Making Sense of Turbulence

It’s been a tumultuous and confusing year, and the air of looming chaos continues to linger. Nevertheless, even the chaotic can be studied and better understood. The cover of this issue depicts a 3D reconstruction of two vortices colliding, as described in research first published in Science Advances in 2020. The researchers are working to comprehend the mechanics of turbulence because finding the underlying mechanisms of this seemingly chaotic occurrence can help us study and predict weather, ocean currents, and more. Likewise, the authors of many of the articles in this issue are working to chart a better path forward, building on the lessons and insights of this turbulent year. 

This pursuit can be seen in the two interviews in this issue. In her interview, “Promoting the Healthy Development of Scientific Publishing,” new CSE President Mary K Billingsley discusses her goals for CSE over the coming year and how we can work to build a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive scientific publishing enterprise. For Randy Townsend, as he shares in his interview, “On Finding His Calling and Founding a Journal,” the pandemic pushed back the start of the new GW Journal of Ethics in Publishing he is helming, but the extra time gave him the opportunity to rethink the journal’s structure and focus on bringing in a team with diverse perspectives.

Although it was developed prior to the pandemic, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Publisher Compact gained additional urgency over the past year. As Tony Roche and Jen McCall describe in their article, “How Emerald Publishing Has Embedded the SDG Publisher Compact into Its Business Strategy,” Emerald has taken the pillars of the Compact to heart and worked to develop a more open, equitable, and sustainable research ecosystem. 

In May 2021, CSE held its Annual Meeting with a theme of “Shaping Our Future by Embracing Adaptability.” As program co-chairs Emma Shumeyko and Brittany Swett noted, the goal of the meeting was to give attendees the tools they need during this uncertain time to take “an active role in crafting the futures we want for ourselves by choosing to adapt.” This issue collects the first batch of meeting reports covering sessions on topics ranging from “Managing Information From Preprints,” “Career Paths in Scholarly Publishing,” and more, along with a recap of the Editors-In-Chief Roundtable, with a special focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion and the EIC.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) also held a virtual meeting earlier this year, as covered by Barbara Gastel and her team of reporters in “From Classic to COVID-Related: Some Communication Highlights of the 2021 AAAS Meeting.” The reports highlight topics of interest to science editors and communicators providing helpful takeaways, including tips for responsibly promoting preprints, how to use elements of storytelling to improve presentations, and ways to create effective webinars.

In the midst of uncertainty, many societies and organizations are also having to make tough choices and implement changes to their publishing program that may not sit well with some journal editors. When journal editors disagree with a society’s policy can they use that society’s journal to voice those concerns? The doctrine of editorial independence would say yes, but that does not mean it does not make for a delicate situation. As the case reported by Emilie Gunn in the Fire of the Week column on “Maintaining Editorial Independence” shows, a thoughtful, prudent approach is usually the best one.

Through all this turbulence, it’s important to remain connected to others, including our pets, as Jennifer Regala reminds readers in her column, “The Care and Feeding of Your Social Media Accounts.” As everything has moved online, it’s increasingly important for organizations to approach social media with deliberate care.

Of course, there will always be editorial and style debates and discussions so in this issue, Stacy Christiansen provides some tips for handling data display in “Surviving the Curve” and Yateendra Joshi makes a plea for “Restoring Sanity Into Punctuation of References.” 

As always, this Summer 2021 issue concludes with Barbara Meyers Ford’s Gatherings of an Infovore column, this one fittingly on “Coping with More Than the Pandemic.” Using the portmanteau “infodemic” as a foundation, she provides resources for understanding and addressing the wave of information (and misinformation) that has crashed upon us all so that we can, hopefully, emerge stronger.


Jonathan Schultz is Editor-in-Chief, Science Editor, and Director, Journal Operations, American Heart Association.

Opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of the Council of Science Editors or the Editorial Board of Science Editor.