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What do journal editors, managing editors, and production coordinators do?

Journal editors, managing editors (MEs), and production coordinators (PCs) steward manuscripts through the journal publishing process, liaising with one another, authors, copy editors, proofreaders, compositors, printers, and more to ensure your article is the best it can be.

Journal editors lead the editorial direction of a journal and are its primary ambassadors in the field of study. Their responsibilities are to curate and disseminate quality research broadly by establishing an advisory board and assigning section and special issue editors, if applicable; determining the journal’s content types (e.g., research articles, editorials, reviews) and submission guidelines; encouraging submissions; making accept, reject, and revise decisions; and guiding authors to revise and develop promising manuscripts.

The ME is a key support for journal editors and often the first contact a contributor has with the editorial office. The ME may coordinate the manuscript submission process, moving manuscripts from submission to peer review and through revision and acceptance processes as applicable. The ME may be involved with assigning peer reviewers and keeping the peer review process on schedule. After a manuscript is accepted, the ME collects publishing agreements from contributors and gathers all article components (e.g., figures, tables) before releasing manuscripts to production. Some MEs oversee copy editing and help manage permissions for reprinted and adapted materials used in an article.

The PC (sometimes called a production editor) ensures a manuscript is production-ready before release to composition, then shepherds the article through production to publication. Duties may include overseeing copy editing and wrapping up loose ends with article components (e.g., figures, tables) and permissions. The PC typically works closely with the compositor, who typesets the text into page proofs, and coordinates page proof review with the journal editors, authors, and proofreaders. The PC releases final pages to the printer and the journal’s online publishing platform, and signs off on printer proofs before publication in print or electronic forms.

Editorial contacts and their responsibilities can vary by journal and publisher. When your article is accepted for publication, don’t be afraid to ask what the journal’s publishing process entails and who your contact(s) will be.

—Johns Hopkins University Press, January 2024