The competences of the editor-in-chief of a scientific journal: gaps and trends.

AutorFontes, Ilda


Since the late 1990s, there has been a significant increase in the number of journals in the field of Administration, probably driven by the growth in the number of graduate programs and the pressure to publish research results. For instance, between 2000 and 2019, the number of business and management journals held on the Scopus database increased by 224% (from 654 to 1,463), while on the Web of Science database there were 332% more in the same period (from 114 to 378). It is clear, however, that the management of journals has not accompanied this growth in numbers.

About 86% of Brazilian journals in the Administration field are published by Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) (Sandes-Guimaraes & Diniz, 2014), which appoint a faculty member as editor-in-chief, someone who is an active and highly representative researcher in the academic community and whose scientific editing activities are simultaneous to their research and teaching tasks. However, such a researcher does not generally have support in terms of human and technological resources to carry out this new task, and editorial roles (editor, reviewer and publisher) overlap. This scenario is different abroad, where most journals are part of research associations or large publishers (Sharma, 2016).

Added to this scenario are the profound changes in the world of scientific journals, mainly due to the Internet and technological development, which have a substantial impact on their business models, structures and processes in general (Abadal, 2020).

The globalization process has also required journals to leave their comfort zone. They are trying to attract foreign readers, authors, reviewers and editors, and rethink the infrastructure (staffing and staff training, for example) they require for this new business environment (Diniz, 2013, 2017).

In this scenario, and considering that the editor-in-chief occupies a prominent role in the scientific editing process, the primary purpose of this research is to identify the gaps in the current and future skills this professional needs and examine the changes that scientific journals are undergoing in their business models.

This study is particularly relevant because it opens research into the editor-in-chief's competences in the field of Administration and fosters debate on this topic, which will have a consequent impact on professionalization in scientific editing.

The literature review presents the key concepts that provide data for achieving the research objective: the role of editor-in-chief, the competences required and the organizational business model of journals. Methodological procedures were based on the qualitative research method, using semi-structured interviews to explore and increase our knowledge of the professional skills of the editors-in-chief of scientific journals. We conducted 29 interviews that were analyzed according to the precepts of Bardin (2016). Finally, we describe and discuss the results per the categories we identified and analyzed according to the research problem.

The role of editor-in-chief of a scientific journal

Being a recognized researcher in academia, a representative of the state-of-the-art in this area of expertise is an indispensable condition for assuming the role of editor-in-chief in Brazil. However, when someone assumes this position, they generally have no professional experience in the field of scientific editing. Their formation in the role, therefore, occurs empirically, as self-learning and learning on-the-job, with training support offered by organizations linked to the publishing area, such as the Brazilian Association of Scientific Editors (ABEC), Scientific Electronic Library Online (SciELO), and other Brazilian and international organizations (Packer, 2014).

The National Association of Postgraduation and Research in Administration (ANPAD, 2017) lists the editor-in-chief's responsibilities, which are based on the criteria of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE, 2011), and corroborates its central role in the editorial process of scientific certification, which is also in line with the Sao Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP, 2014).

Targino and Garcia (2008) also highlight the priority requirement of being an active and leading researcher in their field of expertise. The authors talk about learning the metier through practical experience and indicate that it takes eight years to train an editor. They draw attention to the practical difficulties of accumulating both editorial and teaching activities; there is no remuneration, professionalization or infrastructure, especially on the part of the HEIs in which most Brazilian periodicals are concentrated.

Adding to these perspectives, Sharma (2016) discusses the role and responsibilities of the editor-in-chief of journals in Administration, drawing inspiration from the ten managerial roles presented by H. Mintzberg in The Nature of Managerial Work. He organizes them into interpersonal (representative, leader and connecting element), informational (monitor, disseminator and spokesperson) and decision making (entrepreneur, conflict solver, resource manager and negotiator).

These researchers do not discuss the editor-in-chief's competences per se but rather their responsibilities and functions, their role in the scientific journal. Outside the area of Administration, few existing studies present the competences of other actors in the scientific editing process, such as the scientific editor (Galipeauet al., 2016; Moheret al., 2017). In order to assume these responsibilities as editor-in-chief, however, it is essential to invest in developing their skills, as commonly occurs in the professional sphere.

The concept of competence

In this section, the concept of competence is dealt with in a comprehensive way, considering the scarcity of studies on the subject of editor-in-chief.

Recognized as one of the precursors of the concept of competence, Katz (1974) researched the administrative skills required for developing future professionals and defended the development of skills through practice. He differentiates three types of skills that managers must have: technical, human and conceptual (Katz, 1974).

In the 1990s, however, the concept of competence gained space in publications in the area of Administration (Sant Anna, 2002). This was a period marked by major changes in the labor market and how firms and works were organized. As a result, the organizational structure changed profoundly and became a system of networks, with a more horizontal hierarchy, which was a break from the old hierarchical organizational structure.

In this changing scenario, Dutra (2005) stressed a highly relevant innovation in the company--individual relationship and established a new paradigm for mutual development, which benefited both the organization and the individual. Competence presupposes knowing how to mobilize knowledge and skills and respond within the context in which the organization operates, thereby adding value (Dutra, 2005; Fleury & Fleury, 2001).

Similarly, Sant'Anna (2002) presented the concept of competence "as the result of the combination of multiple types of knowledge--knowing how to do, to act, and to be--that can be employed by individuals for successfully providing responses to the challenges arising from the restructuring and production modernization processes that are in vogue" (p. 43).

From another perspective, Boyatzis, Goleman, and Rhee (2000) addressed emotional competences for achieving a more effective performance. They indicated an emotional intelligence model of the individual, based on "the competences that allow a person to demonstrate the intelligent use of their emotions in managing and working with others in order to be effective at work" (p. 343). They propose five groups of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills.

Complementing this discussion, Boyatzis and Saatcioglu (2008) classify three main groups of competence: "(1) cognitive intelligence, such as systems thinking; (2) emotional intelligence, or intrapersonal skills, such as adaptability; and (3) social intelligence, or interpersonal skills, such as networking" (p. 93). They add that knowledge and competence are not enough, as top performance is only going to happen if the individual so wishes, which presupposes attention to individual "motivation activators."

In our study, in line with the epistemological perspective of Zarifian (2001) and Le Boterf (2003), who adopted a more interpretive and less rational approach, it is assumed that competence is essentially a combination of formal education and practical daily experience in a highly complex context, which demands that this knowledge be put into use in new and unusual situations, thus implying a large capacity for adapting to changes and for relearning. Despite the absence of previous studies on the competences of the editors-in-chief of journals, which indicates this research's originality and pioneering nature, we sought to investigate these competences under the evolution of the journal's business model, as discussed below.

The organizational business model of journals

From a general perspective, a business model is an essential tool for designing processes, tasks and the various communication networks needed when constructing an information system to support the company's daily work. According to Stahler (2002), it has four pillars: the value proposition for customers and partners, the product and service offered, the value architecture and revenue models.

Sandes-Guimaraes and Diniz (2014) consider Stahler's (2002) perspective to be closer to the model of scientific journals and identify authors, readers/libraries, and reviewers as clients and partners. In a study involving Brazilian journals in the Administration field, these authors draw attention to the fact that the value architecture of a scientific...

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