Scientific Journal Editor
Salary Range: £35,000 to £45,000
Job role/title and company: Associate Editor Springer Nature Group
What does your average day involve?
Reading papers, liaising with authors and referees to make decisions regarding which manuscripts to send out to review and accept or reject after review. There are meetings with other editors (not too many!), the occasional scientific seminar, then several times a year we go on lab visits or to conferences. I find the work is never boring, and you learn a lot about many different fields.
Pathway to career as Journal Editor:
Ø Undergraduate degree in Biology,
Ø PhD (UK),
Ø Post-doc abroad (US),
Ø Research fellowship/Group Leader in academic research department.
How did you find out about this position?
Through job adverts from Nature Jobs sent via weekly email updates.
What skills/qualifications are required for this job?
Generally, at least a PhD, though post doctoral experience helps. In my view, the most fundamental requirement is that you enjoy reading the scientific literature, and that you are generally curious, so that you read widely and outside of your immediate field of interest. To do the job, you must be able to identify the scientific advance in a manuscript and be up to date with the science in a number of different fields. You also need to express scientific concepts clearly and concisely. As you mediate between authors and reviewers, good communication skills and some diplomacy also are required.
What attracted you to your current position?
I wanted a change from academic research, and I liked the idea of working as an editor. Part of the reason is that I had direct experience of how lengthy and painful publishing can be, and I reasoned that as an editor, I could make the process a bit better for authors. My experience had always been more pleasant and efficient when I was working with good editors, who were on top of their field and engaged with the work, and as such were able to give me guidance on how to develop the paper, and in particular took action if a reviewer was clearly moving the goalpost by asking new, lengthy experiments that were out of scope. I also liked Nature Communications and was a regular reader as it published very good science.
What is career progression like? What would be the next step?
Following at least 6 months training you are recognised as an associate editor you can then progress to senior editor after two year, then team manager and eventually chief editor.
What do you like most about the job?
Lots of things. I like that I’m learning a lot many different fields. Over time, you end up building a pretty good picture in your mind of where each field is at, what the important questions and unresolved problems are. I feel that had I remained in my specialist field in academia, I perhaps would have not gained a similarly wide view in such a short time span.
Another aspect that is very gratifying, is the input that I give to authors: as editor your role includes acting as a gate keeper but also to interpret reviewers’ requests and ensure that the key message from the paper is supported with adequate data. Conflicting views can sometimes lead referees making requests that would take a long time (months or more than a year) for authors to address, but if I believe these requests are unreasonable or out of the scope of the work, I can tell the authors that we’ll be happy to publish their work as it is. I think this is really important, as long revisions tend to keep very good science behind closed doors, while publishing work, even if every aspect has not been worked out, allows other laboratories to build on the science – ultimately leading to faster progress, and of course can make a real impact on careers of the scientists involved.
What do you least like?
The salary could be better, as a PhD there are other jobs out there that pay more.
On average how many hours a day do you work?
Eight in general as the attitude is one of trust and focuses on getting the job done well rather than clocking in exact hours. I find this empowering. Having said that, sometimes the work needs longer hours, and sometimes I will work a little longer anyway as I enjoy the job and it’s nice to go home feeling you have achieved something each day.
Is there any opportunity for flexible working hours?
Yes, we can work from home once or twice a week, depending on personal circumstances.