Becoming a journal editor in 15 minutes: a 3-step tutorial

To boost your academic career — spending countless hours on administrative duties will get you a long way in science — early career researchers1 should consider picking up at least one associate editor position for a scientific journal.

Below I provide a 15-minute 3-step tutorial on how you can easily do that, based on my own experiences.

Step 1: Increase your own chances

First, you need a tiny bit of ‘luck’, and you can increase your chances of becoming ‘lucky’ by publishing a few papers. Honest journals and self-respecting editor-in-chiefs will crawl your name online, add you to a database, and send you legitimate requests. I get about 2 per day that miraculously pass the gmail spam filter, and I am sure others get many more.

It is 11:10am local time, and I receive the following email:

I drop the revision I am working on, and am elated: a stellar offer from a legitimate person working for a renowned journal? For me?! Especially phrases such as “Have a great and healthy day ahead …!!” are signs you should look out for, things that real people say and write regularly. Definitely legitimate. And if the date mentioned as a deadline was over a month ago.

What’s best, I am totally qualify for the job, seeing that I fulfil the criteria: I have a ‘minimum PhD’, and very much like ‘scientific associations’.

Later, self-doubt starts creeping in … do I really have a shot at this? Do I have what it takes?

Step 2: Submit the most convincing application

The second step is similar to grant applications: you want to submit the most convincing email and CV. Not too much information, not too little. Sound educated, but not too fancy. That sort of thing.

It is 11:13am now, I am sweating profusely. I draft a few emails, edit my CV several times, sleep over it, ask colleagues for feedback.

At 11:19am, I send the following email:

Embedded in the email, the following photograph:

Step 3: Win

The submission changes my life. When they do not respond, I start having concentration problems at work, become irritable. I check my emails more often than usually2, start having obsessive thoughts. My sleep quality decreases, my relationship starts suffering.

And then, 6 minutes later, good news: I am accepted as an editor!

And YOU can do the same. Believe in yourself, take your chances, and make sure your family and friends support you in your endeavours. I have to leave now, and prepare my CV for the journal website.

  1. A term that may or may not be contentious; cf. https://twitter.com/robinnkok/status/921073175739461635.
  2. Every 30 seconds instead of every 60 seconds.

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