Access Microbiology Mentor Scheme Q&A

Posted on March 21, 2019   by Matt Bassett

Access Microbiology is the newest journal from the Microbiology Society. This unique, fully open access publication covers the full spectrum of microbial life, and all approaches to the science of microbiology. One of the aspects of Access Microbiology that makes it unique is the editorial board; early career researchers who want to develop editorial skills are paired with experienced editors who they can go to for queries and advice on editorial matters. We asked mentee Dr Helina Marshall and mentor Professor Jeff Cole about their respective roles and experiences so far.

As a mentee/mentor what does your role entail?

Dr Marshall:

“As an editor mentee, my role is very similar to that of any other editor. I’m responsible for managing the peer review process of submissions to the journal and making sure that we publish in line with the editorial strategy of the journal. Though I get to do this with the wonderful support of my editor mentor, who helps me learn the ropes as I go.”

Professor Cole:

“My role so far has involved helping inexperienced editors reach decisions with difficult manuscripts, especially where two referees disagree.”

Why did you choose to get involved in the mentor/mentee scheme?

Dr Marshall:

“I represent the Early Career Microbiologists’ Forum on the Society’s Publishing Committee, so was aware of the advent of Access Microbiology from early on and was always keen to get involved. The journal not only provides a wonderful early career opportunity in the form of the editor mentor/mentee initiative, but it also made sense to me to have a home for sound science within our Society.”

Professor Cole:

“The Microbiology Society has been a fantastic organisation in helping me in my career. I have served as a journal editor, as General Secretary of the Society, and I inaugurated the Society’s microbial physiology section. Now as an Honorary Member it is a privilege to be able to help others.”

How has your experience as a mentee/mentor been so far?

Dr Marshall:

“So far, I have genuinely had a brilliant experience. It’s very different being on the other side of the publishing process but it’s great, and a privilege, to be able to read such a wide variety of microbiology, especially before it’s out there for everyone else to enjoy too! Additionally, my mentor is a monumental source of knowledge and advice whenever I need it!”

Professor Cole:

“It is a pleasure to be able to interact with young editors who are keen to help authors improve their manuscripts.”

Why do you think it is important for journals to have more active editors?

Dr Marshall:

“Having a greater number of active editors would, I believe, reduce the number of papers each individual editor handles at any given time. This would allow more time to be given to each submitted manuscript. It would also broaden the expertise of the editorial board.”

Professor Cole:

“Good editors whose ethos is to help authors improve either the quality or presentation of their work is the key to the success of any journal. Editors are the cement that binds together the scientific community of authors, reviewers and journal publishers.”

As an early career microbiologist, why do you think it is important to gain editorial experience?

Dr Marshall:

“Editing of manuscripts for publication, whether your own work or a colleague’s, is a common occurrence in research and many researchers go on to become editors or peer reviewers at some point in their career. I think that gaining experience with the support of an experienced mentor is on the whole highly beneficial for authors, reviewers and editors alike and would ultimately improve the publication process.”

There are a limited number of spaces available, but as the publication grows we hope to make more opportunities to become an editor mentee.

Access Microbiology is now open for submissions and the first articles are now online. To celebrate its launch, processing charges are currently being waived, so for a limited time it is free to publish as well as read. Visit the Access Microbiology submissions system to publish an article.

You can find out more about Access Microbiology here.