Every journal editor has particular practices that are favored over others, and some of these are unique to the particular journal. But there are a handful of almost universal pet peeves, and practices that would earn a gold star, things that make an editor smile! One issue surfaced recently that prompted me to reflect on some of my particular likes and dislikes, and why. So I decided to share my personal lists with a brief commentary on each item, and invite other editors to comment and add ideas of your own.
- The journal requirements for style and format are followed precisely! This saves our copy editors hours of excruciating work, and it is a signal that the author has attended to details that make this journal what it is. A consistent style and format helps readers to focus on the content, instead of being distracted by matters of style.
- The author’s own voice and message stands out! I want to know what this author has to contribute to the topic they are addressing so that what we publish is unique, and presents a fresh perspective to our readers.
- The author uses an active voice, including the use of first person pronouns to refer to themselves. There is still a lingering belief that professional writing should not use first person pronouns. To the contrary, the best writing guidelines endorse the use of first person pronouns and an active voice instead of the awkward third-person, passive voice practices of part decades. I caution authors to use the first person sparingly to avoid excessive “egotism” in their work, but the admonition to not use first person at all is outdated.
- First on this list has to be a failure to earn my “gold star” points! In fact, failure to adhere to the journal’s style and format is one of the major reasons that I send a manuscript back to the author. The other two points are not grounds for getting the manuscript rejected, but they do influence the review of the manuscript in less-than-positive way.
- Failure to respond to editorial communications in a timely manner. Of course this is a two-way street and I place a high priority on my own prompt and timely communication with authors; I expect the same from authors and reviewers as well. Timely responses are particularly important once a manuscript goes into production, when we need to have page proofs reviewed and author queries attended to in a time frame that meets the production schedule.
- Use of the designation “PhD(c).” I blogged about this issue on the ANS post titled How to list your credentials and title when you publish. A reader challenged my position and stated that this designation can be used, so I looked into the matter further. I found that some Universities do sanction the use of this designation by those who have reached candidacy, but none that I found award this as a degree. A few do award a Candidate in Philosophy (C.Phil) designation, also referred to as an “intermediate degree” but this designation is only good for 7 years, which is the typical time period after which any “candidacy” expires. There is no indication that I can find that affirms the use of this designation as a title. If it is the practice of an institution to use the designation internally, then certainly a doctoral candidate is well advised to use it in that context. However, given that candidacy does expire, I maintain the use this designation in a published work, which will survive the time frame of the designation, is not appropriate.
What are your “gold stars” and “pet peeves?” Share your comments here!