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Scholarly Journal Publishing Guide

Resources for McGill journal editors


Chapter 3 in the book Developing an Open Access Journal, covers the issues of planning an editorial board well (see p. 53-55). 

Checklist for planning an editorial board

[ ] Board structure Who sits on the board? What titles/roles are included (e.g. copyeditor, editor-in-chief etc.)? Example
[ ] Member Responsibilities

What are the responsibilities for each member of the editorial board? Example 

See Editorial responsibilities form. 

] Term lengths How long do board members sit on the editorial board? 
] Recruitment and application methods How are board members recruited? Is there an application process? What are the selection criteria? Example
] Meeting frequency How often will the editorial board meet?
] Succession planning

Is the board structured so that new members can learn from past members? 

See our Checklist for outgoing editorial teams

Sample terms of reference

See also : What exactly does an editor do?

Editorial responsibilities and workload commitments 


Commitments and responsibilities vary greatly by journal. See also PKP's Journal Administration Toolkit



Common tasks 



General oversight and responsibility for the journal. May include reviewing manuscripts, suggesting reviewers, publishing the journal, promotion etc.  

Editor (Associate, Section) 


Reviews manuscripts, makes recommendations. Locates peer reviewers. 



Edits papers for clarity, adherence to style guide.  

Layout Editor 


Formats paper for publication (e.g. typesetting, different formats, HTML etc.) 

Managing Editor 


Oversees the journal’s daily activities. Ensures submissions stay on track.  

Editorial assistant 

Varies greatly according to tasks assigned. 

Tasks as needed.  



Maintains website, updates with changes etc.  



Checks the final article for errors before publication.  

Advisory Board 

Less than 1 

Consulted as needed by journal on policies, etc. 


Further reading: 

Aguinis, Herman, Gideon P. de Bruin, Danielle Cunningham, Nicole L. Hall, Steven A. Culpepper, and Ryan K. Gottfredson. 2010. “What Does Not Kill You (Sometimes) Makes You Stronger: Productivity Fluctuations of Journal Editors.” Academy of Management Learning & Education 9 (4): 683–95.

Edgar, Brian D., and John Willinsky. 2010. “A Survey of Scholarly Journals Using Open Journal Systems.” Scholarly and Research Communication 1 (2).

SSHRC Evaluation Division Ference & Company Consulting Ltd. 2021. Evaluation of Aid to Scholarly Journals (ASJ).

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