Name: Vivian Siegel
Job: Journal Editor
Source: The Node [original post from May 2011]
In 1993-4, I went on the job market, looking at standard faculty positions. I received some offers, including one from Vanderbilt University, where I am now. But I was resisting accepting a position, and some friends – who were also on the job market at the time – sent me to a career counselor. The counselor’s husband was a bench scientist, so she had some sense of my career until that point, and asked me a very simple question, one that I had never asked myself: “If you didn’t have to worry about how much money you made, or what anyone else thought of you, what would you do?” What surprised me was that I knew the answer to that question: I’d be a student for the rest of my life.
Being an editor is really very much like being a student. You encounter lots of interesting and new science every day in a broad range of fields. But, at least for those of us who decide which research papers to publish in high profile journals such as Cell, it is also about being able to judge science. As an editor, you will have to turn away most of the papers you receive, and explain your reasoning. I think that editorial decisions need to be timely, constructive, transparent, and fair – or at least as much as they can be, given the need to turn complicated issues and shades of gray into stochastic decisions, and the need to keep confidential information confidential.
Read the rest of the article on The Node.