The fourth and final in our series on the researcher-led initiative, Excursions.
Excursions: The Editorial Process and Structure of an Interdisciplinary Journal.
by Graeme Pedlingham, Senior Editor
Graeme completed his BA in English Literature at the University of Reading in 2004, following this with an MA in Critical Theory at Sussex. He is currently completing his DPhil entitled: The Un-Scene of Memory: Energetic Theory and Representation in Theatre, Film and the Video Game. This examines post-Freudian readings of memory, specifically dealing with ‘energetics’ in psychoanalytic theory, as a way of approaching visual representation in the respective media, and will be done by October! His research interests include: psychoanalytic theory (Freud, Andre Green, Christopher Bollas), poststructuralist theory (Lyotard & Derrida), comparative approaches to visual media, interdisciplinarity, and the ‘visual turn’.
There are three principle groups within the editorial process for Excursions, all of which have vaguely similar names, so my apologies if they are a little tricky to keep in mind! The first of these groups is the editorial board. This consists of those actually organising and running the mechanics of the journal. Decision making is done by majority vote. At present, there are 8 of us, of which 3 are senior editors. The role of senior editor was created for three key reasons:
- to provide an overview approach to the tasks involved (each senior editor has a very general area of responsibility);
- to provide continuity between meetings (a minimum of two senior editors have to be present at each meeting);
- to facilitate decision making in the event of split-votes.
All members of the editorial board also have specific roles and responsibilities, including reviews, web-site design, IT support, finance, editorial management (i.e. submission/review process), marketing, etc. We meet approximately every two weeks, but this can be more or less, depending upon the stage we’re at in the life of the issue. And each meeting is minuted exceedingly precisely, to allow for our often faulty memories, and as a record of decisions taken and items to be acted upon. The editorial board have little to no role in assessing submissions, except in certain circumstances, for example when a submission is clearly off-topic in relation to the issue theme.
The associate editors comprise of a pool of postgraduate and early-career academics that act as the peer-review element of the journal’s submission process. Each submission will be directed to two associate editors, based upon their individual specialisms and interests. It is crucial in such a wide-ranging journal, which attempts to reflect the many and varied subjects and research areas contained within the Doctoral School, that we have a very diverse group of associate editors to draw upon. Submissions are received ‘blind’ by each associate editor, so no personally identifiable information will be sent to them, and they will also not know the identity of their co-reviewer. The associate editors provide feedback to the editorial board, including an opinion on whether the submission should be accepted. If there is no consensus between the associate editors, the submission is sent to a relevant member of the advisory board for a third opinion. Which leads me neatly on to the advisory board.
The advisory board are a group of senior academics, each an internationally recognised authority in their field, with an interest or expertise in interdisciplinary research. Again, owing to the nature of the journal, the advisory board is perhaps larger than most discipline specific journals. The function of the advisory board is not only to arbitrate between split-decision submissions, but also as a third level of review. Each submission that is successful at the peer-review stage (associate editor) is sent to a member of the advisory board. The purpose of this group is, once-more, three-fold (it is, after all, a magic number):
- it serves as a final approval that the submission is of sufficient quality and is original in its field (or at least the field from which it draws most significantly);
- it guarantees that every successful paper will have been reviewed by a prominent figure within the submitter’s own discipline-area;
- and, of course, it promotes and enhances the reputation of the journal.
The advisory board member is informed, before receiving the submission, that it has been accepted by the associate editors, their role, therefore, is not so much ‘selection’ as it is ‘approval’. Those submissions that have been selected at the peer-review stage, and approved by the advisory board, will then be included within the journal. And this, in a nutshell, is the editorial process. It is essentially taken from a variety of other journals that we look upon admiringly, with a few tweaks to allow for the interdisciplinary nature of Excursions, and is based, to a significant degree, on the goodwill, charity and enthusiasm of those willing to review submissions as either associate editors or as part of the advisory board.