Professor Robert W. Staiger

Robert W. Staiger is the Stockwell Professor of Economics at The University of Wisconsin.  He served as co-Editor of Journal of International Economics from 1995 through 2009, and became co-Editor-in-Chief (with Charles Engel, University of Wisconsin) in January 2010. Staiger’s research focuses on international trade policy, rules and institutions, with a particular emphasis on the […]

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Robert W. Staiger is the Stockwell Professor of Economics at The University of Wisconsin.  He served as co-Editor of Journal of International Economics from 1995 through 2009, and became co-Editor-in-Chief (with Charles Engel, University of Wisconsin) in January 2010. Staiger’s research focuses on international trade policy, rules and institutions, with a particular emphasis on the economics of the GATT/WTO.

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Established in 1971, with Jagdish N Bhagwati as its lead Editor (Bhagwati is widely recognized for his many contributions to the field of International Economics and was featured as the fictional winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics in The Simpsons episode Elementary School Musical), the journal is intended to serve as the primary outlet for theoretical and empirical research in all areas of international economics. The journal publishes six issues per year, receives around 500 submissions per year and has a rejection rate of around 90 percent. The 2013 Impact Factor was 2.086, and its 5-year Impact Factor is 3.270. Together with Kyle Bagwell, Robert Staiger is currently serving as Editor of The Handbook of Commercial Policy (Elsevier), due out in 2016.

Q. What does being a journal editor mean to you and what do you find most rewarding about this role?
A. I find that being co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of International Economics (JIE) requires substantial work but is also very rewarding. The work is challenging in large part because it is relentless, involving a steady stream of tasks that can’t really be put off when other demands arise. But the rewards are also substantial. Primary among these is the opportunity to assemble a team of the top researchers in the field to serve on the editorial board as co-editors and associate editors, and to work together with this team to ensure that the articles published in the JIE are of the highest quality. When an author with a paper in international economics is deciding on a journal submission strategy, a relevant factor is often the makeup of the editorial board at each journal. He or she is very likely to be drawn to the JIE in large part because the strength of the set of JIE co-editors and associate editors is unmatched. My co-Chief Editor, Charles Engel, and I strongly believe that the strength of our editorial board is the decisive feature that puts the JIE among the very top economics journals in the profession (the Google Scholar Metrics 2008-2012 ranking of journals provides some recent evidence of the JIE’s status).

Q. What are your biggest challenges as co-Editor-in-Chief of Journal of International Economics? How do you overcome these challenges and what extra support can Elsevier provide?
EU43_EiS_JournalCoverA. My biggest challenge is maintaining a top flight editorial board. I work very hard to attract the leading researchers in the field to become editorial board members, and naturally these are people who are extremely busy with their own research agendas. Sometimes a fair amount of convincing is required. For example, to attract a young and rising star to the position of co-editor, I may have to convince that person that the job will not distract them unduly from their own research, and that the editorial duties they take on, while requiring significant effort on their part, will at the same time provide them with an alternative way to shape research in the field. In this regard, the best support that Elsevier can provide is to make the mechanics of the editorial process simple for the co-editors and associate editors, and to ensure that the process is not overly heavy-handed in terms of extra structures and mandated procedures imposed in “one-size-fits-all” fashion from above. That kind of support allows me in my discussions with a potential candidate to focus on describing the substance of the job, namely making sure that the very best papers in international economics are published in the JIE, and to indicate to the candidate that the mechanics of the job are simple, intuitive and virtually invisible (as they should be).

Q. In many areas of research, the growth of paper submissions is outpacing the growth of qualified reviewers and resulting in pressure on the peer-review system. What do you think the solution to this problem is and how do you see the peer-review process changing in the future?
A. The burden on the economics profession to referee papers is certainly a problem, not least because the typical paper generates the need for two (or sometimes three) separate referee reports. In my opinion, the primary solution to this problem has got to be increased triage by journal editors and co-editors. This triage can take place at several levels.

  • First, some papers require only a quick glance by even a non-expert to determine that they are inappropriate for the journal. At the JIE these papers are returned to the authors before they even enter the editorial process.
  • Second, some papers can be “desk rejected” by an editor or co-editor without the aid of an outside referee opinion.
  • Third, with some papers it is possible that an editor or co-editor feels fairly confident of an editorial decision (usually reject) based on a quick reading of the paper, but seeks one outside referee report for a second opinion.
  • In a fourth category of papers (usually applying to young and inexperienced authors), the editor or co-editor may feel confident of a decision but solicit a referee report from a graduate student, to provide some extra learning experience on both sides of the editorial process (i.e., some extra feedback for the inexperienced author, and some refereeing experience for the graduate student).
  • And finally, the fifth category of papers is the “typical” category, in which (at the JIE) two referee reports by experts in the field would be solicited.

The more triage that can be carried out along the lines of the first four categories above, the more the refereeing burden on the economics profession in general can be kept from becoming completely unmanageable. I also believe that a secondary solution to the problem exists: in my opinion, the refereeing burden is far too concentrated among a small set of “obvious” referees, when in fact there are often excellent potential referees who are overlooked; in this regard, editors and co-editors can use their broad knowledge of the portfolio of researchers in the field to more evenly distribute the refereeing burden.

Q. We have observed that researchers are increasingly accessing journal content online at an article level, i.e. the researcher digests content more frequently on an article basis rather than a journal basis. How do you think this affects the visibility of your journal among authors?
A. Ease of researcher access to JIE journal articles is key to the effective dissemination of JIE content. I see no difference in the visibility of the JIE if a researcher accesses content on an article basis rather than a journal basis. Consequently, I think that JIE visibility is best served by facilitating the widest possible availability of its content on both a journal and an article basis.

Q. Academic publishing is increasingly embracing open access. How do you see these open access changes in your country? And how do you see them affecting authors who publish in your journal?
A. This may change over time, but so far I do not see developments in open access as being particularly important to the economics profession in the United States or as having much, if any, impact on authors that publish in the JIE.

Q. Researchers need to demonstrate their research impact and they are increasingly under pressure to publish articles in journals with high Impact Factors. How important is a journal’s Impact Factor to you and do you see any developments in your community regarding other research quality measurements?
A. For various reasons related to how it is constructed, I do not think the Impact Factor has much relevance for the JIE. More generally, while I do think some metrics (such as the Google Scholar Metric noted above) contain information that is broadly relevant for the journal, as a JIE editor I do not focus on them, but on securing the best possible editorial board. Through the high-quality editorial work of that board, I believe that the rest (i.e., the stature of the JIE in the economics profession) will take care of itself.

Q. As online publishing techniques develop, the traditional format of the online scientific article will change. At Elsevier, we are experimenting with new online content features and functionality. Which improvements/changes would you, as an editor, find most important?
A. I believe there are some new online content features that could potentially be very helpful, though it is always hard to predict which features will actually be used. For example, the AudioSlides feature allows an author to simply upload their seminar slides (possibly with an added audio component) to appear alongside their published paper in ScienceDirect. This could provide an added entryway for a reader to understand the content of the paper quickly, and it could perhaps encourage the reader to teach the paper in his or her classes (perhaps using the slides). On the other hand, many researchers already post their seminar slides on their own web pages, and so the value of the AudioSlides feature will probably depend on how valuable readers find the ready availability of the slides alongside the journal article.

Q. Do you use social media or online professional networking in your role as an editor or researcher? Has it helped you and, if so, how?
A. No, I do not make use of these tools.

Q. How do you see your journal developing over the next 10 years? Do you see major shifts in the use of journals in the future?
A. Of course, it is always hard to predict the future, but I see the mission of the JIE, as with all of the best peer-reviewed journals, to be relatively constant through time: to faithfully reflect the evolving state of knowledge in the field through publication of the best research.

Q. Do you have any tips or tricks to share with your fellow editors about being a journal editor?
A. Unfortunately, I don’t think there are any silver bullets out there, no substitute for consistent attention and steady focus on the fundamental mission of the journal, which at least for the JIE is to publish the highest quality research in international economics. What has worked well for our journal is to find ways to attract the best researchers to the editorial board, and then to place full trust in the editorial judgement of each co-editor by giving him or her complete autonomy to make the editorial decisions that he or she deems appropriate.

EU42_EiS_Tsokos

Editor in the Spotlight: George Tsokos of Clinical Immunology

Clinical Immunology publishes original research on the molecular and cellular bases of immunological disease. It is the official journal of FOCIS (the Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies), the preeminent association for clinical immunologists. George C. Tsokos, MD, a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Chief of Rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, […]

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Clinical Immunology

Clinical Immunology publishes original research on the molecular and cellular bases of immunological disease. It is the official journal of FOCIS (the Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies), the preeminent association for clinical immunologists. George C. Tsokos, MD, a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Chief of Rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA, has been Editor-in-Chief of the journal since January 2011. Clinical Immunology has an Impact Factor of 3.771 and receives 690 submissions per year – around 20 percent of which are accepted.

Q. What does being a journal editor mean to you and what do you find most rewarding about this role?
A. Clinical Immunology publishes high impact papers in the field of clinical immunology and, in that respect, I feel responsible for choosing and presenting to the community what is important, novel and significant in the field. Working with a top notch cadre of associate editors with whom I orchestrate the reviewing process is highly rewarding. We work with the FOCIS leaders and the FOCIS Publications Committee to make Clinical Immunology the sole home for all important advances in the field.

Q. What are your biggest challenges as Editor-in-Chief of Clinical Immunology? How do you overcome these challenges and what extra support can Elsevier provide?
A. The greatest challenge is to secure qualified reviewers. For each paper we strive to recruit a senior reviewer, who can help to define the overall impact of the paper, as well as junior reviewers to comb the manuscript carefully. Although we do try to use the reviewers suggested by authors as much as we can, there are challenges. Many times the suggested reviewers are very senior people who are too busy to review papers and sometimes authors recommend reviewers from their own country – for a small country that is equivalent to an author recommending reviewers from their own institution. Other times authors recommend reviewers from other countries but their last names reveal the submitting author’s country. I and the associate editors try to go through each submission to determine whether the article fits the scope of the journal and whether the manuscript presents novel, well-documented experiments. In this way we keep the burden on reviewers to a minimum.

Q. In many areas of research, the growth of paper submissions is outpacing the growth of qualified reviewers and resulting in pressure on the peer-review system. What do you think the solution to this problem is and how do you see the peer-review process changing in the future?
A. As already stated, identifying qualified reviewers is difficult. Submissions to Clinical Immunology increased by 10 percent in 2013 making the job of the editors even more difficult. I think the only solution is for editors to make the initial choices and only send for review submitted papers that fit the journal and will be read with interest and excitement by our colleagues. In this way, good reviewers are not inundated with requests to review papers that will not make the cut.

Q. We have observed that researchers are increasingly accessing journal content online at an article level, i.e. the researcher digests content more frequently on an article basis rather than a journal basis. How do you think this affects the visibility of your journal among authors?
A. Indeed, scientists search the web (Google Scholar or PubMed) to find articles that can help them interpret their experiments or plan new ones; clinicians search for solutions to clinical problems or to improve their clinical practice; and teachers search the web to stay up to date. I think Clinical Immunology has benefited from this evolving practice. Numerical/statistical data and personal feedback assure us that we are strong.

Q. Academic publishing is increasingly embracing open access. How do you see these open access changes in your country? And how do you see them affecting authors who publish in your journal?
A. My country, USA, started the concept and practice of free access which I think is a great idea. And it is rational to expect tax payers to have access to what they have paid for. A small caveat in this effort is who will pay for this? I do not know if the free-access-journal-upfront-fee is less or more than the one charged by the classic journals. I am happy though that papers that are accepted for publication to Clinical Immunology are uploaded to the central library immediately if the work has been funded by NIH (National Institutes of Health).

Q. Researchers need to demonstrate their research impact and they are increasingly under pressure to publish articles in journals with high Impact Factors. How important is a journal’s Impact Factor to you and do you see any developments in your community regarding other research quality measurements?
A. This is true. Yet, many promotions committees in this country and study sections for NIH and other funding organizations pay attention to the body of work published by a scientist, rather than one or a few articles in high-impact, fashionable journals. With the advancement of open access and the availability of search engines it will eventually be left up to the readers to judge the ’impact‘ of a published article.

Q. As online publishing techniques develop, the traditional format of the online scientific article will change. At Elsevier, we are experimenting with new online content features and functionality. Which improvements/changes would you, as an editor, find most important?
A. Anything that increases access, functionality, cross-referencing, easy use from iPhone, iPad etc. will be welcome. 

Q. Do you use social media or online professional networking in your role as an editor or researcher? Has it helped you and, if so, how?
A. I do not use social media at all but, from what I understand, those channels can help to spread information quickly.

Q. How do you see your journal developing over the next 10 years? Do you see major shifts in the use of journals in the future?
A. Clinical Immunology will keep on publishing only cutting-edge information in the field. We will continue publishing review articles on state-of-the-art issues that can offer critical knowledge to colleagues. We will continue seeking articles that provide a solid body of work presenting novel mechanisms and insights from clinical studies. Members of FOCIS have been increasingly sending their best work to Clinical Immunology and this will gradually place the journal at the top of the list. I believe that 10 years from now, it will be the top journal in the field.

Q. Do you have any tips or tricks to share with your fellow editors about being a journal editor?
A. It is important to go through all submissions and choose articles that fulfil the goals of the journal to guarantee homogeneity in the quality of the published papers. It is important to engage young colleagues as reviewers and offer them slots on the editorial board. 

EU42_HERO_TopTips

Be brave, be clear and have fun – three editors share their top tips

Do you agree with the advice outlined below? Perhaps you have some tips you would like to share? You can let us know your thoughts by posting a comment at the bottom of this article. Dr. Brian M Lucey is Professor in Finance at the School of Business, Trinity College Dublin. He is Editor-in-Chief of […]

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Do you agree with the advice outlined below? Perhaps you have some tips you would like to share? You can let us know your thoughts by posting a comment at the bottom of this article.

Dr. Brian M Lucey is Professor in Finance at the School of Business, Trinity College Dublin. He is Editor-in-Chief of two journals – one is a new entry to the space, Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Finance (JBEF), the other is a longer standing one, International Review of Financial Analysis (IRFA).

Kronos the Chronovore from the Doctor Who episode ‘The Time Monster’Being an editor is tremendous fun and also tremendous work. My thoughts below come from that experience as well as that of 20+ years in academia and nearly a decade of being an associate editor and special issue /guest editor on a number of journals.

  • Make time. Editing is a Chronovore*. IRFA is on target for 350-400 submissions this year, and I would imagine that JBEF will get in excess of 75. I make a point to read, at some level, each paper that gets submitted. You don't have to read it in forensic detail, but in sufficient detail that you can appoint a reviewer team that covers the issues, and that when they come back to you, you can be confident that you make an informed decision. Don’t just take the reviewer recommendation on face value – as an editor I think it’s my role to make the call, guided by the reviews. That means usually going back to the paper and seeing where the reviewers have picked up issues and then guiding the author to major and minor problems. That takes time.
Kronos the Chronovore from the Doctor Who episode ‘The Time Monster’

Kronos the Chronovore from the Doctor Who episode ‘The Time Monster’.

  • Have fun. Let’s face it, for most of us in academia we have a set of skills which are (or were before we devolved into tenure) marketable outside. And yet, we get to play with our brains all day. We get to read fresh ideas, challenging ones, to see the emergence of research paradigms and new approaches to old ones. We get invited to be keynotes (yes please…) and to sit on panels where we can provide and be provided with overviews of areas.
  • Be respectful of your position. Editing is not as important as raising your kids right, but in the academy, editors are the gatekeepers. New approaches to how ideas are sharpened are emerging, such as post publication review. But there will, I think, always be a role for the editor. We control the flow of ideas, and that makes us important and possibly even powerful. If you are editing a journal and don't like an approach, a method, a topic, you can do it serious harm by not giving it a voice. Equally, we can promote ideas and approaches we like or value. These suggest to me that we therefore need to be very open and judge a paper on its own merits, not by reference to a prejudged standard or, worse, to an (often unspoken or unknowing) ideological perspective.
  • Be brave. Editing is gatekeeping. If you really think some area needs to be promoted, or some topic is under researched, or some methodology is promising, you have the ability to make changes.
  • Be organized. Editing is a task. A very large part of the role is the simple (hah) management of the paper flow. Electronic systems can help, and a good publisher and journal manager are invaluable but in the end it’s down to the editor. Knowledge of the area is important but in my view, decent organizational skills, a bit of a work ethic and scheduling time for the editorial role makes the whole thing much easier. I typically set aside Friday AM for things editorial.
  • Make use of being an editor. The first thing you will notice after becoming an editor is that you become better known. Most of us are not academic stars – most editors are solid, mid to upper-mid level academics good at doing things on time and more or less on target. Even those of us who are known through, for example, conference organization are less well known than editors. So, people find you and give you opportunities that you wouldn't have otherwise. More important, they give your team opportunities, and for PhDs and Postdocs that's invaluable.
  • Become a hunter. You will be hunting reviewers, hunting papers that were promised, and hunting special issue editors to complete. This is inevitable, so you may as well enjoy it. In hunting you will come to know who is reliable, and that will save you and your team a lot later in your careers as you won’t waste time with those that waste your time.
  • Kronos the Chronovore from the Doctor Who episode ‘The Time Monster’

  • Don't overcommit. Editing is seductive. People will approach with lots of ideas for special issues and conferences and so forth. Be selective and don't overcommit the journal or yourself to 19 special issues and 12 conferences in the next 18 months. You won’t carry it off, and in trying to do so you will damage the journal reputation and your own.
  • Be prepared. Editors are lightning rods. People will complain; reviewers will complain about deadlines (that they won’t meet anyhow), rejected authors will complain about reviewers and want their submission fee back, authors will email you with papers and complain when you don't do a full scale pre-submission review to ensure that the paper is bullet proofed, and even publishing companies have been known to complain about cycle times. Be ready for this, and ensure that you have good processes and responses in place.
  • Be humble. When you make a mistake – and you will – admit it, remedy it if possible, and move on. You will drop the ball, and that's life. I have stressed the need to be organized, to have time to do the tasks, to be prepared. If you do this, the few things that slip through will be salvageable. People will not think badly of you if you admit a mistake and remedy it, so long as these don't become a habit. 

* Note from Ed: Derived from the Greek "chronos" (time) and the Latin "vorare" (to devour), in the television series Doctor Who, Chronovores are greatly feared transcendental beings who feed on time.

Dr. William C Eckelman is Editor-in-Chief of Nuclear Medicine and Biology, the official journal of the Society of Radiopharmaceutical Sciences. The journal publishes original research addressing all aspects of radiopharmaceutical science and Dr. Eckelman has held his current role for 16 years. A former Adjunct Professor, Radiology, at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), Dr. Eckelman also held positions at national laboratories and pharmaceutical companies in the US. He is now CSO at Molecular Tracer LLC in Bethesda, Maryland, USA.

      • Focus the Aims and Scope and further define the journal’s goals with supplemental editorials. This makes it clear to potential authors the types of manuscripts you expect to receive and helps to filter out unsuitable papers.
      • Review all submissions for compliance with the Aims and Scope of the journal and, for marginal cases, have an editorial board member confirm your decision before rejecting/accepting for review. This helps to ensure you aren’t wasting reviewers’ valuable time by sending them papers that never had a chance of being published in your journal.
      • Now that accepted manuscripts are immediately published as PDFs, the need for the Editor-in-Chief to promptly forward accepted manuscripts to the publication team is more important than ever.
      • If there are problems with an author's submission or reviewer's access in EES, these problems should immediately be referred to Elsevier’s EES helpdesk. The helpdesk has always been quick to respond when authors approach them. It is best if the editor is not in the loop.

  • For a small journal, it is advisable to keep the organization as flat as reasonable. If you have them, associate editors are often the best people to ask to review an article and you then avoid the need to seek other reviewers.

    For Nuclear Medicine and Biology, using one editorial board member and one new reviewer with experience in the topic to peer review a paper has proved the most effective way to increase the reviewer pool, yet keep the focus on the Aims and Scope of the journal.

  • I would recommend that all revisions should be accompanied by a point by point response, including how and where in the text the manuscript was altered. Since the revisions are returned to the original reviewers, this makes the re-review more efficient (and more rapid).

  • Include a clear policy for resubmission of declined manuscripts in the letter to the author. Failure to do this can lead to a constant flow of emails from authors querying the journal’s policy.

Dr. Jean-Claude Kader is co-Editor-in-Chief, alongside Dr. Kari Taulavuori, of Environmental and Experimental Botany (EEB), a role he has held for seven years. The journal publishes research and review papers, mainly devoted to the mechanisms involved in the responses of plants to the environment. This year will see the publication of Volume 100 of the journal. Dr. Kader is Honorary Research Director of the Laboratory of Plant Cellular and Molecular Physiology at University of Pierre and Marie Curie (Paris 6).EU42_TopTips_KaderCover (1)

      • The homepage of a journal should be clear and well presented. In its Aims and Scope, EEB indicates the main scientific areas covered by the journal. We also include a list of themes that are not covered; this helps to avoid the submission of unsuitable papers and thus saves time for authors and editors.
      • You should be familiar with EES, which is a remarkable tool and sends alert messages at all editorial steps. Speak to your publisher to find out if you are making the best use of it. In case of any problem, you should contact the EES engineers through your journal manager.
      • Check your Empower traffic light email (sent each week) as it allows you to monitor your editorial workload. The email is particularly useful for tracking papers that have been sent back to authors for revision.
      • Check the cover letters of all submitted papers. Sometimes authors submit to the wrong journal by mistake – this is easily seen either in the title of the paper or in the cover letter and you can quickly alert the author in question. Cover letters also inform you of the author’s reasons for choosing your journal.
      • Read carefully the PDF in order to check if the paper fits with the journal’s Aims and Scope. If not, you can reject the paper without sending it to referees. There are multiple examples of desk rejects: papers might be desk rejected because the work is out of scope; not suitable for the journal; too descriptive; or weakly presented. You might decide by yourself or contact a member of the editorial board to confirm your decision.
      • You should be fast when you desk reject a paper and kindly inform the authors that your decision is not mainly based on the quality of their science. You should suggest alternative Elsevier journals that appear more suitable. At EEB, we use the article transfer protocol that allows authors to resubmit their papers to a journal close to EEB, without the need to reformat those papers.
      • Once you have decided which papers should be sent for review you can:
        a. Use Scopus to find referees
        b. Invite referees listed in your database
        c. Contact members of the editorial board of your journal
        However, before following any of these routes, you might use iThenticate to check for plagiarism.*
    • Take into account the advice of at least two referees when making a decision about a paper. Any notice of rejection you send to an author should be kind and constructive and you should clearly indicate if resubmission is allowed. When the decision is taken that a paper requires revision, you should give the authors a maximum of six weeks for major revisions and less for minor/moderate revisions. At EEB, this reduces the overall publication time of our papers.
    • Send the revised papers, accompanied by a detailed list of changes made by the authors, to the referees who examined the first version – they will then be able to recommend whether the paper should finally be accepted. You should ask the authors to proceed to additional revisions if they are needed.
    • As editor, your role is not only to evaluate submitted papers, but to improve your journal. This includes expanding the remit of the journal, if needed, to take into account any emerging, novel scientific areas. After discussion with members of the editorial board and the publisher, you might invite guest editors to build Special Issues that take into account the main scientific goals of your journal. You should therefore make sure those goals are specific and that you attract the best authors in your field.

* Note from Ed: For many journals, new submissions to EES are now automatically run through CrossCheck/iThenticate, with the results available in the editor's 'Action' menu. Your publisher will let you know as soon as this feature is extended to your journal. 

Bob-Strangeway

Editor in the Spotlight – Dr Robert Strangeway

Dr Robert Strangeway holds the position Research Geophysicist at the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics (IGPP) at UCLA

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Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics

Dr Robert Strangeway holds the position Research Geophysicist at the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics (IGPP) at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles).

He has been joint Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics (JASTP) since 2012. The journal began in 1951 at the very beginning of what is termed the ‘space age’ and has grown to be the premier international home for research dedicated to the physics of the Earth's atmospheric and space environment. The journal publishes 12 volumes a year, has an Impact Factor of 1.417 and a 5-year Impact Factor of 1.625.

Q. What does being a journal editor mean to you and what do you find most rewarding about this role?
A.
Being a journal editor is an important task that contributes to the health of the research endeavor. A journal editor has a gate-keeper function, which I still consider to be an essential component of the scientific process, as is the peer-review process. It is important for a scientist to both be able to publish in journals that have a good scholarly reputation, and also know that papers published in a journal have passed through a reputable review process.

The most rewarding aspect of being an editor is in providing a mechanism whereby scientists from under-represented communities have the opportunity to publish in a journal that has an international reputation.

Q. What are your biggest challenges as Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics? How do you overcome these challenges and what extra support can Elsevier provide?
A.
The biggest challenge as an editor is finding sufficient reviewers for manuscripts (see Question 3). Unfortunately, everyone is so busy that it can take months for reviews to be obtained. This is a source of frustration for authors, and a problem for the editors. In particular, some areas of research are relatively small, and only a small pool of reviewers is available. Multiple requests for reviews also frustrate the reviewers. The Elsevier ’Search for Reviewers’ tool helps keep track of reviewers who have recently provided a review, or declined a review. It would be useful if the tool also provided an ’uninvited’ entry for reviewers who do not respond to requests for reviews.

The second largest challenge concerns the breadth of topics covered by the journal. I think this is to the journal’s credit, but sometimes as editor I find myself assigning reviewers although I have little knowledge of the field, or any experience of the reviewers themselves. The ‘Find Reviewers’ tool provided by Elsevier helps fill that gap, although it sometimes provides incorrect email addresses and affiliations, especially for similar names in different disciplines.

The final challenge is what to do with contradictory or incomplete reviews. If two reviews contradict each other, as editor I often have the difficult choice of deciding which review carries more weight, while an incomplete review simply makes my editorial decision harder to justify.

Q. In many areas of research, the growth of paper submissions is outpacing the growth of qualified reviewers and resulting in pressure on the peer-review system. What do you think the solution to this problem is and how do you see the peer-review process changing in the future?
A. I have no obvious solution to this problem, as I think the two-reviewer peer-review process as it has evolved over the years is the best process we have. It is not perfect – it does depend on conscientious reviewers, and sometimes can be affected by inherent reviewer bias. But alternatives, such as single reviewers, or editor pre-screening, makes the review decision essentially dependent on a single point of view. As editor I do pre-screen papers, and I have rejected papers before sending them for review, but this only occurs for papers that are incorrect, or inappropriate for the journal. I do not pre-screen for scientific relevance, for example.

I know that there are advocates for ‘crowd-sourcing’ of reviews, where papers are essentially published without review, and the merit of the papers is determined by the readership. But that is what happens as part of the present publication process, albeit less visibly, in that unimportant papers are not cited. The question then becomes one of quality control – does the community at large want some form of filter on the material that is published?Right now that function is performed through the editorial review process.

Q. We have observed that researchers are increasingly accessing journal content online at an article level, i.e. the researcher digests content more frequently on an article basis rather than a journal basis. How do you think this affects the visibility of your journal among authors?
A. Access by articles, rather than by journals, is the wave of the future. That is how I personally access articles. I rely heavily on emails from the journals listing the most recently published articles. I no longer access a journal’s site and browse the table of contents.

Access at an article level is good for the journal. Table of contents emails, or links to cited articles, allow individuals to learn about the article, regardless of the journal. There is no journal bias.

Q. Recently, there have been many developments in open access particularly in the UK and Europe where, back in July 2012, the UK government endorsed the Finch Report recommendations for government-funded research to be made available in open access publications. The European Commission has since followed suit, making a similar announcement for an open access policy starting in 2014. How do you see these open access changes in your country? And how do you see them affecting authors who publish in your journal?
A. The United States is also moving towards open access, as new requirements are being developed that provide open access to articles generated through government support. This is very much in a state of flux, and it is not yet clear how this will be implemented. The fundamental issue is, of course, how the costs of publication are recovered by the journal. The concern is that open access requirements will require more of the costs of publication to be incurred by the authors, rather than the readers of the article. This may require different publication charge policies depending on whether or not open access is mandated.

Q. Researchers need to demonstrate their research impact, and they are increasingly under pressure to publish articles in journals with high Impact Factors. How important is a journal’s Impact Factor to you, and do you see any developments in your community regarding other research quality measurement?
A. Impact Factor is important, and I would like to see JASTP’s Impact Factor continue to improve. This requires a demonstration that the journal is following best practices in terms of reviewing and publishing articles. This is also facilitated by having Special Issues that include topical, and hence highly citable, papers. Impact Factor continues to be the primary means by which the members of my community assess journal importance.

Q. As online publishing techniques develop, the traditional format of the online scientific article will change. At Elsevier, we are experimenting with new online content features and functionality. Which improvements/changes would you, as an editor, find most important.
A. Elsevier is doing an excellent job in providing linked cross-references in articles. I would like to see this be available without requiring a subscription to the journal, but this may only happen in response to changes instigated by the open access requirement that is being imposed by the UK, EU, and USA. At a minimum, the reference list should be open access, with embedded links to the cited papers.

Q. Do you use social media or online professional networking in your role as an editor or researcher? Has it helped you and, if so, how?
A. I am of the generation that is more familiar with email as a primary means of electronic communication. I have a web presence, but it uses the relatively static ‘homepage’ concept, where updates require me to actively edit the content of my webpage, rather than simply post updates. While I have pages on a few social and professional networks, I have not yet taken advantage of the additional visibility provided by these networking sites.

I would consider including more information concerning my role as an editor in the professional networking sites to which I subscribe, but guidance from Elsevier would be useful. In particular, would Elsevier require notification or review of any information posted on a personal entry in a networking site? Guidance on how to connect the personal site to the journal would also be helpful.

Q. How do you see your journal developing over the next 10 years? Do you see major shifts in the use of journals in the future?
A. This is an important and difficult question. For JASTP in particular, I am looking forward to a continued improvement in the Impact Factor. For journals as a whole, the future depends very much on how they adapt to the open-access environment, as well as the tendency to electronically access separate articles from the journal. Journals have always been seen as an archiving medium. That role will remain. Similarly, I expect citation rates, and indices derived from citation rates, to continue as an important aspect of an individual’s promotion throughout their career. The standing of a journal is also important when assessing an individual’s publication record. But these are all based on the historical model of publication in scientific journals.

Adapting to the changing publishing environment is essential if the journals are also to be considered as the active source, rather than simply an archival record. Again, this is related to the adoption of an open-access environment, which in turn will require journals to adapt how publication charges are assessed.

Q. Do you have any tips or tricks to share with your fellow editors about being a journal editor?
A. The most basic tip, which I confess to not always following myself, is to find time each day to clear out the “Editor ‘to-do’ List” on the Editor page. This can back up quickly.

I don’t have any special tricks that I use during the editorial process. I scan the submitted articles, and always compare reviewers’ comments with the content. I don’t see any shortcut for that process.

I do wish I could find a trick that would enable me to find reviewers more quickly, as that is usually the most time-consuming aspect of the process.

Jay_Liebowitz

Reflections on the Life of a Journal Editor

After 24 years at the helm, Founding Editor of Expert Systems With Applications shares his thoughts on editing as he prepares to retire.

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Dr Jay Liebowitz is the Orkand Endowed Chair in Management and Technology in the Graduate School at the University of Maryland University College in Adelphi, USA.  He is also the Founding Editor of Expert Systems With Applications: An International Journal, published by Elsevier. As he prepares to retire from his journal role, Dr Liebowitz reflects on his years as an Editor.

After 24 years and 40 volumes, I am retiring in my role as the Founding Editor of a leading international journal. I remember the days when manuscripts were submitted, in triplicate, via post or courier, then fax, and now online in a single submission. I’m not sure if I’ll really miss the 12-15 manuscripts submitted worldwide on a daily basis or investigating some possible claims of plagiarism. I’ll probably not long for the ongoing struggle of lining up appropriate reviewers for the manuscripts that make the Editor’s preliminary cut. And, I probably won’t miss the numerous daily emails from authors asking about the status of their submission.

I have been doing “journal patrol” on almost a daily basis for most of my professional life. It is a part of me. It will seem a bit weird not waking up to the early morning emails from my European and Asian authors. And, I’m sure it will feel strange to think how I will fill this vacuum of not doing “journal patrol”, almost similar to when I completed my dissertation.

What I certainly will regret is not receiving those kind emails from authors and readers saying how the journal has affected their lives — from shaping their research directions to being promoted and receiving tenure. I also will miss hearing from the doctoral students and young scholars who are excited about submitting their first paper to a journal. And, it won’t be the same without the interaction and synergies between the publisher, author, reviewer, associate editors, and Editorial Advisory Board members.

But, I feel I will survive especially knowing that the journal is in “good hands” with our handpicked new Editor-in-Chief (EIC). I’m sure not doing “journal patrol” will be a letdown at first, but I’ll rejoice in knowing that it will allow me time to pursue other ventures.

As my new assignments and reviewed submissions near zero, as new manuscripts are routed to the incoming EIC, there is a sense of ecstasy knowing that I have conquered the seemingly endless flow of manuscripts. It’s my catharsis to write this column, and I hope that the future generation of scholars will embrace this journal and love it as much as I have.

Margaret-Rees-email

Editor in the Spotlight – Margaret Rees of Maturitas

Maturitas was founded in 1978 and is the official journal of the European Menopause and Andropause Society (EMAS). It is also affiliated with the Australasian Menopause Society. The journal Impact Factor of 2.844 ranks it 14 out of 77 journals in Obstetrics and Gynecology and 19 out of 46 journals in Geriatrics & Gerontology. Submissions […]

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Maturitas was founded in 1978 and is the official journal of the European Menopause and Andropause Society (EMAS). It is also affiliated with the Australasian Menopause Society.

The journal Impact Factor of 2.844 ranks it 14 out of 77 journals in Obstetrics and Gynecology and 19 out of 46 journals in Geriatrics & Gerontology. Submissions to the journal are running at around 500 per year, with academic institutions annually downloading more than 381,000 articles on ScienceDirect and www.maturitas.org registering 238,765 article pageviews by subscribers. Maturitas Editor-in-Chief Professor Margaret Rees is a Reader Emeritus in Reproductive Medicine and a Fellow at St Hilda's College, at the University of Oxford. Her ethics experience is extensive – she is Secretary of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), Chair Elect of the Association of Research Ethics Committees (AREC), and member of the Open University Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC); the Central University of Oxford Ethics Committee (CUREC); and the Elsevier Ethics Committee.

Q. What does being a journal editor mean to you and what do you find most rewarding about this role?
A. I have been Editor-in-Chief of a journal since 1998. For the first 10 years I edited Menopause International and since 2008 I have edited Maturitas. Maturitas is a well-established international journal which allows regular interaction with cutting-edge researchers. The editors and editorial board provide an excellent multidisciplinary team. So what is most rewarding is being able to select high-quality articles for publication, thereby stimulating interest in the journal and encouraging the junior researchers, who are our future.

Q.What are your biggest challenges as Editor-in-Chief of Maturitas? How do you overcome these challenges and what extra support can Elsevier provide?
A. The biggest challenge I faced at the outset was that Maturitas was perceived as a women’s health journal, which restricted its focus. I therefore expanded its scope and broadened the editorial board, which is regularly refreshed by junior researchers who are encouraged to join. I also commission review articles to publicise the widened area of interest. Thus, Maturitas is now a multidisciplinary, international, peer-reviewed scientific journal that deals with midlife health and beyond. We publish original research, reviews, clinical trial protocols, consensus statements and guidelines. The scope encompasses all aspects of post-reproductive health in both genders, ranging from basic science to health and social care. Within the first year of my editorship, submissions increased by 50% and downloads by 70%. The Impact Factor has steadily increased and I now tweet via EMAS about selected articles. My main current challenge is to be able to publicize the journal more widely using social media: further assistance from Elsevier would be invaluable. In addition, the speed of manuscript processing and minor language editing could be improved. While I have a dedicated language editor, whom I selected, it would be inappropriate to use him for minor edits which could be undertaken by typesetters.

Q.In many areas of research, the growth of paper submissions is outpacing the growth of qualified reviewers and resulting in pressure on the peer-review system. What do you think the solution to this problem is and how do you see the peer-review process changing in the future?
A. There are various solutions to this perennial problem which I have deployed, thus reducing the average time to first decision to 21 days. In 2008 it was 61 days. Before passing on manuscripts to the editors, I routinely screen them, e.g. check for originality, look for text similarity with iThenticate, review the quality of the English and take into account ethical considerations etc. As Secretary of COPE and member of the Elsevier Ethics Committee, I am committed to high standards. I aim to provide constructive comments to authors for papers rejected outright so that poorly-presented papers, which nonetheless contain good science, can be reconsidered. This reduces the workload of both editors and reviewers. Thus, reviewers are not asked to look too frequently at papers for Maturitas. The pool of reviewers is increased by constant refreshing of the editorial board and asking junior researchers to review. Currently, we publish around 30% of unsolicited articles.

One specific problem with EES is that, historically, different journals have used different logon names and passwords. This has the potential to deter reviewers who are aware that other publishers use single logons and passwords for all their journals. I have not found the Elsevier process of consolidation smooth. It relies on reviewers hunting down their various user names and passwords. During this process some, including me, have been denied access to EES. I am now relieved to know that these problems are being resolved and users now have the option to forgo consolidating their accounts.

Q. We have observed that researchers are increasingly accessing journal content online at an article level, i.e. the researcher digests content more frequently on an article basis rather than a journal basis. How do you think this affects the visibility of your journal among authors?
A. Access of individual papers is becoming the norm, but visibility of the journal as a whole can be maintained through social media and commissioning timely, high-impact reviews.

Q.Recently, there have been many developments in open access particularly in the UK and Europe where, back in July 2012, the UK government endorsed the Finch Report recommendations for government-funded research to be made available in open access publications. The European Commission has since followed suit, making a similar announcement for an open access policy starting in 2014. How do you see these open access changes in your country? And how do you see them affecting authors who publish in your journal?
A. Maturitas offers several open access options. Authors or their funders can choose to pay a publication fee to make an article open access. Each month, using Editor’s Choice, a new feature the journal has introduced, I can summarize for the public the most important research published in the journal and the papers are openly available.

Q. Researchers need to demonstrate their research impact, and they are increasingly under pressure to publish articles in journals with high Impact Factors. How important is a journal’s Impact Factor to you, and do you see any developments in your community regarding other research quality measurements?
A. The Impact Factor remains the gold standard, but does not allow consideration of the size of the field and is inherently slow to respond to stimuli. Thus, changes in a journal’s focus will take a few years to become apparent. New metrics include paper views and Twitter as well as other social media tools which are more immediate, but this needs to be taken on board by funders as well as researchers. Elsevier could help editors by providing education on these new tools. The instruction ‘Print or share this page’ could be made more explicit. The Top 25 Hottest Articles for each quarter should be available during the following month.

Q. As online publishing techniques develop, the traditional format of the online scientific article will change. At Elsevier, we are experimenting with new online content features and functionality. Which improvements/changes would you, as an Editor, find most important?
A. Maturitas authors have the ability to provide AudioSlides. Better presentation of papers with linked references in the margins would help the reader. Those accessing the journal website would benefit from seeing on the page the preview content rather than having to click on it, to stimulate interest. Authors may wish to have links to their webpages. Also, the most cited and read facilities should provide numbers with the title of each article rather than you having to click on each abstract. Thus, as an editor, I would like to have ‘at a glance’ up-to-date tracking of citations and downloads for each article to better profile future commissioned reviews.

Q. Do you use social media or online professional networking in your role as an editor or researcher? Has it helped you and, if so, how?
A. I have recently started with Twitter and LinkedIn using the EMAS portal. Furthermore, since September 2012, I publicize papers published in Maturitas in the monthly EMAS newsletter which is opened by over 30,000 people - downloads increased by 70,000 in 2012. It would be helpful if Elsevier could provide a journal-focused helpline to encourage authors to use social media and have regular calls for papers.

Q. How do you see your journal developing over the next 10 years? Do you see major shifts in the use of journals in the future?
A. While journals will become more electronic, some readers prefer paper which can be read in the bath without mishap. Publicizing collections on various themes online is attractive as it allows authors and readers to see the range of a journal at a glance.

Q. Do you have any tips or tricks to share with your fellow editors about being a journal editor?
A. Becoming an editor of a journal is an exciting but daunting task, especially if you are working alone without day-to-day contact with editorial colleagues. The job requires constant attention to detail to ensure publication of high-quality, well-presented material, maintaining the integrity of the scientific record. It is important that editors act politely, fairly but firmly at all times. Speedy communication with authors and reviewers is essential. All Elsevier journals are members of COPE and its website is a source of useful advice. An editor should also act as an educator to authors and reviewers so that young researchers are encouraged to publish and be involved in the process. They are the editors of the future. An Editor-in-Chief needs to interact regularly with other editors and the editorial board, as well as journal and publishing managers. It is a team effort. Editors should not go out on a limb and difficult decisions should be made in consultation.

MichaelEmerman_square

Editor in the Spotlight – Michael Emerman

Michael Emerman, PhD, a virologist who researches HIV replication at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, has been Editor-in-Chief of Virology since January 2013. Emerman is a long-serving member of the journal’s Board of Directors, and is its fourth Editor-in-Chief. Established in 1954, Virology is one of the oldest journals in its field. It has […]

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Michael Emerman, PhD, a virologist who researches HIV replication at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, has been Editor-in-Chief of Virology since January 2013. Emerman is a long-serving member of the journal’s Board of Directors, and is its fourth Editor-in-Chief. Established in 1954, Virology is one of the oldest journals in its field. It has an Impact Factor of 3.367 and publishes 24 issues per year, with an average turnaround time of four weeks to first decision. Emerman has instigated some big changes to the journal this year, dramatically increasing submissions.

Listen to an audio interview with Michael Emerman.

Q. What does being a journal editor mean to you and what do you find most rewarding about this role?
A. It's a great honor to be Editor-in-Chief of a journal such as Virology that has been around for nearly 60 years. It is also a big responsibility to make sure that it continues. I find it very rewarding working with the other editors since they bring such a high level of expertise and experience, and I also like picking out interesting papers for us to highlight. In general, the rewarding part is being able to publish interesting papers in my field.

Q. What are your biggest challenges as Editor-in-Chief of Virology? How do you overcome these challenges and what extra support can Elsevier provide?
A. Virology has been in a decline for several years. The number of submissions was down, the number of papers published was down, and the reputation was suffering. I took over as Editor-in-Chief with a goal of restoring the journal and elevating it to the top journal in its field. Elsevier has been very supportive in our efforts to entice submissions by removing charges for color figures, going to an open archive, doing marketing campaigns, redesigning the journal cover, and redesigning the journal webpage. They have also helped us get new initiatives started and bring new editors on board with the expertise we need to go into new areas. Submissions are now increasing (over 50% increase since the start of the year), and we are looking forward to increases in the quality of papers and journal reputation.

Q. In many areas of research, the growth of paper submissions is outpacing the growth of qualified reviewers and resulting in pressure on the peer-review system. What do you think the solution to this problem is and how do you see the peer-review process changing in the future?
A. We have started an initiative we call ‘Streamline Review’ where we take a submission that has been rejected by a journal with a high Impact Factor along with the original reviews and the author’s rebuttal (and of course, the revised text). We send the entire package to a member of the editorial board who can judge the article based on the existing reviews (they also usually add something of their own). That way, we can re-purpose reviews and save reviewers’ time. I would like to see more journals sharing reviews like this.

Despite complaints, I think the peer-review system serves a wonderful purpose. I have seen many papers over the years become vastly improved by reviews. The role of the editor is to weed out the poor reviews and to use the peer-review system to turn out better papers.

Q. We have observed that researchers are increasingly accessing journal content online at an article level, i.e. the researcher digests content more frequently on an article basis rather than a journal basis. How do you think this affects the visibility of your journal among authors?
A. In my field, even though researchers access journal content at the article level, they still pay attention to the journal in which it originated. Part of that is trust in the editors: at good journals one trusts that the editors know who to send the paper to for peer review and that the reviews said the paper was good enough to publish. The reputation of papers lies in the quality of the peer review, and thus the quality of the editors. I see a backlash against the ‘publish everything’ journals since predictions that post-review quality control would take place have not yet materialised.

Q. Recently, there have been many developments in open access particularly in the UK and Europe where, back in July 2012, the UK government endorsed the Finch Report recommendations for government-funded research to be made available in open access publications. The European Commission has since followed suit, making a similar announcement for an open access policy starting in 2014. How do you see these open access changes in your country? And how do you see them affecting authors who publish in your journal?
A. Some authors will publish only in open access journals. We have seen some bias against Elsevier with authors who will not send their papers and reviewers who decline to review for non-open access journals. Now that our journal has an open access option that is reasonably priced that may change, but it’s too soon to tell. In the end, however, journal quality is often what is most important for authors.

Q. Researchers need to demonstrate their research impact, and they are increasingly under pressure to publish articles in journals with high Impact Factors. How important is a journal’s Impact Factor to you, and do you see any developments in your community regarding other research quality measurements?
A. I very much dislike Impact Factor as a judge of article and researcher quality. Hopefully, the Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA)  will gain hold and help to put an end to this way of judging article quality. Our goal for Virology is to publish good papers, publicize those papers, and let the Impact Factor naturally rise as a consequence of having good papers that others want to cite.

Q. As online publishing techniques develop, the traditional format of the online scientific article will change. At Elsevier, we are experimenting with new online content features and functionality. Which improvements/changes would you, as an editor, find most important?
A. I really like the ability to add audio content to have authors explain their work in slides (AudioSlides). I think this works very well to get the main point of a paper quickly. I think that Elsevier needs to think about fonts that work better for reading on screens since, in the future, we may not ever print out articles. The navigation tools in the Article of the Future also work well for reading online.

Q. Do you use social media or online professional networking in your role as an editor or researcher? Has it helped you and, if so, how?
A. We have a broad subject Twitter feed for articles in Virology but we’re looking into new channels that will be more specific to our journal. We will be starting a blog to highlight two articles per issue with additional photos and graphics. I think we will be doing an increasing amount of social media in the future since this is now a common way that people identify interesting work. Personally, I have a LinkedIn account and an account on ResearchGate. I don’t use them much as a researcher, but I am considering how these tools could be used to solicit articles for the journal.

Q. How do you see your journal developing over the next 10 years? Do you see major shifts in the use of journals in the future?
A. Our goal is to be the top virology journal within 3-5 years based on improving author experience (including faster reviews, easier means of submission, free color, more options for article types, open access) and making sure that our best papers get noticed. In the future, I think most people will read articles online rather than in print or printed out, so it will be important that articles can be easily read on electronic devices where they can be marked up, saved, and shared with others.

Q. Do you have any tips or tricks to share with your fellow editors about being a journal editor?
A. At our last editors’ meeting we discussed how our best editors get reviews quickly. The key seems to be that personalizing the email requests makes them more effective. We have automated reminders that go out before the review is due and then a few days after the review is due. Then, for late reviews, we ask the editors to send a personal email to ask for the review by ‘next Monday'. Having editors who know the field and know who to ask is very important for this to work.

The Journal of Academic Librarianship

Journal dedicates issue to open access debate

The Journal of Academic Librarianship focused on open access in its January issue. Here two co-Editors explain why.

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Wendi Arant Kaspar and Wyoma vanDuinkerken | Co-Editors of The Journal of Academic Librarianship

Wendi Arant Kaspar

Wendi Arant Kaspar

With the first issue of 2013, The Journal of Academic Librarianship (JAL) focused on the open access (OA) debate. As new editors, we hoped that this issue would communicate the diversity of opinions and experiences that the topic merits. Those invited to contribute were not only librarians but publishers, policymakers and academic professionals in a variety of disciplines. The majority of the contributors supported the OA movement, but there was variance in terms of how OA is defined, what it should look like, and the ideal model for implementing and sustaining it. 

We achieved part of our goal of bringing JAL readers a balanced view of the OA debate.

OA is a noble goal for scholarship, based upon free information for all, furthering research and scholarship, and dissemination of information. However, some fundamental aspects of OA are often overlooked. A perfect example is provided by one of the contributors. He refers to a compelling term: “digital advantage,” an elegant term for a messy sociopolitical issue. It illuminates a number of assumptions made about OA and scholarly communication and is used to address the dynamics of expanding OA into developing countries.

Wyoma vanDuinkerken

Wyoma vanDuinkerken

Another article discussed the concern over universities mandating graduate students to place their Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETDs) into institutional repositories, losing their copyrights. We were also fortunate to have Mark J. McCabe, Christopher M. Snyder and Anna Fagin discuss OA vs. traditional journal pricing. David J. Solomon examined the past 20 years of the digital distribution of academic journals and their impact on scholarly communication, while Alicia Wise presented a commercial publisher’s perspective from Elsevier. Several authors contributed to a broad spectrum of perspectives on OA outside the United States, including Saskia Woutersen-Windhouwer, Dehua Hu, Aijing Luo, Haizia Liu, Sarika Sawant, Rajiv Nariani, Sandra Miguel, Paola C. Bongiovani, Nancy D. Gómez, Gema Bueno-de-la-Fuente and Williams E. Nwagwu.

We hope that this JAL issue will continue to cultivate and amplify a thoughtful and open conversation about OA among the scholarly community of libraries, researchers, faculty, publishers, and their representative associations. We encourage letters to the editor about the articles in the OA issue, and we will publish feedback and commentary throughout 2013 to continue the dialogue.

Visit ScienceDirect to view this issue.

This article first appeared in Elsevier's LibraryConnect.

Mayor elect Cllr. Richard Knowles.DAM11-05-10/22A

Editor in the Spotlight – Richard Knowles

The Journal of Transport Geography was launched 20 years ago by its founding editor, Professor Richard Knowles of the University of Salford, on behalf of the Transport Geography Research Group of the Institute of British Geographers. Since then it has published almost 1,500 articles. Its Impact Factor of 2.538 ranks it second out of 24 […]

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The Journal of Transport Geography was launched 20 years ago by its founding editor, Professor Richard Knowles of the University of Salford, on behalf of the Transport Geography Research Group of the Institute of British Geographers. Since then it has published almost 1,500 articles. Its Impact Factor of 2.538 ranks it second out of 24 journals in the Transportation category of SSCI, and seventh of 73 journals in the Geography category. Submissions to the journal are running at around 300 per year, with annual downloads of around 250,000 articles.

These figures are a tribute to Professor Knowles’ two decades of dedication to the journal. Having handed over the reins to his successor at the end of 2012, Professor Knowles reflects on his 20 years as an editor, and on how, while much has changed in that time, some fundamentals such as the importance of the peer-review process and the need to maintain high standards remain constant.

Q. What does being a journal editor mean to you and what do you find most rewarding about this role?
A. As an editor of an international research journal you have regular, close contact by email and at research conferences with your associate editors and other editorial board members who should be the leading researchers in your research sub-discipline. You also gain a unique international perspective of contemporary, cutting-edge research.

Q. What are your biggest challenges as Editor of Journal of Transport Geography? How do you overcome these challenges and what extra support can Elsevier provide?
A. The biggest challenges are:

  • To maintain high academic standards through the peer-review process to establish and maintain a comprehensive, global network of transport geography contacts who can support the journal.
  • To encourage researchers, and especially early years researchers, to submit their best research papers to the journal.

These challenges have been met by:

  • Expanding the pool of reviewers to include authors of new, cutting-edge research papers and discarding non-responding and uncritical reviewers.
  • Regularly refreshing the membership of the international editorial board. We invite new, high-quality researchers, retire under-performing members, maintain a good balance of age, gender and experience so the average age does not increase, and create a genuinely global, rather than just Anglo-American, team.
  • Regularly attending leading research conferences, contacting convenors in advance to encourage paper presenters to submit completed research to the journal and speaking directly to presenters of high-quality papers immediately after their presentations.

Elsevier can help by supporting annual editorial board meetings and the attendance of the editor and associate editors at leading research conferences.

Q. In many areas of research, the growth of paper submissions is outpacing the growth of qualified reviewers and resulting in pressure on the peer-review system. What do you think the solution to this problem is and how do you see the peer-review process changing in the future?
A. Double-blind peer reviewing is critical in maintaining journal paper quality. Peer-review payment needs to be considered. Editors need to screen out and reject more papers without sending them out to reviewers. EES needs to be made more user-friendly so that all editors and guest editors can see how many papers each reviewer has been asked to review in the last two years. This will help avoid over-stretched reviewers being asked too many times and should speed up reviewing turnaround times.

Q. We have observed that researchers are increasingly accessing journal content online at an article level, i.e. the researcher digests content more frequently on an article basis rather than a journal basis. How do you think this affects the visibility of your journal among authors?
A. Online access to papers is rapidly becoming the norm so that researchers are less likely to browse the contents of the journal. The visibility of the journal is maintained through the quality and relevance of the papers published but links are needed when viewing papers online to show at least the other contents of that journal issue and perhaps the annual Index of Contents.

Q. The move from print to electronic publishing has stimulated a broad discussion around alternative publishing models, often termed Open Access. These include:

  • Author pays journal
  • Sponsored articles
  • Free access to archives
  • Open archiving

What is your opinion about Open Access and how does it affect your journal?
A. The debate on Open Access is poorly informed. Most readers of research journal papers are employed by Universities which provide free to the user access to journals through electronic subscriptions. The costs of the peer-reviewing process and publication of accepted papers have to be met.  Top slicing research grants to pay for publication will reduce the quantum of research unless research budgets are increased. A mechanism needs to be found to provide researchers without institutional access with an affordable means of reading research papers.

Q. Researchers need to demonstrate their research impact, and they are increasingly under pressure to publish articles in journals with high Impact Factors. How important is a journal’s Impact Factor to you, and do you see any developments in your community regarding other research quality measurements?
A. Journal Impact Factors and citation scores for individual papers are very important when researchers choose which journal to send their research paper to. With the REF/RAE, in the UK (and Hong Kong) there is institutional pressure to only publish in high-ranking journals and similar pressure is growing in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. Other research quality measures carry less weight.

Q. As online publishing techniques develop, the traditional format of the online scientific article will change. At Elsevier, we are experimenting with new online content features and functionality. Which improvements / changes would you, as an editor, find most important?
A. As Editor I have supported the inclusion of new online features and functionality. It is important to survey a wide range of researchers to understand the constraints on their use and what additional features should be included. Links to authors’ webpages could be useful for researchers wishing to quickly identify a wider context for the particular paper.

Q. Do you use social media or online professional networking in your role as an editor or researcher? Has it helped you and, if so, how?
A. To a limited extent. Time pressure and my age make this less relevant although LinkedIn can be useful.

Q. How do you see your journal developing over the next 10 years? Do you see major shifts in the use of journals in the future?
A. Frequency of publication should increase from six issues per year to eight, 10, or even 12. Usage will continue to grow if the journal maintains its current status as the journal of choice for publication of high-quality research of international significance.

Q. Do you have any tips or tricks to share with your fellow editors about being a journal editor?
A. Make the role of editor an important part of your professional life and devote sufficient time to it. Maximize the benefits of being at the center of your research sub-discipline.

Michel_Tibayrenc

Editor in the Spotlight – Michel Tibayrenc

Michel Tibayrenc, MD, PhD, was born in France and has worked on the evolution of infectious diseases for 35 years. A Director of Research at the French Institut de recherche pour le developpement (IRD), he has spent a total of 12 years in Southern countries (Algeria, French Guiana, Bolivia, Thailand) and four years in the […]

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Michel Tibayrenc, MD, PhD, was born in France and has worked on the evolution of infectious diseases for 35 years. A Director of Research at the French Institut de recherche pour le developpement (IRD), he has spent a total of 12 years in Southern countries (Algeria, French Guiana, Bolivia, Thailand) and four years in the US (University of California and Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta). He is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the journal Infection, Genetics and Evolution, and the founder and principal organizer of the international congress MEEGID (stands for molecular epidemiology and evolutionary genetics of infectious disease). Michel Tibayrenc is passionate about research in developing countries.

Published eight times per year, Infection, Genetics and Evolution has an Impact Factor of 3.128 and receives between 450-500 papers each year, of which around 50% are eventually published.

Q. What does being a journal Editor mean to you and what do you find most rewarding about this role?
A.
Being an Editor-in-Chief gives privileged access to up-to-date scientific information in my field. Given the very specific topic of the journal, designed by me, it gives me the possibility to contribute towards shaping a new, integrated field of research (evolution of hosts, pathogens and vectors involved in the transmission and severity of infectious diseases). From a professional point of view, this role gives me an important prestige. Since 1977, I have worked for the French governmental organization IRD, which specializes in collaboration with Southern/developing countries. My activity as an Editor-in-Chief allows me to support the scientific communities in those regions of the world and to emphasize research specifically relevant to them (infectious diseases raging in the Southern world: malaria, Chagas disease, leishmanioses, tuberculosis, AIDS, dengue, among others). The companion congress MEEGID reinforces this action.

Q. What are your biggest challenges as Editor of Infection, Genetics and Evolution? How do you overcome these challenges and what extra support can Elsevier provide?
A.
The biggest challenge has been to operate the take-off of a new journal. It launched in 2001 and Thompson Reuters refused for more than eight years to give it an Impact Factor, while for the PLOS journals, the IF was given the first year of publication. A journal with no IF is poorly attractive. Elsevier helps with a very professional editing.

Q. In many areas of research, the growth of paper submissions is outpacing the growth of qualified reviewers and resulting in pressure on the peer-review system. What do you think the solution to this problem is and how do you see the peer-review process changing in the future?
A.
I see no solution for this: the present peer-review system is, to my eyes, the only satisfying one. Now every scientist is an author, and wants his/her articles peer-reviewed. Therefore it is in the interest of every scientist to act as a referee from time to time. The number of articles reviewed should be an important part of a CV and should be taken into account in the professional evaluation of a scientist. Editors should adequately target referees. Overbusy ‘stars’ will likely refuse to review papers. On the other hand, beginners lack expertise for it. A compromise should be targeted between these two extreme cases.

Q. We have observed that researchers are increasingly accessing journal content online at an article level, i.e. the researcher digests content more frequently on an article basis rather than a journal basis. How do you think this affects the visibility of your journal among authors?
A.
I think it does not affect it.

Q. The move from print to electronic publishing has stimulated a broad discussion around alternative publishing models. These models are often termed open access and include:

  • Author Pays Journal
  • Sponsored Articles
  • Free access to archives
  • Open-archiving

What is your opinion about the open access movement and how does it affect your journal?
A.
Open access is, to my eyes, a robbery. It is free access to the reader, but generally, publishing an article in such journals is extremely expensive.

Q. Researchers need to demonstrate their research impact, and they are increasingly under pressure to publish articles in journals with high Impact Factors. How important is a journal’s Impact Factor to you, and do you see any developments in your community regarding other research quality measurements?
A.
The IF is of course most important, and does reflect something. Now some Editors are presently playing an ugly game by trying to artificially increase their Impact Factors with unfair means (pressure on the authors to cite their journal). This should be denounced as scientific misconduct.*

Q. As online publishing techniques develop, the traditional format of the online scientific article will change. At Elsevier, we are experimenting with new online content features and functionality. Which improvements/changes would you, as an Editor, find most important?
A.
I have no opinion on this. I find the classical format satisfying.

Q. Do you use social media or online professional networking in your role as an Editor or researcher? Has it helped you and, if so, how?
A.
I am on Facebook and LinkedIn. They are not useful to me as an Editor.

Q. How do you see your journal developing over the next 10 years? Do you see major shifts in the use of journals in the future?
A.
I have a reasonable hope that the journal will get a rather considerable audience and increased Impact Factor, due to its very specific design and scope.

Q. Do you have any tips or tricks to share with your fellow Editors about being a journal Editor?
A.
I have a very ‘home-made cooking’ strategy and very closely follow the publishing process with a personal database (Bento on mac), which permits me to check the status of all submitted articles at least once a week. I am very strict on the scientific rules dealing with Linnean terminology and I am struck by the fact that big journals like Nature are not. It is very frequent to see the title of an article as “C. elegans” instead of “Caenorhabditis elegans”. If an author does that, I remind him/her of these rules.

* Read our Editors’ Update Issue 36 article Impact Factor Ethics for Editors

EIS_Suzie-Kardong-Edgren

Editor in the Spotlight – Suzie Kardong-Edgren

Clinical Simulation in Nursing launched with Elsevier in 2008 and became Elsevier’s first-ever, online-only nursing journal. Just this year its frequency increased from six to nine issues annually. Elsevier publishes the journal on behalf of the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation in Nursing (INACSL). Suzie Kardong-Edgren, PhD, RN, is the second Editor and was […]

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Clinical Simulation in Nursing launched with Elsevier in 2008 and became Elsevier’s first-ever, online-only nursing journal. Just this year its frequency increased from six to nine issues annually. Elsevier publishes the journal on behalf of the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation in Nursing (INACSL). Suzie Kardong-Edgren, PhD, RN, is the second Editor and was instrumental in seeking out a major publisher for what had been a members-only journal. 

Upon launch, the journal moved from a hand-to-mouth manuscript acquisition style to enjoying a backlog of articles, which positioned it to be more selective, to publish higher-quality content and to prepare for the ISI application process.  On average, Clinical Simulation in Nursing (Clin Sim) receives more than 100 non-solicited article submissions a year; the current rejection rate is nearing 40%.

Q. What does being a journal Editor mean to you and what do you find most rewarding about this role?
A.
I think that for me there is a dawning recognition about how important the Editor position actually is, how lucky I am to be an Editor, and the responsibility the Editor shoulders for moving a discipline forward.  It is so gratifying to see a new author published and then see the author cited in another journal. It is like a seal of approval, an endorsement of, “Yes, that was a good paper.”

Q. What are your biggest challenges as Editor of Clinical Simulation in Nursing? How do you overcome these challenges and what extra support can Elsevier provide?
A.
My biggest challenge as Editor is letting authors and researchers know the journal exists and then convincing them to publish their work in our journal, rather than a more well-known education journal. It is like an arrow through my heart when I read a simulation article in another journal and the author states, “There is nothing in the literature about…” and Clinical Simulation in Nursing has five excellent articles published on the topic that were neither found nor cited. I also understand, as a newly tenured associate professor, that publishing good work in well-known journals with high Impact Factors is necessary. My job is to sell an author or tenure-track faculty member on the fact that their work, if published in Clin Sim, will be read by the experts in the field rather than education generalists.

I attend both big and small simulation conferences to build journal awareness and recognition. Some of the best and most creative simulation work is done in small schools and simulation centers where there may be no incentive to publish. Yet folks are doing amazing things. Convincing people to try writing and coaxing them to consider themselves as authors with something important to say is a very important part of my job.

My Elsevier publishing manager has helped guide us through the applications for MEDLINE listing, which will lead eventually to an Impact Factor for the journal.

Q. In many areas of research, the growth of paper submissions is outpacing the growth of qualified reviewers and resulting in pressure on the peer-review system. What do you think the solution to this problem is and how do you see the peer-review process changing in the future?
A. This is an acute but opposite problem in simulation, which is an emerging field. Many of the most creative minds in the field work in associate degree programs where there is no incentive to publish. If one is working in a large simulation center, simulation use is exploding so there is little time to write. Paper submissions are growing as we encourage folks to write and the journal is discovered. There is a lot of mentoring of both peer reviewers and writers at this time. It is an ideal time, however, to get in on the ground floor as an emerging writer or a reviewer. I have heard about the open peer-review process, which allows a paper to go online as it arrives at the publisher for active online critique by readers. What an interesting experiment and instructive for all concerned.  I would try it.

Q. We have observed that researchers are increasingly accessing journal content online at an article level, i.e. the researcher digests content more frequently on an article basis rather than a journal basis. How do you think this affects the visibility of your journal among authors?
A. It helps Clinical Simulation in Nursing as an online-only journal. Researchers will find our content when conducting a search if they do not know we exist, and many of them do not. This means we need to have good content for them to find, which will then encourage them to seek out more information about the journal and potentially submit to us. I, too, search for what I want to read in a database like ScienceDirect or CINAHL; I rarely read an entire journal anymore.

Q. The move from print to electronic publishing has stimulated a broad discussion around alternative publishing models. These models are often termed open access and include:

  • Author Pays Journal
  • Sponsored Articles
  • Free access to archives
  • Open-archiving

What is your opinion about the open access movement and how does it affect your journal?
A.
As someone who just received tenure, I can say that the open access journal movement in the nursing education and simulation field is not big and probably would be frowned upon by my colleagues at this point in time. There are very few government-funded simulation studies that would qualify for mandatory open access right now. I do like the idea of free access to archived journals and articles after a certain point in time. Open access has its place also. There are too many struggling scientists in parts of the world where mailed print journals will never arrive or there is no access to a library. The web is everywhere. Open access might help the next Watson and Crick emerge from some less-developed country.

Q. Researchers need to demonstrate their research impact, and they are increasingly under pressure to publish articles in journals with high Impact Factors. How important is a journal’s Impact Factor to you, and do you see any developments in your community regarding other research quality measurements?
A. I am told frequently by authors outside the US that they cannot publish in Clin Sim because it does not have an Impact Factor...yet. Many international authors choose to publish with us, however, as they want the experts in the field to see their work. Publishing a simulation article in a general nursing education journal gets more readers perhaps.  But that work is read by whom?  Simulation is still fairly new at the moment; many people who read general education journals are still hoping simulation is just a fad and do not necessarily appreciate an outstanding simulation article. Wise nursing simulation experts read Clin Sim.

I know that there is discussion that tenure and promotion boards may start considering blogs as publications, as one can count the number of hits and followers. There are new ways to calculate impact in a field besides research publications and speaking engagements.

Q. As online publishing techniques develop, the traditional format of the online scientific article will change. At Elsevier, we are experimenting with new online content features and functionality. Which improvements/changes would you, as an Editor, find most important?
A. We have actually used some of those new features like embedding videos of simulations in our articles and author interviews. Both our readers and authors like this ability.  Having looked closely at Elsevier’s Article of the Future video, I personally look forward to the active links on the right hand side of the page to article citations. As an active researcher myself, I will love having the search taken care of for me. I can work much faster with those links if I need to locate something or I want to read further.

Q. Do you use social media or online professional networking in your role as an Editor or researcher? Has it helped you and, if so, how?
A. I have both ResearchGate and LinkedIn accounts, neither of which I have actively thought about for professional networking. I tweeted several years ago at a conference, using tweets to take notes that were apparently pretty good. Many folks started following me based on them. Then I lost my Twitter password and never followed up. As an Editor, I think tweeting has some real possibilities for advertising important upcoming articles, which I need to consider and pursue.

Q. How do you see your journal developing over the next 10 years? Do you see major shifts in the use of journals in the future?
A. Since we began with Elsevier, the journal has nearly doubled its readership every year. I hope that in less than 10 years we are listed in all the major databases and achieve that very important Impact Factor. As an online-only journal, I look forward to Elsevier’s’ enhanced online article interactive format possibilities.  Perhaps many print-only journals will adopt an interactive online format.  There are too many opportunities for media online to not actively explore what can be done with a web publication for articles.

Q. Do you have any tips or tricks to share with your fellow Editors about being a journal Editor?
A.
I’m too new to know any tricks. I have a lot to learn. I just try to stay ahead and on top of things. I do think an Editor has a remarkable influence to shape ideas in a field and that influence should not be taken lightly.

OA Steve Saxby

Editor in the Spotlight – Steve Saxby

Professor Steve Saxby is Director of the Institute for Law and the Web, and Professor of Information Technology Law and Public Policy at the School of Law, Southampton University. He is also founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief of Computer Law and Security Review – The International Journal of Technology Law and Practice (CLSR). Published six times […]

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Professor Steve Saxby is Director of the Institute for Law and the Web, and Professor of Information Technology Law and Public Policy at the School of Law, Southampton University. He is also founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief of Computer Law and Security Review - The International Journal of Technology Law and Practice (CLSR).

Published six times a year and now into its 28th volume, the international journal focuses on  technology law and practice, providing a major platform for publication of high quality research, policy and legal analysis within the field of IT law and computer security. The journal receives circa 200 papers per annum, of which around 30% are eventually published.

Computer Law & Security ReviewSteve Saxby’s current research interests lie in the public policy issues in public sector information; both its use and exploitation as well as new forms of information such as geospatial data. In 2011, he updated his research with a paper examining the politics and process of policy development in public sector information over the past three years. He is presently a member of a research team involving seven universities/research groups taking part in a £1.85m Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded project examining ways to improve understanding and authentication of identity in the digital environment.

Q. What does being a journal Editor mean to you and what do you find most rewarding about this role?
A. It’s immensely rewarding. It’s my window on the world; it keeps me on my toes and up to date with what’s going on. You accomplish more in the working day if you are an Editor as you have to keep up. So long as you have the drive to do that it is a great position to hold. I also love to give folk the opportunity to break through if they have a good paper on a new topic. Finding these gems and getting them out there is a real buzz. As Editor, I can maintain contact with the profession and academic community all over the world. It is better than Facebook for keeping in touch!

Q. What are your biggest challenges as Editor of Computer Law and Security Review?
A. You cannot let your standards drop and for that reason you have to put in the time to get reviews done, improve papers, work with authors and make sure that you keep track of what’s new. You have to love what you are doing. As CLSR was founded back in 1985, it was around during the period when critical legal thinking was taking place to upgrade the law from the offline to the online world. So, from its early beginnings when there was - quite frankly - not much ‘computer law’ about, it now embraces a field in which the scope of legal development and change is immense and fast moving. My biggest challenge then is to keep up with what’s going on and there’s no easy way to do that.

Q. How do you overcome these challenges and what extra support can Elsevier provide?
A. My eyes and ears are my colleagues serving on the Editorial and Professional Boards and my colleagues here at the University; I value their opinions very much.  I found the Elsevier Editors’ Conference in Budapest in May 2011 a real eye opener. It was great to engage with other Editors and to see all that Elsevier is doing. Being an Editor for a long time certainly helps too, as does being a specialist in the overall field - after a while you get an instinct for a topic and an idea gels. It also helps to know where the major research centres are in the field.

Prizewinners

Best paper award winners at a CLSR international conference

With regard to competitor challenges, one must always be prepared. Hard work and being open to a regular review of your methods is important. Getting out into the field is vital too and CLSR does this through its sponsorship of www.lspi.net. I think it is also important to bring new people on to the Boards of CLSR from time to time. That does mean saying goodbye to existing Board members, but it is important that the journal keeps refreshing its advisory team so that the impetus for new ideas and advice remains.

Q. In many areas of research, the growth of paper submissions is outpacing the growth of qualified reviewers and resulting in pressure on the peer-review system. What do you think the solution to this problem is and how do you see the peer-review process changing in the future?
A. I don’t have easy answers. You just need to keep your network going and bring in new people when you can. You have your tried and trusted reviewers and folk who in the past have published papers and have the expertise to advise. You have to value these reviewers and try to keep them on board.  It is also vital to keep talking to the wider community of authors and researchers, for example at conferences and workshops. The rewards for reviewing are usually intangible - most folk do it because they want to stay on the cutting edge. If you are interested, researching or practising professionally in a field, then you are naturally interested in a good paper. No half measures, hard work and commitment is all I can suggest but I do believe the peer-review process is vital to maintaining quality.

Q. We have observed a recent trend that researchers are increasingly accessing journal content online at an article level, i.e. the researcher digests content more frequently on an article basis rather than on a journal basis. How do you think this affects the visibility of your journal among authors?
A. The key thing for me is that the papers are published in CLSR. If they don’t carry that seal of approval then the reader is not aware of the provenance of the paper. It has to be linked to the journal and to an issue. Of course, folk will download but they will do so because they know from whence the paper comes. It is the hallmark of peer reviewed quality if it comes with the CLSR imprint on it. That link must not be lost.

Q. The move from print to electronic publishing has stimulated a broad discussion around alternative publishing models. These models are often termed open access and include:

  • Author pays journal
  • Sponsored articles
  • Free access to archives
  • Open-archiving

What is your opinion about the open access movement and how does it affect your journal?
A. Open access after publication and in the author’s imprint on peer to peer sites like SSRN is fine with me. There are plenty of folk out there who will also want the added value of SciVerse ScienceDirect and the tools available for finding papers. I have no problem with that at all. I would never go down the path of making CLSR an Author Pays journal – to me that would undermine the independence of the journal’s content and its position as an academic journal of repute.

Q. Researchers need to demonstrate their research impact, and they are increasingly under pressure to publish articles in journals with high Impact Factors. How important is a journal’s Impact Factor to you, and do you see any developments in your community regarding other research quality measurements?
A. The Impact Factor is not used in Law journals nearly as much. Lawyers tend to use primary sources when they write, rather than cite other authors. It is not a factor that will be used directly in the forthcoming academic review of legal research known as the REF – Research Excellence Framework.

Q. As online publishing techniques develop, the traditional format of the online scientific article will change. At Elsevier we are experimenting with new online content features and functionality. Which improvements/changes would you as an Editor find most important?
A. Lawyers want embedded web links to primary sources and whatever added value can go with that. The new online content features you mention are probably going to be more useful in the scientific, rather than the legal community. However, I am always open to suggestions.

Q. Do you use social media or online professional networking in your role as an Editor or researcher? Has it helped you and, if so, how?
A. I do belong to LinkedIn but do not use it yet as much as I should. I think it could be useful for informing users about content as well as finding folk out there with expertise who might like to write or review for CLSR. Pressures of work have prevented me getting stuck into professional networking and social media yet, but it is on the agenda.

Q. How do you see your journal developing over the next 10 years? Do you see major shifts in the use of journals in the future?
A. Since 2005, I have linked CLSR to the series of International Conferences that Professor Sylvia Kierkegaard of the CLSR Editorial Board and I run together. I think this is an excellent way to connect CLSR to its readers and the author community. CLSR sponsors best paper awards (see photo) and I lead an annual CLSR seminar at the conference. It has been a great success, especially as it brings early career researchers from all over the world into face to face contact with me and some of my board. I will continue to build on that connection and to ensure that CLSR also uses its capability to contribute to policy debates and to government and EU consultations. This is where journals have to go in the future.

Q. Do you have any tips or tricks to share with your fellow Editors about being a journal Editor?
A. You have to be an early starter - getting into work early helps, e.g. 6.45am. You build experience over time and that helps in the day to day management of the journal. I juggle many tasks each day and knowing when to prioritize a task is vital and I have never been short of copy for an issue or missed a deadline in 28 years as Editor. The secret is keeping on top of everything and being flexible too. I don’t let things pile up. When a new paper comes in I try to sort out the reviewer fairly quickly and then chase things up if need be. I negotiate with my authors and use the reviews to improve papers wherever possible, even if we are not taking it. You build up a relationship that way. It is a privilege to be an Editor and the responsibility one carries is high, but I have loved every moment of my 27 years so far. I may get into the Guinness Book of Records one day for my length of service. Roll on the 200th issue in 2018!

OA Boyana Konforti

Case Study: Cell Reports and the Creative Commons Path

Cell Reports is not only the latest addition to the Cell Press suite of journals, it also holds the honor of being the group’s first open access journal and the first Creative Commons journal published by Elsevier. Authors in Cell Reports retain full copyright over their articles and are able to choose between two Creative […]

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Cell Reports is not only the latest addition to the Cell Press suite of journals, it also holds the honor of being the group’s first open access journal and the first Creative Commons journal published by Elsevier.

Authors in Cell Reports retain full copyright over their articles and are able to choose between two Creative Commons licenses for publication, one of which is the most permissive license offered by Creative Commons.

Cell Reports_issue2

Cell Reports Editor, Boyana Konforti, spoke to Editors’ Update about why the journal chose this particular open access path.

“Cell Press has always placed a high priority on access to its content; each of the journals offers free featured articles and the sponsored article option*, and all content is freely available after 12 months. Cell Reports goes further by providing authors with an opportunity to publish in a prestigious journal with immediate and unrestricted access.

Why Creative Commons?

“It was important for Cell Reports to be able to offer authors Creative Commons licenses. The most permissive license allows end users to share and adapt the paper, both commercially and non-commercially. The other option allows the article to be copied and distributed, but it cannot be changed in any way or used commercially.

“I’m not sure how much time our authors spend deciding between these two licenses. However, I do know that for open access advocates, the fact that we offer the most accommodating Creative Commons license, and that copyright is retained by the authors, is a big deal.

“It is still early days - we published our inaugural issue at the end of January and we publish new articles weekly – but as time goes on it will be interesting to see whether authors favor one license over the other.

“The aim of Cell Reports is to publish high-quality papers encompassing all scales of biology, from the organism to the atom, with a focus on short papers.   There are, of course, other open access journals – in fact, quite a number have launched just in recent years – though few have the high standards and prestige of the Cell Press brand. There are also other journals that publish short papers, and still others that have a broad remit. But it is the unique combination of these features that will distinguish Cell Reports within Cell Press and beyond. I like to think of the old adage of the sum being greater than its parts.

The peer review process

"So far, we have been very pleased with the number and breadth of papers we’ve been receiving. The in-house editorial team of Cell Reports, which consists of me and Sabbi Lall, are responsible for reading all the papers and deciding which ones go out for external review. In making that decision we have the good fortune to be able to call on the extensive editorial expertise available across all the other Cell Press journals.

"We also ask our Editorial Board for advice. This unique board consists of up-and-coming scientists who are the new leaders in their respective fields and will help shape the journal from the ground up. They are passionate about their subject areas and enthusiastic about the journal.

"Even for those papers that do go out for review, the reviewers are holding the bar high. That way we can ensure we maintain the high quality and selectivity you would expect from Cell Press. As part of the Cell Press family, we also benefit from the manuscript-transfer system between journals, so one review process can serve for consideration at more than one journal.

First impressions

"I have been an Editor for many years and yet it is very exciting to start a journal from scratch – especially a high caliber, broad, open access journal at Cell Press. I am especially proud of the fact that the moment the paper is published it is available to everyone, everywhere.

"I’d like to say a big thank you to all the reviewers and our Editorial and Advisory Boards but especially to our authors who helped us get the journal launched. It’s always a big leap of faith to get involved with a new project like this so I’m very grateful. I look forward to further expanding the scope of Cell Reports so that it truly covers all of biology."

* Cell Press journals permit sponsored articles only in accordance to agreements with funding organizations.

Author Biography

Boyana Konforti

Boyana Konforti

Boyana Konforti
EDITOR, CELL REPORTS
Boyana earned her PhD at Stanford University with Ron Davis, studying the mechanism of DNA recombination. She then did postdoctoral studies on the mechanisms of RNA splicing at Rockefeller University with Magda Konarska and at Columbia University with Anna Pyle. Boyana has been a professional Editor for more than 13 years, and she brings a wealth of experience in scientific journal publishing, as well as a deep understanding of biology and the communities that Cell Press serves.

Phil Martin

A New Editor’s Thoughts and Impressions

Having been in the deep end of the pool for two months, Phil Martin, Editor for Surface and Coatings Technology, shares some early impressions that may be of interest to other new Editors.

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Phil Martin | CSIRO Materials Science & Engineering, Australia | Editor, Surface and Coatings Technology

I joined Elsevier as an Editor for Surface and Coatings Technology in January this year and so I am relatively new to the EES system, at least from the Editor perspective.

I have been a member of the Editorial Board since 1987 and also a reviewer for several other Elsevier journals, so have had some exposure to the system. Having now been in the deep end of the pool for two months I am still on a learning curve but maybe some early impressions and experience may be of interest to others starting out as Editors.

Elsevier provides an excellent on-line introduction to the EES system, which Editors can try at their leisure and familiarize themselves with the aspects that are new to them. The real-time training is invaluable and I would say critical in getting up to speed. There is quite a lot of information to absorb first up and it is necessarily hypothetical, of course, until you are actually working in the EES system for real.  I had a second session using my actual Editor’s work list and practised on real cases, which then closed the loop on many questions that I had.

The main task essentially reduces to finding appropriate reviewers, of course, and this can be a little daunting for the first time.  However, the Scopus system is excellent and my experiences with the searching process to date have been very positive. The system as it works for SCT has some foibles though.  For example, if a potential reviewer is identified and emailed with the standard automated invitation there is no guarantee that the email address is still valid.  By the time you find out that it isn’t, at least five days have been lost. Apart from this issue, which I understand from the EES support office is an internal setting at the journal end, the system works extraordinarily well.  Reviewers that decline are generally very helpful and suggest alternatives although one did suggest the actual author?  When the numbers start to build errors can occur and I have invited an author to review their own paper on one occasion also!

It has been a rewarding experience to date and a great insight into the other side of the fence for a publishing scientist.  The main message I would like to convey to my colleagues in the scientific community is the importance of participating in the reviewing process for scientific journals in order to maintain the high standards we all expect for published scientific literature.

EU34_EIS_Richard_Primack

Editor in the Spotlight: Richard Primack

Richard Primack, Professor of Biology at Boston University, has been an Editor of Biological Conservation since 2004, and was appointed Editor-in-Chief in 2008. Since its launch in 1968, Biological Conservation has become one of the leading journals in conservation. It publishes research in the discipline of conservation, spanning a diverse range of fields contributing to the biological, sociological, […]

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Richard Primack, Professor of Biology at Boston University, has been an Editor of Biological Conservation since 2004, and was appointed Editor-in-Chief in 2008.

Biological ConservationSince its launch in 1968, Biological Conservation has become one of the leading journals in conservation. It publishes research in the discipline of conservation, spanning a diverse range of fields contributing to the biological, sociological, and economic dimensions of conservation and natural resource management. Biological Conservation publishes 12 issues per year and is covered by the Thomson Reuters Journal Citation Reports for 2010 with an Impact Factor of 3.498. Last year, the journal received almost 1,300 submissions of which around 25% has eventually been published.

Richard Primack’s research group is investigating the impact of a warming climate on the flowering and leafing out times of plants and the spring arrival of birds in Massachusetts, Japan, and South Korea.

Q. What does being a journal editor mean to you and what do you find most rewarding about this role?
A. Being a journal editor for Biological Conservation means being able to maintain the quality of research in my field, and being aware of the latest developments before they are published. I get my greatest satisfaction from helping new researchers to publish their first article. Also, I have enjoyed the friendly and cooperative interactions among the editors of our journal, all of whom work together to improve the journal.

Q. What are your biggest challenges as editor of Biological Conservation? How do you overcome these challenges and what extra support can Elsevier provide?
A. The greatest challenge is the increasing complexity of the job, including managing editorial workloads, dealing with authors, ethical issues, and the diversity of articles. A further challenge is that the current online submission system (EES) is nearing the end of its lifetime, and is showing its age. At present, the Elsevier representatives provide excellent and rapid advice and assistance. However, an early release of the new online system will be of great benefit.

Q. In many areas of research, the growth of paper submissions is outpacing the growth of qualified reviewers and resulting in pressure on the peer-review system. What do you think the solution to this problem is and how do you see the peer-review process changing in the future?
A. At Biological Conservation, we are experiencing a steady growth in the number of high-quality submissions. In order to reduce the workload on editors, we are appointing another handling editor. We have been able to find enough reviewers as long as we send out multiple invitations so I don’t see a serious problem with the present system. We are also increasing the percentage of submissions that we immediately reject without peer review. A recurring problem is what to do when handling editors do not want to accept new papers for a while, such as when they are sick, having a baby, travelling, on vacation, involved in intensive work projects, etc... At those times, I must give the other editors more work.

Q. We have observed a recent trend that researchers are increasingly accessing journal content online at an article level, i.e. the researcher digests content more frequently on an article basis rather than on a journal basis. How do you think this affects the visibility of your journal among authors?
A. The whole process of online access is changing the way that people think about scientific literature, especially journals. In the short term, it means that people all over the world can have access to a wider range of journals, at the cost of a more narrow focus. The long-term consequences are less certain. One specific response we have made to the issue of online access to single articles is to make sure that articles state on the first page that they are part of a Special Issue or Special Section when that is appropriate.

Q. The move from print to electronic publishing has stimulated a broad discussion around alternative publishing models. These models are often termed as ‘open access’ and include:

  • Author Pays Journal
  • Sponsored Articles
  • Free access to archives
  • Open-archiving

What is your opinion about the ‘open access movement’ and how does it affect your journal?
A. This is something that we have not yet addressed, but we may have to soon. At present, Biological Conservation and the other leading journals in our field are still peer-reviewed, regular journals.

Q. Researchers need to demonstrate their research impact, and they are increasingly under pressure to publish articles in journals with high Impact Factors. How important is a journal’s Impact Factor to you, and do you see any developments in your community regarding other research quality measurements?
A. Impact Factors have confirmed and quantified the ranking of journals that experienced researchers were already aware of. We did a study two years ago and discovered that large numbers of papers that we rejected were later published in journals with somewhat lower Impact Factors than our journals, but none were published in higher-ranked journals. So clearly Impact Factors are describing something that is affecting the publication process. Right now it is not clear which other quality measures would replace or compete with the increasingly important Impact Factor.

Q. As online publishing techniques develop, the traditional format of the online scientific article will change. At Elsevier we are experimenting with new online content features and functionality, we call this project the Article of the Future. How do you think changes like these will affect your work as an editor?
A. I will have to see what this means. However, features that make an article easier to use, such as PowerPoint slides and colorful graphics that can be incorporated into presentations and lectures, would add value to the article.

Q. Do you use social media or online professional networking within your role as an editor or researcher? Has it helped you and, if so, how?
A. I don’t use any social media or online networking at present. If it appears necessary or useful I will learn it, but so far it has not come up in any interactions. Currently, email, electronic bulletin boards, and electronic mailing lists work fine. I also still see great value in visiting other universities and scientific organizations and attending local, national and international meetings to meet new people in person and develop collaborations.

Q. How do you see your journal developing over the next 10 years? Do you see major shifts in the use of journals in the future?
A. One of the most obvious developments is the ever increasing number of papers from China, India and other developing countries. At present, the quality of these papers is uneven, and the rejection rate is high. However, the quality will almost certainly improve over time. In response we will need to appoint new members of our editorial team from those countries.

Q. Do you have any tips or tricks to share with your fellow editors about being a journal editor?
A. My most important strategy is to keep working steadily, so that the amount of work does not overwhelm me. I set aside a regular time to work on the journal at least once each week, because if I don’t send manuscripts to handling editors and authors in a timely manner, then they can’t do their jobs. For manuscripts that are hard to find reviewers for, I keep a small reserve of close colleagues, often in my own department, whom I can call on to provide reliable reviews on short notice. And finally, I always remember that authors are people, and I try to treat them the way I would want to be treated: fairly, clearly, and in a timely manner.

Previous Editors in the Spotlight

lancet 168 x 168

Recruiting an Asia-based Editor. Case Study: The Lancet

We know from editor feedback during conferences and webinars that many of you are keen to attract Asia-based editors on to your boards. We also know that some of you are unsure how to begin the important task of recruitment. Who should you approach? What qualities should you look for? Are there any pitfalls you […]

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We know from editor feedback during conferences and webinars that many of you are keen to attract Asia-based editors on to your boards.

We also know that some of you are unsure how to begin the important task of recruitment. Who should you approach? What qualities should you look for? Are there any pitfalls you should be aware of?

In this article we chat to two of The Lancet’s regional editors; Beijing-based Asia Editor, Helena Wang, and New York-based North American Senior Editor, Maja Zecevic. They reveal the positives, the challenges - and the surprises - they have experienced since Wang’s appointment to the team 18 months ago.

Helena's story 

Helena Wang_The Lancet Asia Editor

Helena Wang

I had been working for three years on the Chinese version of The Lancet to develop various editorial projects when I spotted the advert for an editor on the English-language journal. I thought why not try?

That was one and a half years ago and the role has turned out to be beyond my expectations. It is my dream job...The Lancet is my Mr Right.

I am a member of the fast track team, which involves peer reviewing manuscripts submitted globally to enable publication within four weeks. I am also responsible for peer review of normal track papers from Asian countries such as China (including Hong Kong), Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.

My role includes writing editorials in English commenting on research and health policies, many of which relate to China, and that has been so interesting for me. One of my editorials focused on the predicament of Chinese doctors - their thoughts, feelings and doubts - and it received a lot of feedback and support.

I also work on The Lancet’s ‘China’ issues, which feature submissions of high quality research from Chinese authors or research teams working in China. The number of submissions from China is increasing fast. However, the methodology and novelty of the research undertaken by most Asian countries, including China, are still of major concern.

Bridging the cultural gap

During my time on The Lancet I have noticed a number of differences between myself and the editors in London. In Asian cultures, people do not express their thoughts as openly and directly as westerners. Instead we read between the lines and believe that ‘silence is golden’. That is why, compared to westerners, some Asians appear quieter in discussions.

That difference also applies to management styles. In Asian countries, staff are often more happy to listen and let their boss tell them what to do. They can be more unwilling to make suggestions and speak their mind. My boss on The Lancet is always helping and encouraging me to express my own thoughts more freely and openly to the editorial team.

Another difference I see is in the standard of research papers submitted. Western countries have adapted very well; they know the research as well as the submission rules. They know how to present their ideas clearly and strongly to the editors. But in Asian countries, gaps in understanding remain. Part of my role is to educate. I give presentations at universities, research institutes and seminars to try to overcome those gaps. If you play football or basketball you have rules and if you don’t follow the rules you won’t score. It’s the same principle with submissions.

Two-way street

The Lancet Chinese edition

The Lancet Chinese edition

I don’t believe that exchange of knowledge has been only one-way. At the beginning of this year I travelled to London to give a presentation about The Lancet in China and my colleagues were very impressed by the journal’s influence here. The Chinese really respect The Lancet very much. If a Chinese doctor publishes with us he will be headline news and receive a large financial reward. The Lancet’s interest in China has made the Chinese admire the journal even more. My colleagues were also surprised by the huge investment in research in China and the ambitious goals of that research. China is quite open-minded these days and has invited many editors from top journals in western countries to share their knowledge.

Another issue I’ve encountered is the time difference. When we finish work in China, the London office is just beginning. I need to pay attention to the emails that flow in then to make sure I don’t miss any urgent tasks. Sometimes, I need to work or join telephone editorial meetings at night.

The other challenge involves living and working in different cultures. It goes far beyond the differences in languages – English or Chinese - which I understand very well. The challenge is that when you work with colleagues in the UK or US, you need to think and act as westerners do, while when you contact Chinese government or doctors, you must act in a very traditional Chinese way.

Opening doors in China

I think The Lancet is a very good fit for China. The name can mean a window letting in light or a surgical scalpel. Things are changing in Asia and so are health policies. We need to cut off the bad policies and shine a light on what we are doing well. We can learn from Western countries; understand their advantages as well as the lessons already learned.

I feel very appreciative of The Lancet, which has also provided many valuable training opportunities, including English language polishing and clinical statistic courses.

Another thing I have learned at The Lancet is to think globally. I now say to researchers to think outside of the box when they are preparing their papers - think about the global perspective!

Maja’s story

Maja Zecevic

Maja Zecevic

Things in Asia work very differently. If one wants to succeed in those countries, one must adjust to the local customs and culture. It is very important to have someone who has local connections and respect; someone who knows the mentality and local language and who speaks fluent English. In my experience, experts in India, for example, often speak very good English but that is not always the case in China.

We are a medical journal and for us the Asian market is really evolving; China and Japan are two of the biggest funders of basic science research and are responsible for a substantial number of clinical trials. Sometimes these are run by local companies, but Asia is also really attractive for Western pharmaceutical companies who carry out trials in both Caucasians and Asians. Differences in genetic make-up can influence the side effects and efficacy of the drugs being tested. Asia also offers a population of ‘therapeutically naive’ patients who have not taken drugs before. Add to that the large population base and the low costs and one can see why it is so popular.

It is also important to note that some diseases are simply more prevalent in Asia, for example gastric cancer in China, so naturally a lot of related studies are conducted in China or use Chinese subjects.

Improving standards

One of Helena’s roles is to look into how we can ensure this research is done ethically. She has been visiting institutions and medical centers to educate authors and principal investigators on how to properly carry out and report their research. The other main goal is to attract high-quality clinical research content from China for the journal.

Interestingly, she picks up on things we aren’t aware of here, for example, how the media in China reports items in The Lancet. That helps us understand what aspects of our content other world regions find important.

The Lancet China issue

A 'China' issue of The Lancet

We also produce special issues of The Lancet focused on China because their health reforms are educational and of interest to our global audience. Those issues give us the opportunity to highlight advances made in the right direction and to emphasize areas that currently need to be addressed in China. They can also help to focus the existing diverse health priorities and improve funding.

Authorship is often an issue with regard to submissions from Asia. The same goes for copyright regulations. They are still discovering the ways these things are done properly and ethically. The pressure to publish there is much higher; guest authorship is very strong and the top people, who have a lot of influence, want their names on high-impact papers. That means young researchers can feel compelled to include authors who actually had very little to do with the reported research. There is also the perception that an important name on a paper makes it more likely to get respect and be published.

Finding the right qualities

Journals wanting to attract Asia-based editors on to their boards should bear a few key things in mind. Working in a side editorial office has its challenges and advantages - that’s something both Helena and I have experienced – and I like to say we are often the ‘face, eye, and ear’ of the journal in our respective regions.

Editors working alone must have an independent mind, be flexible, and be happy to interact on your journal’s behalf. It’s not only about the editorial side, we also have a role raising awareness and promoting the journal. It is also important that we communicate and interact frequently with the journal’s main editorial team.

Journal boards should find someone who is outgoing and approachable because this is very much a networking and out-of-office role. The job is to interact, react and field what is important in the local region and convey this to the main editorial office.

The addition of Helena to our editorial team has enormously benefited The Lancet. She is doing a truly wonderful job. We are all so very fond and proud to work with her and have learned so much from her.

Author Biographies

Helena Wang_The Lancet Asia Editor

Helena Wang

Helena Hui Wang
ASIA EDITOR, THE LANCET
Helena took on her current role in 2010 and focuses on reviewing manuscripts, writing editorials, and developing The Lancet’s presence in Asia through outreach, conferences, and themed issues. She is also The Lancet’s first point of contact for authors in Asia. She is the only China-based editor for the journal. She holds a Master’s degree in Pathology and Pathophysiology and a Bachelor degree in Clinical Medicine from Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China. Before taking on her current role, she looked after The Lancet’s Chinese edition and was involved in various journal publication projects in Elsevier’s China office. Prior to that, she worked as a peer review editor for a local general medical journal.


Maja Zecevic
Maja Zecevic

Maja Zecevic
NORTH AMERICAN SENIOR EDITOR, THE LANCET
Maja Zecevic, PhD, MPH, is the only US-based editor for the journal. She commissions clinical and public health pieces; represents the journal at major conferences and invitation-only meetings; discusses research with leading academic, government and for-profit clinical and global health leaders; is an invited lecturer and conference moderator; and writes editorials for The Lancet. Originally from Serbia, after living in Latin America for several years Maja moved to the United States to pursue her drive and passion for biomedical and public health research. She received her PhD in Cell Biology from the University of Virginia and a subsequent Master’s degree in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University. Before joining The Lancet, she was a Cancer Prevention Fellow at the National Cancer Institute and at MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Karl Shell

Editor in the Spotlight: Karl Shell

Karl Shell, Thorne Professor of Economics at Cornell University, New York, is the founding editor of Journal of Economic Theory – also known as JET; one of the most prestigious journals in the field of economics. He started the journal at the end of the sixties, at a time when the economics field began to […]

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Karl Shell, Thorne Professor of Economics at Cornell University, New York, is the founding editor of Journal of Economic Theory – also known as JET; one of the most prestigious journals in the field of economics.

He started the journal at the end of the sixties, at a time when the economics field began to expand and differentiate and the general journals were unable to absorb the increasing research output in the profession. Despite the emergence of competitors and more specialized theory journals, Karl Shell has managed to preserve JET’s position as the leading journal in economic theory for more than 40 years.

JET is a bi-monthly publication, typically publishing five regular issues and one topical symposium issue. Last year, the journal received more than 750 regular paper submissions. Of all submissions, only between 10% and 15% tends to be accepted for publication.

Q. What does being a journal editor mean to you and what do you find most rewarding about this role?
A.
I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work with JET authors, associate editors, referees, and symposium organizers -- top economic theorists from around the world. This is the basic reward for editing.

Q. What are your biggest challenges as editor of Journal of Economic Theory. How do you overcome them and what extra support can Elsevier provide? In many areas of research, the growth of paper submissions is outpacing the growth of qualified reviewers and resulting in pressure on the peer-review system. What do you think the solution to this problem is and how do you see the peer review process changing in the future?
A.
The biggest challenge comes from the phenomenal growth in the sheer size and quality of the community of researchers in economic theory, and the corresponding growth in the number of competing journals.

In the early days of JET, serving as a referee or an associate editor was considered to be at least an economic theorist’s duty and even an honor for the younger theorist. These sentiments still exist, but not for everyone.

I think that it might be useful to return to a system in which the editors-in-chief and the publisher strive to show that the opinions of the associate editors are taken seriously. If well done, some informal gatherings of editorial board members (during scientific meetings) might be helpful. At one point, we discontinued these gatherings because of differences between the associate editors and the publisher. Times have changed for the better, so we might very cautiously rethink these gatherings.

Q. We have observed a recent trend that researchers are increasingly accessing journal content online at an article level, i.e. the researcher digests content more frequently on an article basis rather than a journal basis. How do you think this affects the visibility of your journal among authors?
A.
This is an important downside to the generally very positive advantages of online publication. New authors are less likely to be discovered since browsing of the paper versions of journal issues is now rare. It might also be that researchers are less likely to read outside their narrow sub-fields, given that search engines will efficiently point them to their intended destinations. Short-run efficiency is not always optimal.

Q. The move from print to electronic publishing has stimulated a broad discussion around alternative publishing models. These models are often termed as ‘open access’ and include:

  • Author Pays Journals
  • Sponsored Articles
  • Free access to archives
  • Open-archiving

What is your opinion about the ‘open access movement’ and how does it affect your journal?
A.
Open access has not so far provided serious competition. Author page charges are rare in economics. Sponsored articles are rare, but JET might – after advice from our editorial board -- consider sponsorship of appropriate symposium dispatches by university departments and central bank research groups.

Free access – or access at a nominal charge – exists among economics journals, but it is not a big factor since most researchers have university access to JET. There is some open archiving currently. More serious potential competition might come from the online reading-lists (of current un-refereed working papers) recommended by some leading research economists on their websites.

Q. Researchers need to demonstrate their research impact, and they are increasingly under pressure to publish articles in journals with high impact factors. How important is a journal’s impact factor to you, and do you see any developments in your community regarding other research quality measurements?
A.
Impact factors are important to JET and other journals. Impact-factor measurement has been extensively researched, but in my opinion these studies lack depth.

Q. As online publishing techniques develop, the traditional format of the online scientific article will change. At Elsevier we are experimenting with new online content features and functionality. Which improvements/changes would you as an editor find most important?
A. JET is a theory journal; so technical appendices are less important than they would be in an applied journal. Nonetheless, technical appendices are essential for JET. We have an obligation to provide as Supplementary Material: data, computer code, computations, proof of results where proof is not in the article, and related work etc… Graphs and dynamics could be provided in interactive format in the online version.

Q. Do you use social media or online professional networking within your role as an editor or researcher? Has it helped you and if so how?
A.
No, but we might consider doing so.

Q. How do you see your journal developing over the next 10 years? Do you see major shifts in the use of journals in the future?
A. JET aspires to be the top journal in economic theory – broadly defined. This is a tough task, since several society journals are vying for this space.

Refereeing in economics is too slow. I worry about the day when major scientists post what they consider to be must-read working papers, thus short-circuiting the journals (except for their role in university personnel validation).

The online nature of journals has severely weakened the journals’ role in identifying new promising authors. In the hard copy days, when one looked for an article by an established figure, one often stumbled on a nearby article by a “new” person. Now if one is looking for (say) “Kenneth Arrow”, one is less likely to stumble on a path-breaking note by a relative unknown on (say) monetary theory.

Q. Do you have any tips or tricks to share with your fellow editors about being a journal editor?
A.
A fun part of being an editor is to try to keep up with the science and sociology in your area but outside your narrow sub-field. This is more than fun! This is essential for successful editing.

Previous Editors in the Spotlight

caption

Editor in the Spotlight: Eric Maskin

Professor Maskin is the Editor-in-Chief of Economics Letters and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2007. Q. What aspect of being an editor do you find most rewarding? A. Shepherding good work into print. The job of the editor is to identify good work, see that it gets published and occasionally make some […]

Read more >


Professor Maskin is the Editor-in-Chief of Economics Letters and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2007.

Q. What aspect of being an editor do you find most rewarding?
A. Shepherding good work into print. The job of the editor is to identify good work, see that it gets published and occasionally make some suggestions for improvement.

Q. Can you describe how it feels when you come across a groundbreaking paper?
A. That’s what every editor is hoping for, to publish something truly groundbreaking. Of course, such papers come along only rarely. But it’s a great feeling when it happens.

Q. What advice would you give to a new editor?
A. Pick your team well. You shouldn’t think that you can do everything yourself, particularly if you’re editing a general interest journal like Economic Letters, which covers a broad spectrum of areas. Make sure that the editors on your team are people you trust and who have good judgment. The same is true for the referees you pick.

Q. How do you balance your role as editor with your other roles?
A. There’s a certain amount of editorial work that has to get done every week, so I set aside specific time to do this. But a lot of journal work, unlike research, can be picked up and put down when I have a spare minute. It doesn’t require the same type of sustained effort that research does.

Q. Why did you choose Economics as your field of study?
A. When I was a kid, what I wanted to be when I grew up kept changing all the time. Sometimes I wanted to be a lawyer like Perry Mason, sometimes a scientist, sometimes a musician. I got into economics almost by accident: as a math major in college, I wandered into an "information economics" course taught by Kenneth Arrow, one of the founders of modern economics. I got hooked immediately by the material in the course.

Q. Tell me about collaboration. What is the secret to success?
A. Collaboration for me has always been a pleasure. It's always useful and fun to be able to talk over a research topic with someone who's just as interested in it as you are. Your co-author is likely to have lots of good ideas that never occurred to you. And it’s nice to be able to share the burden of actually writing the paper.

Q. What is your biggest achievement?
A. Well, I recently received the Nobel Prize, but it was the work for which the prize was awarded, not the prize itself, that was the real achievement. The work was in Mechanism Design theory. I should emphasize that the development of this theory has been very much a community effort. The Nobel committee is restricted to naming no more than three prize winners. But in this case, there were many other people who could have been recognized besides the actual winners. I’m hoping that mechanism design can help us solve some of the major economic and social problems of the day. It gives you a set of tools for designing mechanisms or institutions for achieving specified social goals. So, for example, if your goal is to have cleaner air, mechanism design will indicate how that can be accomplished in a way that imposes the least economic burden on your community.

Q. What is your favorite quote?
A. Einstein once wrote that: “Things should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” The goal of simplify without over-simplify is something we can all strive for.

Q. Who or what is your biggest inspiration?<
A. It would have to be my teacher, Kenneth Arrow. He’s one of the great economists, and I was very lucky to be his student. A lot of my research, particularly that in welfare economics, was inspired by his classic work. He is also a great role model as a person. He’s a very honest, modest, and patient man. He spends a lot of time with students, is very open-minded, and avoids dogmatic views on anything. I’ve tried to live up to his example.

Q. What is the biggest lesson you've learned in your career?
A. Not to worry too much about whether other people will find what I'm doing interesting. Chances are, if I'm interested in it, then somebody else will be too.

Q. What would you like your legacy to be?
A. I’d like to be remembered for two things. First, my students – I’ve been lucky enough to have some remarkable students over the years – I’d like to think that I helped get them started. And second, I hope that some of my papers will continue to be read and used.

Q. What gets you up in the morning?
A. What is better than getting up to spend a day thinking about a question that really fascinates you? Of course, such a question also keeps you awake at night: it's hard to stop thinking about it.

Q. What do you like to do for fun?
A. I’m very serious about music. That’s my primary non-academic activity, both as an active player and as a listener. I play the clarinet and piano and I particularly like chamber music. If I had to pick a single favorite piece it might be Schubert’s B-flat piano sonata – I can’t imagine more beautiful music than that.

Previous Editors in the Spotlight

Charles-Sheppard

Editor in the Spotlight: Charles Sheppard

Professor Charles Sheppard is Editor-in-Chief of Marine Pollution Bulletin. Q. What aspect of being an editor do you find most rewarding? A. I suppose seeing some neat, new and important results. In the field of marine environment there is a lot of need in many places. Finding a way to proceed with a difficult issue […]

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Professor Charles Sheppard is Editor-in-Chief of Marine Pollution Bulletin.

Q. What aspect of being an editor do you find most rewarding?
A. I suppose seeing some neat, new and important results. In the field of marine environment there is a lot of need in many places. Finding a way to proceed with a difficult issue is always rewarding.

Q. Can you describe how it feels when you come across a groundbreaking paper?
A. I get a couple of new papers every day but every once in a while you get a Eureka moment. Things that would be helpful not just to other scientists but to governments as well. It’s really gratifying because my field might have been wrestling with a problem, perhaps a pollution event, and it feels good that they’ve selected my publication to submit their paper to. It is always nice when we find something good.

Q. What advice would you give to a new editor?
A. Always be friendly to your authors. Don’t be arrogant and build up a good and reliable network of reviewers. A journal is only as good as its reviewers. They need to be able to distil out of the manuscript to find out if the core of the science is good and worthy of publication.

Q. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A. I was going into a medical stream but I started to go scuba diving. I was able to change at the beginning of my PhD to a marine biology stream instead of a clinical stream. It’s just a cliché to say that it’s another world, but it is. I was brought up in the tropics. It was a kaleidoscope of colors. I suppose I could have become a diving instructor but I wanted to know more about it. It’s always a challenge and it’s always interesting. I think probably the variety is what is so appealing.

Q. Tell me about collaboration. What is the secret to success?
A. There is more than one thing. You aren’t always going to agree, a good scientist is willing to keep his mind open to changing their view. You have to be prepared and possibly happy to say: “I’ve been wrong all these years.” You have to be as enthusiastic about finding things that are wrong as much as proving things that are right. The coral reefs that I personally study, no one would be happier than me to find out that I’m wrong when I say that they’re undergoing a collapse. The other thing is fairness. The person who did the most work should be the first author. I am really thrilled when one of my students gets published. That person is the first author and I’m absolutely delighted for him or her.

Q. What gets you up in the morning?
A. It’s enthusiasm. I enjoy things. Right now I’m planning a field trip to the Indian Ocean where there’s a reef that hasn’t been impacted by direct forms of pollution, only by climate change.I use these trips as my reference control to compare with damaged reefs.

Q. What is your biggest achievement?
A. Undertaking my direct, own research. In my own small way, the work on reefs and their decline I think is important. The other one is turning the journal into one that people really want to publish in. When I do an editorial, I am aware that I am increasingly meticulous in what I write because I realize that it is widely read.

Q. What would you like your legacy to be?
A. In the scientific context, it is always nice to be thought of as a good scientist but more than that, a useful scientist. It’s also very important to me to encourage young scientists.

Q. What do you like to do for fun?
A. We have a sailboat and I like to go sailing with my wife in many parts of the world. It’s not that it’s restful. It requires careful planning and it feels really good when you pull it off well. If you get the sails right, it’s a miracle. Even the experts say they’re learning all the time.

Previous Editors in the Spotlight

If experiments don't produce positive results they are often not published, yet they can help to progress research. Should we publish them?

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