Interview With… A Managing Editor

Like most students and recent graduates, Madeleine Markey wasn’t sure of her next step post-university. I interviewed Madeleine to find out how she became a Managing Editor for Taylor and Francis, as well as her thoughts on the open access debate.

taylor-francis

How did you get your role at Taylor and Francis?
I graduated in July 2009 with a degree in English and German and started at T&F in November 2009 as the Publishing Editor on the Area Studies list, working under a Publisher and two Managing Editors. This encompasses some 80 journals spanning African, European, Eastern European, Middle Eastern, Asian and Latin American & Hispanic Studies. When one of the Managing Editors on the team left in summer 2012, I interviewed and became the Managing Editor for the African, European and Eastern European Studies journals, and have worked in this role since.

Did you always want to work in academic publishing?
No, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, although I knew that I was certainly more of a words person than a numbers person. I come from South East London and went to university in Reading, where I met my (now ex) partner, who wanted to move to Oxford. The main industries in Oxfordshire are publishing, education, engineering and science/technology, with ample job opportunities in each sector. Publishing was the area that made the most sense to move into, so I began researching publishing jobs in my final year of university and applying for positions, interviewing in the summer after I graduated.

What skills do you feel you already had that helped with your role?
Working in the editorial department you need to have good people skills and be able to communicate clearly and effectively, as you work with academics, suppliers and colleagues across the globe. An excellent grasp of spelling and grammar is vital, as it looks extremely unprofessional for a representative of a publishing house to be writing communications littered with typos. At university I was one of the Editors on our student newspaper, was President of our Erasmus society and worked with the international students before and during Freshers’ Week, all of which helped to develop my transferable skills. In editorial there are new deadlines to work to and new projects thrown at you every day, so you need to be organised, have the ability to manage your own workload and be aware of what deadlines your team mates may be working to. In a sense, this is a continuation of university life: working on your dissertation, working as part of a team on a group project, etc.

What advice would you give to a student looking to work in this area?
At university, take up every opportunity and join as many clubs and societies as you can manage. While work experience is great to have, your potential employer will also be looking at how much of a well-rounded person you are and to see if you could fit in with their team and the company. My manager once told me that one of the reasons he chose me for the job was my ability to talk and to keep a conversation going.

Make sure you know what the different roles in publishing are and have a clear idea about how this differentiate from each other. Although many people may think of editors as working with and editing articles and text, this is not what we do in editorial roles (Publishing Editor, Managing Editor, Publisher). Articles are sent out to freelance Copy Editors for copyediting, with the T&F Production Editors handling the articles and issues throughout the production process. Editorial roles are concerned mostly with relationship management, be it with academic editors, authors, conference organisers, research councils, etc.

Selection of journals

Selection of journals

What do you think about open access and the issues this brings with copyright?
I agree that research funded by tax payers’ money should be freely available to the general public, but I doubt many of them would have the understanding nor the inclination to actually read these papers, so this is more for the benefit of other academics and researchers. Although as a lay person I can access and read engineering and maths papers, for example, I do not have the necessary education and training to understand the advanced and technical discussions and theories that are contained within them.

Normally when an author publishes with T&F, they assign copyright to either the society that owns the journal, or to T&F if we own the journal. With Open Access, authors retain their copyright, but other researchers are free to reuse and tweak their work, as long as they credit the original author.

At T&F, if an author chooses – or is mandated to – publish their article as Open Access, they can select from several types of copyright licences: Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY), Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC) or the T&F OA License to Publish, similar to the Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND) licence.

Has the open access debate had any affect on T&F or your role there?
Open Access is something that has evolved very quickly since the recommendations of the Finch report, and T&F and other publishers have had to make changes rapidly to keep up with this. At T&F this included appointing an Open Access Publisher, Vicky Gardner. Nearly all of our journals now have an Open Access option and we have partnerships and pre-payment arrangements with a number of UK institutions, as well as offering waivers and reductions on the Article Publishing Charge (APC) and several offset models.

The demand for OA came largely from the sciences and, as such, has not affected the social sciences and humanities as much. Whilst I make my authors aware of the options available to them, on the Area Studies list there is a very low take-up of publishing OA, compared to the sciences. Speaking to my Editors, this is not something that their colleagues and students are particularly asking for, and projects in this subject area do not receive Research Council funding to the same extent as science and engineering subjects.

You can read more on the Open Access section of T&F Online.

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