[rfc-i] Some questions about the RFC Editor restructuring plan

Henning Schulzrinne hgs at cs.columbia.edu
Fri Aug 8 11:37:02 PDT 2008

On Aug 8, 2008, at 2:15 PM, Bob Braden wrote:

> Henning, Several more questions arise from your explanation.
>  *>
>  *> - The steering committee selects an editor-in-chief, for a  
> finite, non-
>  *> renewable term. That position is a volunteer position. The EiC  
> sets
> Who selects the steering committee?

This differs between journals, from what I can tell. In many cases,  
it's like university trustees, i.e., the body is self-sustaining and  
nominates replacement for members that leave or reach their term  
limits. In other cases, the society's publication director or  
equivalent nominates members. (For example, the ACM SIGCOMM executive  
committee is effectively the steering committee for CCR.) There may  
even be cases where the set of associate editors elects the EiC (and  
where there is no steering committee at all), although I can't think  
of a particular journal in that category right now.

In the case of the Transactions on Networking, it's a multi-society  
journal (ACM, IEEE ComSoc, IEEE Computer Society), and each get to  
designate a set of members to the steering committee, in addition to  
some ex-officio members, such as the EiC.

>  *> general policy (usually in discussions with the steering  
> committee),
>  *> gets involved in editorial disputes, nominates new associate  
> editors
>  *> and observes the work flow. In particular, the EiC is generally  
> held
>  *> responsible if the time-to-publish starts increasing. The  
> position is
> What means does the EiC have at his/her disposal to reduce the time- 
> to-
> publish?  Hire more editorial people and/or authorize overtime?  (and
> who controls the personnel budget?) Fire an ineffective associate
> editor?  Other?

Some are direct managerial, such as the hiring and firing of associate  
editors you mention, or the establishment of procedures, such as  
having his or her assistant do better tracking and nagging. (Associate  
editors aren't paid, so there are no financial resource issues.)

Usually, review, rather than production, delays are the main cause of  
publication delays for journals. However, the ACM ToN steering  
committee, on behalf of its EiC, recently had to plead for higher page  
budgets with the societies sponsoring the journal to reduce a  
publication backlog caused by having more papers accepted than the  
annual page budget allowed. Thus, there was no direct authority to  
spend more money, but rather an expectation that the EiC would ask for  
resources, with the help of the steering committee, which involved  
creating a plan and a budget proposal.

This isn't that different from other parts of the real world; as  
department chair, I have a very limited discretionary budget, and  
anything non-trivial requires pleading with the dean. I still get held  
responsible if things don't work right, even if that's due to limited  

>  *> assumed to be part-time for the person holding it. The EiC is not
>  *> expected to read every paper that is published and does not  
> generally
>  *> make accept/reject decisions, but may get involved in process- 
> level
>  *> issues, such as perceived unfairness or incompetence by an  
> associate
>  *> editor.
>  *>
> Thanks,
> Bob Braden

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