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Making the Most of Your Editorial Board

Editorial boards are an essential and valuable resource for journals, but members typically have other responsibilities and often sit on the editorial boards of competing journals. How do you make sure you are using your board effectively?

  1. Composition of the editorial board
  2. Responsibilities of the editorial board
  3. Managing your editorial board

Composition of the editorial board

It is important to find the right balance:

  • Include people with a range of subject interests, ideally covering the breadth of the journal’s subject area. 
  • Consider gender, ethnicity, and geographical location.
  • Maintain a majority of active board members versus star names who are lending their prestige. 
  • Invite members of the sponsoring society, if appropriate. 

Responsibilities of the editorial board

Set out clearly the expected term of service and the parameters of the role: outline duties, responsibilities and expectations.

Peer review: This is an integral part of being an editorial board member, though where possible do spread the workload. If your journal uses Sage track, check to see which reviewers are used frequently and which you have not asked for a while in order to avoid overburdening people.

Journal ambassadors: Board members should act as ambassadors for the journal, sourcing potential authors and readers and also potential subscribers in their region. They can also encourage their students and colleagues to read and cite the journal.

Editorial strategy advisors: Board members can be a huge source of inspiration and advice and are often happy to be involved in the development of the journal. Ask for their input into the future strategy of the journal, considering topics such as:

  • What do they see as the direction for the journal? Is it meeting the needs of the scholarly community? 
  • Competitor comparisons—what are they doing well? 
  • Ideas and innovations—what is the future of scholarly publishing? 
  • What is working? What is not?

Managing your editorial board

Some practical management tips:

  • Regularly review the balance of the board members.
  • Make changes as necessary; don’t be afraid to bring in new people. 
  • Set terms of service in order to refresh the board on a regular basis, inviting new members and gracefully removing inactive members. 
  • Ask for feedback and be responsive. 
  • Provide updates on staff changes at Sage. 
  • Communicate regularly—set up an email distribution list to facilitate communication and keep members updated on journal developments throughout the year. 
  • If possible, hold regular board meetings at suitable conferences. Video and conference call meetings are also a good option when trying to work around busy schedules. 
  • Ensure that Sage has email addresses of all board members so that we can provide them with complimentary subscriptions.