Special Issue: Careers in Scientific Editing and Publishing

Download Article

The focus of this issue of Science Editor is on careers and roles in scientific editing and publishing. In 2017, we published a similar special careers-focused issue, and it seemed a good time to explore what has shifted in the past 6 years. This issue includes interviews and articles covering an array of editor roles and positions, many of which are new, have increased in prominence, or significantly changed in the last few years. There are also articles on the importance of training and preparing the next generation of researchers and editors, increasing diversity and equity, and the transition to remote work.

The Council of Science Editors (CSE) is a great resource for career help and guidance, and this issue includes an overview of the CSE Professional Development Committee and a preview of the upcoming CSE 2023 Annual Meeting. Many of us come to the annual meeting to network, and the article covering the fundamentals of LinkedIn can aid in growing that network online.

Finally, this issue introduces a new feature, Origin Stories. We have invited readers to share how they started on a path to a career or role in scientific editing and publishing and the many twists and turns along the way. We hope these stories will encourage readers to share their own experiences, demonstrating that there is no one path to success and expertise in our field.

Path to Publication

One of the great challenges when discussing careers in editing and publishing is the lack of consistency across journals and publishers with regard to process (the path of a manuscript from submission to publication) and roles (the title of those individuals performing each of the steps). Anyone who has searched for a job has likely found how widely workflows can vary within scientific publishing along with the vast differences between job titles and roles.

As a guide through this issue, although the process may vary by journal, we have created a list of stages describing the general path of a manuscript at most peer-reviewed journals. The stages we have identified are as follows: 

  • A: Triage (or initial submission): Initial review of the manuscript for suitability for peer review; often this includes an evaluation of scope and article type. 
  • B: Peer Review: Review of the manuscript by experts in the field. This stage may involve review by additional editors who manage the peer-review process.
  • C: Post–Peer Review: Period after peer review, but before acceptance of a manuscript. This may describe the time between peer review and sending the manuscript back to authors or after peer review is complete, and the manuscript is not expected to go back to peer reviewers.
  • D: Acceptance: The official acceptance of the article. This stage typically separates the editorial and production stages of publication.
  • E: Production: The manuscript is copyedited, formatted, and prepared for publication. 
  • F: Publication: Publication of the manuscript to the journal’s website and/or printed in an issue and distributed to indexing services and elsewhere, followed by promotion via emails, social media, and more.

For each of the scientific editing and publishing roles highlighted, we have indicated at which stage of the process each role generally falls in the following table.

Article Stages
Roy H Hamilton: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Editor B, C
Kathy Canul: Journal Ombudsperson C, F
The Roles of Data Editors in Astronomy A, B, C, D
The Scientific Editor: An Advocate for Transparent Research C
Kathy Stern: Graphic Arts Director for the New England Journal of Medicine C, D, E
Eric Pesanelli: Utilizing Tools and Resources to Ensure Image Integrity in Scholarly Publishing D, E
Copyediting in 2023: What Has Changed? E

This special issue was borne out of recognition that the previous career-focused issue left many gaps to be filled. No one issue can cover the breadth of roles and careers in scientific editing and publishing, and we encourage readers to reach out to us at and let us know what is still missing as we would love to feature an interview or article on an important role in the future. For now, we hope that you enjoy this issue and find it helpful as you navigate your career.


Jonathan Schultz is Editor-in-Chief, Science Editor, and Director, Journal Operations, American Heart Association; Kristin S Inman, PhD, ELS, is Associate Science Editor, Environmental Health Perspectives.