November 18, 2006

One small task for an editor, and one article waiting for a tiny thing

It took me about a day and a half to scrounge together enough time to whip the next article into shape. When you see it, you'll understand: more than 20 tables. The authors did a very nice job of getting the tables about 90% of the way, but I'm finicky on some things. But that's done, as well as a disposition letter that's been hanging for half a week. Online editorial-board conferencing the week after Thanksgiving.

And next week is carving-out-time week. I hope!

Added: To answer profgrrrrl's question (in commnts) about what an editor does, my situation is a bit unusual (though growing more common), since Education Policy Analysis Archives is an online, open-access (i.e., "free") journal. It's free to those who read it, and since Gene Glass founded it in 1993, it's operated without page charges, either. As John Willinsky put it in The Access Principle, it's a zero-budget journal, at least in terms of cash changing hands.

That's not true, of course. The colleges of education at Arizona State University and the University of South Florida have given Gene, Gustavo Fischman, Chris Murrell, and me time to edit and do the technical stuff on the journal, and I assume Pablo Gentili's institution (Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro) has as well. But while there's a little available to do some translations of abstracts, there is no "publisher" outside the institutions. So we do everything.

When the weeks go well, I can devote at least Monday to editing duties. Here's an incomplete list of activities, in a rough workflow order for article processing:

  1. Read incoming manuscripts (to see if they're good enough to criculate to reviewers)
  2. Identify potential reviewers (look through the existing pool in the editorial board and other volunteers, then scrounge through my memory and other resources for volunteers)
  3. Send reviewers a request and correspond as necessary to follow up
  4. If reviewers decline, go through steps 2-3 again if necessary
  5. Thank reviewers who have completed reviews
  6. Read reviews. Reread manuscript. Make a decision
  7. Write letter to author explaining decision
  8. Check webpage for revisions
  9. Read revisions ... (this can be a recursive process, but I'll skip the graphic on that)
  10. Send authors of accepted manuscripts a note explaining what they need to do to prepare a final copy
  11. Send the title and manuscript out for translation
  12. Take the authors' prepared copy and prepare it for publication (a process that can be painless with manuscripts that are polished and more involved depending on the number of tables and the quality of the writing and citation mechanics).
  13. Send authors the 'galley' and any specific requests for clarification as necessary
  14. Make corrections as necessary
  15. Send file to Chris Murrell for uploading. Send notice out in various ways.

The task that can bog me down, because it takes 30-60 minutes per submission and because I have to focus about as hard as I ever have to, is finding reviewers. For example, if a paper comes in on funding prekindergarten Montessori programs in Tasmania, I need to find folks who are familiar with Australian education financing, or maybe Australian preschool programs, or ... and that can be a fun scavenger hunt, and I usually learn a great deal about scholarship by having to find reviewers, but not if 4 manuscripts come in simultaneously (or close to it).

This list does not address the other issues involved in editing, such as nagging various indexers to figure out whether they'll carry the journal, setting up various projects (e.g., the applications and review process to create the new-scholar board early in my editorial tenure, or a few other things in the works), etc.

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Posted in EPAA on November 18, 2006 8:24 AM |