A journal editor's lot

December 12, 1997

MAY we speak up for the poor woebegone journal editor who has received so much flak in your columns (THES, November 28 and December 5)?

The image implied by one of your correspondents of the academic editor, rushing out a curt refusal before clearing her desk and going on sabbatical, is not our experience.

Editors spend many hours helping academics publish their research, through offering guidance on outlines, revising manuscripts and copy-editing and checking their final text, references and diagrams. Such time is not budgeted in our teaching and research hours and is largely taken out of our evenings and weekends. Authors, wondering at the brevity of a response, perhaps should remember that editing a quarterly journal is a half-time post taken in addition to a lecturer's full-time job. Editors also play a creative role in research, formulating themes of common interest to researchers, developing research fields. Yet the research assessment exercise does not recognise the intellectual contribution of the journal editor, whereas book editors can count their one-off publication among their "publications".

Refereeing ensures the quality of the work published. Research papers in our journal are rigorously refereed - and anonymously. Referees willingly give up their time, often unacknowledged. Perhaps we can thank those who put themselves out in this way and rebut Laurie Taylor's amusing - but perhaps too cynical portrait.

Julia Knight and Alexis Weedon

Editors, Convergence: The Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, department of media arts, University of Luton

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