A day in the life

A day in the life

I have completed my first quarter as editor of JHND and having spent some time reflecting on how things are going, I have to declare myself fairly pleased. It has proved to be a lot of work, but has been immensely satisfying to see the journal go through some changes, which I hope are for the better. Engagement with this sort of social media experience has been an important part of all this. It has hugely widened the circle of people I interact with and, hopefully, is maintaining the visibility of the journal.

Now, being JHND editor is of course just one string to my bow. I thought it may be of interest to look at a day in the life of the JHND Editor. Today is a Monday and so things are slightly different to most days. Monday is the day I set aside for journal work. To be honest I do work on the journal every day, but Mondays are when I try to catch up on blogs, strategic thought, planning and such like. I get I to the office at 7:30 today and the journal is first on the list. I log on to the system and check for routine actions. Early in the day it will just be decisions. There are two papers awaiting decisions today. One is an acceptance but for the other, the associate editor has recommended rejection. A look at the reviewer comments confirm this as the right decision, so I action it.

That done, it is coffee time. I run on coffee and set a full 10 cup jug going for the day. I will drink it all. It is the first day of term today and the students are returning. Our final years have to submit their dissertations soon and panic is in the air. I spend an hour or so reading and correcting drafts and also take a look at a final draft of an abstract that a PhD student will submit to Nutrition Society for the Summer Meeting. Another PhD student is just starting to produce key sections of her thesis, so there is some material from her to look at. I feel guilty as I should have done it last week, but other things got in the way. Everything is done at high speed, something that I regret hugely but to just get through my work each day I have to give most things only about 25% of my attention. The constant juggling of teaching, research and admin is the scourge of modern academic life.

Having completed those important tasks, I really have to take a few minutes to tidy up. My desk is an absolute tip, covered in post-it notes and scrap paper, mostly carrying reminders to do things, or lists of priorities from last week. The rest of the office is a mess too, but I force myself to ignore that until a quieter day. Next on the list for today is a meeting with my boss to look at some important management issues for the School (being Deputy Head of School is an entertaining part of my work portfolio) and then I am back in the office and into teaching mode. I have 7 lectures to give this week and whilst I have them prepared and ready to go, I am not “ready”. I always have to spend some time going through my notes getting the performance set up. I work on two for Tuesday and that sees me to lunch, taken at my desk with no break other than to loaf the Internet for a bit. I then remember that I am giving a seminar in Milan in a few weeks time and that I need to prepare some new slides for that. Most seminars are compiled by recycling material from previous talks, but this one requires a fair amount of new information.

Early afternoon I recheck the JHND site to see if any new manuscripts have come in over the weekend. There are three. Two of them look potentially interesting and I allocate them to Associate Editors to manage the review process. The other is clearly of low quality and not in a priority area for the journal, so I reject it without review. I have made myself AE for one of the papers so I have to find referees. I always try to allocate four for each paper, which takes quite a while in order to get the right profile of experts. Fingers crossed that the chosen ones will agree and will act swiftly.

It being a Monday the day ends early as it is my turn to collect the children from school. The day isn’t really done though. I juggle email whilst cooking the tea and the evening sees me trying to keep my head above water with the constant inflow of email demands, and of course writing this blog.

The picture is, of course, the sleeve from the Beatles single A Day in the Life, which is by far the most interesting track on Sgt Peppers.

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