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Editor in a (60-second) spotlight – Amanda Kenny

June 24, 2020 | 6 min read

By Amanda Kenny

two standing lamps with blue green background

"Success is all about change, and to promote change, you have to disrupt"


Name: Amanda Kenny

Institution: La Trobe University, Australia

Role at institution: Professor

Journal: Nurse Education Todayopens in new tab/window

Journal role: Editor-in-Chief

  1. What inspired your career in research? I have always been disruptive, and as a young child, I always asked why. If I didn’t understand something, I wouldn’t sleep until I figured it out. My greatest joy was reading the encyclopedia from cover to cover. About 27 years ago, I found myself as a sole parent with four little kids. I was a nurse and midwife and went back to study. At first, it was about getting further qualifications to keep food on the table and ensure that I could support the kids.  When I started my master’s degree, it was like a new world had opened up. My passion developed quickly through my PhD when I realised the power of research to drive sustainable change. I have always been determined to make a difference. In my research, I get to work with rural communities to support them to improve their health and wellbeing. Being a researcher is such a privilege, and I feel so lucky to have had the most fantastic career.

  2. How would you describe a typical working day? I am a Professor of Rural Health and have a busy role as Director of the Violet Vines Marshman Centre for Rural Health Research. I tend to wake up early and will often clear my editorial work before I start the rest of my day. I love to read and get so excited by people’s amazing research, so reading manuscripts each morning gets me fired up for the rest of the day. I am always juggling current research with grant writing. I try and write every day, and most days have writing to comment on. I supervise some great doctoral students, so I often meet with them or have thesis chapters to read. We have about 30 researchers associated with the Centre, so there is always something coming up. I mentor many academics around the world, and that is a great part of my role. Like most academics, I sit in far too many meetings. I am incredibly lucky to have some fantastic international collaborators, so there is usually work associated with that. I am also on the Board of a small rural health service and often have meetings in the evening. I have been working from home during the pandemic. That has created some additional challenges. Trying to concentrate with two very spoilt snoring dachshunds at my feet has not been easy!

  3. How do you measure success in your work? For me, success is about making a difference. I am a great believer that change can only occur if people are challenged to think differently. Success is all about change, and to promote change, you have to disrupt. If we all sit back and do nothing, nothing will change.

  4. Do you have any particular advice for younger researchers? I think you need to stay focused on what you want to achieve. As a young academic, I had a terrible time. There are always people that want to knock you down. I think you need to find great mentors who guide you and teach you to become strategic. I was lucky enough to have the most fantastic mentor early in my career. He challenged me, but also made me believe that what I was doing was important.

  5. What drove you to become an editor? I love to read and write and am so passionate about excellent research that makes a difference. As an author, I am so grateful to the reviewers and editors that make my work so much better. When I had the opportunity to become an editor, I felt so lucky. What a fantastic opportunity to be able to read about the significant research being done from all around the world, but it also felt a little bit of giving back to my profession by helping others to get published.

  6. What is the most rewarding aspect of editorial work for you and what do you find difficult about the role? The most rewarding aspect is when you get an email from an exceptionally excited author who has just had their first paper accepted. Those emails always make me smile as I remember how excited I was when I got my first publication. The most challenging part of the role is ensuring that we can get a decision back to authors as quickly as possible. We have a fantastic community of reviewers, but the whole process can take a while. Our time from submission to decision is pretty good, but I still would like it to be quicker. I know how anxious authors can be.

  7. What is the most important attribute for being an editor? I think kindness is the most important attribute. Authors put so much effort into their manuscripts, and we can’t accept them all. I believe it is essential to acknowledge that you are sorry to disappoint them and show kindness when they are stressed or upset. There can be so much pressure on people to publish.

  8. Name one item/tool/resource that you cannot do without in your editorial role? The greatest resource that I couldn’t do without is the fantastic people that I have to work with. We have the most brilliant editorial manager, skilled assistant editors, a terrific social media team, an excellent publisher, and the great Elsevier team. They all contribute so much to the journal’s success. The other great resource - the fabulous reviewers from all around the world.

  9. What would you be doing now if you were not an academic and editor? I can’t decide whether I am a frustrated architect or criminal lawyer. I am passionate about buildings and love mid-century modern design. I love reading crime novels and rather fancy myself as a best-selling novelist. I have always had a wild imagination...

  10. What is the most interesting image/photograph you have come across in your journal? I don’t think I have a favourite, but I just love a good diagram. I am quite a visual person, so images are so helpful, especially if the topic or approach is complicated. I think being able to condense complex information into something visual is such a skill.