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Seeking topical editors to expand our editorial board—and your career!: editorial

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Editor-in-Chief Ron Driggers describes the responsibilities of an Applied Optics topical editor, the traits of a good editorial candidate, and the career benefits of serving on the editorial board.

© 2016 Optical Society of America

I ran across a website called “Undercover Recruiter” the other day and it has some hilarious jokes about different careers, such as “Inspecting mirrors is a job I could really see myself doing” and “I tried working in a muffler factory, but that was exhausting” (http://theundercoverrecruiter.com/career-jokes). Well, we have a job for you if you have the right qualifications.

We are currently seeking topical editors for Applied Optics in a number of important areas. Topical editor appointments are for three years, with a potential renewal for a second term. I served two terms as a topical editor for Applied Optics, and I can tell you that it definitely enhanced my career and opened doors for other opportunities. A typical progression in the editorial chain for The Optical Society’s journals begins with being recommended for a topical or associate editor position during the mid-level of one’s career. After performing well as a topical or associate editor, then the editor could be promoted to a division or deputy editor. Finally, a successful division or deputy editor could be considered for the editor-in-chief position of the same journal or another journal.

Good performance means that a topical editor takes action on assignments in a timely manner (usually within a day or two). Also, oversight of the review process means that the editor ensures that the assigned reviewers provide a timely review. The topical editor then considers the reviews and decides whether a paper should be accepted and whether major or minor revisions are necessary. The decision weighs both significance and originality and sometimes must be made based on conflicting reviews. Some scientifically correct papers lack the significance needed for acceptance. As editor-in-chief, I provide input on whether we are holding the acceptance bar high enough to protect the journal’s standards. In addition to using good judgment when deciding which papers to accept for publication and ensuring that papers are reviewed in a timely manner, a successful topical editor for Applied Optics interacts professionally with authors and editorial colleagues, contributes ideas and feedback for improving the journal, and upholds our ethical guidelines.

There are a few things I look for in a topical editor candidate. First, does the candidate have any experience as a reviewer, particularly for Applied Optics, and has the candidate received good scores for those reviews? Second, does the candidate have a good publication record and has he or she published in Applied Optics or other OSA journals? Finally, has the candidate made other professional contributions within the optics and photonics community, such as serving on committees or helping to plan meetings? There are many early- to mid-career professionals who accept volunteer roles but then do not fulfill the necessary obligations. Our topical editors are volunteers who actively handle manuscripts, unlike some editorial boards that are primarily honorary or advisory in nature. Despite being non-paid, it is a career-enhancing position for academic, government, and (to some extent) industry career tracks.

The Applied Optics Editorial Board needs a balance of the relevant areas of expertise in order for the journal to expertly assess all papers that are within its scope. The journal would benefit from additional coverage in the following areas:

  • Solid state lasers
  • Semiconductor lasers
  • Fiber lasers
  • High energy lasers
  • Photonics
  • Interferometry
  • Spectral sensing

If you know a junior to mid-career professional in one of these areas who needs a career-enhancing activity and would like to give back to the scientific community, we would love to hear from you with a recommendation. If you work in one of these areas and would like to be considered as a topical editor for Applied Optics, then please send your curriculum vitae with a publication record to my attention at aomss@osa.org. If there is a match with the journal’s needs, then I will be happy to discuss the position with you and provide the recommendation.

I welcome nominations of qualified candidates. We have a job for you that could provide an enhancement to your career while also providing a vital service to the scientific community.

Ron Driggers
Editor-in-Chief, Applied Optics

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