As a journal editor, your editorial board is a valuable resource, made up of amazing researchers, scholars, and practitioners. Each member of your board brings with them a unique perspective and a wealth of knowledge. And since our editorial board members are all hard-working academics who freely give their time to us, it is important to keep them engaged and excited about the journal to which they give so much of their time to support!
Whether you’re reinvigorating an existing editorial board or you’re a new editor helming an editorial board for the first time, here are a few tips to help you better engage with your board.
1. Communicate regularly
It’s important to keep your board informed of journal news and developments. Not only does it help the board members feel included, but the board then has the most up-to-date information on hand when they talk to prospective authors and readers. You can set up an email distribution list to make it easier to disseminate information to everyone.
2. Host a regular editorial board meeting
Whether you have one long meeting every year or set up shorter virtual meetings once a quarter, having regular check-ins is a key way to connect with your board members. Make sure to not only present the journal statistics and metrics, but use this time to discuss upcoming initiatives or direction for the journal.
Your editorial board is made up of some of the best minds in your field. Use them! Ask them about potential strategies for the journal, find out what innovations they are seeing from your competitors, and discuss what kinds of challenges they are hearing from your community of contributors. Your board may have unique insights into what is working and not working in your journal. And if you are thinking about a new journal initiative, float the idea to your board first. You will get valuable feedback, while your board will know they are helping to shape the direction of the journal.
4. Invite them to coordinate special issues or virtual collections
While you’re gathering insights from your board members, turn that insight into action by asking some of them to help coordinate a special issue. Special issues can be a great way to showcase new or underserved areas of research in your field or test the waters if you’re thinking about expanding your scope. If you’re in need of a guest editor to help coordinate a special issue, you need look no further than your board! And if doing an entire special issue isn’t possible, you can also ask them to create a virtual collection, pulling together already published articles and then writing a short introduction to tie the content together.
5. Feature them on social media
If your journal has any kind of social media presence, be it a blog, podcast, Twitter account or exposure through a member society, and you’re looking for new content, why not tap into your editorial board? Interview a long-standing board member about the history of the journal or ask a stalwart peer reviewer to participate in a tweet chat on manuscript writing tips. And, of course, make sure to follow and retweet interesting content from your board member!
6. Set clear responsibilities for your board members
When bringing on new board members (or renewing existing ones) it is important to communicate clear expectations about their responsibilities to the journal. This may include setting out term limits for service and expectations around reviewing papers, but it may include letting them know that the board members are ambassadors for the journal and are welcome to solicit papers and promote the journal around their institution and at conferences.
7. Thank them!
Our journals wouldn’t exist without the hard work of the editorial board, so a little gratitude is the least we can do. Thank them at your board meetings and recognize them on your journal or associated social media account. Offer to provide an official letter to their institution recognizing their tenure on the board. If you want to go the extra mile, create an annual server award to recognize outstanding achievements on your board. And don’t forget to make sure that they are listed on your masthead, with their current affiliation!
Hopefully, these tips will help you to rethink about how you engage with your editorial board! For even more information on creating and maintaining your editorial board, check out SAGE’s Editor Gateway.
Allison Leung is an Editor at SAGE working in Humanities and Social Science journals.