Peer Review Week: A day in the life of a Special Publications production editor

Geological Society production editor Samuel Lickiss gives us an insight into his working day, in the second in our series of posts celebrating Peer Review Week 2018. Read part one here.

“My day starts with a commute through the beautiful Mendips where I try to avoid getting too distracted by all that lovely limestone. Nevertheless, it’s a good way to start thinking about geology! I work on the Society’s Special Publications. I’m currently managing six titles ranging from Ordovician palaeontology in Morocco to a multidisciplinary look at a basin in Brazil to Paleozoic oil fields in Europe.

It’s a diverse, busy job with no shortage of surprises and interest. After arriving at work, I typically arm myself with a cup of tea and begin by going through our online submission system, Editorial Manager®, to see if I have any new papers ready to go into production. Newly accepted papers get handed over to me by Bethan Phillips, our commissioning assistant, who helpfully provides any background information she thinks may be useful. After receiving papers from Bethan, I am responsible for managing the production process through to publication.

I go through each new paper carefully, sizing up artwork, assigning a DOI and sending it off for coding and copyediting. We have a pool of experienced copyeditors specializing in geosciences who work on our papers, so we are assured of a high standard. Copyedited papers are returned to me within ten days for checking, which involves going through the manuscript, assessing any queries, in addition to an all-round quality check. When I am happy, the paper goes off for typesetting.

We are fortunate to work closely with a dedicated team of typesetters responsible for formatting and styling the paper, as well as inserting various hyperlinks and behind-the-scenes coding. When typeset manuscripts are returned to me they again get a thorough quality control check before being returned to the author and editor of the book. If the paper has supplementary material to be published, I will format the files for uploading to the Figshare repository and draft a caption with the author to insert into the manuscript.

When corrections are returned by the authors and editors, I transfer them to the PDF and prepare the manuscript for online publication. The Geological Society is unusual in that we have an online-first publication process for books so papers are published when and as they’re ready. At any one stage of managing a book there will be papers undergoing peer review, while others are publishing online. Having Online First ensures that important research is available to read as soon as possible.

Once all the papers in a book have been published online, along with an open access introduction written by the lead editor, I will begin producing the print files. This includes producing a cover, working with our freelance cover designer and the editor, and providing blurbs for the marketing department. Getting towards the end of the production process and eventually receiving a tangible copy of a book from the printers is an exciting time and something I always look forward to!

At every stage of production, I’m on the lookout for interesting papers that are suitable for sharing on social media, including LinkedIn and Twitter, or for writing about here on the Geological Society’s blog. The Publishing House as a whole is always exploring innovative ways of publishing information, and the ability to publish dynamic 3D images is one such method that’s recently been introduced. As a result, I’m keen to find good examples for this platform such as SEM images of microfossils or geophysical basin profiles.

There’s never a boring day, and after finishing work I enjoy getting into my caving gear and exploring the underground landscapes of Somerset just to cap it all off!”

  • Samuel Lickiss has a BSc in Geology with Marine Biology from the University of Southampton and later studied for an MSc in Science Communication at Imperial College, London. He spent three years working as a geography and science teacher at an international school in India before starting work in scholarly publishing in addition to freelance science writing.
    Twitter: @SamuelLickiss
  • If you are interested in submitting an article or want to find out more about becoming a referee click here.
  • 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.

2 thoughts on “Peer Review Week: A day in the life of a Special Publications production editor

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

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