The role of Editor is demanding to say the least. It requires juggling many balls at the same time and that’s before you take into account the day job! In this series we interview various Editors in Chief (EiC) and Editors who work on Major Reference Works (MRWs) and Handbooks to get an insight into their role of being at the helm of such voluminous titles that require enormous effort and take years to compile.
In this blog, Mary M. Atwater, professor of science education discusses her role as Editor and how she worked with authors from different countries around the globe to compile the International Handbook of Research on Multicultural Science Education.
I have always enjoyed conducting research and my original research focus was on African Americans. It then broadened to cultural factors that influence science learning and teaching. I had written many published research articles and then became the first author of a book on multicultural science education published by Springer. As time progressed, more and more researchers around the world were conducting science education research relating to different cultural groups. I became acutely aware that it was the time to publish a handbook on multicultural science education. One of the staff members at Springer proposed that an international handbook be published where the authors/co-authors of the chapters in the international handbook must be from different countries around the world. This would be a challenge, but the challenge was met and from here the International Handbook of Research on Multicultural Science Education was born.
You have the opportunity to become acquainted with researchers whose work you may not know and read. You invite chapter authors whose work you are familiar with, but now you encourage them to summarize and critique research in their area of specialty related to culture. You attend conference presentations seeking people you might invite to be chapter authors for the international handbook and you solicit assistance from those who have connections in other parts of the world where you might not have. I became acquainted with new authors and worked with people I had never worked with before as Section Editors and authors/co-authors. I also worked with different personnel within Springer Nature. Being an editor of an international handbook was an exciting challenge and learning experience in which my people skills grew immensely.
The most challenging task is to keep track of the status of the chapters being written. That is the reason that there is an assistant to the Editor. This person brought organization to my life as an editor; she arranged ZOOM meetings, took notes at the ZOOM meeting, and kept me informed on the status of the book chapters early in the process when it was necessary to meet the page requirement for the handbook to be considered an international handbook.
Another challenge was I knew I could not read all of the chapters required for an international handbook and make decisions regarding them. Hence, I made the decision early on that there would need to be Section Editors. These Section Editors would be responsible for working with the chapter authors/co-authors and approve all chapters to be sent to Springer Nature for publication consideration. Of course, I would be one of the Section Editors.
Finally, everyone needed to understand the publication of this international handbook was a group effort. Hence, I made myself available to discuss any issue, chapter authors, chapter co-authors, along with Section Editors could contact me at any time.
The Springer Nature staff have been superb. They arranged for regular ZOOM meetings even though their staff were in different time zones such as the Netherlands and India. They were willing to seek answers when raised by the Section Editors and Editor. They were committed to the publication of this international handbook from the outset.
First and foremost, you must be committed to the publication. You cannot anticipate all problems that may arise (and they will!), but those that can be anticipated should have some solutions in place. Most importantly, being an editor is not about the money, it’s a commitment to producing a publication because you have a desire to move your chosen field of study forward with invaluable research.
About the author
Mary M. Atwater is a professor of science education in the Mary Frances College of Education and affiliate professor in the Institute of African American Studies of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Georgia. Her research focus is on socio-cultural-political factors that influence science learning and teaching and her publications include articles, book chapters, edited books, and a co-authored K-8 science program.