Roles and responsibilities

Topic lead: Solange Santos, Tom Olijhhoek, Rebecca Wojturska
Last updated: 05/06/2023

The management of a journal is a collaborative effort between the editor(s)-in-chief, the editorial board and editorial staff. The roles and responsibilities of each member of the editorial team should be clearly defined and aligned with their areas of expertise, to ensure that the journal meets rigorous scientific and ethical standards and adheres to best practices in scholarly communication.

Every journal is different, but a full editorial team can comprise an editor-in-chief, an associate editor, journal manager and an editorial board, plus occasional guest editors for special issues. It is likely that, in some journals, various roles (e.g., technical editor, journal manager, etc.) may all be performed by the editor-in-chief; other journals may have no staff at all, with all roles being performed by volunteer scholars. It is important to point out that, due to limited staff and the many assignments to perform, some technical activities (e.g. copyediting, typesetting, and generating XMLs) may be entrusted to specialist service providers.


The Editor-in-Chief is the most senior editor and oversees the entire journal. The Editor-in-Chief guides the overall strategy of the journal and is responsible for all final decisions, the overall quality of the content and the future direction of the journal. Their responsibilities may include:

  • Managing the day-to-day operations of the journal
  • Deciding on topics, content, and contributors for future issues
  • Assigning clear roles and responsibilities to all team members
  • Managing and maintaining regular contact with the editorial board
  • Managing an efficient peer-review process, alongside the editorial team, to ensure prompt publication
  • Ensuring that content meets the quality standards of the journal
  • Ensuring that the content of contributions meets appropriate ethical requirements
  • Ensuring articles are original and have not been published in other journals
  • Resolving research integrity problems (e.g. plagiarism or falsification)
  • Generating ideas to promote the journal and increase readership

In larger journals, the editor-in-chief may share some of these responsibilities with a managing editor or other members of the editorial team or board.


Editors are recognised individuals in their field of expertise. They pay close attention to the latest advances in research and are well connected with their communities. Their responsibilities may include:

  • Screening manuscripts against submission criteria
  • Recommending peer reviewers and growing the peer reviewer database
  • Coordinating the peer review process and ensuring timely publication
  • Supporting Editors-in-Chief to implement journal policies

Journals managers and managing editors

Journals managers and managing editors are typically individuals with strong oral and written communication skills, are technology savvy, and are able to focus on author services. Their responsibilities may include:

  • Managing the staffing of the journal
  • Communicating with editors, editorial assistants and internal departments
  • Managing correspondence with authors, reviewers and editors and providing prompt responses
  • Coordinating editorial activities and tracking the progress of peer review
  • Ensuring long-term archiving and preservation by maintaining data on websites
  • Demonstrating journal performance and agreed standards and performance indicators
  • Making recommendations to improve journal performance
  • Ensure that the journal remains competitive and relevant by monitoring broader publishing trends

Guest Editors

Guest Editors are experienced researchers or experts in their fields. Their responsibilities may include the following:

  • Encouraging authors to contribute and developing author invitation lists for special issues
  • Overseeing the content of special issues alongside Editors-in-Chief and Associate Editors
  • Generating ideas to promote special issues

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