Managing Editorial Teams When Based Remotely

April 23, 2019 Liz Caloi

This is the first in a series of articles where we discuss with Editor(s)-in-Chief some of the challenges they face when working remotely, often in different continents from their Editorial Board and Editorial Office. Here Liz Caloi (Data Privacy Office Administrator, Wiley) interviews Linden Ashcroft, (Editor-in-Chief, Geoscience Data Journal) to learn about the particular challenges they face and steps they have taken to overcome them. Linden is based in Melbourne.

Linden Ashcroft, Editor-in-Chief,
Geoscience Data Journal

What are the three main challenges of handling a journal with an editorial office and a society in another continent, and an editorial board spread across the world?

The first challenge really has to be time differences! With an editorial board spread across at least 5 different time zones, spanning 7 countries, it can be extremely difficult to schedule meetings. The second challenge is how to develop networks, especially personal connections. I have not actually met any of my other board members face-to-face. This can make it difficult to build a strong working relationship. My third main challenge would be understanding communities and establishing a rapport. My wonderful associate editors are spread across countries and across disciplines. This is great in terms of diversity and inclusivity across the editorial board, but it also means it is tricky to know exactly which manuscripts or topics will be interesting and important to each editor.

What strategies do you use to successfully engage associates and reviewers while keeping in touch with the day-to-day activities of communicating with the editorial office and other aspects of managing the journal?

To ensure I engage with the associate editors on the journal, I try and send semi-regular emails to both individuals and the whole team at large. I have the occasional one-on-one Skype chat which is helpful. We also organize a full editorial board meeting at least once a year, usually as a virtual meeting.

Recruiting reviewers to peer review appropriate manuscripts is always challenging, particularly when people are so busy with other aspects of academic life. I recruit editors by building my own personal networks and using web-based searches to find experts who can cover a particular topic and/or region that is not currently represented on the board. I invite them to become an Associate Editor and then have a one-on-one Skype meeting to discuss the journal, its aims and scope, and the role it has within the community.

Linden’s Top Tips for Remote Editors-in-Chief
1 Maintain good, frequent communication with the team via email, chat, and virtual meetings.
2 Build a personal network to tap for reviewers on particular topics/regions.
3 Set aside a regular block of time to manage journal matters.
4 Promote the journal among your networks.
5 Make communications personal to help forge stronger professional relationships.

For day-to-day contact and communication with the editorial office and the journal management, I tend to set aside a regular block of time to manage journal matters, and so the editorial office generally receives a flurry of emails from me in one go, and then nothing for a couple of days! We also have teleconferences once every few months in their morning, my evening, which work well.

To boost the journal strategy and contents, I promote the journal among my networks and encourage the associate editors to do the same. I have just written an editorial which will hopefully clarify the role of the journal too. We also work with the journal and society marketing teams to encourage submissions.

Finally, keeping it personal is always best! I like to personalize my reviewer invitation and communication with authors and associate editors to remind everyone that we are just humans at the end of the day.

So, what does your typical ‘day in the life of an Editor’ look like? 

A typical editorial day for me always involves working through my inbox and to-do list until all issues are resolved: for example, triaging new submissions and sending out review requests, as well as longer-term development goals that are running at the time. I prefer to handle journal activities for an hour or two a day, twice a week, generally in the evenings.

I keep a spreadsheet listing the areas of expertise for each of my Associate Editors, so I can ensure I'm sending manuscripts to the editor who is specialized in this area.

How do you think Wiley could help and facilitate Editors who work remotely? 

I think it would be helpful to have guidance on how to recruit engaged editors and reviewers, have a regularly updated FAQ sheet in case there are editor queries common to multiple journals, and of course, it would be amazing to have the opportunity to visit the Wiley office and meet the team in person—it would only need to happen once but seeing where people are could make a real difference.

 

Thank you so much for your time and insights, Linden. Wiley is committed to supporting our Editors and their journal’s aims and vision. Editors can find a wealth of useful information and guidance on the all new Journal Editor hub, Editor Resources pages, and the Wiley Editor Academy. We are always looking for ways to improve the editors’ experience and we would love to hear from other Editors-in-Chief about the challenges they’ve faced and the solutions they’ve developed. Please get in touch with us at editors@wiley.com to share your thoughts.

About the Author

Liz Caloi

Data Privacy Office Administrator, WIley

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