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07/18/2018

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Helen

I've been a special issue editor for three special issues, including a current one on cognitive science and the replicability crisis. I've found it an interesting experience in all cases, but there are a couple of caveats
* Enjoyable, yes but also quite some work. As Marcus rightly points out, it detracts from writing so if you have not enough work for tenure, or if you don't have a couple of articles out when ABD (or whatever your career stage is), focus on the writing as it is more work than you anticipate.
* If co-editing make sure you know your co-editor. A co-editor can be great, but sometimes very frustrating to work with (for instance when they go awol without explanation and leave you juggle all the balls).
* Make sure there is a clear review procedure in place. You may have heard of past special issues slipping by without enough quality control, and if that happens to you as special issue editor, it will harm your reputation (and a good special issue will only count for little on your CV). A rigorous procedure with 2 anonymous referees, double blind, is probably best. Also read the work yourself before accepting anything definitely!
* Editing a special issue will make you look at the world differently, e.g., you'll have more understanding for why your own papers take so long to review. One of the last special issues I edited had a very obscure paper and the 3 or so people who would be knowledgeable in reviewing it that I was aware of all declined (too busy, it's common for people to decline). So it took me ages to find referees - over a month just to find 2 people knowledgeable and willing!
* Editing a special issue can help you assess if being an editor for a journal on a more permanent basis is something for you. I've recently accepted to do this and I now have at least some sense of what it all involves (chasing referees, making judgment calls with very conflicting reports, etc).


Amanda

I think this clearly falls into the "do it because you want to, or because you will get to network." Whether conferences, committees, book reviews, or editing.... grad students should do a few of these things. The key is to get the right balance: don't do too many, and don't do ones that will be especially time consuming.

In most cases this will make no difference to your CV. The exception might be if you are really trying to prove yourself as a player in a niche area. Something like this might be of small benefit in that respect.

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