Journal Editorship: Q & A With Charles Noble and Stephanie Noble

September 15, 2023

In academia, faculty members often take on duties outside of teaching and researching. Many faculty serve as editors of academic journals, a role that involves numerous additional responsibilities and time commitments.

Two faculty members from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business, Charles Noble, Jerry and Kay Henry Distinguished Professor in Business, and Stephanie Noble, Nestlé USA Professor in Business, were recently named the next editors-in-chief of the prestigious Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science (JAMS). Their three-year term officially begins on June 1, 2024.

Here, Noble and Noble answer a few questions about what academic journal editorship entails.

How are academic journal editors selected? 

The process varies from journal to journal, but in general, the community/governing body in charge of the journal puts together a selection committee who announces a global call for nominations. Such calls often have questions the nominees need to answer to be considered, such as their vision for the journal. 

Based on answers to these questions and the candidates’ CVs (i.e., academic resumes), the committee identifies candidates to interview for the next round of selection. In our case, we had three rounds in the selection process, including a written statement about our vision, a 30-minute interview a few weeks later and a 90-minute interview a few months after that. Once the committee makes their selection, the decision might need to be further approved by board members of the journal’s governing body who were not on the selection committee.

What are the duties of journal editors?

At the broadest level, journal editors are there to guide thought leadership in the academic community. They can do this in both proactive and reactive ways. 

Proactive duties are forward-thinking behaviors, such as identifying an emerging topic that might be appropriate for a special issue, conducting author development workshops to enhance the quality of manuscripts received and disseminating information about published manuscripts so stakeholders, even outside the academic community, can learn from these articles.

Reactive duties include processing manuscripts, which entails reviewing papers authors from around the world send to the journal and then deciding whether the ideas in the manuscript are interesting enough to try to develop into publishable papers. To develop these ideas, the manuscript is sent out for peer review. Journal editors manage this entire process, which can be quite daunting because most of the premier journals, including JAMS, receive more than 800 new manuscripts a year.

What is the peer review process like, and what is a journal editor’s role in it?

Once editors identify papers that have interesting ideas, they then select a group of other academics (usually three) to evaluate the manuscript. These reviewers provide feedback to the authors to help them strengthen their ideas. The editor makes a decision on the manuscript once the reviews come back (usually within 30 days), after which the review process is either terminated (i.e., the paper is rejected because the reviewers did not see enough potential in the manuscript), or the authors are asked to revise the manuscript to address reviewers’ concerns. On papers that are ultimately accepted and published, this revision cycle typically repeats itself for several rounds.

To ensure fairness and equity, peer review is a double-blind process; authors do not know who is reviewing the manuscript and the reviewers do not know who the authors are.

Is editorship a voluntary position that faculty take on in addition to teaching and researching? Do you believe it’s your duty to perform services like this for your profession (i.e., demonstrating the Volunteer spirit)?

Yes, these are volunteer roles professors hold above and beyond their normal workloads; however, some schools do provide teaching relief given the heavy workload and the prestige these editorships bring to the school. Being the home of a major journal brings great visibility to the editor’s school and department, which is usually part of the motivation in taking on such a position.

There is definitely a “Volunteer spirit” in play here, since holding these roles can hamper one’s own research for a time and certainly adds hours to the work week, but editorship is a wonderful opportunity to help the development of your academic community and of younger scholars in particular.


Stacy Estep, writer/publicist,