I guess I’m an Associate Editor now

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited on the editorial board of Annals of Applied Biology. Not counting the dozen invitations by MDPI ‘journals’, this was the first time I was asked to do something like this. For an early-career researcher like me, this is of course an exciting event and moreover it felt like a bit of an honour to be recognized as an ‘expert’ in my field. In my first couple of weeks as an associate editor, all was quiet. Maybe there were no submissions that fit my expertise? Maybe I was forgotten? I wasn’t sure. Even though I was officially an ‘associate editor’, it didn’t really feel that way. This is probably also why I never mentioned it on my blog before.

Yesterday, however, I got my first assignment to handle a manuscript. I had already assigned Friday afternoons to reviewer and editorial tasks, so it was almost well-timed. Unfortunately, the assignment came in the evening, long after my work day ended. I know, I should have waited until my next Friday afternoon block, but I couldn’t help myself. I wanted to figure out how the system worked. So, I just read the paper, and right away went through the reviewer database to find appropriate reviewers. This was an interesting experience in and of itself. Reviewer suggestions range from spot-on to the most irrelevant (mis)matches. Interesting algorithms… I guess I found – and selected – a set of decent potential reviewers. I immediately made my first mistake. In all my excitement, I invited the reviewers right away – going against my own advice not to work on weekends. I know the jury is still out in this subject, which regularly pops up on academic Twitter. Some people get very annoyed by review requests on weekends, whereas others are totally fine with it. I personally don’t mind. Just don’t expect me to answer before Monday. (I also don’t expect anyone to reply just yet.) To be honest, I also don’t mind having to do some things on the weekend sometimes, as long as that means I can take some time off during the week. (For instance, I did a couple of hours’ worth of field work last weekend, and compensated this by joining my family to a toddler summerfest at the kindergarten yesterday.) My main goal is to have a healthy work-life balance, not necessarily a Mon-Fri 9-5 schedule. Although work-life balance for me and my family often means no work on weekends, I try to be flexible where I can. I work with live organisms after all, and they sometimes need a bit of care on weekends. Here’s a thought. Perhaps after my parental leave, I should shift up my weekly schedule a bit and do the reviewer and editorial work on Monday instead of Friday afternoons, just to prevent this from happening. Of course I would aim to not offend any potential reviewers with my editorial behaviour. For now, please forgive me for my excitement…

This is what working on weekends looked like for me this morning. The plants in my new field experiments needed some water, and I’d rather quench their thirst than let them die…
Working on weekends. Who am I kidding. This morning I was just chilling in the shade of some plum trees, while the sprinklers did the heavy work…

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

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