Re-building an Editorial Board to Better Represent a Journal’s Field: An Exceptional Editor Case Study

The Source
By: Penny Freedman, Wed Jun 26 2019
Penny Freedman

Author: Penny Freedman

Serving as an editor takes dedication, time, and passion. Regardless of the discipline, editors can learn a lot from one another’s successes.  We asked some of our exceptional editors at Springer Nature to share initiatives that took their publications to new heights. Their stories of success highlight the impact that even a small change can have. Whatever the goal may be, big or small, be it growth, a major change-up, or a refinement of a process, we hope that the stories from our Exceptional Editors Series will help inspire new ways that editors can help advance their publications.

Jim Buchan © ©SpringerNature
As the incoming Editor-in-Chief of Human Resources for Health, Dr. James Buchan reviewed the Editorial Board and recognized the need for it to better represent the journal’s community. The journal focuses on a global workforce that is estimated to be 70% women. At the time of Dr. Buchan’s review of the board it was predominantly male, and the global component was lacking, notably with Asia underrepresented.

The goal

Secure the relevance and strength of Human Resources for Health by establishing an editorial board representative of the journal’s field and global coverage.  It was important for the journal to become more inclusive of different regions, systems, academic disciplines, and professions. Only then could it aspire to speak from a position of strength about issues facing the health workforce across the globe.

The process

Three specific interventions were staged to rea

Human Resources for Health
ch the journal’s goal.

  1. Overhaul the Editorial Board. Bring in mid-career individuals that have sufficient experience and time to dedicate to the role. In addition, ensure that there are more female board members and individuals from Asia.
  2. Expand on the Associate Editor group to provide a broader range of background disciplines.
  3. Develop and agree on a new “Aims and Objectives” of the journal with the new Associate Editor group. Set out the overall aim of the journal, emphasizing the goal for global reach, inclusiveness, and a multidisciplinary approach.

The first overhaul of the Board was managed by Dr. Buchan and its journal development editor, Liz Hoffman. Current members were offered the chance to stay on if they could commit to up to  four reviews a year. Many were at a senior level in their career, approaching retirement, or already into their retirement. As a result, a significant amount took the opportunity to step down to allow for a new cohort to take their place. Mid-career professionals were identified from the recommendations of Board members, the WHO, and other stakeholders, as well as through the review of journal articles.

The results

“I believe that the journal is now better placed to reflect, engage with, and influence the HRH community.” - Dr. Buchan

The Editorial Board of the journal is now 60% women. At the time of the next update of the Board the aim is move this up to 70%. It now has representation from several countries in Asia. The Associate Editor group is now 75% women, and includes individuals across multiple professions including medicine,  nursing, podiatry, as well as academics including economists, health service researchers, and sociologists.

In data from January to April 2018, compared to the same time period in 2019 the results are already evident. Published articles are up 53% and submissions are up 48%.

Have you been in charge of making changes to an Editorial Board? Have you been a part of a board that implemented a wide overhaul? Let us know in the comments.

Penny Freedman

Author: Penny Freedman

Penny Freedman is a Marketing Manager on the Author Experience & Services team based in the New York office. She works closely on sharing insight and guidance on the benefits and services available to our editors, reviewers, and authors.

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