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A Day as a Journal Editor

Tuesday, September 1, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Maria Blevins
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By Amy Janan Johnson, Ph.D., Editor-select, Western Journal of Communication

            For approximately a year I have been processing manuscripts for WJC: spearheading the review process, accepting or rejecting manuscripts, and copyediting the accepted ones for early online access (my first paper issue of the journal as editor is the first issue of 2021). As a journal that receives approximately 180 submitted manuscripts a year (approximately one every other day), I have found several factors to be important to help each of my days as editor run smoothly.

            First, preparation—Steps that I took before starting to accept manuscripts help me every day in running the journal. I spent a lot of time learning about Manuscript Central and how I work with it as an editor before I started the job. I thank Dr. Robin Rowland, the current editor of WJC, who was extremely patient in helping me to walk through the program and still is always available to answer my questions when something seems to go wrong.

            Another preparation step I took before I became editor that affects my life every day is my negotiation with my chair concerning the amount of support that would be given to me throughout the editorship. I have a course release and a dedicated editorial assistant who works with me year-round (one of our Ph.D. students, Mizuki Wyant, who I am very thankful for). These steps help make my job as editor doable.

            The second factor that allows my days as editor to go smoothly is persistence. Mizuki and I work hard every day to keep the journal running. Over the last year, she and I each took off one week (alternating) at Christmas and one week during the summer when we took a break from working on the journal. Other than that, we have worked continually to keep the journal running.

            When a manuscript is submitted, Mizuki first checks to make sure that it is anonymous, that all parts of the manuscript are there (such as tables, figures), and that the manuscript is not too long (with a word limit of 9000 words, Mizuki will send it back to the authors if it is over 11,000 words at the beginning of the review process). Then, if it is new manuscript, Mizuki looks for and sends requests out to reviewers. To find reviewers for 180 new manuscripts a year is quite difficult, and I appreciate Mizuki’s hard work in this area. If it is a revised manuscript, I check the manuscript in, read the authors’ response to the original reviews, and ask the original reviewers if they will review the manuscript again if needed.

            Once reviews have been returned, I make a decision on the manuscript. If a manuscript is accepted, then it is added to the list for copyediting. I currently have about 20 manuscripts that have been accepted but are waiting on copyediting. Mizuki checks everything over first including checking all quotes. I also copyedit the manuscript carefully. Once the authors and I have agreed on any changes, it is sent to our publisher, Taylor and Francis, for proofs. Once proofs are approved, it is available online. Right now manuscripts that will fill up the first two issues of 2021 have gone through the copyediting process and are currently available online.

            Therefore, Mizuki and I have to have a lot of persistence to get this job done. She and I both like to work after our kids are asleep, so it is very common for us to be emailing back and forth to each other at midnight.

            The final factor that allows my days as editor to run smoothly is perspective. Having a chance to work with the authors and help the journal to be its best is already one of the most rewarding activities I have done in my career. Editors are working on multi-year timelines, so that the work we do now will bear fruit as a paper journal issue in approximately a year and a half. In addition, as someone who has gone through the promotion and tenure process, I know how important publications are to most of the submitters’ careers. Each day I seek to answer any of their questions, to shepherd their manuscripts as quickly as possible, and hopefully provide our authors with helpful feedback even if their manuscript is rejected.

            Being an editor keeps my days busy (especially responding to lots of email), but I am really enjoying it.

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