Being an AE, being seen to be an AE, and maybe regretting being an AE

So, it seems that I am an associate editor for J.CSCW. I had and have my doubts, as it’s a Springer journal, but now that a paper just appeared in my inbox from Kjeld Schmidt, I have to actually do something.

Finding reviewers is not so easy nowadays. Few people consider reviewing a priority, I feel. I don’t look forward to the phase of sending a million semi-random emails to folk vaguely connected with the topic. Also, as with most days, I am reminded about how little I know about so many topics. This paper makes this clear to me again. Fair enough, really.

I’m also, allegedly, an associate editor for the journal, Information Visualization. I was an AE, a decade or so ago, but I’d not had any communication for literally years. My name was not on the journal’s web site, and I basically thought they’d just quietly pushed me off the AE list. This would be fair enough, as I basically don’t work in this area any more.

And then, a few months ago, a paper arrived in my email, so I had to actually do something. I have now realised why I got this paper, after trying and failing to get reviewers, for months. No-one actually wants to review it. People run away and hide, they pretend to have leprosy and so can’t type, they declare that they are merely the namesake of someone else who works on the paper’s topic.

So now I’m beginning to wonder whether it’s good for it to be published. Maybe if it’s so unpopular now, it should just be quietly shuffled off the list too.

If I ever get it reviewed, I’ll resign as AE for that journal. On the other hand, if I fail to get reviewers for it, what will they do? Maybe they’ll take my name of the journal’s web site, not send me any emails, and… quietly push me off the AE list. But then… how will I know the difference from when I was on the list?

Author: mjchalmers

Professor of computer science at U. Glasgow, UK.