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Developing and maintaining Editorial Boards

The backbone of any successful journal is an active, widely respected, diverse, and representative Editorial Board.

Responsibilities of the Editorial Board

The Editorial Board should assist in a variety of aspects of running the journal. Their responsibilities may include (but are not limited to):

  • Providing scientific expertise for the journal
  • Submitting articles
  • Administering peer review or serving as a peer reviewer
  • Helping the journal to attract high-quality manuscripts, for example by promoting the journal at relevant conferences
  • Providing feedback and suggesting improvements for the journal
  • Suggesting topics and authors for commissioned reviews and commentaries

Your journal contact will be happy to give advice and answer any queries you may have regarding the structure of your Editorial Board.

Recruiting new Editorial Board members

A journal’s Editorial Board is one of its greatest assets, it should not be seen as static, but regularly reviewed in order to ensure the correct people are in place and the field is well represented. Recruiting new Editorial Board members can benefit the journal in a number of ways. These may include:

  • Improving peer review times. Peer review can often become delayed when trying to find suitable handling editors or reviewers for a manuscript. Increasing the size of the Editorial Board can create a ready-made resource of potential reviewers or handling editors to be invited more quickly
  • Increasing visibility. The Editorial Board are a great way to bring the journal to new audiences, particularly in new topics or countries. New Editorial Board members can be encouraged to tell their colleagues about the journal at conferences or talks
  • Increasing submissions. Editorial Boards can be encouraged to recommend that their colleagues submit to the journal. They could also be encouraged to submit their own manuscripts, or recommend ideas for commissioned articles
  • Expanding scope. If your journal is planning on expanding its scope, you will need to ensure that there is enough expertise on the Editorial Board to handle any new submissions in these areas

When identifying new members to join the Editorial Board, here are some ideas to consider:

  • Ensure you have sufficient people to actively assist in handling manuscripts, such as Section or Associate Editors
  • Divide the field into its major subdivisions and ensure there is representation of each area on the Board
  • Involve people from leading research centres in the field
  • Involve people of various nationalities and/or languages, geographic locations, and all genders
  • Involve people from emerging fields

You may wish to use the following resources when trying to identify suitable new Editorial Board members:

  • Ask existing Editorial Board members to suggest suitable colleagues
  • Conference websites – find speakers or look for lab groups or institutes that are well represented in poster sessions
  • Frequent authors or reviewers in the journal
  • PubMed/Scopus searches for related keywords
  • Institute/Society websites

When recruiting new Editorial Board members you should set clear expectations regarding the type and amount of work you expect them to contribute. It is also important to quantify each aspect - for instance, you might ask them to suggest two non-research articles to commission each year, and to referee an average of one research article each month. Your journal contact will be able to assist you with this process, including conducting market analysis to help identify countries/institutes/researchers of interest and providing you with example role descriptions.

Maintaining the Editorial Board

An Editorial Board should not be static; it is good practice to review the contributions and performance of each Board member every couple of years, and then take the opportunity to:

  • Restructure the Board, perhaps giving more active members increased responsibility
  • Give less active members the chance to step down, creating vacancies for new members (this is common practice and should not cause offence)
  • Thank all continuing members for their ongoing contributions; you may also wish to ask them to suggest new colleagues who might be suitable for the Board

It is also important to keep the Editorial Board involved in the journal and up to date with the latest developments, not least to foster enthusiasm for the journal. We recommend sending regular updates on journal performance to your Editorial Board. This can range from details of the submission/publication rates, to information on particularly well-received articles or a specific article you would like to highlight. Your journal contact will be happy to coordinate this with you.