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What makes an Award-winning journal editor?

The Global Peer Review Awards are back for 2019, bringing you the top reviewers and editors who’ve gone above and beyond in improving scholarly communication!

To celebrate the arrival of the Awards (announced on September 17th during #PeerRevWk19), and to give you insight into what it takes to win a top spot, we interviewed some of the winners from our previous editions.

Up this week, we speak with the 2017 Top Handling Editor, Marius Rademaker.

Marius is a clinical dermatologist and the Hon Associate Professor at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. He has had a long-standing interest in the management of inflammatory skin disorders, and handled an impressive 1,185 manuscripts as the editor for Wiley's Australasian Journal of Dermatology, making him well-placed to offer tips on the editorial and review process.

Publons: Why do you think the editorial process is important?

Marius: As part of my clinical job, I end up reading 5-10 scientific papers a day. I don’t have time for badly written, poor science. A good editorial process hopefully ensures high quality, well written, interesting articles are published.

You secured the #1 position for our Top Handling Editor in the 2017 Publons Peer Review Awards. What does that Award mean for you?

Being a successful editor is based entirely on the skills and quality of the whole editorial team. For me, this is a reflection of the great team we have at the Australasian Journal of Dermatology.

What makes a good quality review?

Reviews have two main purposes - to help the editorial team to make an ‘accept/reject’ decision, and to provide helpful feedback for the authors as to how they can improve their manuscript or research project. As an editor, my focus is on the former, so a good review is timely, impartial (i.e. more evidence-based than just opinion), clearly indicates whether the manuscript is likely to be of interest to the wider readership of the journal, whether the scientific principles are valid and whether the conclusions are supported by the hypotheses and the results.

“A great review is one that also includes helpful comments to the authors.”

Any specific comments (both positive and negative) should be supported by non-judgemental evidence. Be honest if you are unsure, or unable to comment on specific areas of the research. A great review is one that also includes helpful comments to the authors, but we are very conscious that all our reviewers/editors are giving their time/expertise for free.

Why is diversity in peer review critical to improving the system?

We all have our own individual likes and dislikes, no matter how impartial or non-biased we believe we are. Having two editors and two reviewers manage manuscripts ensures much greater diversity in viewpoint and significantly reduces the risk of bias.

Can you share any tips for researchers keen to become an editorial board member?

“Write a lot of scientific papers. You need to have had a number of manuscripts rejected to appreciate the value (or lack thereof) of good reviewers comments.”

First, write a lot of scientific papers. You need to have had a number of manuscripts rejected to appreciate the value (or lack thereof) of good reviewers comments. Then become a reviewer, preferably for several journals, as they are likely to have slightly different editorial processes. Continue to submit scientific manuscripts yourself. With a year or two of review experience, talk to the editorial board about becoming an assistant/associate editor. There are multiple resources to help you write, review and edit manuscripts readily available from the larger publishing firms such as Wileys.

Do you have any advice for early-career researchers wanting to break into editors’ reviewing pools?

Present your work at annual scientific meetings, and strike up a conversation with the editorial members of the journal you are interested in. Editorial boards are always on the lookout for good reviewers, and the next editor.

Thanks, Marius!

Stay tuned for updates by following our Awards page, our blog, and our #SentinelsofScience hashtag on Twitter.

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