Faces of Elsevier - Dan Norman, Journal Manager
- What was your background before becoming a Journal Manager?
I worked in a variety of roles before moving into publishing, including as the research co-ordinator for a geospatial data company which allowed me to work with Google, Ordnance Survey and the Ministry of Defence. I also worked for the Fire and Rescue Service in the projects team, unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to drive any of the fire engines.
- How would you describe a typical working day?
The working day of a Journal Manager is always busy, but our excellent training in time-management and forward planning definitely helps to maintain calm in what can be a very fast-moving role. My daily tasks include: responding to queries from editors, authors and reviewers; liaising with typesetters to solve any problems relating to the creation of articles; compiling issues; monitoring the flow of articles to make sure the required copy is available for issue compilation; undertaking work to improve the speed and quality of journal editorial and production workflows; and taking time to learn about new procedures, projects, systems and improvements. There is a big emphasis on colleagues supporting each other in the Exeter office, so there’s always an expert on-hand to offer guidance if required.
- How do you measure success in your work?
The most obvious way I measure success is by using statistics. This may be reporting on the turnaround times of manuscripts as they pass through the editorial system, or the number of queries that are being produced relating to a specific journal. It is also important to make sure that journals are being compiled to deadlines, so I know I am doing my job correctly if issues are appearing online and in print on time. Another big part of the job is dealing with a wide range of people, so knowing that they are happy and satisfied is also a big measure of success for me.
- Do you have any particular advice for new editors?
The best advice for new editors is to always ask your Journal Manager or editorial office if you are unsure about anything. We are here to help and have access to a range of resources that can make your life easier. Also take time to look at the online resources we offer, such as YouTube videos and training functions . No question is too silly, and you can bet that if you are not sure about something, then you are not the first person to ask the question.
- What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
I personally love to see the printed versions of issues, especially special issues where I know a huge amount of work and love has gone into the content. The journal publishing world has changed hugely in the last decade and the requirement for the print version of articles has dropped away (I spoke to a student recently who didn’t realise that print versions of journals “were a thing”): but there’s nothing quite like holding a glossy journal and leafing through the pages in my opinion.
- What is the most important attribute for being a Journal Manager?
In my opinion the most important aspect is adaptability. No day is the same, and you can plan your week perfectly, but there is always something quirky and unexpected that will occur.
- Name one item/tool/resource that you cannot do without in your role.
The most important resource for Journal Managers is the team around us. It’s impossible to know everything, so the experience and willingness of colleagues to help is invaluable. There is always someone on hand to offer advice and we are certainly greater than the sum of our parts.
- How do you see your role changing (if at all) over the next few years?
Just as the attitude towards printed versions of articles has changed as researchers turn increasingly to online resources, the nature of the article itself is also changing. There’s so much to learn not only from the results of studies, but also from the methods used to carry out the research, and the actual data itself. Journals such as Methods X (which publishes articles focussed on the methodology of studies, regardless of topic or discipline) and tools such as Clinical Key (a tool which offers unrivalled information to medical professionals) show that the journey for Elsevier’s output is far from over, so I see my role in the next few years as helping to support these exciting new ideas.
- What would you be doing now if you were not a JM?
That’s a tough question. I actually left for a year to work for the NHS but missed the role so much that I came back, so I would have to say that I can’t imagine doing anything else. I think it’s probably too late for me play for Tottenham Hotspur football club now.
- What is the most interesting/amusing/inspirational thing you’ve worked on as a JM?
The thing that hit home the hardest for me was a special issue for the International Journal of Drug Policy. Its focus was on the opioid crisis in the United States, and the numbers involved in terms of the people affected were certainly an eye-opener. It also highlighted to me the importance that Elsevier journals continue to play, where the articles really push out an important set of research that can actually tackle and hopefully help to solve massive global problems.
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