Is it worth to edit a special issue for a journal? I was accepted (I contacted the journal myself) to co-edit a special issue (with a more senior colleague) for good specialised journal. The topic is something I have myself published and reviewed for.
I assume there is quite a lot of work to do, but what are the potential benefits? Publishing is must to get a job (I have done that and continue doing it) peer-reviewing and writing book reviews, on the other hand, seem to have almost zero benefits in the job market. So what about co-editing a journal issue? Is it worth doing it? (I am doing it anyway because I think it is itself valuable thing to do and something I am very much looking forward to). But perhaps others have some ideas or experience regarding this.
Good question, and I'm curious to hear what readers think. My own sense is that there is no simple answer to this question, and that it probably depends on the totality of one's situation. Allow me to explain.
I do not think editing a special issue of a journal gets you much credit. I have never given it any consideration when I review job applications. One assumes that connections play a big role in people getting these opportunities, especially when the editor is junior. But, with all that said, it may be a good experience. I edited a textbook, which is worth almost zero, but I learned a lot doing it. We should do more things in the profession because we would enjoy doing them, and we would learn. I am more senior now, and I think peer review, for example, does help one understand publishing better.
I think this is basically right. I don't think editing a special issue is afforded much value, either by search committees or tenure committees. It's almost certainly not going to be a deciding factor over whether a search committee wants to hire you, or whether you will get tenure. I also think there are some real dangers to early-career folk in getting involved in too many of these types of commitments. First, I personally know people who have taken on so many of these kinds of commitments that it has gotten in the way of their ability to do what they really need to do: namely, publish, etc. Second, while I've never edited a journal issue myself, I can imagine it could turn out to be a real time commitment.
All that being said, there may be some advantages to it. First, as Elder writes, it may be an enjoyable experience, and one may learn a lot from it. But second, it may be a good way to get to know other people in the profession. As I explained in my recent post on why people matter, the benefits of getting to know people--particularly people in your areas of specialization--may be substantial. Obviously, it can just be enjoyable to get to know people. However, it can also be helpful in terms of getting outside recommendation letters, and so on--something that may help one on the job-market.
In short, does it make sense to edit a special issue? As someone who has never done it (but who has served on search committees), I may not be the very best person to answer this question--but my sense is: it depends. I would think it depends on how much of a time commitment it would be, whether one would be able to get one's other work done successfully (publishing, teaching, etc.), whether one needs additional letters of recommendation (which can be important if one's only letters are from one's dissertation committee members), etc.
But this is just my sense. What's yours, especially those of you who have done it?