All entries for Monday 01 August 2022

August 01, 2022

August is the Cruellest Month

The Editor reflects on the quietest month of the academic year for publishing.

August is probably the hardest month of the year to be a journal editor. Why you ask - surely it’s a time of year when many people are jetting off on their main annual holiday, the weather (in the northern hemisphere at least) is fairer meaning it must be a positive period! Indeed, yes, for those people able to get away it is a great time – and fair play to them all! But when you’re running a journal and find yourself waiting on other people - authors, reviewers, editors etc – to do their ‘thing’ it can be a mite frustrating. With so many people heading off on or catching up after returning from vacation everything rather does stall to a crawl. Certainly, as I look over my ‘to do’ list for this month there’s a lot of dependencies pending which are waiting on the return and availability of other people.

These little delays are compounded by the preceding couple of months in academia wherein academics have been finishing teaching their courses, working through marking, examinations and reports and then on to various graduation related tasks.[1] Not to mention sorting out all the administration (and celebration!) that comes with that too. And if they’re lucky, getting in a spot of research and even publication along the way! [2]

All of these various ‘distractions’ [3] means by the time we’ve reached August and some scholars might finally be able to put their heads above the parapet for a while…well then it’s time head off on that a well-earned break. All of which means for we editors, it rather feels like we’re entering the third consecutive month of scholars being less able to engage with us. It makes for a frustrating time when you’re trying to move things forward as an editor and looking towards the next publication deadline creeping slowly up on you. Not to mention I’ve lost count of the number of authors I’ve had to contact in order to apologise for a delay in obtaining reviewer feedback…it’s just not the ‘right’ time of year for so many academics.

Now, I should admit, a quiet time is not intrinsically a bad thing. It does let one catch their breath and think about how the rest of the year can plan out, and even what things need to be set in motion or prepared for now. My recent data clean-up and call for registered reviewers to update their reviewing interests being an example of one such task! Nevertheless, I will almost certainly welcome the flood of messages as we hit September and academics en masse begin to become a bit more responsive.

That said, if you ever wanted to have a quiet chat with an editor about your publication ideas, or proposals, their calls for publication or even an exciting special issue proposal…here’s a tip: August is probably the perfect time to catch them with more time than normal to devote to you.

That said, even I might have to take some time off soon…so don’t wait around too long!

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[1] Or at least that’s what I’ve heard from authors and reviewers when I’ve been chasing them for progress reports over the last few months.

[2] A PVC-R of my former acquaintance was known to refer (rightly or wrongly, I won’t judge) to the summertime as the ‘research term’.

[3] AKA the ‘day job’ for those on t&r contracts.


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