- What was your background before becoming Director of Editor Experience?
I got my PhD in Theoretical Chemistry in 1992 from the Free University Amsterdam. I started working at Elsevier thereafter and until 2006 I had roles inside various publishing departments. In 2006 I moved to a central department responsible for creating central systems to be used inside publishing groups, as well as running projects to deliver improvements for the publication process for all of our journals. A few years thereafter I moved to the role of Director, Publication Process Development, and got involved with submission system development.
- Tell us a little about what your role entails.
As Director of Editor Experience for our journals, I am responsible for ensuring that our editors have an optimal experience in their interaction with Elsevier and whilst using our systems. I represent our journals in the migration process to our Editorial Manager (EM) platform which all of our journals will be using by 2021. I have a focus on making sure editors have sufficient tools to manage the growing inflow to their journals and on innovating and adding more value throughout the publication process.
- How would you describe a typical working day?
I guess I don’t have a typical working day since there are always different things going on that need my attention. Since the EM migration is the biggest thing I am involved with currently (Elsevier publishes close to 2,500 journals) and since it has a direct relation with overall editor satisfaction, I have regular meetings on the progress of this migration. We migrate between 50-90 journals per month and all of them have their own specific workflows and other requirements which the migration process needs to take into account. I am in constant discussion with the migration project team and the leaders of our publishing groups on the progress of migration. I am also working with many other colleagues to ensure we continue to deliver a good experience for our editors, listen to their feedback and ensure processes are kept up to date and/or are improved following from feedback.
- How do you measure success in your work?
What makes me happy is seeing that our editors are in general satisfied with the efforts we make in improving their experiences with our systems. We can’t prevent things from sometimes going wrong, but we need to make sure we have processes in place that enable us to react to any issues quickly and then act to resolve the situation. We measure success on what editors are telling us from surveys but there is more to this, of course. We also get feedback via our Publishers who are the chief day-to-day link with our editors. I also have many face-to-face discussions with editors myself to gather insight on the things we do (or should be doing).
- Do you have any particular advice for new editors?
New editors can take a look at our Editor Hub to find information we have selected especially for them. They should also make sure to stay in close contact with their Publisher, especially during the early stages of assuming their role. The Publisher can brief them about publication process and how we as Elsevier can help them adjust to their new position, as well as how to grow their journal. Finally, they can demonstrate and illustrate the many kinds of data we can share to help with their work.
- What is the most rewarding aspect of your work for you and what do you find difficult about the role?
The most rewarding aspect is to see how our journals continue to grow and knowing there is always an editorial team which makes this possible and the knowledge that I play a role in that. That gives me a lot of energy. What is more difficult in my role is that over the past years we have in cases asked editors to go through changes and sometimes these did not go as planned and negatively impacted the journals. Of course we do all we can to mitigate the impact, but I know this painful for the journals.
- Name one item/tool/resource that you cannot do without in your job.
Like some other colleagues, my mobile phone is a critical tool for me. It allows me to stay in touch with colleagues across the globe on the many things we are working on and the development they see and also to be able to quickly respond to problems and/or ensure they get to the right colleagues for solving issues.
- How do you see your role changing (if at all) over the next few years?
In the course of 2020, I will be able to focus on editor experience in a broader fashion since the migration to EM will then be in its final stages. I am really looking forward to ensuring we optimize the editorial process for all users (since that helps editors too) and focus on providing more services to editors to support them in the role. Things that come to mind are: can we provide more data to editors on the various statistics for their journal in an easy way, how can we improve the various processes for onboarding new editors, how can we support our Publishers in developing their journals together with the editors...?
- What would you be doing now if you were not working in publishing?
I would be on my bike and discovering nice new places (preferably hilly ones!) such as Tuscany in Italy. In my spare time I am a keen cyclist and as a typical Dutchman I also enjoy speed skating - a dream job would combine these!
- What is the most interesting/amusing/inspirational thing you’ve worked on?
Over the years I have been part of, and witnessed many great developments inside Elsevier. A few I'd like to mention are: building tools to find reviewers based on Scopus and other services; connecting the submission system to Scopus; an HTML author proofing tool; allowing authors to share their published articles with their colleagues; establishing a tool to allow reviewers to volunteer themselves rather than being assigned by an editor; and also the early stages of article transfer between journals. I recall very vividly a project we ran to build a so-called service provider for specific subject areas (combining journal content and news). This was so successful that over 90% of the researchers in the field were aware of our offering.
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