Editing an academic journal: what is it like, why does it take so long, and would you do it?

Dr Catherine Walshe, Editor of Palliative Medicine, shares what it’s like behind the scenes of the EAPC’s official research journal and explains how you might contribute as a screening editor.

Dr Catherine Walsh, Palliative Medicine Editor

Dr Catherine Walsh, Palliative Medicine Editor

You’ve spent hours crafting your article, following on from a long period of data collection and analysis. You spend a few more hours making sure it meets the submission requirements of your chosen journal. You then spend even more time working out how to upload it to the electronic submission system of the journal. Hopefully, you then receive an acknowledgement that it’s arrived. And then? Well, what does happen then? As an author, it probably feels like your article has disappeared from sight whilst you wait anxiously to hear from the journal. And wait you do at times. Be grateful that you don’t do work in economics and business, as the mean time in their discipline from submission to acceptance is around 18 months, compared to chemistry, which had the shortest mean time across disciplines in one study of around nine months, with biomedical journals taking a little longer (Björk and Solomon 2013). Why does it take so long? What are those editors doing with your manuscript? Don’t they know how important your work is?

Palliative Medicine Editorial Manager, Debbie Ashby

Palliative Medicine Editorial Manager, Debbie Ashby

Well, at Palliative Medicine, the research journal of the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC), we can tell you a little about what happens within our system. Once your article has been submitted, it’s checked to make sure it meets our general requirements by the Editorial Manager and then moved forwards into the main system within Manuscript Central. Papers are then assessed by two to four ‘screening editors’ to see if they meet some general criteria, essentially that they contribute to the field of palliative care and are ethical and robustly conducted studies. We aim to do this within three to four weeks of submission. Sadly, we don’t have space for all papers, and many have to be declined at this point. For those going for review, we then source two independent external peer reviews. This, unfortunately, is where delays creep in as people are increasingly busy and perhaps don’t let us know if they are unable to do the review. We may have to repeat this invitation process a number of times. If you wonder where your manuscript is within the system it’s usually here – sourcing reviews – and then waiting for people to return reviews in a timely manner. Frustrating for you and for us, but we do understand the pressures people are under as we are all reviewers ourselves. We aim to let people have a decision quickly once the reviews are in, and then you will know if you have been asked to make revisions or not.

Interested in joining our team as a screening editor?

We know it can be a long and tortuous process, and one which I never fully appreciated until I joined the editorial team of Palliative Medicine. Being an editor, however, is a very rewarding role, it’s great to see submitted papers making an impact within our community and helping to create a robust evidence base for patient care. You can also be part of trying to make the system more user-friendly and responsive! Might you be interested in joining our team at Palliative Medicine? We’re currently looking for a new screening editor to work with us and want this opportunity to be widely known. Click here to find full details of the sort of person we are looking for and some information about the role. And once you’ve looked at that, and if you have questions, please don’t hesitate to email me with any further queries. Application is initially by CV to me by 11 March 2016.

Björk, B.-C. & Solomon, D. (2013) The publishing delay in scholarly peer-reviewed journals. Journal of Informetrics, 7(4), 914-923.

Palliative Medicine ‘Editor’s choice’ on the EAPC Blog . . .
Each month, the editor of Palliative Medicine selects an article from the journal and invites the author(s) to write a post for the EAPC Blog about the background to the research with links to a free download copy of the full article. You can read the latest and all the previous Palliative Medicine ‘Editor’s choice’ posts here.

This entry was posted in EAPC-LINKED JOURNALS, Palliative Medicine: Editor's Choice and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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