After conducting academic research at the interface of chemistry and biology, I was able to transition into an editorial career as a locum editor at Nature Reviews Drug Discovery. Starting my career in one of the longest-running Nature Reviews journals with such a wide scope of content allowed me to work on articles that lay very much outside my expertise areas, and it was these articles in particular where I felt I made the biggest impact. So I knew that I wanted to explore a position that would challenge me to cover a much broader research scope in my next career step. With only six months of experience at the time, I felt excited but nervous to start on the launch team for Nature Reviews Methods Primers. My fellow colleagues all told me, ‘This is so exciting! …not everyone gets the opportunity to launch a new journal!’. I knew this experience would come with some growing pains, but these would help me expand my knowledge breadth and ultimately help me advance in my editorial career.
With respect to the work, I knew that building up a pipeline of content for the journal and hence commissioning Primers was going to be our priority until late summer. This required me to switch gears from the tasks I was becoming more comfortable with in my locum role, where I was handling manuscripts at various stages of the peer review process, writing research highlights, and trying to keep up with new findings focused on drug discovery and development.
At first, some commissioning ideas were obvious for select areas in chemistry and adjacent disciplines but stretching into research fields outside my expertise was a major challenge. I sometimes felt unsure that I was catching the right angle, so I would take more time reading up on these ideas and discussing them with our Chief Editor. In normal times, we would have more in-person opportunities to build our scientific community by attending conferences and organising lab visits to speak to scientists face-to-face, but the pandemic halted these in-person interactions. So instead, we reached out to researchers directly via email and organised virtual calls to discuss their work and ask them questions about their research areas. This has been such an effective strategy to learn more about methods we had not previously explored or techniques we had tangentially heard about but were unfamiliar with. I want to continue doing this even when we are able to get back to in-person meetings because it is such a fun way to learn and explore new areas!
In addition to reaching out to active scientists, I also engaged with other Nature Reviews editors on previous launch teams to get a sense of their experiences. A virtual happy hour with my colleagues was a fantastic way to share the excitement of building a journal’s pipeline and discussing the outlets in which they got to be creative in their launches. They also offered some tips about the stresses that would likely come up closer to the launch, which has been very useful to anticipate some stress points, especially during such an overwhelming year! One common thing they all did was engage with editors at other journals within the company, which I quickly tried to pick up. The company hosts talent from so many different research areas and with help from other editors I have been able to fine-tune some rough ideas and identify areas to watch out for in the future.
Now having worked on manuscripts from submission to acceptance as well as seeing article proofs, it’s been such a cool experience to see the great work from our authors and referees pay off. I am still a mixture of nerves and excitement when it comes to the launch and to seeing how our articles and our content will be received over the next year. The challenges that 2020 brought only made this experience much more valuable for me: I have gained more skills than I would have in normal times and I am hopeful these will help me contribute to building our scientific community and content at Nature Reviews Methods Primers.