What is an Editorial Board?

Having an editorial board is crucial to your journal. They fulfil many different roles, but one of the most important ones is that they give your journal credibility.

This isn’t the only thing that they do, but it is a very important role. Here, we’ll go over why editorial boards matter, what they do, and how you can grow them.

What is an editorial board?

Briefly, editorial boards are a group of experts in a particular field that help to steer a journal. There is some give and take in terms of how much control they have over a journal. Some journals give a great deal of freedom to their board members, while others prefer to have fairly strict guidelines and expectations. There are plenty of reasons why you might pick one of these two and not the other. It all comes down to what you want to accomplish and how you want your editorial board to participate in the growth of your journal. Some of the major benefits of having a very active board. For example, an engaged and active editorial board can promote your journal as well as attract potential authors and manuscripts based on their reputation alone.

Many people may not consider this initially, but some academics have such a hugely impactful reputation that it can have a massive impact on a journal’s bottom line. More journal submissions equals more money in the end, right?

What does an editorial board do?

Generally, an editorial board serves as an advisory board. They are, many times, referred to as “editorial advisory board”. They fulfill two important functions. The first is to help steer the journal. Through their expertise, they’re able to advise the journal on what areas of research to focus on, etc. The second function is that they serve as a quality control check. They review manuscripts that are submitted to the journal and verify the voracity of the the work.

Because the academics that are part of your editorial board are a wealth of information, the can give you insight into everything from other potential members, to conferences, to trends.

Another major role that they play is by providing articles themselves, which in turn can help your journal to be cited and (again) pull more potential authors.

How big should a board be?

There’s that old adage of “how long is a piece of string”. This question is very similar. Your editorial board needs to be “as big as it needs to be”. If you only have a couple of submissions a month, your editorial board probably doesn’t need more than a couple members. If your journal is processing hundreds of papers, you might need significantly more. The answer to this question also hinges on the level of participation that your editorial board members are able to provide. And what you want them to provide.

Because editorial boards have so much expertise, it’s always a good idea to have a strong relationship with your members. Communicate with them regularly and make sure that you engage with them on their terms. If an editorial board member informs you that their availability is on weekends, it’s not a good idea to email them constantly throughout the week with reminders. It’s a fast way to alienate a valuable partner.

Make sure that you keep in mind what each member is like, and when you grow your editorial board, make sure you keep an eye on their likes and dislikes.

Make sure that you’re paying attention to what your editorial board members are saying. If they are having difficulty or are falling behind, it might be a good time to look at expanding your board. Ask existing members for recommendations. Lean on their expertise.

How to appeal to editorial board members

getting new members to join your team can be challenging. The more famous an academic is, the more in demand their expertise is. And the more they risk by being associated with unknown variables. In this case, your journal might be an unknown variable. We have previously discussed the importance of making sure that your journal’s reputation is a good one. Here is an example of a time where a good reputation can help you to build on your own reputation, whereas having a weaker reputation might make success more challenging.

If you were an academic and a journal approached you to join their editorial board, but they had a weak reputation, would you? What if the journal had excellent standards and a good reputation? It’s pretty clear to see that your reputation matters a great deal in this particular situation. Take your time to talk to prospective members, and ask them what they might want to do to improve processes and help you to make your journal the best it can be.

D.J. McPhee
29 April 2024Posted inTeam Management
Post authorD.J. McPhee