What Is Achievable as an Editor of an Academic Journal?
Academics and scientists act as the editors of journals for a wide variety of reasons, so it is impossible to determine all the achievements any one editor may accomplish and all the rewards he or she may discover in the job. However, there are many aspects of editing a scholarly journal that are consistent across most if not all periodicals, and thus many benefits that most journal editors can enjoy if they approach the work with a positive attitude and dedicate themselves to the tasks before them.
• The editor of a scholarly journal acts as a quality filter for what is published or not. If too much poor-quality scholarship passes through the filter, the overall quality of the research published in the journal and thus that of the journal itself declines. If too many papers that present only small steps in knowledge are eliminated by the filter, that research may not be available to help future scholars make those larger leaps in understanding. As an editor you will be able to determine, with the help of peer reviewers, what is published and what is not.
• Journal editors can make an enormous difference in the intellectual direction a journal takes and the content of the articles it publishes. An energetic editor with grand ideas and the determination to make them reality can transform a failing journal into an enormous success – not overnight, of course, but gradually with a good deal of hard work.
• As the editor of a journal you can work to uphold or improve its scholarly standards and editorial methods so that its content is clear, accurate and accessible for readers. You can also ensure that both the scope and specialisation expected by readers are observed, providing your audience with an interesting and relevant selection of articles.
• While editing a scholarly journal you will have numerous opportunities to help the authors who submit their work for publication improve their research and their writing through critical commentary and revisions. In this way, you help them share their discoveries and contribute to sound knowledge of a subject or in a particular field.
• As the above points make clear, editing a scholarly journal allows you to play an important role in the improvement and dissemination of scholarship within the scope of the journal, so you will be contributing to the advancement of knowledge even when you are not publishing your own research.
• Acting as a journal editor and working with authors and peer reviewers to improve the articles submitted for publication provide excellent experience that can be productively applied to your own research and writing as well as that of your students and colleagues.
• Journal editors frequently need to communicate to authors (and sometimes to peer reviewers) information that is difficult to express and likely to be received in less than a positive spirit. It takes sensitivity and practice to make such communications successful, and editing a journal is rigorous training.
• Editing a journal can be an excellent career step. If you do a good job while editing a new or minor periodical, you just may find yourself editing a well-established journal that is considered among the best by scholars working in the area. In addition, all those diplomatic skills learned as an editor will serve you well when you become, for instance, chair of your university department or head of your research institution.