A day in the life of an Editor

This is the third in a series of three posts from Future Science Group, helping you think about careers in publishing.

I arrive in the morning at 8.30, and, while I’m loading up my emails I make a coffee and check-out my to-do list from the previous day. There are often pending tasks, as we regularly have things crop up throughout the day that are high priority and thus push something else off the list. You have to be flexible. I then scan through my emails, which will decide what else goes on the day’s to-do list, check out the latest news in my field, and update my journals’ social media accounts. Afterwards, I’ll crack on with my to-do list.

As an Editor, your days are  highly varied. My morning tasks usually involve handling manuscripts. This could mean any number of things: analyzing new submissions, whether commissioned or unsolicited, and deciding whether they are suitable for submission into peer review; looking at articles that now have a complete set of peer review comments and deciding whether they should go back to the authors for revision, or be rejected outright; or checking manuscripts that have been revised post-peer review, to ensure they have been sufficiently updated. If so, they’ll be accepted and passed on to our production department, who take the article and turn it into the published piece. I’ll also check-in with authors and peer reviewers who are close to their deadline, and update my article schedules to allow for any delays. We have to ensure each issue contains the right amount of content, and is with our production department at the correct time, which can be difficult!

My afternoons are usually dedicated to “commissioning” – identifying hot topics in the field and matching them with appropriate experts, who I will then invite to write for the journal. I might also spend time discussing the best way to market and develop the journal, and keeping authors and the Editorial Board up-to-date. I’ll also spend time working with my team (I manage a team of three Editors) to ensure their own journals are on track, and collaborating with other departments – aside from the Editorial teams, we also have a digital department, who manage our community websites and often feature our content, and sales and marketing departments.

I usually head home at 4.30 – publishing can have a very good work–life balance – unless something crops up that needs immediate attention. This occurs most often close to deadlines, of which there are many – we started working on 2016 issues in April, but at the same time we’re still working on all the pending 2015 issues. However, once you’ve been in publishing for a while you become an expert at time management, and so can usually avoid deadline chaos!

To find out more about life in scientific publishing, check out the following links:

The Early Career Publishers (STM) LinkedIn group: https://www.linkedin.com/grp/home?gid=8184238

http://www.editors.ca/join_eac/be_an_editor/so.html

http://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/scientific-editing-catherine-goodman-14343779

Written by Francesca Lake, Future Science Group