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Responsibilities of Journal Editors


The main responsibility of journal editors and associate editors is to establish and maintain the highest possible standards of technical and professional quality of all contributions to ASCE journals, in accordance with the obligations of editors in the Ethical Standards for ASCE Journals.

To meet this responsibility, journal editors need the help of competent referees and, therefore, must give careful consideration to selecting them to review the papers submitted for publication. The editor selects the reviewers for particular submissions (sometimes using reviewers from different divisions or outside ASCE), monitors the reviewe process, and resolves differences of opinion among reviewers and between reviewers and authors. The editor determines the summary review decision, which normally follows from the reviewers' evaluations. An editor may be an individual reviewer.

Journal editors should be experienced and knowledgeable professionals in the fields of research or practice they represent. Because publication is of great importance to authors, reviewers, and ASCE members, firmness and tact in dealing with editorial problems are highly desirable. Active involvement in civil engineering and the work of the Society is indispensable. The editor is encouraged to edit papers whenever it is necessary or helpful.

Specific Responsibilities

1. Call and chair periodic meetings of the journal's Publications Committee or Editorial Board.

2. Periodically report to the institute, division, or council Executive Committee as part of routine consultation and work with this committee.

3. Make every possible effort to see that reviews are performed within 90 days.

4. Monitor the statistics available for the journal (on such items as approval rate; increase or decrease in the papers under review; backlog; and the overdue review rate), which can be obtained from the Managing Editor, Journals. When submissions seem too few, actively seek new papers and encourage associate editors and editorial board members to do so, as well.

5. Maintain a database or file of referees with their expertise, availability, and, if possible, review records.

6. Perform detailed journal processing procedures:

  • Record receipt of manuscripts for review.
  • Select at least two referees for each manuscript (or, if the editor has associate editors or editorial board members who oversee the review, then that individual should follow this procedure). Some divisions select three reviewers; then, in the event there's one negative and one positive review, the necessary tie-breaking review has been done.
  • Monitor individuals responsible for the review of papers to see that ASCE policies and procedures are followed.
  • Take appropriate action to obtain prompt reviews; ASCE's goal is to have reviews performed in 90 days.
  • Recommend corrections to obvious format problems, particularly poor figures, in accordance with the ASCE Journals' published guidelines (see General Resources).
  • Edit or make editing suggestions on material under review, when necessary.

7. Help to ensure the smooth transition between editors. Long before an editor terminates an editorship, another editor should be selected. Ideally, the new editor has been an associate editor or member of the editorial board or publications committee. Incoming and outgoing editors should arrange for the smooth transition of information and records.

8. Optional duties:

  • Solicit review papers (state-of-the-art papers) and other papers.
  • Write editorials and/or obtain guest editorials.
  • Extend the range of the journal to new areas emerging in the discipline.
  • Develop ways to keep the journal vital, lively, and useful to subscribers.
  • Evaluate the appropriateness of book reviews and forums for the journal.
  • Develop ways to attract practice papers.