On becoming an AE

Jan 10 2012 Published by under [Education&Careers]

About six weeks ago I agreed to become an Associate Editor of a society journal. I'll admit that I was a little nervous to take on the role and waited for the papers to be assigned. I got two last week and logged into the system to figure out what to do. Having worked with the online submission tools in the past for this journal, I knew it wouldn't be straight forward. I learned a couple of things right away:

I now get a lot of email from myself. It's strange, but the automated system seems to really like to keep me in the loop about what I am doing.

Journals keep data on how slacktastic a reviewer you are! I don't know why this has never occurred to me, but if you have reviewed for a journal an AE can pull up your stats, including how long your reviews take. I can look up all the relevant reviewers for a paper and then decide if I want to tangle with a reviewer who takes 6 weeks to get reviews back. Also note that taking a long time to get reviews back is a very efficient way to not get more reviews from that same journal in the future.

The AEs have more autonomy than I thought. At least at my journal, the AEs are allowed to make their own calls and the editors are there for support and questions. I wasn't sure what the dynamic there was prior to joining the ranks.

I'm sure there will be more things I don't expect, but so far I'm learning a lot. Should be interesting experience.

15 responses so far

  • Pat says:

    It is an excellent idea to share your experience on becoming an AE.

    Looking forward to reading you next posts !

  • Namnezia says:

    Do they keep track of how many positive vs negative reviews a reviewer gives?

  • Dr. O says:

    Interesting to find out how much information they store on reviewers - also wondering about Nam's question re: positive and negative reviews.

  • proflikesubstance says:

    Not that I saw, but I didn't really drill down to see what is there yet.

  • Ink says:

    Congrats! That's an honor.

    And so important for scholars, so thank you in advance for making great new information available.

    And probably super time-consuming, though I hope not.

    ps: "Journals keep data on how slacktastic a reviewer you are" = v. interesting. And a wee bit scary.

  • Bashir says:

    6 weeks is a long time? I want to be in your field.
    I'm thinking of keeping stats on how long journals (and editors) take.

  • proflikesubstance says:

    I start getting autohatemail at 2 weeks from most journals, which kick it up a notch at 3 weeks. I think by six weeks my inbox would be full. I don't know how long the journal sits on them at either end, but as a reviewer six weeks would be a while.

  • anon says:

    Any other reviewer stats other than time spent reviewing? This is similar to Dr. O's question. I'm just curious as to whether these journals have some way of evaluating the quality of reviews.

  • proflikesubstance says:

    There is a "notes" section, which I would assume could contain commentary from AEs, but I have yet to find one with any associated text. I will have to look closer because the data appear as a "score" not just a time to review. Therefore there may be more than time that goes into the score. I'll check it out once I don't have a grant proposal hanging over my head.

  • Nico (@nfanget) says:

    Well yeah, manuscript management systems as we call them keep track of everything between submission by the author and publication, such as time to review, time to typesetter, time to decision etc.

    Nothing sinister there, I am sure as an editor you will find it useful to know that this person you know would be ideal to review a paper is also a bit slow, you might choose them if the paper needs really thorough reviewing but someone else if you want make a decision quickly. And editors in chief also keep an eye on their editors' stats.

    In my part, production, the production manager keeps an eye on my stats, to make sure papers are processed quickly. That's just to make sure the system is running more or less efficiently.

  • Odyssey says:

    The journal I'm an AE for most definitely keeps track of number of positive vs. negative reviews each reviewer has submitted. It can be very useful info.

  • postdoc says:

    ProfLike and Odyssey, now I'm dying to know the scoring system. My reviews have always been on time, but some I submitted two weeks before the deadline and others 2 h. I'm curious whether these differences matter as long as I make the deadline.

    I'm also curious about the "notes" section and how my reviews might be scored in other ways. Logging into my reviewer profile at some journals, I can easily see how my reviews compared to others (e.g., sometimes I'm much more positive or negative)--and of course I often still disagree with other reviewers' assessments--and I worry that maybe I'll be penalized by a rushed AE for having divergent views.

  • pyrope says:

    I'm an AE for a Wiley journal and it has a 1-3 ranking for both timeliness and quality of the review - no comments beyond that. But, you can look back in the system to see what that reviewer recommended in previous reviews and what the AE's decision was. I tried to look up my reviewer ranking early on, but the system wouldn't let me 🙂
    Also, the rankings are triggered when you turn in the review. So, if you never turn in your review, you'll never receive a negative rank (except in my head, which doesn't seem to hold info for long these days)!

  • Andrew Latimer says:

    Thanks for posting this -- it's interesting to hear what it's like.

    Could you also comment about what came before: why did you want and accept an AE position? My own pretty uninformed cost-benefit analysis has been that before tenure it's a poor time allocation. Maybe that's not the case if it makes you better known and appreciated in the community? There are probably other good things about it that I'm not seeing.


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