Peer Review Week: A day in the life of a Commissioning Assistant

In the first of a series of posts celebrating Peer Review Week 2018, Bethan Phillips, Commissioning Assistant at the Geological Society Publishing House, gives an insight into her working day…

“The main focus of my role is monitoring and managing our books from when a proposal has been accepted right through to when production begins.

My typical day will start with answering queries from authors, editors and reviewers over the phone and by email. This can be anything from providing more information about permissions and copyright, checking in about upcoming deadlines and supporting our authors, editors and reviewers when they are using the Editorial Manager submission system. In fact, managing the submissions system for our books is one of the key parts of my day, so if you ever have any technical questions or need some guidance on navigating the system I’m the one to ask (Bethan.phillips[at]

A large part of my day involves helping our editors to keep their books on track, by ensuring reviewers and authors keep the review and revision cycle progressing towards manuscript acceptance. This includes checking that the correct image permissions have been acquired whenever we receive a new manuscript. Clear communication between the authors, reviewers and editors is critical to keep everyone on the same page. This ongoing dialogue helps to ensure that our ethical policies are always adhered to.

In short, we know writing, editing or reviewing our books can be a significant commitment so I’m on hand to make the process as easy and smooth as possible.

Another aspect of my role includes working with our Marketing Team. Throughout the day I’ll keep an eye out for interesting books and articles to highlight and promote on our social media channels. Every article in our Special Publications uses Altmetrics to track how often and where the article has been shared across social media.

I will usually spend some time each day undertaking data analysis, such as reviewing the usage and download data for our manuscripts. This includes identifying hot topics and themes for future books. I also use the reporting function in Editorial Manager to monitor the submission and peer review process, pulling reports on submission turnaround times for example, which in turn helps us better support editors, authors and reviewers.

I also support the Books Editorial Committee (made up of Society Books Editors and Books Advisory Editors) who evaluate all of the proposals we receive and decide which ones will be accepted and published. This committee meets once a year in person to discuss ideas, issues and future plans. I create frequent reports for the committee and our publishing partners that provide a comprehensive progress update on all the books we’re publishing. Individual members of the committee will oversee each book to ensure that our content remains of the highest quality.

Finally, since most of my time is spent working on the beginning and middle of the process of creating our books, it’s always nice to check back in with editors after a book has been published to solicit their feedback and to send them a complimentary copy of the finished book.”

    • Bethan is the Commissioning Assistant at the Geological Society of London’s Publishing House. She joined the Geological Society after finishing a Ph.D. in Geology which was field geology, igneous chemistry and petrology based.


  • Peer Review Week is a global event celebrating the essential role that peer review plays in maintaining scientific quality. Find out more and get involved at, or follow @perrevweek on twitter.

3 thoughts on “Peer Review Week: A day in the life of a Commissioning Assistant

  1. Pingback: Peer Review Week: A day in the life of a Special Publications production editor | Geological Society of London blog

  2. Pingback: Peer Review Week: A day in the life of a Journal Production Editor | Geological Society of London blog

  3. Pingback: The Great Geoadvent: Door 24 | Geological Society of London blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s