A great way to “EASE” into the editing community

An introduction to the European Association of Science Editors

By Joan Marsh - January 22, 2020  5 mins
EASE conference photo
EASE conference participants 2018

For most academics, being an editor is an adjunct position, something to fit around research and teaching. As Shakespeare might have written, had editors existed in the 16th century: some are born editors, some achieve editorship, and some have editorship thrust upon them. The career path is poorly defined, usually progressing through positions on editorial boards, with varying degrees of responsibility and guidance. But how many editors are aware that they have their own professional bodies? Various national and international associations exist that provide resources, networking and peer support.

Introducing EASE

The oldest of these bodies is the European Association of Science Editors (EASE), an international organisation now approaching its 40th anniversary. EASE aims to raise the quality and profile of science editing by promoting the value of science editors and supporting professional development, research, and collaboration. At a time when the role of journals, and thus editors, is being questioned as never before, it is crucial that we not only work to high standards but that we work as a community and communicate the value of that work to both researchers and the general public.

(So) many reasons to get involved

There are many benefits provided by EASE… The association publishes its own peer-reviewed journal, European Science Editing, which highlights research into all aspects of editing and publishing. Further online resources are available in the form of “Toolkits” - collections of freely available articles for editors, peer reviewers and authors, as well as popular guidelines for authors which are available in 29 languages. We also have a monthly newsletter to keep members up to date with the latest news. EASE organizes its activities around three pillars: improve global standards, raise the profile of science editors, and support professional development.

Practical guidance for the community

The most visible output of the work to improve global standards has been the EASE guidelines for sex and gender equity in research (SAGER). Published in 2016 after three years of development activity, these were the first formal description of how best to report sex and gender, not just in human studies, but in all research, including that on animals and cells. The guidelines have been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Chinese and Turkish. The next steps for the EASE gender policy committee are to devise a means for monitoring the implementation and effect of the SAGER guidelines (as unfortunately, adoption is not the same as compliance). The committee will also produce more general guidance for diversity and inclusion within journals, for example, aiming to establish gender equality on editorial boards, which the Lancet group, members of EASE, have committed to do.

Tackling the big issues

Peer review is the main preoccupation of editors – how to ensure good, relatively rapid peer review is a perennial problem to which there is no simple solution. Online training courses, such as those provided by Elsevier and others, help those who are motivated to look for assistance but there are many questions still to answer. EASE is engaged in research into the best practice in peer review and is an active contributor to initiatives such as PEERE and the Peer Review Congress. Questions under consideration include ways to recognise and reward reviewers, how to improve the peer review workflow, what guidelines should be provided to reviewers, and what constitutes good practice in peer review.

The highlight of the calendar

For many EASE members, the main attraction is attending the biennial conference, gaining the rare opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with other editors. This year’s conference, taking place in Valencia, Spain, from 12-14 June, will address the highly topical theme of sustainability and diversity in research and how editors can contribute.

2019 was the year in which concerns about the environment and about diversity and inclusion went mainstream. This has prompted many of us to look at our own activities and see what changes we could - or should - make, but how to do this in the realm of editing and journal publishing? The conference will explore the role of the editor in supporting and promoting sustainable science and ensuring diversity. Sessions will include sex, gender and racial diversity in research and editing; how to support ethical research with reproducible results; the promotion of data archiving and access; managing the burden of quality review and editing; ensuring public outreach and the importance of editors in the promotion of sustainable, diverse, science. Practising what we preach, the conference will avoid the use of plastic and encourage carbon offsetting for travel.

The best part of EASE is meeting other members, sharing experiences and ideas, in a lecture room or over a glass of wine. So why not come to Valencia this summer and join the party? We’d love to see you there!

If you are interested in becoming a full member of EASE, find out more information on our Membership pages, or Join Now!
Any questions, please contact Joan Marsh or the EASE Secretary, Mary Hodgson (secretary@ease.org.uk)

EASE conference poster 2020


Written by

Joan Marsh

Written by

Joan Marsh

Joan Marsh is the Deputy Editor of The Lancet Psychiatry, having joined the Lancet group in November 2013.

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