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Training the next generation of editors

ICES Journal of Marine Science launches an Editorial Mentorship Programme to train early career researchers in scientific publishing and journal editing.
Published: 30 April 2021

​​​​ICES Journal of Marine Science is supporting early-career researchers who are interested in learning more about scientific publishing and journal editing. 

“Journal editing (quality controlling) is one of many important tasks that researchers do without having received any formal training", notes Howard Browman, Editor-in-Chief of ICES Journal of Marine Science (IJMS)​. “Mostly, we train for these tasks - including editing for a journal - in an unstructured manner, on-the-job."

IJMS would like to change this and have now launched an Editorial Mentorship Programme. “The objective of this programme is to provide early career researchers with an insight into the editorial process, both operationally and with respect to decision-making, and to teach them these skills." Browman also hopes that this opportunity will bring the participants closer to ICES community and that they will act as ambassadors for both ICES and the Journal.

Meet the four early career scientists that will participate in the programme and find out what they are hoping to gain from the experience:

Alina Madita Wieczorek, Marine Institute Ireland ​



I am a post-doctoral researcher at the Marine Institute in Ireland where I study mesopelagic fish ecology and abundance within the context of the H2020 MEESO project. I mainly work with vessel-mounted acoustics in the Northwest Atlantic and have a particular interest in advancing our understanding of the acoustic behaviour of mesopelagic fish. In the context of this work, I have come to interact with several ICES working groups. 

As an early career researcher (ECR), I have found the academic landscape in general to be quite intimidating at times, and so have followed the recent establishment of ECR networks and ECR targeted activities with great interest. One aspect which has rarely been addressed within these, however, is the training and inclusion of ECRs in peer-review and editorial processes. The opportunity ICES Journal is providing is very unique as it will directly provide us with insights into these processes which are usually reserved for more senior scientists. Apart from this, I am particularly keen to learn how editors decide which articles are admissible and topical and in that way actively shape the marine landscape. I especially look forward working with Stan Kotwicki who has kindly agreed to mentor me during my internship, as his work is very relevant to my research. Throughout my mentorship, I look forward to sharing what I learn, from both my mentor and the rich and diverse pool of editors at the Journal, with my early career peers in the OYSTER network of which I am former chair and active member as well as with my early career peers in ICES network.

What are you looking forward to with this programme?
Through a systematic review study that I and two peers are currently conducting together with the Working Group on Maritime Systems, I have recently come to explore different publication types such as preprints, research protocol registrations, and protocol publications. I am interested to observe how well-established journals such as IJMS view and position themselves in regard to such developments.

Do you prefer to write or review?
Writing up scientific findings can be a daunting task but I thoroughly enjoy seeing projects come to completion and to compile articles to present them to my peers. I think particularly studies in the field of marine sciences take a lot of time and effort from the planning to the writing stage due to the nature of the field and work itself. For me this means to be polite, consistent and provide an unbiased factual review to the authors. I believe that a similar approach should be taken throughout editorial processes.

​While reviewing papers often can add yet another responsibility to our busy schedules I have found that with every review I conducted I have been able to learn something new and gained insights into new perspectives, especially if the studies were less-closely related to my field of research. Acting as a reviewer has also taught me a lot about the way I write articles. For instance, have I learned how to guide readers of all backgrounds through my articles better to convey my finding.

Jesica Goldsmit, Fisheries and Oceans Canada ​

Ever since my first publication, I have always been interested and curious about the review and editorial process at its different stages. I feel I am making a commitment to the world of science and advancing knowledge. This is a contribution that allows 'the wheel' to keep advancing. 

As an author, I expect good quality reviews, and for a manuscript to be accepted at the best it can be, I count on the time and commitment of the people that review it. Expecting that, I should return the service in my role as a reviewer and now as an editor!

What are you looking forward to with this programme?
I am looking forward to learning good practices in the editorial process, ethics, to keep training my brain in critical thinking, and help others communicate their science and their work.

Do you prefer to write or review?
I think both go together. I like writing and when I do, I try to think as a reviewer so I can make my message clear. When I review, I like constructive comments and at the same time I use this moment as a learning experience, where I identify many things to do (or not to do) as a writer.

What makes a good editor?
To me, a good editor needs to first screen out works that do not adhere to the scope and objectives of the journal and respect the minimum required format, then take reviews seriously (allocate the time they deserve, write and demand complete and respectful and good quality reports), have clear communication with Reviewers (so editors can take informed decisions accordingly), ensure a consistency among decisions for the Journal, and respect delivery times of peer review/editorial process.

Would you like to review papers with topics close to your research interests or are you hoping to be taken out of your comfort zone?
Every paper to review is a challenge, even if it is close to your topic. To review manuscripts on your subject, helps you identify things easier in the methodology for example. I imagine that topics a little bit far from the research interest helps you learn and concentrate more in format and in the communication of the message. Looking forward to make my contribution! 

Lucía López-López, Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO), Balearic Oceanographic Centre 


As an author and as a reviewer, I have accumulated the experience and motivation to take on a higher level of responsibility in the publishing process. I believe this mentorship programme is a great opportunity to get started in the editorial work, particularly because I will be under the mentorship of very experienced editors from the board of the ICES Journal, one of the leading journals in the field.

What are you looking forward to learning?
Right now everything is quite new and exciting, but I am particularly looking forward to learning what is the workflow during the editorial process and how key decisions are taken. Editorial work has a big role in shaping new directions in research, but the whole process is somewhat obscure from the outside. 

Do you prefer to write or review?
I think it depends on the topic, but I generally enjoy both of them. Probably the most challenging task for me is re-writing after a review.

What makes a good editor?
I think being kind and respectful, and acknowledging other people's work is a must. I would also expect a good editor to be as objective as possible and have a medium-term perspective on the directions of her/his research field. 

Would you like to review papers with topics close to our research interests or are you hoping to be taken out of your comfort zone?Actually both; of course reviewing papers close to my research interests is what I could do best, but I am also happy to review papers more loosely related to my fields of expertise, which will give me the opportunity to learn something new. I give a high value to multidisciplinary research and I think venturing oneself out of our comfort zone is the only way to tackle ecological research from a holistic perspective. 

Szymon Smoliński, Dept of Fisheries Resources, National Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Poland 


As young researchers, we do not always have proper training in scientific writing. And typically, we do not have a chance to see the other side of publishing – the editorial process. Therefore, I found this programme with great enthusiasm as involvement with this type of science communication is one of my career goals. While it is possible to find offers and apply to join editors of various journals (and various reputations), these are often incomplete, and, in my opinion, do not provide adequate background before one can reliably undertake the tasks. What is unique in this - and what really caught my attention - is the mentoring system. I believe that contact with professional editors is an excellent opportunity and a fast-track to learning more about scientific publishing and journal editing.

What are you looking forward to in this programme?
I would like to improve my knowledge of scientific publishing in general. I am curious about the process of manuscript evaluation and selection, and decisions that need to be taken by the editorial board shortly after the manuscript submission. I think that I will have a chance to learn effective methods of reviewer choice and further moderation of communication between the reviewers and authors.

​Do you prefer to write or review?
Both tasks are demanding but at the same time very rewarding. Preparation of manuscripts is among the routines for the scientists, but I like writing, especially when reporting exciting results. What I really appreciate in reviewing other researchers' manuscripts is that one can take a completely different perspective and learn new methods and approaches. Reviewing develops critical thinking and teaches how to constructively evaluate other scientist's works.

What makes a good editor?
In my opinion, a good editor should be characterized by broad knowledge in his/her field of expertise, allowing the evaluation of the general importance of the work submitted. But the editor should be also aware of recent and ongoing studies in order to select appropriate reviewers. Finally, an editor should be independent, capable to strengthen the most important points raised by the reviewers or recognize and tune down wrong reviews, and able to provide fair recommendations on the manuscript.

Would you like to review papers with topics close to your research interests or are you hoping to be taken out of your comfort zone?
I think that editors should be selected strictly on their expertise, in order to achieve a robust and profound evaluation of a manuscript. I would not feel comfortable completely out of my own field of interests but working somewhere at the edge of my own knowledge and previous experiences can be very stimulating. This border is hard to determine and needs to be taken on a case-by-case basis.​

Mentors

Silvana Birchenough, Cefas, is on the Editorial Board at IJMS and will act as a mentor. "Often you will get some direction from senior colleagues as you write your own articles. However, the opportunity to support a mentee and to share your own knowledge and experience through this process is a unique tailor-made training. IJMS has a very supportive and strong set of editors, so this is a great opportunity for us to share tips and ideas. 

I will ensure the training helps my mentee​ to understand the criteria for a fair and transparent peer-review process. We need ensure the best science is published across IJMS." 

Discover ICES Journal of Marine Science.

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Training the next generation of editors

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