In the academic world, being nominated to serve as a journal’s associate editor is an honor. “It shows you have a good track record as being a developmental reviewer,” Russ Johnson, associate professor of management, said. “It’s a nice recognition since it’s not something you apply for.”
D. Lance Ferris, associate professor of management, added, “It’s a feather in the cap. It shows that people appreciate what I do, so it’s cool.”
Johnson and Ferris have recently been named as associate editors for prominent academic journals in the field of management. Johnson has begun a six-year term with the Journal of Applied Psychology, and Ferris has begun an 18-month term with Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. Each will represent MSU as a decision maker, impacting the latest research being published in two of the most prominent academic journals in their field.
Broad News: What motivated each of you to take on this new role?
Ferris: Every time you submit a paper, you generate requests for two to three other people to review your work. So, you should pay it forward and [you should] be doing reviews for other people as well. Not everyone strives to be an associate editor, but I think it’s an honor to be nominated.
Johnson: The role of reviewer or editor is voluntary, but we do it because science needs to happen.
Broad News: What are your responsibilities as associate editors?
Johnson: The editor and associate editors are the decision makers, taking the reviews and deciding if the research can be revised and hopefully published in the journal. As a reviewer, you don’t really have any decision power, but as an editor or associate editor, you get to choose what goes through or doesn’t.
Ferris: It’s a fair bit of work. You have to look across the reviews from two to three different people and think about how to condense what they have written into meaningful feedback for the author teams. It all takes time, and there is a lot of work behind the scenes to get people to do reviews.
Broad News: What are the criteria for making decisions on research?
Johnson: On the theoretical composition side, you ask, Is this interesting and new? There’s also a practical implication: Can this be leveraged somehow to benefit employees and organizations in the real world? And on the scientific side: Was [the research] done with rigor?
Normally, reviewers are given four weeks to complete the review and turn it in to [associate editors]. Then, when we receive all the reviews, our goal is to turn it around within a week or two.
We’ve been on the other side as authors. Immediate feedback is much more impactful than having to wait four to five months. I think most journals have 60-day turnaround expectations.
Broad News: How will you be able to further impact management research in this role?
Johnson: One nice thing about being an editor or associate editor is that you get a better understanding of how the publication process works. One big part of our jobs, especially right now, is to help our grad students, teach them about the research process and help them get publications. I think having an understanding of how the other side works certainly benefits that.
Ferris: I anticipate that it’ll be useful to see how other people handle the process, like authors. How do they handle review comments, what kind of strategies do they use to kind of get around some of the common pitfalls in the review process, etc. So, I think that could be useful, learning the process.
Also, knowing what’s the latest and greatest research being done out there. You kind of get a preview of it because you’re handling it as it’s going through before it appears [in the journal].
Broad News: How do your passions tie into your academic work at the Broad College and in your new role as associate editors?
Ferris: In general, I like developing. Whether it’s students, authors, coauthors, this really gives you an opportunity to shape the manuscripts and how they’re coming out. I think that’s well aligned with what we try to do here with students. This is almost like teaching authors how to go through the process; authors are going to vary in the extent to which they need help with that, but I imagine it will be quite rewarding.
It’s like you have this “diamond in the rough” idea that gets further developed as it goes through the process, and you can see the diamond at the end.
Johnson: You do wear a different hat as an editor, where, like Lance said, it’s about getting stuff through the process. You’re not in the business of rejecting stuff but instead, figuring out how can we get it to a publishable form. I think it’s really rewarding because you’ll bump into people at conferences that were authors that you were an editor of their work, and people are really appreciative of it and express a lot of gratitude.
In the past when I’ve been an associate editor, sometimes the best response is when you reject a work, but the authors reply back saying they learned a lot from the process. I think the developmental, coaching aspect is a really rewarding part of it.