- The Scholarly Leadership of Editorial Board Members
During volume years 2004 through 2008, I was honored to serve as the eighth editor of the Journal of College Student Development (JCSD). One of the lessons I learned early on was that perhaps my most important task was to select and consult knowledgeable and dedicated editorial board members, who also serve as the principal pool of JCSD manuscript reviewers. Manuscript reviewers carefully evaluate prospective literature contributions and directly (albeit anonymously) engage author(s) by providing expert impressions, reactions, and suggestions for improvement. It would be difficult to underestimate editorial board members' collective impact on the continued high quality of the scholarship that JCSD publishes. Fortunately for all of us, accomplished scholars continue to volunteer significant amounts of time and expertise. It is largely their work that has led to JCSD's current status as one of the core higher education journals.
As part of JCSD's 50th anniversary commemoration, I have been invited to contribute an essay of selected reflections. I will use this opportunity to discuss my perceptions of some of the key features of manuscript reviews during my 5 years as editor. Through their comments and recommendations, editorial board members offer the necessary scholarly expertise and leadership that will reinforce and extend JCSD's distinctive status well into the future.
During my tenure, editorial board members set high expectations for manuscripts and advised me accordingly. This by itself is neither surprising nor revealing, because it is what scholarly referees do. However, across manuscript reviews, recommendations frequently included insistences that authors attend more carefully to transparency and relevant contexts in their work. These are distinct yet interrelated facets.
Through their calls for greater transparency in research, board members expected authors to substantiate the integrity of the work. Initial reviews frequently included requests for more detailed descriptions of-or rationales for-research approach, methodology and methods, analyses and analytic procedures, or interpretations and conclusions. Frequently, board members also requested additional evidence of rigor or elimination of jargon. These insistences by board members have helped JCSD to balance its historical dual purposes (that are not necessarily at cross purposes) of addressing individuals along the broad scholar-practitioner continuum. Although the majority of JCSD subscribers are unlikely to design, conduct, and report research on a regular basis, responsible professionals do strive to remain current in the field. Reading current research-ideally articles featuring maximum transparency and explanatory detail with minimal jargon-is one of a range of key professional development strategies for educators. JCSD is now simultaneously the leading source of refereed research on college students available to scholars and a respected source of contemporary scholarship to inform professionals and educators who work with college students. Editorial board members' [End Page 715] emphasis on transparency will help JCSD continue to engage its readers and serve its scholarly and educational purposes.
Related to transparency, editorial board members frequently insisted that authors describe the sets of theoretical and conceptual frameworks guiding the work and identify how findings contributed to theory development, critique of theory, or construction of grounded theory. Board members increasingly questioned manuscripts that omitted or included only perfunctory attention to theoretical and conceptual frameworks or that lacked a firm grounding in pertinent literature. Editorial board members did not necessarily assume or endorse the sense of an unproblematized, unified, and incremental march of knowledge. Rather, most requested that authors lay out the sets of theoretical and conceptual (as well as epistemological and methodological) assumptions framing the study so that the manuscript could then be read and evaluated on its own terms. That is, as reflective of chosen theoretical and epistemological stances that guided all major aspects of design and execution of the study.
Research on students is a multidimensional, dynamic literature base that encompasses a growing variety of theoretical approaches, methodologies, conceptual frames, and research topics. As board members evaluated studies guided by contemporary and emerging methodologies, for example, they ensured that JCSD continued its tradition of scholarly inclusiveness, however unhurried that progress toward inclusiveness may appear to some. It is instructive to recall that JCSD was one of the first higher education journals to publish studies grounded in phenomenological...