A friend of mine is considering an opportunity that comes with a catch.

The good news: a course release for work she would enjoy. The bad news: working with someone she does not like. And I don’t mean “can preserve professional decorum though would not invite this person to a party.” I mean “would like to smack this creep and was thrilled when he left the department.”

Not to put too fine a point on it. (She might be more tactful if she were writing this post herself, but I’ve heard what she really thinks, and that’s pretty much it.)

The position is an assistant editorship for an academic journal, with a strong possibility of advancing to editor in due course (probably not too long a course); the current editor is someone my friend gets on with, but the book review editor is . . . not. But he is a good friend of the editor.

Historiann, for one, is emphatic about the drawbacks of being an editor. See also Liz’s comment in another thread related to editing. My friend has edited a couple of proceedings volumes, so she has some (dim?) idea of what is involved; she also likes the idea of doing academic work that serves scholars rather than students. She is good at reviewing and copy-editing and has ideas about where she would like to take the journal, should she wind up as editor. I think the course release is a large carrot for her.

If she survives to be editor, she could presumably pick a new book review editor. That doesn’t mean the old one would go gracefully, or that she wouldn’t have to do a lot of teeth-gritting in the meantime. She points out that if everyone reasonable refuses to work with these Old Doods, only Young Doods will be in the running for the editorship, and that it would be a good thing if a reasonable, not-ancient feminist managed to take over this journal and use it as a way to nurture young (and not-so-young) scholars, particularly those of a feminist stripe. Why leave it to the Doods?

I think life is too short to deal with jerks. I suggested she could make it a condition that the book review editor has to go, but she suspects that if she did, the Doods would take the journal to another school altogether, whereas her department would like to keep it.

So . . . what do my readers think?

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11 thoughts on “A fictional dilemma

  1. Would she ever have to interact with the book review editor in her current proposed position? I never interacted with any of the other associate editors in my stint as a deputy editor.

    Being an associate/deputy editor is a lot of work, but possibly equivalent to a course release.

    In terms of what happens when she becomes managing editor, she can cross that bridge when she comes to it. Switching out deputy editors when the managing editor changes seems to be pretty common.

    1. There are no other associated editors, only EIC, who is okay, and Book Review, who is not, but a good friend of the EIC. These two have had the whole show to themselves for ten years.

      1. Are there any journals that actually pay associate editors? Is she getting paid? I sure didn’t get paid. (Nor did I get a course reduction!)

        They’re already going from 2 people to 3 people, why not stay at 3 or go to 4? Unless it’s a journal so bad it isn’t worth keeping in the department.

        Journals with only 2 people on the editorial staff can easily become non-responsive and disappear. (My mom has stories about this…)

  2. How weird – when I read this post this morning, I could not leave a comment. Now, coming back to it, I see comments and a way to comment. I was extra tired this morning, but I’m not sure how I screwed this up. Weird…

  3. I have no good advice except that any job I have been unhappy in has always involved working with people I disliked. I concur with the comment above. Often when I look at this blog the comments seem to have disappeared and I can’t work out how to contribute.

    1. I think this has to do with the new format. Older posts don’t show number of comments, which annoys me; even if comments are closed, people (including me) might like to be able to see where there has been discussion, without clicking on the post title to get the whole thing. I don’t know why this might happen with newer posts where comments are still open, but I’ll poke around the dashboard for a bit and see what I can do.

  4. If the book review editor is more important to the journal than your friend, then let the journal go to another dept. If the journal needs to stay in the dept., they can make the book review editor the editor, get another book review editor, let that blow up, and then your friend comes in with a new book review editor.

    I don’t know, my plan has obvious drawbacks, but unless there’s a way to not interact much with the book review editor, it looks like a bad scene unless he goes.

  5. There’s a lot of good advice here. “Book Review Editor” and “Friend of the Editor” aren’t the same thing, and I don’t see why she’d have much contact with the awful guy. On the other hand, life’s too short to deal with jerks. How about “thank you for you valuable service, old Book Review Editor, and for gracefully withdrawing to give a newer scholar a chance”? Any way that would work?

    1. He’s paranoid, power-mad, and whatever the reverse of gracious is. The dept. chair thinks she could avoid contact, but I still think she’d be better off just avoiding the whole situation. The potential drawbacks outweigh the possibilities, to my mind.

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