EJIL’s Editor-in-Chief Joseph Weiler has written a series of editorials titled ‘On My Way Out’, providing advice to young scholars. I’ve always read these with great interest, considering myself squarely in the target audience. That has not changed now that I have joined him as an Editor-in-Chief of this most inspiring journal. I am very much still on my way in, although into what continues to surprise. ‘Not a single dull day at EJIL’, Joseph had promised me. He has not disappointed.
Continuing in the EJIL tradition of being as transparent as possible about the editorial process, let me share with you a few experiences as a fresh Editor-in-Chief. I hope this newcomer’s view from behind the scenes will complement the official accounts and statistics that EJIL already provides.
Unsurprisingly, the core of the job has been an enormous amount of reading. Every few weeks, the Editors-in-Chief receive a pack of over 1000 pages: new submissions, peer review reports, road maps for revisions, revised submissions, peer review reports of revised manuscripts, final submissions. Reading all of these pages is a great way to learn about emerging research areas, different styles of scholarly writing and wide-ranging approaches to peer reviewing (ranging from the rather unhelpful conclusion-only assessments to truly impressive engagement with an author’s work and detailed suggestions for improving it).
Perhaps the best and most educative part of the job has been discussing all of these articles and reports with the Associate Editors and the other Editor-in-Chief. Meeting virtually, some of us with a double espresso because in their time zone it is 6 am, we analyse each and every piece of writing. What is exciting about this article? What does the article allow us to see or understand that was not known already? Will it still be read in five years’ time? Have we recently published on the same topic? How could the argument be made clearer? Who would be in a good position to peer review in this particular area? Is the reviewer’s issue with the article one of quality or one of not liking the argument or approach? Does the author’s revision road map address the issues raised by the reviewer? Has the second, third, or even fourth version of the submission addressed all previous concerns? Read the rest of this entry…