Learning the ropes of academic publishing


A conversation with Jane Chalmers, a postdoctoral researcher into pelvic pain at the University of South Australia, about her experiences as the Journal of Physiotherapy’s inaugural editorial fellow.

Last year, postdoctoral researcher Dr Jane Chalmers, APAM, saw a call-out for applications for a new editorial fellowship at the Journal of Physiotherapy.

Intrigued by the opportunity, Jane applied and joined the editorial team at the beginning of 2021 as the first editorial fellow.

The editorial fellow is embedded in the journal’s editorial board and rotates through different portfolios within the journal, shadowing the board member responsible for those activities and attending board meetings.

‘You’re a trainee, but you’re helping out at the same time.

'You assist for a few months in a certain portfolio and then they move you to another portfolio,’ explains Jane.

It’s a bit intimidating at first, Jane says, being in a room full of people whose papers you’ve read, and it took her a while to get comfortable.

‘The opportunity to network with some of these really prominent physiotherapy researchers is not something that you get on a day-to-day basis, so it’s been really nice for me to start to create connections with some of these researchers to whom I wouldn’t have access,’ she explains.

Jane’s first stop was the social media portfolio, where board member Professor Kay Crossley showed her the ropes, explaining how the journal uses Twitter to highlight research papers.

She has continued to help out with Twitter while moving into other rotations.

Her current portfolio is Critically Appraised Papers, working with Professor Rana Hinman to identify and summarise key papers in the current physiotherapy literature and writing about the impact of the research on physiotherapy practice.

Jane says she has been keen to just soak it all in and learn as much as she can during her two-year fellowship.

She says it’s very interesting to follow papers from the submission process through to publication.

‘My intention in applying for the fellowship was to see the inner workings of a journal.

'Often when you’re an author and you submit a paper you might get rejected, or you get vague feedback that you’re not the right fit for the journal, but you don’t really understand why.

'It’s been interesting for me to learn about some of those decisions,’ she says.

So what is Jane’s take-home message for would-be editorial fellows?

‘It’s a unique experience for an early career researcher to get such insight into journals and the way they work.

'So from that perspective it’s been really useful, but other things have been useful as well.

'The networking with well-known physiotherapy researchers—you just don’t get exposed to opportunities like that as an early career researcher very often.

'That has really been an unexpected benefit,’ she says.

‘For anyone who’s thinking of applying, you won’t regret it.

'Put your hat in the ring—that’s the only way that you’re going to have the opportunity to do it.

'It’s been so valuable for me and I’m so glad that I applied.’

Journal of Physiotherapy is seeking expressions of interest from APA members for the next editorial fellowship term, which will run from January 2022 to December 2023.

Rotating through each portfolio of the journal, the editorial fellow will gain important exposure to an international editorial board.

The opportunity is open to an emerging Australian physiotherapy researcher within five years of PhD award (taking career disruption into account).

Click here for more information on the role and how to apply.


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