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Operating a Student Academic Journal

A guide for student editors of academic journals


The Editorial Process

Editorial Positions

Dividing up the editorial work between separate roles will help the editors know what their responsibilities are, and help anyone with questions know who to contact on specific matters. The positions below are given as a possible way to divide the editorial roles.Not all of these roles may be relevant to your journal, and you may choose to divide the labour in a different way.


The Editor-in-Chief has overall responsibility for the direction of the journal.

Submissions Editor

The Submissions Editor coordinates the process of gathering submission.

Peer Review Editor

The Peer Review Editor is responsible for overseeing the peer review process. They will coordinate connecting reviewers with pieces, follow up on questions and make sure the reviews are completed by the deadline. For more on the peer review process, see the next page of this guide.

Production Editor

The Production Editor works to put together the final journal. This may involve formatting articles, deciding the order and layout of the journal and commissioning artwork for the cover. For more information and resources on production, see this resource from the Digital Publishing Workshop @ Columbia.

Marketing and Social Media Manager

A Marketing and Social Media Manager will share updates, calls for submissions, and other news. Having someone dedicated to this role will help make sure your journal is regularly communicating with your audience, helping to retain and grow your readership. This resource from the Digital Publishing Workshop @ Columbia outlines the importance of social media and outreach, and some steps that should be taken to help your journal be discovered.


Copyediting is the process of checking a work's grammar, formatting and adherence to a style. A copyeditor should have strong composition skills and be familiar with the language's conventions and with the style being used in your journal. 

Transitioning Editors

As a student journal, you are likely to have a high degree of turnover in your editorial staff as members graduate and interest levels change. There are a number of things to consider around the process of transitioning editors:

  • What is your policy for choosing new editors?
  • Will the new editor have the resources they need to learn the position?
  • Is your software and process easy to train for?
  • Are any accounts (email, publishing program, website) easily transferrable to a new editor?
  • What can outgoing editors do to make the transition go smoothly?

Creating a document for incoming editors that includes duties, a list of available resources and other useful information will help smooth the transition. This checklist for outgoing editorial teams from McGill University's Library gives a good starting point.

Developing Policies

Beyond managing the regular activities of your journal, an important responsibility of a journal's editors is to develop policy that will guide the journal's actions. Having strong and clear policies will prevent confusion and conflict, making the publishing process go smoothly, and ensure that important matters are discussed and dealt with. There are many areas that require policies to guide how your journal will operate.

Choosing and transitioning editors

How will you choose new editors? Do they need to be nominated and voted on?

The submission process

  • How will author's submit articles? What will the deadlines for submission be?
  • Who is able to submit? Students at your institution? Graduate Students?
  • Who is responsible for reviewing submissions? How will you choose which submissions are accepted?

The Peer Review Process

  • What type of peer review will your journal use?
  • Who is allowed to be a peer reviewer?
  • What will be done to prevent bias or conflicts of interest?
  • What is expected of reviewers? Of authors?
  • How many rounds or review are required? What is the deadline for submitting reviews?

Information Management

  • Where will article and research data be stored?
  • What steps will you take to secure this data?

The Committee on Publication Ethics' Core Practices provide a starting point for policies to make sure your publishing is conducted in an ethical manner.


For a more detailed overview of the editorial process, see this Editorial Workbook from The Digital Publishing Workshop @ Columbia.

The Editors' Association of Canada has published their Professional Editorial Standards. These guidelines relate to editing in the sense of the process of reviewing and changing works before publication.

The Committee on Publication Ethics have created a Guide to Ethical Editing.