How, exactly, does one get to be an editor of a Nature-branded journal? What do we do? How do we decide what to publish? And what’s up with all our journals? In this episode of Forecast, I hash out these issues with Bronwyn Wake, the chief editor of Nature Climate Change. But don’t worry … if you’re thinking about becoming an editor, working in a bar is not a prerequisite.
I’m 46 and bald, but when people meet me, they frequently say that they were expecting someone even older, and, I suspect, sporting an extravagant beard and wearing a thin-elbowed tweed jacket. The reality is that the editors across our journals span a range of ages from freshly-minted PhDs to editors who have been in the job for decades. And, unusually for a scientific career, there is excellent gender balance!
Editing can also allow you to have — really! — a reasonable work-life balance in a challenging and intellectually stimulating career. So, if you’re nodding your head in agreement at Nature’s blood-curdling feature on the brutal challenges of starting a scientific career, editing is something to think about.
Most of our editors have broad interests and a preference for a non-academic lifestyle. Bron’s voyage to editing took her through undergraduate degrees in Japanese and chemistry, working in a bar, almost teaching English overseas, chance encounters with science opportunities (in Antarctica), interesting work as a postdoc but no clear avenue to a permanent position. As is the case for a lot of us, Bron “…really enjoyed the research and the field work…” but the rest of the academic pathway wasn’t too compelling.
Bron attended a Nature career fair in London and felt that editing might fit the bill. After an hour-long chat with my boss at Nature, Karl Ziemelis, Bron interviewed at Nature Climate Change and was soon hired. As is often the case, there was a chance for promotion, and Bron now runs the journal.
Running a journal, though, is no picnic. Nature Climate Change was our first journal working in the social sciences, and attracting the best work from these communities took a huge effort, and remains challenging. The range of content is correspondingly vast, spanning climate impacts
to battery packs:
Managing brings new challenges. Staff moved on to launch other projects within the company, and recruiting can seem endless. Bron juggles manuscripts with writing editorials and Research Highlights, editing News & Views, coordinating with the art and production teams, and commissioning content. Still, for Bron, the job is not all-consuming: unlike in academia, you can usually shut off your work brain when the day is done.
If all this sounds appealing, and you’re interested in learning some more about a career as an editor, let me know via firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and I’d be happy to chat.
Music: Anemic Alloy! by SubRosa CC BY-NC-SA 3.0. Available on Soundcloud.