The job ad is posted seeking my replacement as Editor in Chief of JGR Space Physics, and I have recently posted about my duties as EiC and editor. Also note that the EiC of Space Weather is also open right now. Yeah, now is the time for the space physics community to seriously consider this service role – the community needs good applicants for these positions!
I have no idea who is on the two search committees, so I don’t know their exact criteria for selecting the next EiCs for these two journals, but in the hope of getting the most diverse applicant pool that we can, I would like to point out some resources and give some advice to those considering this position (or to those that should be).
First off: the information from AGU. They have a page in the pubs section of their website that defines the role of journal editors, but it is pretty brief. The full-length description is in the “EiC job description PDF” link on the page. Here is the summary:
- Be an ambassador. You will be the public face and voice of the journal, so you should be ready to take on this promotional spokesperson role.
- Set the strategy. While AGU likes to have some level of uniformity across its journals, there is some flexibility. For instance, will you actively pursue and solicit special section proposals or will you de-emphasize that aspect of the submission process? Another important question is how you will use Associate Editors.
- Select editors. The EiC has full discretion in the method of selecting editors and associate editors for the journal. You can have an open search with a public call for applicants, appoint people to the posts without a search, or anything in between.
- Assign the reviewing work load. You see every paper that comes in and assign it to one of the editors (including yourself). You can distribute this workload however you want, taking into whatever considerations you want.
- Decide on ethical concerns. While there are AGU HQ staff that specialize in handling and resolving ethical issues, the EiC is involved in all of these cases, too.
- Monitor journal activity. While AGU HQ staff have the quantitative numbers on the submissions, accept/reject rates, and other stats, the EiC is asked to occasionally report on the “state of the journal” to HQ, in particular in relation to similar journals and the outlook for the scientific field.
- Conduct and attend meetings. EiCs attend an annual EiC Meeting, early in the calendar year, plus hold an editorial board meeting at the Fall AGU Meeting, plus convene quarterly editorial teleconferences (or as needed). My first year, we also have a JGR-Space Physics editors meeting at AGU HQ.
That’s a decently long list. Really, though, the editorial assignments role is the only daily task; all of the others are things you do or think about occasionally. They are all important, though.
So, my advice to you as a prospective EiC of JGR Space Physics, Space Weather, or any other journal you consider leading: think about your philosophy regarding all of these aspects before submitting your application. For some, you might be “staying the course” and doing what I and other EiCs have done in the past. For others, though, you might have a bigger, bolder, idea of what to do with the journal. I strongly urge you to explain these potential new initiatives in your cover letter. This will help to get you on the short list, so that you have a phone interview with the search committee. If you make it to that step, then it is time to really think about all of these aspects of the job.
That is, have a plan for the journal and convince the search committee that you are the right person for this position at this time because you have a vision for where the journal should go, what it should become, or how it should function. The search committee might not agree with your vision and so you might not get the job, but my guess is that those with no vision about what they would do as EiC will have a tougher time getting on the short list for the phone interview.
For me, I had two big things: the first role, being an ambassador, and the second role, setting the strategy. Specifically, on the first point: I wanted to increase communication between AGU, the editors, and the research community. While I didn’t actually think I would write a blog at the time I applied, I knew that increasing transparency and communication would be a good thing for the journal and the space physics community. This blog is major part of that (but not the only thing). For the second point: I wanted to increase the number of special sections. For the first few years, I went out of my way to solicit and secure special section proposals, and the number of submissions to JGR Space Physics grew quite rapidly.
Finally (for today), here are some other things that I would encourage you to read in order to prepare your application to be EiC of an AGU journal. First is the plethora of information at the author resources center; AGU sets a society-wide policy for authors, but it listens to EiCs about suggestions on manuscript submission requirements. There is a similar page of reviewer resources, which has the list of questions we ask all reviewers to consider when assessing a manuscript. These guidelines are occasionally updated, because of input from both the Publications Committee and the journal EiCs. Another page to read is the ethical guidelines for authors, reviewers, and editors; it is good to be fully aware of what is expected from each group in the manuscript workflow process. On this note, there is a page of many links about publication policy, which I would highly recommend to anyone considering an EiC position. Any of these topics are also fair game for your vision for the journal and your role as EiC.
As always, if you want to talk, send me an email. I am happy to share my experiences with you to help you get your application ready.