ISMTE: Establishing best practices for ethical peer review management for editorial office professionals

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7 mins
ISMTE:  Establishing best practices for ethical peer review management for editorial office professionals

Kristen Overstreet is President of the International Society for Managing and Technical Editors (ISMTE), and a Senior Partner at Origin Editorial, LLC, an editorial consultation and peer-review management company. Ms. Overstreet began working in editorial offices in 1998 and currently manages nursing, medicine, and physics titles. She has been on the Board of Directors for the ISMTE since 2008 and served from the year 2008 till 2011 as the society’s editor of the newsletter, EON, for which she was the founding editor.

Can you provide an overview of International Society of Managing and Technical Editors (ISMTE) and your priorities as President?

ISMTE’s mission is to connect people who manage peer review and editorial offices for academic and scholarly journals and enhance the professionalism of their roles. We provide opportunities to connect with peers from annual face-to-face conferences to local group meetings to discussion forums. Additionally, we provide opportunities to discuss and develop best practices and practical, applicable resources for our community to use in their daily work.

My priorities as president of ISMTE include focus on committees, marketing, partnerships, and value for our members. Through the dedicated work of our members and Board of Directors, we have 10 active committees that are planning our annual meetings, facilitating local group / regional meetings, developing resources for our membership, and carrying on the work of the society (e.g., Awards, Posters, Professional Development, Sponsorship). We are marketing the benefits of ISMTE through a weekly email, an annual sponsored collection of our newsletter (EON) articles, making freely available the Editor’s Choice article from EON each month, and planning to translate the Editor’s Choice article into Simplified Chinese. We are developing important partnerships with other organizations in the publishing field, such as our partnership with Editage. All of these initiatives benefit our members by providing them with new information, education, resources, and networking, and by encouraging members to be actively involved so they are aware of, contributing to, and benefitting from what ISMTE has to offer.

Additionally, the Board of Directors committed in 2014 to the goals of 1) three meetings on three continents within three years; we will have meetings in North America, Europe, and Asia beginning in 2016; 2) providing EON articles in other languages, 3) increasing membership to 1000, 4) more local/regional groups, 5) increasing sponsorship, and 6) increasing professional development opportunities.

What are some challenges of scholarly communication that ISMTE is addressing?

A major topic of interest for editorial office professionals is publication ethics. The challenge is in educating all stakeholders in the peer review process regarding accepted ethical policies. ISMTE has partnered with COPE in 2014 and 2015 to provide educational sessions for members in conjunction with our North American and European annual meetings. Editorial office professionals must be aware of ethical standards so that they can help authors, reviewers, and editors adhere to journal policies.

What benefits are available to ISMTE members? Who is eligible to join?

ISMTE members benefit from networking with their peers; having access to the excellent content published monthly in the newsletter, EON; opportunities for continuing education and training; forums to discuss new or new-to-you information with peers; a source for industry news; and even exclusive discounts offered by our sponsors. Anyone who has a role in the peer review process and/or with scholarly and academic publications is eligible to join.

Could you share with us the profile of your membership?  

Our membership currently includes 500+ people from 5 continents who work in editorial offices or in some way with the peer review process for scholarly and academic communications, hence we are truly an international organization and we aim to make it more so.

Can you tell us about your Professional Development initiative?

ISMTE is committed to offering members resources for professional development. We have resources available on our website that cover topics from acronyms to scheduling. We have training resources on podcasts, figure quality, ethics, and social media. We also offer options for job seekers and employers to connect with each other. Our annual conference programs are developed to enhance the professionalism of attendees by providing sessions on new hot topics as well as interactive sessions, such as Excel workshops, and sessions on standard topics such as ethics and efficient management of peer review and the editorial office. We are always seeking new information and methods of providing this information based upon our members’ needs. We will soon be surveying our membership about whether they see a need for a certificate or credentialing program for editorial office professionals. 

Could you highlight some of the resources available through ISMTE’s site?

ISMTE provides resources for:

Resources for daily work
Training resources
Jobseeker resources
Information about upcoming annual meetings
ISMTE awards
ISMTE newsletter, EON
Information for setting up an editorial office
How to find a local group
…and much more on its new

Aside from regional managing and technical editing organizations, why was one at the international level created?

When ISMTE was established in 2007 and launched in 2008, there were no other organizations that served editorial office professionals. Our members were attending other meetings that were directed at content editors, editors-in-chief, and publishing professionals but not finding that their particular needs were being met. ISMTE meets the needs of those who work in editorial offices and manage the peer review processes for scholarly and academic journals on a daily basis by providing practical, applicable resources. ISMTE serves all of these professionals in the international community.

ISMTE as part of its mission establishes best practices for the editorial staff. What are the important steps of this process in which issues are identified, solutions are shared, and best practices from these are selected and established as an international standard? 

Issues for editorial office staff have often been identified at our annual conferences or through our discussion forums. Discussion ensues on the topics and resources that are shared, such as COPE’s flowcharts for managing ethical issues. When a resource does not already exist, a person or group may write up the information for publication in EON, such as tips for:

Managing People in the Editorial Office

Managing Your Editor’s Expectations . . .

Is Your Journal Due for a Redesign? . . .


The articles published monthly in EON are valued resources for identifying and implementing best practice. Additionally, ISMTE committees have developed training videos on topics such as figure quality and developing podcasts to address needs identified by members.

How did the European Meeting Planning Committee and the North American Planning Committee come about?

Since ISMTE’s launch in 2008, we have had two annual in-person conferences: one in North America and one in Europe. Each conference each year has had a dedicated committee to plan the program and recruit speakers. Each conference has been a success and an important opportunity for participants to hear about what is new in the fast-changing field of publishing and how that affects the professionals in the editorial office. Beginning in 2016, we will add our third annual meeting, which will be hosted in Asia.

ISMTE holds annual conferences in which managing and technical editors are brought together from all over the world. Can you discuss the objectives of this year’s event and its scheduled program?

For the 2015 North American conference, the committee is planning a combination of plenary, breakout, and workshop sessions to inform participants on topics such as predatory publishing, the culture of publishing in China, the perspective of the research paper author, predatory author services, ethics, helping small journals with limited resources, getting the most from your reviewers and editorial board members, preparing instructions for authors, and poster research/presentation.   The full program agenda will be posted soon (  The sessions are developed to provide participants with practical, applicable information that they can take back to their editorial offices and put into practice.

The 2015 European conference committee is in the beginning stages of developing their program and inviting speakers around the theme “Improving skill sets and acquiring knowledge.” More information will be posted soon (


This interview was conducted by Alagi Patel

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Published on: Apr 26, 2015


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