Your editorial team

A guide to the tasks and responsibilities of you as the editor, and your editorial team

Your role as a journal editor

At Emerald, we work closely with our editors to manage and develop your journal.

In that partnership, there are some tasks that fall to the Emerald publishing team and others that sit with you as the editor. 

Below, we run through the editor responsibilities, which your publisher will be happy to discuss with you in more detail.

  • Support authors during the submission process – manuscripts should follow the journal's author guidelines, and should be submitted via the editorial system, ScholarOne.
  • Support the development of your journal in line with the strategy and objectives agreed with your publisher.
  • Meet the editorial content aims and scope agreed with your publisher. These should be updated to reflect new developments in your field.
  • Maintain and develop the quality and quantity of the content.
  • Arrange and manage the peer review process; source reviews, interpret reviewer manuscript evaluations, and provide reviewers with feedback on their contributions.
  • Meet the agreed deadlines for peer review and the delivery of accepted articles.
  • Provide helpful and timely service to authors and manage their expectations regarding manuscript turn-around times.
  • Encourage citation and usage of content, where appropriate and relevant.
  • Nurture a network of contacts who will submit papers and other content.
  • Promote the journal at conferences and to interested colleagues.
  • Recommend the journal to your organisation’s information professional.
  • Appoint and manage the editorial boards.
  • Handle allegations of ethical misconduct following the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) guidelines and in consultation with your publisher.

While the role of an editor requires time and dedication, our existing editors tell us that it also comes with many rewards.

Some of their key motivations include:

  • The part they play in sharing new research with their community.
  • A passion for the publication and a desire to improve it.
  • Early access to the latest trends and developments in the field.
  • A desire to give back to the community and work with new researchers.
  • A new challenge!

They also talk about the positive effect the editing role has had on their profile, and the great opportunities they’ve received to build new networks and skills.

Additional editors

If a journal’s scope is too broad, or the workload too heavy for a single editor, you may need to recruit additional editorial staff.

  • A regional editor can help your journal penetrate a new geographical area, or ensure it is represented in locations where the field is experiencing growth.
  • An associate editor can help strengthen coverage of specialised subject areas; especially useful if your journal has a wide-ranging scope. They can also provide a fresh perspective.

Both roles can help enhance the reputation and visibility of your journal – they can also bring new networks and skills to the team. Your publisher will be happy to discuss the options with you.

Finding the right candidates

Often, our editors already know the people they would like to invite. Frequently, these candidates have been keen and interested members of an editorial board.  Previous guest editors of special issues might also be considered.

A strong candidate is familiar with the journal and offers valuable experience in the required region or specialism.  As with all editorial roles, enthusiasm is an important factor. It is particularly useful to recruit individuals who already have a significant network working or researching in the subject area.

Specific roles should be defined by you as the journal editor, and may include:

  • Encouraging the submission of articles and managing the review process in their area of expertise
  • Providing occasional viewpoint or comment articles
  • Reviewing for the journal at least twice a year
  • Acting as a journal ambassador, e.g. promoting the title at conferences and to interested colleagues/contacts
  • Guest editing a special issue for the journal
  • Recommending the journal to their librarians.

The benefits include:

  • Complimentary access to the journal.
  • Their name listed within each issue of the journal and on the journal website – a great way to increase their personal profile.
  • Early access to new research, helping them keep abreast of developments in their field.
  • The opportunity to network with colleagues and peers (editors or board members) and influence the journal’s future development.

Editorial advisory board (EAB)

Editorial board members are usually selected by you from your network of contacts – with input from your publisher. 

We recommend you appoint people on a fixed term-basis only, e.g. for two years, so that your EAB is regularly revitalised by the influence of new members.

As the journal editor, you will decide on the tasks and responsibilities of the EAB. However, here are some suggestions that you might want to consider.

  • Advising you on journal development. This might include editorial scope and focus of the journal, the appointment of new EAB members, relevant conference and promotional opportunities, market insights, and best paper nominations.
  • Acting as a reviewer. This is especially relevant if the journal has no separate ERB. However, you don't want to overload EAB members with papers to review – if someone is receiving more than their fair share of requests, you may need to appoint additional EAB members in that subject area.
  • Encouraging the submission of articles. These can be written by the EAB member or their contacts. This is a useful way of sourcing papers in other regions or ensuring that the full subject remit of the journal is covered.
  • Providing occasional guest viewpoint or comment articles. Many EAB members are happy to provide a short piece on a topic that interests them (and your readers).
  • Acting as a journal ambassador. They can help to spread the word about your journal at conferences or in discussions with interested colleagues/contacts. 
  • Providing feedback. They can share helpful criticism/information with you to assist in the development and direction of the journal.
  • Guest editing special or themed issues for the journal.
  • Promoting the journal. Sharing new content alerts with networks, and recommending the journal to their organisation's information professional.

Building an effective EAB

Ideal candidates could be former guest editors of special issues, authors of key reviews, and top reviewers. Your existing board members may also be able to suggest new members.

The editorial board will affect your journal’s quality and reputation so it’s worth investing time in recruiting the right balance of members. Here are some points that you may want to consider:

  • Location of members: Membership should reflect the journal focus and market. If you already receive, or want to receive, papers from a country where your field is experiencing growth, appointing an EAB member there will help.

  • Composition of EAB: Ideally, representatives should be appointed from key research institutes or companies in your field. It helps to have a good mix of well-established academics and professionals and those who have yet to make their name, (the latter may well prove to be your most active members).  It’s important to ensure board members’ expertise represents all the subject areas covered by your journal’s scope (including areas you want to grow into). And, we encourage you to think about achieving a good level of diversity; does your board have a good balance of nationalities, cultures, age groups, levels of experience and gender?

  • Size of EAB: There is no fixed number, but the ideal EAB has around 20-30 members, one of whom may be nominated as president or chair.

Here are a few best practice tips that will help to ensure your EAB runs smoothly.

  • Regularly review the members and their responsibilities. Each member should be given a key area(s) of focus.
  • Clearly communicate the journal goals and strategies, and keep members up to date with developments (e.g. publication dates, planned special issues, conferences), so they can support you in promoting them.
  • Keep the EAB engaged by inviting them to:
    • Review relevant papers and write for your journal.
    • Select the best paper and highly commended papers for our Literati Awards for Excellence
    • Advise on hot topics and the future strategy of your journal.
    • Promote your journal to their networks and at conferences.
  • Organise an annual EAB meeting at a conference to create a sense of community and common purpose. 
  • Encourage feedback, and provide your own feedback on how you’ve dealt with their comments.
  • Make sure they know how much you appreciate their continuous support!

Our EAB members will recieve:

  • Complimentary access to the journal.
  • 35% discount on books in our Emerald Bookstore
  • Their name listed within each issue of the journal and on the journal website – a great way to increase their personal profile.
  • The opportunity to network with colleagues and peers (other board members) and influence the journal’s future development
  • Early access to new research, helping them keep abreast of developments in their field.

The editorial review board (ERB)

The role of the ERB is to review papers for the journal – this can be a huge benefit if you're struggling to source reviewers from your usual networks.

What are the key responsibilities of the ERB?

You will decide on the full list of tasks, but the most important thing is that members perform reviews of papers in their subject field and complete and return those reviews in the agreed format and timeframe.

Building an ERB

You want subject-matter experts who are willing to undertake the occasional refereeing of a paper. Just as with the editorial advisory board, you want to attract members from areas where your journal is experiencing growth, and it’s important that membership reflects a variety of age groups, experiences, genders, nationalities and cultures.   

As delays in peer review are a well-known pain point for editors (and the authors who are awaiting a decision on their papers), it’s crucial your ERB members are responsive. If they are regularly unavailable or don't deliver on time, it’s a good idea to look elsewhere. We recommend a regular annual review of the board and activity levels – your Publisher will help you with this.

  • Complimentary access to the journal.
  • 35% discount on books in our Emerald Bookstore.
  • Their name listed within each issue of the journal and on the journal website – a great way to increase their personal profile.
  • Potential future membership of the editorial advisory board.
  • Early access to new research, helping them keep abreast of developments in their field.

Guest editors of special issues

Special issues are devoted to a single theme and are often edited by a guest editor; a subject expert who takes the reins of the journal for that one issue only.

Special issues frequently start life with a subject expert approaching you with a suggestion. If that happens, it’s important they complete our special issue proposal form, to help you and your publisher make an informed decision. On other occasions, you and your publisher may identify a theme you’d like to explore in more detail via a special issue.

The responsibilities of a guest editor are very similar to those of a traditional journal editor.

Taking on the role offers researchers valuable first-hand experience of editing a publication; a good trial run for those ambitious to edit their own journal one day. Producing a good special issue can also provide a valuable boost to the guest editor’s academic or professional standing.

You can find out more about the role and value of special issues in our run a successful journal section.

We have also developed a guide to support guest editors as they navigate each stage of the process.

Guide to publishing a special issue

Related topics

Develop and monitor your journal

Our practical guide looks at how the publishing process works, special issues, submissions, peer review, and more.

Develop your journal

Journal promotion

Explore the steps we take to promote your journal, as well as ideas and advice on how you can get involved. 

Promote your journal

Publishing ethics guidelines

Understand the ethics responsibilities of editors, authors and reviewers, and the steps you should take if an allegation of misconduct is made.

View our guidelines