Assess the value and fit of a paper for a journal
Editors at scientific journals receive an abundance of paper submissions and must be able to quickly assess and critique the papers. In the triage process, editors aim to determine whether the paper is a fit for the journal’s scope, and whether the conclusions are generally supported by the data presented.
In editorial meetings, editors receive a list of abstracts and must make an initial assessment of each study’s scope and potential impact on the field. Following a more complete reading of the papers, those with the highest potential for publication are moved forward into the peer review process. This job simulation focuses on the editorial triage and critique process.
Critique an article from an editor’s perspective and prepare your summary and arguments for the editorial team meeting. Read an entire volume of your journal of choice. No need to read carefully, but focus on the abstract. Select the best and worst papers from the journal and write your critiques. For this exercise, you are an editorial intern and part of a team evaluating papers for publication. You will not respond to authors.
Task 1: Select a journal and define your selection criteria
Step 1 from the process above. Choose a journal you’re interested in and read through the abstracts quickly. Identify the advance, or key information on which you will base your decision, and decide whether you would read the entire paper. Define the criteria on which you will make a decision on the best and worst paper from the journal.
Note: This task has been included as part of job interviews for editorial positions, and candidates are asked to come up with their own criteria. Ideally this task should take you no longer than one hour. Spend a maximum of two hours.
Task 2: Write your critique for the papers in a quick triage
For this task, write your decision to consider the paper for review or not (or maybe) and write your critique based on the criteria you defined.
Task 3: Determine the best and worst papers from the journal
Using your critique from task 2, select a best and worst paper from the journal. Read the papers in 20 minutes or less and form your argument on whether each paper would be a good fit for the journal and audience and why.
Task 1 – list of selection criteria
Task 2 – the triage decision and critiques can be paragraph or bullet form as the prompt is that you will share your critique with the editorial team.
Task 3 – your critique of why the papers you selected were the worst and best
We suggest looking up the editorial criteria and process for your journal of choice. Here are examples to get you started.
Skills used to perform this task:
Skills used in the Scientific Journal Editing field:
A scientific journal editor may also perform these tasks:
Science outreach and communication
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Simulation author: Audra Van Wart, PhD, Director of Education and Training at Virginia Tech and former associate scientific editor of Neuron.