As you already may have seen, the British Ecological Society Journals are looking for active researchers to join their editorial boards.

This is the first of two posts asking some of the current People and Nature Associate Editors about their experiences of being an Associate Editor, what motivated them to become an Associate Editor, what they enjoy and how they manage their Associate Editor responsibilities around other commitments.

You can find out more about the responsibilities involved in being an Associate Editor and how to apply here.

Helen Roy is an Ecologist at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. She focuses on the use of the large-scale and long-term datasets contributed by thousands of volunteers and supported through the Biological Records Centre.

Ambika Aiyadurai is an Assistant Professor (Anthropology) at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)- Gandhinagar. Her research focuses on the anthropology of wildlife conservation with a special interest in human-animal relations and community-based conservation projects.

Laura Graham is a computational spatial ecologist at the University of Birmingham. She is interested in understanding how anthropogenic changes such as climate change and habitat loss affect global ecosystems, and how this in turn affects human well-being.

Patricia Balvanera is a Professor at the Institute for Ecosystems and Sustainability Research at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Within large inter- and trans-disciplinary teams and research networks, she has been exploring the role of context – ranging from the taxonomic and functional diversity to the variance among and within stakeholder groups in values of nature – in the co-production of ecosystem services and the evolution of social-ecological systems.

Left to right: Helen Roy, Ambika Aiyadurai, Laura Graham, Patricia Balvanera.

What motivated you to become an Associate Editor?

HR: I am passionate about publishing – I enjoy writing myself and I enjoy reading the work from other people. Editing and reviewing provides an active way to process new information and approaches while having an opportunity of supporting others. All my papers have been considerably improved by being peer-reviewed and I am so appreciative of all the work from editors and reviewers in achieving this for me. Becoming an Associate Editor allows me to give a little back to the process. When I first heard about the new BES journal People and Nature I was so excited by the proposed scope and was very keen to be involved in some way. I am delighted to be part of the multidisciplinary community that oversees this journal.

AA: People and Nature is a new multidisciplinary journal and my research profile fits very well.  The papers are of high quality and I am particularly interested to read the new scholarship in the field that brings many disciplines together to explore issues related to humans and nature.

LG: Two main things: 1) I was really excited to see the new People and Nature journal, as someone who has had difficulty publishing interdisciplinary work due to the fact a lot of editorial processes are not set up to deal with it. As such, I wanted to have some input into this new journal. 2) Mercenary as it sounds – it looks fantastic on my CV and in promotion applications. 

PB: I found it thrilling to participate in such a novel initiative supported by the British Ecological Society.

How do you manage your Associate Editor responsibilities with other commitments, both at work and outside of work?

HR: It takes on average a few hours a week – sometimes more and sometimes less. I know it is always possible for me to notify the wonderful editorial team of times when I am particularly busy and so decline an invitation to handle a manuscript. That hasn’t happened yet but I am grateful for the possibility. I find handling manuscripts (whether as an editor or reviewer) helps my own writing because it is a great way to immerse in science writing.

AA: It does not take much time.  Maybe a couple of hours a week. I set time aside for this work and make sure it does not affect my other commitments.

LG: I tend to make sure I keep to a specific time slot on which I work on my AE responsibilities, rather than addressing email alerts as soon as they come in. This helps me to ensure I do not end up spending too much of my time across the week on these duties. Generally I find the amount of time I need to spend on my AE responsibilities vary from week to week, where I can go weeks without needing to do anything, then some weeks I’ll have 2-3 manuscripts which need my attention at some stage in their process. 

PB: I normally dedicate Monday mornings to editorial chores. The amount of time dedicated depends on the specific paper so I just play it by ear.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking about applying through the Associate Editor open call?

HR: If you are even considering the possibility of applying then definitely do – you will be part of a great team with lots of support from the editors, associate editors and BES publications staff. You will gain so much and it is incredibly exciting to have the opportunity of being involved with such a new and innovative journal.

AA: If you are interested to read and analyse multidisciplinary scholarship in the field of nature conservation, this is a great opportunity.

LG: Do it! If you have any concerns, speak to people who are AEs and ask about these concerns. If you are worried about being too junior, don’t be. I started as an AE 3 years post-PhD, and have found that there is so much support out there from editors, managing editors, and the community more generally. 

PB: If you are willing to think out of the box and contribute to highlighting really exciting conceptual and methodological advances at the interface between people and nature this is for you.

What do you enjoy most about being an Associate Editor for People and Nature?

HR: I enjoy reading about new research and the interdisciplinary scope of People and Nature enables me get a glimpse of some approaches completely outside of my field.   

AA: I enjoy reading and learning about new research work in the field. It gives me an opportunity to be familiar with the latest scholarship emerging from different parts of the world.

LG: I really enjoy getting to read papers that I often wouldn’t usually read. I’ve handled some really high quality interdisciplinary manuscripts which have definitely broadened my understanding of the links between people and nature.

PB: I enjoy the fact that People and Nature is a fully interdisciplinary journal. The range of papers and the creative ways in which authors weave the different disciplines and types of knowledge is very exciting.

What’s your top tip for the role or what do you wish you knew when you started?

HR: Enjoy the tasks given to you and the interactions with the reviewers and authors – it is a great opportunity to learn from one another. On a more practical note take some time to learn the on-line system that supports editors and reviewers in handling manuscripts – there is excellent guidance available.

LG: There are loads of lists out there of people who want to review and what their expertise is in –  find these lists and use them as it helps to quickly find reviewers, and also can improve the diversity of referees. 

PB: Being an Associate Editor for People and Nature is not so different to playing that role for other journals. The most painful issue is finding the right reviewers and having them agree to review, but People and Nature provides a very nice data base to do so.