What Does a Journal Editor Do?

I assumed the role of Provenance editor in January 2012. My only experience was peer-reviewing a few articles, but I had expressed my interest in doing more. A friend/colleague was on the SGA Board, and recommended me for the position. I met with the then-Editor and then-SGA President, alerting them to the fact that I most likely wasn’t going to be in Georgia much longer (only a few months away from my project position ending). Because most everything is done over email now, they agreed.

I had some guidance from the previous editor, but he also encouraged me to do what I wanted. It took me about 2 years before I believed I had a handle on everything. That’s not to say that I knew (or know) everything, but the process became smoother. I truly enjoy it, but know there is still much to learn. I consider myself very lucky and am grateful to have this opportunity.

When I started, we weren’t yet using the online system. I used spreadsheets and email folders for tracking, and it was tricky. Just before leaving Atlanta, Kennesaw State University agreed to include Provenance in their digital commons. It helps tremendously, though it still takes a lot of checking and paying attention to details.

My role as editor includes: sending out CFP to various listservs; reviewing all submissions; assigning submissions to peer-reviewers; assessing reviewer feedback; communicating with authors; overseeing a nine member board plus managing editor, reviews editor, and indexer; soliciting articles; keeping up with recent publications for book reviews; creating the final order of content; and copyediting final publication.

Being an editor is not a solo activity. I rely on my board, as they and others peer-review all articles. The associate editor is a peer-reviewer and helps with CFPs and other administrative tasks. The reviews editor coordinates acquiring books, assigning them to reviewers, and editing the reviews. The managing editor formats the journal for publication, works with the printer, coordinates the mailing, and creates the final PDFs. It’s a collaborative activity. And, of course, none of this is possible without the authors.

The bulk of what I do is communicating with authors or potential authors. I receive emails asking if a topic or article is appropriate and I try to be encouraging. As I noted in an earlier post, I believe everyone should have an opportunity to write if they want to. I enjoy working with authors, whether prior to submission or for revisions to accepted articles.

Although it’s a lot of work, I get great satisfaction seeing the final product. Sharing ideas, practices, theories, and anything archival helps archivists learn. We all have so much to share and this is only one outlet to facilitate the exchange of ideas.

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