Associate Editors and The Editorial Board

[Part 3 of 7 part series]

A question I got on Twitter was asking about editorial teams and boards. What I include here varies from journal to journal and discipline to discipline, but this is what happens at ATP. I have an editorial team made up of associate editors and an editorial assistant. It varies between journals, but these people are usually content area experts who can help the editor make decisions about manuscripts. The editorial board members are usually invited by the editor (or remain on as editors transition) and serve as peer reviewers for the journal. They also can provide ideas for content to include in the journal and should promote the journal so people know it is a recommended publishing outlet.

Joining a journal’s editorial board is usually at the invitation of the editor. Scholars also can reach out to the editor to ask to join if they have been providing consistent, timely, and thorough peer reviews on a regular basis. Many of today’s electronic manuscript systems let you see how many times you have reviewed. The editor might say no, but it is fine to ask. I tallied up how many reviews I did for a journal during a couple of years and reached out to ask if there was space for me on the editorial board based on my output. I was invited to join. Again, I am not saying this is guaranteed, but it sometimes is worth asking.

Becoming an associate editor is a big decision, and usually mid-career scholars are asked (Poulson-Ellestad et al, 2020). Poulson-Ellestad and colleagues (2020, p. 12) suggest those approached to be associate editors consider the following questions: “will serving as an AE provide tangible career benefits? What are these benefits and do they outweigh the costs in terms of time that could be used for research, teaching, and writing? Do I want to be viewed as a gatekeeper, potentially alienating and upsetting other researchers in my field?” Their findings indicate an associate editor position can be rewarding, and I recommend reading their article for solid recommendations on how to balance editorial responsibilities with that of being an active scholar in a discipline.

In many disciplines, women are not well represented in editorial positions, be that as editor-in-chief or on editorial boards (Feeney et al, 2018; Metz, Harzing & Zyphur, 2016). In management, for instance, Metz et al (2016) found female editors-in-chief who themselves are high-achieving academics are more likely to include other women and early career scholars on editorial boards. Gender diversity, as well as diversity in age, race, and academic position, can improve papers submitted to the journal and broaden the pool of articles to consider (Metz et al, 2016).

Associate editors and the editorial board assist the editor in making decisions. At ATP, I try to send all manuscripts eligible for peer review to at least one member of the editorial board to ensure consistency with our aims and scope. I then try to send it to a content area expert outside the ATP network to broaden our reach. In the next post, I cover more about the peer review process. Spoiler alert – yes it really is that hard to find reviewers.


Feeney, M.K., Carson, L. & Dickinson, H. (2019). Power in editorial positions: A feminist critique of public administration. Public Administration Review, 79(1), 46-55.

Metz, I., Harzing, A., & Zyphur, M.J. (2016). Of journal editors and editorial boards: Who are the trailblazers in increasing editorial board gender equality? British Journal of Management, 27, 712-726.

Poulson-Ellestad, K. et al (2020). Illuminating a black box of the peer review system: Demographics, experiences, and career benefits of associate editors. Bulletin Limnology and Oceanography, 29(1), 11-17.

Posted in

Public Administration Theory Network

Leave a Comment