From the Executive Editor
Executive editor of JSHAP steps down

It has been a real honour to be the executive editor of the Journal of Swine Health and Production. I have had the opportunity to represent the American Association of Swine Veterinarians to the research world. This has provided me the experience of working with many researchers from across the United States and Canada and indeed around the world. It has been a wonderful and enriching experience. I believe the journal is very important as a key forum for the dissemination of applied research work. Therefore, it is with mixed emotion that I plan to step down after 13 years as executive editor. With this decision, the AASV is requesting applications for executive editor of the Journal of Swine Health and Production.

The staff, Dr Judi Bell as associate editor, Tina Smith as graphics designer, and Karen Richardson as publications manager, are the backbone of the journal. Without them, the journal would not be the success it is today. They work as a cohesive team, paying attention to each small detail to ensure that the journal is completed with excellence and in a timely manner. The staff also includes Dave Brown who ensures that the journal is posted on the AASV Web site and makes the journal available to the world. Certainly, Drs Tom Burkgren and Sue Schulteis are key to the functioning of the journal and can be counted on to assist with difficult decisions. This entire staff will continue to work on the journal and be of great assistance to the new editor. I also will be happy to mentor the editor for the first few issues of the journal to ensure a smooth transition.

The role of the editor is multifaceted. The applicant is expected to be a veterinarian with an advanced degree, either MS or PhD. This person must be a member of the AASV and preferably have several years of veterinary experience. It is essential that the editor have strong skills in statistics, study design, and English. The applicant must be a team player who has an appreciation of the skills of the staff and the editorial board. Each staff member serves a key role and has years of experience with the journal. The editor can rely on them to ensure that the day-to-day functioning of the journal continues and to prompt the editor as needed. The editor must also work closely with the editorial board and rely on their scientific expertise. Finally, the editor must be an organized person who responds in a timely manner and who commits to regular communication with the whole team.

The editorial board, and through them, the reviewers, serve the essential role of reviewing and providing recommendations to the authors for manuscript changes and to the editor for acceptance or rejection of manuscripts. Although I believe the responsibility for poor decisions rests with the editor, the editor’s role is to seriously consider the viewpoint of the editorial board. When there has been a difference of opinion, especially regarding rejecting a manuscript, I did my best to reconcile the view of the lead reviewer with the wish of the author to publish. It was always a very difficult decision to reject a manuscript. I have personally felt the disappointment and discouragement that comes with receiving a rejection letter from a journal. Therefore, I believe there is a fine balance between maintaining the scientific rigor of the journal and giving authors the opportunity to share their results.

The role of the editor includes reading each manuscript that is submitted to the journal and then selecting the most appropriate lead reviewer to take responsibility for the review. If the manuscript needs substantial further work prior to review, the editor makes the decision to return it to the author. If the editor is concerned that the manuscript is not appropriate for the readership, a lead reviewer is asked to read the paper to provide a second opinion regarding its suitability. Once the reviews are returned to the publications manager, the editor reads all of the reviews and the recommendation of the lead reviewer and makes a final decision about whether to accept, reject, or return the manuscript to the author to revise for reconsideration. If a manuscript is accepted pending revision, the editor does his or her own complete review of the paper to ensure that key problems that were not identified by the reviewers are found and included in the reviewers’ comments. It is at this point that the editor may need to identify concerns related to study design or statistical analysis or incomplete materials and methods. The editor also reviews the manuscript for completion regarding the consistency of materials and methods and results and ensures the conclusions do not go beyond the findings of the study.

The editor writes an editorial for each issue of the journal and holds a bi-monthly conference call with the staff to handle issues that have arisen with management, editorial decisions, or the publisher. Once a year, the staff discuss major changes to the journal that are implemented in the January issue. The editor selects scientists for the editorial board and chairs an editorial board meeting at the annual meeting of the AASV. The editor, with the assistance of the journal staff and Drs Burkgren and Schulteis, writes two reports for the AASV board meetings in October and March. Ultimately, the editor reports to the AASV board through Dr Burkgren.

New leadership will bring new creative ideas, diversity, and strength. I encourage all of you who have an interest in becoming the next executive editor of the Journal of Swine Health and Production to please forward a letter of interest and your curriculum vitae to Dr Tom Burkgren at the AASV office. Please e-mail your application to Short-listed candidates will be interviewed in Denver, Colorado, on Saturday, March 10, 2012, at the annual meeting of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians.

-- Cate Dewey, DVM, MSc, PhD