There are many jobs within scientific publishing, and while most exist within each individual publishing house, they often differ depending upon the publisher, with larger publishers having a wider variety of more niche roles. Here’s a snapshot of how a few of them work at my company, Future Science Group, but bear in mind that these roles will be slightly different elsewhere.
The Commissioning Editor: The Commissioning Editor is responsible for the content of the journal; they both actively commission content and handle unsolicited manuscripts, running all the content through peer review and ensuring it is of a sufficient quality to be accepted for publication. In this way they have a hands-on role in the direction of the journal, deciding on the focus of the content, special focus issues, etc. They are often the ‘face’ of the journal to outside contacts, especially authors and the Editorial Board. As such, excellent organization and networking skills are highly prized.
The Production Editor: The Production Editor takes the accepted manuscript from the Commissioning Editor, proofreads it, puts it into ‘house style’ (the format of the journal), and works with the author to sign-off its final published form. They also spend time taking authors’ Figures and turning them into works of art. The production department combines language, creative and scientific skills in order to do this.
The Digital Editor: With our increasing use of technology and new media, many publishing houses are investing in digital products. With us, it is community websites – websites focussing on a particular field such as oncology, which allow authors to network, discuss topics of interest, read journal content, etc. The Digital Editor’s main responsibility is to grow the numbers of site users, through quality of content and networking, which often involves conference attendance.
Marketing: The marketing department’s role is to develop innovative campaigns to communicate with all the customers of a publishing house, be they authors, potential advertisers, librarians, and so on. This commonly includes calls for papers sent to previous authors, email blasts updating our contacts of news, press releases concerning newsworthy content, etc.
Graphics & Design: Our graphics department is responsible for all the non-author-submitted graphics we release. This includes journal and book covers, logos, brochures, marketing email lay out – you name it! The team is also responsible for researching how figures should look, so scientific knowledge and a creative mind are essential.
These aren’t the only career tracks available. Here are a few links:
Written by Francesca Lake, Future Science Group