Journal Editorial Boards

August 5, 2011

A comment about the editorial board makeup for the new open-access journal from Cell

The editorial board members will primarily consist of up-and-coming principal investigators who are the best and brightest in their respective fields.

has me wondering.

Do you know who is on the editorial board of your favorite several journals?

Do you check each time you are preparing to submit a paper?

When, in the course of your training, did you start paying attention if your answer to either of these is yes?

(h/t: @boehninglab)

No Responses Yet to “Journal Editorial Boards”

  1. Namnezia Says:

    Honestly, it’s not very clear to me what the editorial board does. Especially in journals that have lots of managing editors which are the ones that handle your paper and deal with the reviewers. It’s never clear whether the editorial board are folks who are more often than not used as reviewers, or whether they are occasionally consulted to resolve issues, or what.


  2. Namnezia Says:

    Holy shit! They will charge $5000 to publish your article!!!!


  3. BikeMonkey Says:

    “used as reviewers”, IME. Also, the board serves as a badge of approval, Good Housekeeping seal kind of thing.


  4. Pinko Punko Says:

    I was just going to say what Namnezia said:

    10. Why does Cell Reports charge $5000 per article?

    To provide open access, expenses are offset by a publication fee of $5000 (USD) that will allow Cell Reports to support itself in a fully sustainable way. This publication charge is the only fee that authors will pay.

    I wonder what HHMI/WT’s new journal will charge?


  5. Joseph Says:

    I used to care a lot about the make-up of editorial boards and tried to focus on friendly boards. Now I rarely bother to check. It’s never helped much in targeting and I judge the journal by the quality of material and not who endorses it.

    I can only think of one exception to this approach in the past few years and that was a very, very specialized case.


  6. Science Professor Says:

    Yes, I know who the editors, assoc editors, editorial board members are of my favorite journals.

    Yes, I check each time I am preparing/about to submit a manuscript.

    I have always done this. It can make a difference, and can guide my choice of where to submit a paper.


  7. drugmonkey Says:

    Would a board made up only of “up and coming PIs” concern you, Science Professor? I typically see editorial boards dominated by mid to senior career folks.


  8. drugmonkey Says:

    Given PubMed central has the manuscripts available in 12 months, the $5K only buys you a year of open access, right? Intentional strategy on the part of Cell Press to keep quality of submissions high? Presumably there are some papers worth the $$ and some not?


  9. pinus Says:

    So, can people buy cell papers for 5K? that is a steal!


  10. becca Says:

    *sigh* grad PI just suggested I become an editor rather than do a postdoc.
    A) does anyone actually do that?
    B) Is that why editors get no respects from the likes of you?


  11. DrugMonkey Says:

    Yes of course people do this, becca. I thought mostly after a postdoctoral stint but I could be wrong on that.

    I don’t understand your question B


  12. Grantee Says:


    I am on the same opinion than Bikemonkey, I think they are used as reviewers.
    The info provided by Cell Report states that there will be an “Editorial Advisory Panel, made up of senior, well established, well respected leaders….”, so the question, as well as concern, is why the editorial board will be restricted to “up and coming principal investigators” or, as you said, dominated by mid to senior careers folks but not include Early Career Investigators. The feature/policy sounds not only stagnant but also shortsighted in terms of advancing scientific leadership for the future.

    Reviewing is not only a REWARD (privilege) to the brightest and most recognized in their fields. It is also POWER (in that reviewers have invaluable access to privileged information on new ideas and scientific avenues) and provides with DECISION CAPACITY to driving biomedical research not only into well established and respected avenues but also leading the biomedical enterprise into higher dimensions of applicability to emerging and future needs of the country. The latter is much more difficult to achieve when participation is restricted. By the sheer fact that you’re excluding a subpopulation (with already but next to be “most brightest and recognized”) and who represent the immediate future leaders preparing leaders for the future. Whether one likes or not we’re seriously disrupting, the “science food chain”.


  13. becca Says:

    The editors I’ve met all did at least a postdoc before becoming editors, and all the job ads I’ve seen for editors list a postdoc as a requirement, unless one has years of professional experience editing. Thus, I suspect my (relatively ancient) PI is somewhat… out of touch. But I do not know a delicate way of explaining this to him.

    And the question B was in reference to several grumbles I’ve heard on this blog about professional editors. Although CPP was more… colorful (as per usual), I was under the impression you yourself were not overly impressed with the sort of editors that had not gone down the PI road (journals that employ exclusively acting-scientists as volunteer editors were what I thought you favored).


  14. Namnezia Says:

    Becca – people I’ve known to become editors have mostly done so after a postdoc, except for one former labmate who started right after her PhD, but that was over 10 years ago. All of them have risen through the ranks quite well, some impressively so, and they seem to really enjoy their job. So, not a bad gig if you don’t mind all the travel.


  15. drugmonkey Says:

    Ahh. I don’t like academic journals being edited by professional editors, period. It has nothing to do with the merits or lack thereof of any person who takes the job. I may have made the odd mean crack about barely hacking it as postdocs but that was uncalled for. It undercuts my categorical rejection of the type as well. My bad.


  16. drugmonkey Says:

    And if you want the very simplest part of my position, consider where the primary loyalty lies. With science? or with the competitive and financial success of their journal and publisher?


  17. Pinko Punko Says:

    The pro journal editors I know are nice, but their understanding of many fields seem to be honed by the constant attendance of meetings, and if your field is cliquish and insular with how meetings are run and talks are chosen, these editors might have shallow and ahistorical views of these fields strongly colored by dominant personalities. This isn’t good.


  18. arrzey Says:

    IME, How the editorial board is used varies from journal, and depends greatly on the editor-in-chief or executive editor, or whatever the FAE calls themselves. Sometimes they sheppard the paper & find the reviewers (all the Am Phys Soc journals), sometimes they review themselves (evolution journals, medical journals with huge boards). As for the value of and to the up-and-coming, it depends on how the Ed-in-Chief functions. If EiC is overseeing the process, and making sure things are done fairly (ie reivews of substance and not ad hominem attacks) it could be great – fresh air & all that. If the review board is trained (it has happened, even for an old fart like me), that is, rather than learning the job on the fly or learning the job through painful years of publication, someone actually talks about how the process works, and what makes good & bad reviews, then I think this could be an incredible step forward & shake things up in a good way. Advantages to the up& coming include having a sense of what is going on in the field (the advantage of reviewing). Of course, it is a dangerous commitment (in time & energy) for a young scientist who is not yet funded.

    Yes & Yes to the questions, and when I started paying attention is when a great dept chair I had as asst prof smacked me upside the head and say “do this, its important”.


  19. NeuroJoe Says:

    “The pro journal editors I know are nice, but their understanding of many fields seem to be honed by the constant attendance of meetings, and if your field is cliquish and insular with how meetings are run and talks are chosen, these editors might have shallow and ahistorical views of these fields strongly colored by dominant personalities. This isn’t good.”

    Yep, I’ve seen that in some cases. But society journals can be just as cliquish and in that case the editors, who are practicing scientists, may have motives other than ignorance. And sometimes being to historical prevents publishing novel results that senior folks *think* are known, except there are no references to provide.

    So, yes journals with professional editors certainly have biases, just different ones from society journals.


  20. drugmonkey Says:

    Yes, NeuroJoe, but what makes you think that long term professional editors are not subject to these same problems?


  21. drugmonkey Says:

    The question is not whether any individual *could* be biased, stupid or wrong. It is about the systematic limitations. Allegiance to science versus allegiance to a corporation is a very large systematic difference. Throw Glamour vs. real journal into the mix and off we go.


  22. Bashir Says:

    I can’t say I know the editors off hand, but I do check when thinking about where to submit. I started looking after I had an annoying experience with an editor and began to see how who edits and reviews your manuscript matters. I also used not not think much about having “non-preferred” reviewers. Now I have several on my list.


  23. drugmonkey Says:

    I was intentional vague in the post but for me there is no excuse whatsoever for not thinking hard about the associate or field or whatever they call the editor that is managing the review. The “editorial board” means, to me, that long list of people who are not managing the review but instead promise to do a boatload of reviewing for the honor..


  24. NeuroJoe Says:

    “Allegiance to science versus allegiance to a corporation is a very large systematic difference.”

    I guess you are living in an alternate universe. First, I tend to think that professional editors are also not in it for the big bucks and have “allegiance to science” and not corporations. Yes, they want to keep their day job creating unique biases. But that’s no different than scientific editors with personal and scientific biases that systematically impact their reviews. They are only humans…

    Professional editors can sometimes see the big picture and overrule small-minded and often mean-spirited critiques. And overall I don’t find the review process better at society-run journals (both as a reviewer and an author).

    We need to stop the vilification of Glamour magazines and professional editors and come up with better journals and reviewing methods.


  25. drugmonkey Says:

    Why, pray tell, must I stop vilifying GlamourMags for ruining science?


  26. Pinko Punko Says:


    I simply can’t agree with you. Jr. League top-tier journals, just below C/N/S still have barriers to review that are much smaller minded and based on shallower understanding of science than society journals. Where your young pro-Editor is going to do the most damage in my mind is the decision to even review. Sometimes they just don’t know.


  27. NeuroJoe Says:

    “Why, pray tell, must I stop vilifying GlamourMags for ruining science?”

    That chip on your shoulder’s gotta be pretty heavy.


  28. DrugMonkey Says:

    My shoulders can bear many chips with ease.


  29. Pinko Punko Says:

    It doesn’t even really seem like a chip as opposed to “massively accurate”


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