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How To Become A Journal Editor

How to become a journal editor

I recently received a question from an early career researcher who wanted to know how you can become a journal editor.

Here are a few ways that are available:

  • Apply when a position open: Some journals rotate their editorial board on a fixed-term basis. If that’s the case, they may either look within their network to replace the editors, or they may open the position for anyone who is interested in applying. I once applied to an advertised open position, without success. I serve as vice-president of the editorial board of a journal that rotates on a fixed-term basis, and was originally invited to apply through a colleague from my network.
  • Write really good reviews: If you write really good reviews, some journals may notice your effort, and will invite you to serve on the editorial board. For another journal of which I am editor, I was invited based on a review I wrote.
  • Start as guest editor: Some journals have special issues devoted to a topic or related to a conference. If you are involved with a conference, or have an idea for a collection of papers, you could reach out to the editorial board to volunteer to serve as a guest editor.
  • Network: As with everything in academia: relationships matter. Most of my editorships come through my network, of colleagues who know (and, hopefully, respect) my work.
  • Start locally: If you are aiming to be the editor of a prestigious journal, you can start as the editor of a national journal or a journal of your university. You can gain experience and raise your profile as an editor, and build up to more prestigious journals. I am the editor in chief of the science and engineering journal of my university, which is part of the administrative portion of my appointment here, and not related to my path towards editorships at other journals.

Are you serving on the editorial board of a journal? How did you land this position? Let me know in the comments.

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