How Is an Editorial Board Structured?

By Grace Hamburger on Feb 11, 2020
eContent Pro International
How Is an Editorial Board Structured? Behind every great journal is a dedicated editorial staff, which works hard to ensure that the journal remains relevant and accurate. Every journal is different, but a typical editorial staff is comprised of an editor-in-chief, an associate editor, section editors, and an editorial board, with an occasional guest editor for special issues. Each member has a hand in creating these important Academic pieces, so what exactly do they contribute?


The lead editor of the journal is called the editor-in-chief and oversees the entire journal. The editor-in-chief directs the overall strategy of the journal and makes all the final decisions, performing such duties as reviewing and selecting manuscripts for publication, managing the budget, hiring other editorial board members, and developing strategies and guidelines to match the brand of the journal. Normally, there is only one editor-in-chief per journal, but some larger publications can have two or three. This key role creates a direct line from the publisher to the rest of the editorial board, with the person in this position acting as a sort of ambassador for the journal.

Associate Editor

While the editor-in-chief works on the big picture, the associate editor creates a steady workflow and oversees the publishing process. The specifics of this hands-on role change from journal to journal, but typically the associate editor coordinates peer review, collaborates with authors, reviewers, and board members, handles technical editing of manuscripts, and writes an occasional editorial for the journal. Like the editor-in-chief, there can be one or multiple associate editors depending on the size and scope of the journal, and expertise in the journals subject is required.

Section Editor

Section editors are not always appointed to journals because of the specificity of the job. People in this role are responsible for reviewing only specific manuscripts, like book reviews and opinion pieces. This niche position means that section editors always need to be on their toes, looking at their journal’s comments and staying on top of competitors to make sure that they are always adapting and improving. Section editors can at times make the final decision on their manuscripts, but the editor-in-chief retains the right to decide what goes into the journal.

Editorial Board Member

The editorial board is a collection of experts in the field who fulfill two main roles within the journal. Board members are expected to work with the editors to improve the journal by finding new topics or reviewing past issues. They also seek to promote the journal by finding potential contributors or peer reviewers, identifying conferences or conventions for the editors to attend, or simply endorsing the journal to colleagues. Editorial board members can also provide content by writing articles or editorials, and offer advice on submissions, but each journal has different policies on how much input a board member can have on final decisions.

Guest Editor

Sometimes a journal will bring in a guest editor for a special issue who is chosen either through a formal proposal from the researcher or a direct invite from the journal. The special issue of the journal revolves around the guest editor’s area of expertise, and the editor is responsible for the content of the issue and the manuscripts that make it. Guest editors will work directly with the editor-in-chief to assure their chosen manuscripts adhere to the journal’s specifications, and with their help they will create their issue. This unique opportunity for a researcher to essentially create their own journal is a great way to dip your toes into editorial work, while garnering excellent exposure from your Academic community. Each person in an editorial board works together to produce thorough, organized, and intuitive journals that researchers benefit from every day. Are you considering submitting to a scholarly journal? Let us hand pick the perfect journals for your manuscript with our Journal Recommendation service!
Posted in:
Join Our Newsletter
Receive new blog post updates