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May 21, 2018

Contributor Communications

Communication is at the heart of what Exchanges does, and for the Editors the core tool we use to manage this process effectively and systematically is the Open Journal System (OJS) platform. Now, within this platform there are many automated email templates, which are normally activated, for example, when an article shifts to review or copyediting, or when an editorial decision is made during a submission’s editorial journey. From a Senior Editor’s point of view, there’s a marked advantage in using the platform’s email system too. Every message or reply is associated with its respective submission, creating an audit trail, which allows me to judge how well the editorial process for article is progressing.

One of the things which my Editorial Board made me aware about when I came on-board last month, was how some of the language templates were…well let’s say ‘less than ideal’. I understand more than one of our reader, reviewer and author community have been reportedly been a little taken aback as a result. While it is possible for Editors to adapt and edit the text to create a bespoke message, repeatedly altering templates emails isn’t the most efficient use of their, or my own, time.

I’m unsure how much prior Senior Editors tinkered with these templates, or if many have remained configured as the OJS standard boilerplate outlines which come with the system. Nevertheless, once I started looking more closely at these messages, it didn’t take long for my eyebrows to nearly pop off at times! The language, while arguably perfectly accurate, clearly lacked a sufficient degree of humanity in places. Others could be read as being rather too brusque, for example addressing authors as simply ‘Name’ rather than opening with the politer ‘Dear Name,’.

Details such as these might seem like simple points to agonise over, but a journal runs on the generosity of its authors and reviewers, informed by the effectiveness of our communication and enabled through an unspoken contract mutual professional respect. Hence, at the very least, my Editorial Board and I should ensure our default communication instruments address our contributors appropriately.

Hence, last week I started working through a process of reviewing and revising all of the 59 template emails our OJS system utilises. I’m, perhaps understandably, firstly concentrating on revising those we send out the most often, so my apologies to our reader community if you keep receiving some less than perfect mailshots from the system for the time being. I am working on it, and always welcome any feedback or suggestions as to where they might be made even better. Hopefully, the end point will be mildly enhanced set of communications, and a more satisfied reader community.

New Name

Incidentally, following on from my last entry, it’s been agreed by my Editorial Board to make the change to the journal’s name. Henceforth, from Vol5(2), we’ll officially be shifting the full title to Exchanges: The Interdisciplinary Research Journal. I’m in the process of updating the various online mentions of the title, so you might see a mix for a few weeks until I’ve tracked them down. I hope you like our new name, and agree with me that it far better reflects the titles’ scholastic mission.

May 2024

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