Editor-in-Chief Roles and Responsibilities

The Editor-in-Chief (EIC) for an ASHA journal is typically a highly experienced scientist who has a larger vision within the discipline of communication sciences and disorders to guide the journal. The EIC is expected to participate in defining and adjusting the journal’s evolving mission and to understand and adapt to the changing needs of the readership as a contributing member of ASHA’s Journals Board. The EIC is also in the optimal position to have broad oversight of the review process.

In order for the EIC to implement their editorial vision successfully, they must have an engaged and energetic editorial board. The editors for each journal serve staggered terms, independent of the editor-in-chief’s term, so the EIC will need to begin recruiting for any open position immediately. Building an effective editorial board is critical in ensuring the journal’s health and success.

There are a number of things to consider when constructing an editorial board but, generally speaking, members should meet the following criteria:

  • have research interests in common with the Mission & Scope of the journal
  • have a record of published research in scholarly journals, including serving as lead author
  • be well-respected in the CSD community and be actively involved in research
  • have substantial experience in reviewing manuscripts
  • have a willingness to drive journal activities

When making their selections, EICs should keep in mind that editors should have demonstrated competence and established reputation in the research specialty (or specialties) to which they are assigned. In addition, editors should have substantial experience in reviewing manuscripts.

The EIC may already have a few names in mind. Unless they have already worked closely with the individual they plan to invite, it is usually worthwhile for EICs to consult with other member of the Journals Board before issuing the invitation as their colleagues may have direct experience with the individual that might be relevant. Also, in selecting editors, the EIC will need to consider whether they appropriately represent the journal community, both in terms of the topics covered but also the regional demographic of submitting authors and readers.

In issuing the invitation, the EIC will also need to clearly communicate what their expectations will be for the new editor. While it is a privilege to serve on an editorial board, it can also be a significant commitment so it is only fair that you let your future editors know the scope of their role and responsibilities. Expected functions and duties include:

  • Process approximately 15 to 18 manuscript submissions per year
  • Communicate with authors and make final publication decisions
  • Assign manuscripts to Editorial Board Members for review (& ad hoc reviewers as needed)
  • Recruit content (forum, supplements, individual articles)
  • Monitor Editorial Board Members (timeliness, review quality and tone)

Periodically, the EIC may want to review who is serving on the editorial board. It is certainly worth investigating board member activity on the Editorial Manager peer review site to see who is contributing to the journal. The EIC should also consider other factors into account when assessing contributions, such as participation in journal discussion and responsiveness to email communications. Some reasons for a change might be:

  • to provide extra support to board members handling a large number of submissions
  • to remove any inactive board members, or those that have made the decision to retire from the board
  • to cover new subject areas not previously included in the Mission and Scope
  • to cover new geographical areas

When editors do retire, the EIC should always aim to send a letter of appreciation.

Engaging the Editorial Board

The EIC is not just responsible for constructing the editorial board, they are also responsible for engaging with the board once it is in existence. Each editorial board member should feel valued and have a sense of ownership over the journal. This sense of community can be challenging to achieve. Effective EICs often take opportunities to meet up, talk over the phone, email, share ideas, and involve their editors in the discussion. Keeping board members informed about the latest developments on the journal and soliciting ideas for future improvements will also help create a collaborative community, which is engaged in creating an excellent journal with impactful research.

ASHA provides a community platform for anyone participating in an editorial board. The ASHA Community  is available to the EICs of the journals, all journal editors, and all editorial board members (though not accessible to ad hoc reviewers). The online community includes items of relevance to the work of being an editor and facilitates on exchange of ideas.  This site supports editors’ ongoing work and allows discussions that can begin on the site and continue via e-mail (similar to a Listserv but with messages archived on the site for future reference).

The EICs will also want to direct their editors to the resources available on the ASHA Journals Academy. In particular, the Peer Review Excellence Program is designed to support the continued growth and evolution of ASHA’s peer review quality and culture. With input from the Journals Board, ASHA intends to further develop the PREP Modules to provide in-depth guidance to editorial board members and reviewers. In addition, the Academy’s Author Resource Center provides useful information editors may need when working with authors or seeking to share information about ASHA journals.

Editorial Transition Planning

When an EIC steps down from their role, it is critical that the incoming EIC can hit the ground running.

It is extremely helpful when an outgoing EIC is able to share insights with the incoming EIC in a face-to-face meeting or over a phone call. The outgoing EIC’s experience and journal-specific knowledge is invaluable, and sharing this can help keep the journal on track during the transition period and beyond.  Often departing EICs are able to provide details on the nature of content coming into the journal, which can help the new EIC in determining the best balance when building their editorial team. They can also share tips on what has worked for them in revising the various templates and invitations within Editorial Manger. In addition to having access to the outgoing EIC, ASHA’s Editorial Board model is structured so that the terms of the EICs are staggered across all of the ASHA journals. This means there are always experienced EICs to learn from.

Unexpected Circumstances

On a rare occasions, circumstances change, real life gets in the way, and an EIC needs to take a leave of absence or resign unexpectedly. In these situations, the EIC should contact the Chair of ASHA’s Journals Board and  ASHA’s Director of Serial Publications and Editorial Services as quickly as possible to discuss options.

Accordingly, a circumstance may arise where an editor needs to step down, in which case the EIC will facilitate the recruitment and onboarding of a new editor. During the transition, the EIC is expected to communicate with the outgoing editor’s editorial board members (EBMs) and/or advise the new editor in recruiting additional EBMs as needed.

Promoting the Journal

The EIC is an ambassador for the journal. Each EIC is given a budget to help with editorial and administrative functions to support with the recruitment of content to increase the journal’s reputation. The ASHA  National Office is happy to work with EICs in the course of their efforts, such as attending conferences, to develop informational materials for outreach purposes. ASHA also attends a number of conferences every year in order to increase the visibility of the journals and get feedback from the community. EICs can also suggest conferences to the publications team which they think would benefit from ASHA’s attendance.