Module 4: The Editorial Role and Responsibilities

Summary

This module introduces the role and responsibilities of the journal editor and highlights the editor’s responsibilities to:

  1. The authors who provide the journal content
  2. The peer reviewers who comment on and validate the suitability of manuscripts for publication
  3. The journal’s readers and the scientific community who use the journal information
  4. The journal’s owner and publisher that support the existence and operations of the journal
  5. The journal’s editorial board that has governing authority over the journal

Editors must establish and adhere to internationally-accepted standards and support his or her journal team in living up to those policies.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • Understand the various responsibilities of an editor to the different journal stakeholders
  • Ensure that all journal stakeholders are treated with respect, and their needs are understood and attended to

Introduction

The Editor is at the centre of the publishing process and must work with different groups of people to sustain the integrity of the scientific literature.

The needs of the different stakeholders will vary with their own desires and needs. For example a commercial publisher needs to generate profit and a learned society of association may need to generate income to support their other activities. The body of scholarly information requires that only reliable, ethically-undertaken and reported results are published, and authors need to have their work published to ensure future careers. Whilst these diverse needs usually support the same decisions, there are sometimes conflicts which an editor needs to resolve. To help you, as the editor, make the right decisions, you must be entirely clear about your overall responsibility, and also be aware where this may not always agree with what each of the stakeholders want. It is also worth remembering that having a clear understanding of the overall responsibilities will help you to make clear and consistent decisions without bending to accommodate whoever shouts loudest!

The level of responsibility as an Editor will be affected by the editorial structure and publishing environment in which you work. For example if you work on a very large journal with a large team of editors, then the job of the Editor is similar to that of a Managing Director of a large company – with similar staffing issues in addition to the editorial decision requirements. However on a small journal with little or no other editorial support, then the editorial decision –making responsibilities will be more prevalent with fewer other areas that you have to worry about.

Units

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