A Day Year in the Life of an Editor-in-Chief

by Lorie Kloda
Associate University Librarian, Planning & Community Relations, Concordia University

I have worked as a scholarly journal editor in some fashion or another for at least 10 years with various titles, but mostly with the open access journal Evidence Based Library and Information Practice. In my various roles as a peer reviewer, evidence summary writer, section editor, and associate editor, I have gained a lot of valuable experience and skills. And I imagine many librarians who have had these roles or aspire to fill those positions at some point have a rather good conception of what those roles entail.

Since December 2015 (so, a little more than a year), I have served in the role of editor-in-chief, and I thought it might be interesting to provide an insider’s view as to what this involves. Actually, it was an opportunity for me to reflect on my overall responsibilities and the many (many, many) tasks that I undertake to fulfill these. The fact is, I, and most editors-in-chief of scholarly journals, do not do this is a full-time job. We cobble together the time to get this work done and achieve our vision while working in full-time academic positions. At least, if we’re lucky enough to have full-time paying positions. Another fact is that I do the work from wherever I am, usually my office, or laptop perched somewhere in my home on the weekend. In some ways, working with an editorial team is much like working as a freelancer – I collaborate with several people who also have other jobs and with whom I do not share office space or even a time zone.

I cannot realistically present a “day in the life” because on a given day I may actually do nothing related to my role as editor-in-chief. Whereas on other days, I may do a handful of small tasks. Instead, I present an overview of the kind of work I’ve been involved with over the past year in this particular role.

Responsibilities as an editor-in-chief (in no particular order):
• Assist editors in evaluating submissions
• Recruit peer reviewers for the journal, and provide guidance to (and guidelines for) reviewers
• Provide leadership on the direction of the journal through consultation with various stakeholders
• Solicit and provide editorial review for commentaries and other content
• Answer author queries about potential submissions
• Work closely with the production editor to ensure issues are published on schedule
• Manage a team of editors and editorial advisors, as well as writing assistants, an indexer, and copyeditors
• Write editorials
• Liaise with professionals responsible for managing the Open Journal System (the platform on which the journal content is hosted) and ensure the long-term preservation of the content
• Oversee communications, including promotion of the journal and its indexing in various databases, and status in the Directory of Open Access Journals
• Coordinate “features” – content devoted to particular themes, conferences or symposia which appear in select journal issues

The tasks I undertake to achieve the above consist of a blend of activities, mostly emailing, meetings on Skype (with up to 12 people, across 14 time zones), call for applicants and screening of submissions for various positions. I try to track this time, but even so, the numbers don’t capture everything and the work is not evenly spread out over the weeks or even the months.

It should go without saying, but I would not be able to achieve any of my objectives without the dedication and collaboration of all of my colleagues – associate editors, production editor, copyeditors, etc. In the end, the position is extremely rewarding. I often find myself wishing I had more time to devote to the role and to thinking of ways to support the team of editors in producing such a high caliber publication. Hopefully, with more experience, and perhaps magically, more time, I’ll be able to add to contribute even more.

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.