How to... edit a multi-authored volume Part: 1

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How to... edit a multi-authored volume

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Article Sections

  1. Developing the volume
  2. Planning and administration
  3. Reference

Developing the volume

The volume editor's role

Often the series editor will also be the volume editor but sometimes the former will delegate this task to someone else. This person will be a specialist in the area, alert to who is doing the most interesting and influential work.
                                      
The series editor is the expert on the particular distinguishing features of the series, so a volume editor would be well advised to ensure that he or she gets a good briefing. In particular:

  • What size of volume has to be assembled in what timescale?
  • How are volumes reviewed?
  • Is the series associated with a particular conference, if so how? Are contributors selected from conference presentations?
  • What is the topic, how well has the series editor developed it (for example, is it just an idea or does he or she have a list of proposed chapter headings)?
  • How "hands on" or "hands off" does the series editor intend to be – in other words, will you as volume editor have the authority to make the decisions you want without any restrictions?
  • Is there an expectation with regards to the type and variety of contribution, for example a balance between different perspectives, between state-of-the-art reviews and empirical research?
  • Do contributors normally send in a proposal, and is there a proposal form they are advised to use?

The series editor will guide the volume editor through the process but the volume editor should be in charge of all editorial decisions and author management.

Editing a book series for Emerald

When editing a book series for Emerald, the volume editor will need to fill in a Series Volume Proposal Form, providing a brief synopsis, a provisional table of contents and a list of contributors. The form should also contain a tentative title, estimated manuscript length and date for submission. On receipt of the completed form, Emerald will be in a position to issue a volume contract.

Contacting and briefing the contributors

Volume contributors are assembled in various ways, these can include:
                        

  • Identifying and inviting potential contributors either through papers presented at a conference, looking at literature or writing to distinguished scholars.
  • Open calls can be issued through various relevant e-mail listservs, relevant journal homepages, newsletters and websites.
  • Some series may already have a strong connection with a conference e.g. Contributions for Research in Consumer Behaviour are selected from the best paper at Consumer Culture Theory Conference.

During your initial discussions with authors, it is useful also to provide them with information such as:

  • An overview of the series, and the angle of the volume.
  • An explanation of the various stages, including a timeline.
  • A copy of Emerald's Author Guidelines for Series and Books, which provides guidelines on preparing your manuscript for submission.
  • A copy of the Chapter Transfer Agreement (CTA), which they will need to fill in and sign before the manuscript can go to production.

The Author Guidelines contain advice on a series of stylistic matters such as:

  • How to submit the final manuscript;
  • The order in which chapter material should be presented;
  • How to use the Harvard referencing system;
  • The correct form for the abstract; and
  • Presentation of illustrative material.

Although this may seem time-consuming it’s crucial to provide this information at the beginning so authors have the appropriate tools to submit all the correct information in their final draft.

Communication

You will also need, at this stage, to consider how you will communicate with contributors. Many editors will rely on email, however, it may be worth considering use of some Web 2.0 tools, such as a wiki, which allows for shared editing.

Review stages

The review process will vary from series to series as will the different stages to be gone through, and the process of selecting the final chapters.

Some volume editors will require each contributor to produce a proposal before submitting a draft; others just ask for a first draft. Sometimes the proposal will be used as a means of selecting the final contributions whilst others will make the final selection after the revised first draft. It’s essential to communicate which of these methods you intend to use in the beginning stages of discussions with authors.

Inevitably, some papers will be rejected, which will involve the volume editor turning away papers from scholars whom he or she greatly respects. This may be very difficult, and requires great skills of diplomacy.

As the chapters emerge, the volume editor should be not only checking on quality, but also shaping the book:

  • Do the chapters fit nicely into parts?
  • How should the book be sequenced?
  • Is there sufficient contrast and complementarity between the chapters, a balance of different perspectives?

Sometimes there is a combination of internal and external peer review. For example, a book may grow out of a conference, in which case the conference papers will be double blind peer reviewed prior to selection; the author will receive benefit from the feedback from other delegates; and then the final paper will also be reviewed by the series and volume editors.

If external peer reviewers are used, one approach is to assemble a team of about five people, drawn from scholars known to be active in the field, previous authors in the series, and the authors' own citations.

As with authors, reviewers should be given sufficient time – say around six weeks – to review a chapter, and ensure that they are not "overloaded", in other words, distribute the workload evenly. When you assemble the team, make clear what the commitment is and when the work is likely to fall.

You will obviously need to tell the reviewers what to look for: whether they are to confine themselves to style, or should they also consider substance, such as the research design?

At the review stage there will be a large number of drafts in circulation, so editing becomes an exercise in project management.