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Editorial Accomplishments

Posted on Saturday, November 29, 2014 at 8:54 PM

A look at what others have achieved and a suggestion to prompt greater achievement among the rest of us.

By William Dunkerley

What kinds of things are editors accomplishing this year? What have our colleagues set their sights on, and how close are they to achieving their goals?

We asked those questions to a sampling of readers and received some interesting responses.

The Survey Response

Ryan Alford, for example, of Snowshoe Magazine reports that expanding the reach of his content was high on his list. To achieve that goal he set out to broaden his crop of writers. "I've been able to recruit some great writers not only in the United States, but also in Canada, Europe, Japan, and Australia," he says. What's been the result? Ryan points to "a more unique content approach each issue." The payoff has been that his audience clearly "appreciated and responded to the efforts."

At Metropolis magazine, editor-in-chief Susan Szenasy undertook a re-imagining or re-conceptionalization of the New York–based architectural magazine. Metropolis covers, analyzes, and comments on design and architecture. Szenasy says, "Our name has inspired our editorial focus since the magazine was first launched in 1981: the metropolis, the grandest designed object humans have devised." This invites the publication, she explains, "to zoom in on everything from salt shakers to sky scrapers, and their environmental, social, and economic impacts." The re-imagining has included not only the editorial approach, but also a redesign. But, insists Szenasy, the magazine's fundamental DNA will be protected. The relaunch will take place with the December 2014 issue, now just about ready to be sent to the printer.

While changes at Snowshoe and Metropolis involve changing content, the story is different at Powder and Bulk Engineering. There the concern is over the changing of staff. Two editors with considerable expertise in the magazine's subject matter are nearing retirement. The magazine has been an award winner for its technical content, so maintaining that level of excellence is important. Editor Terry O'Neill says that is a "tough job." She is in the process of training two new editors and remarks that there is "so much information to try to transfer!"

Timothy Beardsley, editor-in-chief at the American Institute of Biological Sciences, reports having initiated a partnering arrangement in January 2014 with Oxford Journals. The AIBS peer-reviewed journal BioScience has been in publication since 1964 and is now available online too. Beardsley says, "I am happy to report that the transition to a new publishing partner went very smoothly, and we are now being widely read on the Oxford University Press servers. Our print issues look every bit as good as they did last year, too."

At Pediatric Research, managing editor Stephanie Dean has already achieved two significant accomplishments this year and is looking ahead to her next challenges. On the "already done" list: First is an effort to increase the journal's impact factor. (Impact factor refers to the average number of external citations published to articles appearing in a journal.) Dean reports achieving an "increase in our impact factor based on the July 2014 released IFs." The second achievement is "publishing a significantly larger number of high-quality review articles." Looking ahead, Dean sees her challenges as "(1) exploring publishing options for small nonprofit publishers, (2) evaluating online peer review systems to find which ones are considered best by the majority of users, and (3) increasing the level of interest from our three member societies in terms of readership and authorship."

Setting Goals and Tracking Achievement

Aside from providing a valuable glimpse of the accomplishments of a few fellow editors, our mini-survey also turned up something we all should ponder: Are we sufficiently setting goals for ourselves and measuring achievement?

That question arose when we examined the response rate to this survey. It was relatively low when compared to other surveys we have conducted. I'm sure that many other editors have had accomplishments this year. Some may have been too busy to tell us about them. But I also wonder if some of us are not thinking in terms of goals and achievement?

It is interesting to note that 3 of the 5 responses we received are from editors of technical journals. Are they doing a more diligent job of setting goals and tracking success than the rest of us?

Goal setting is good. It is a process that requires us to look beyond the arduous task of churning out a new package of content for each issue. It is also a process that allows us to fine-tune what we are doing and to adapt our work patterns, our skills, and our publications.

There are revolutionary changes in the editorial business that are being driven by a veritable onslaught of technological innovation that is unprecedented. That places a great demand upon us all to give added focus on keeping ourselves, our staffs, and our publications acclimated to this environment of constant change.

In practical terms this means observing change, setting goals, and tracking achievement.

William Dunkerley is principal of William Dunkerley Publishing Consultants, www.publishinghelp.com.

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