A year in review with GENETICS Editor in Chief Howard Lipshitz
Howard Lipshitz reflects on his first year as EIC at GENETICS.
A year can be a long time or no time at all, depending on your point of view. For Howard Lipshitz, the year he’s spent as Editor in Chief has passed in a flurry of activity—learning the role, developing a publisher relationship, growing the journal, and more. But it was also only the first step toward achieving his goals for the future of GENETICS.
“Being an Editor in Chief is completely different from other editorial jobs. There has been a steep learning curve despite my previous editorial experience,” says Lipshitz. “I’ve found this in all leadership positions I’ve had; there’s a lot you don’t know until you actually start.”
Even taking into account the learning curve, Lipshitz’s first year brought exciting changes and new initiatives to help GENETICS grow and succeed.
“I’m very pleased with the expansion of scope to invite papers that are more computational and papers that are genomic in nature. We also adjusted the sections of the journal to make a statement about the types of papers we want, to include papers in Neurogenetics and Behavior and Computational Resources, Software, and Databases.”
Of particular note is an upcoming collection of model organism database (MOD) papers with an accompanying editorial. Eight MODs have sent their update papers to GENETICS, and they will be published in the April 2022 issue.
“MODs are fundamental to the work that scientists who read and publish in GENETICS do. The mission of GENETICS is to be the journal of record for those who use genetics and genomics, and this moves us closer to that goal.”
Aligned with the goal of being the journal of record for geneticists and genomicists, Lipshitz and the Senior Editors are actively soliciting reviews in interesting areas of genetics across subfields.
Lipshitz notes that learning about the publishing landscape was one of his biggest challenges over the past year.
“I knew very little about the publishing side of things before I became EIC. I think that’s common for many folks, and it’s even more complex because it moves so quickly.”
Lipshitz’s first year as EIC was also the first year of the GSA Journals’ publishing partnership with Oxford University Press (OUP).
“Brenda Andrews [EIC of G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics], the editorial staff, and I have been meeting on a regular basis with our OUP publishing team to set priorities, review challenges, and discuss outreach initiatives. We are already feeling the benefits of this partnership after just a year, including increased readership worldwide and greater recognition of GENETICS among readers and authors internationally.”
Any number of considerations factor into an author’s choice to submit to a particular journal. External forces like funder mandates and publication requirements for job hunts and tenure packages pair with the journal’s mission, author experience, and other pieces of the puzzle that the journal and society can influence more directly.
And how is Lipshitz approaching enhancements to the journal’s core identity?
“Diversity has been and continues to be a major goal across the journal, in all senses. In addition to broadening the journal’s scope, we are continually expanding our editorial board to include scientists from diverse backgrounds and identities—and from across subfields of genetics and genomics. I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made, and I look forward to continuing with these efforts, especially regarding internationalization of the journal.”
Another central focus of GENETICS is author experience. The quality of the review process and the support of editorial staff have a large impact on the experience of submitting to and publishing with a particular journal.
“We find that authors who submit to GENETICS generally have positive experiences because they receive deep, rigorous, and supportive feedback from expert reviewers in the field, which improves their papers. At every level, the editors and the editorial staff put an enormous amount of work into the review process. A lot of thought goes into every step, even before a decision-making editor sees it. If authors have questions about or issues with any aspect of the process, the editorial office steps in to help.”
An Editor in Chief cannot control the publishing industry, impact factor, or criteria for job search and tenure committees—all things that influence an author’s choice of journal. But Lipshitz is committed to continuing the work started in his first year as EIC with the support of the editorial staff, editorial board members, and OUP.
“Our goals are long term, and we’ve only taken first steps. We will continue to further diversify the board and to expand more internationally. We are pushing to recruit more and better papers in all areas, particularly under our expanded scope.”
GENETICS exists to serve its authors, readers, and community, and Lipshitz is doing the work to make sure it will continue to do so over the coming years.