When iSchool Professor Steve Sawyer was named Editor in Chief of the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST) last month, he developed three specific goals to achieve during his five year term.

First, he wants to reach out to new contributors to grow the wealth of information that the journal holds. Since scientific journals rely heavily on the peer review process of academics voluntarily reviewing papers for one another, Sawyer wants to get more scholars involved so that they can improve their own work and help others improve theirs as well.

“The journal provides a valuable certification process to assess our scholarship,” said Sawyer. “We’re doing a really good job of getting really great papers, and I can continue to improve the readability and certification process to draw in impactful scholars.”

Another one of Sawyer’s major goals is to improve the experience for scholars who submit their work to the journal. It is a very competitive process, with over 80% of papers being rejected, and Sawyer wants to make it more sympathetic so that contributors will continue to submit their work and receive valuable feedback.

“I want scholars to have an excellent experience in the review process,” Sawyer said.

Sawyer’s final goal is to aptly pursue diversity during his time as editor. He wants to build more a diverse editorial board to showcase the many different perspectives and voices that are typically underrepresented in the scientific community.

Looking to the future, Sawyer is excited to begin his term because the space of information science is expanding. With more data being gathered and analyzed than ever before, he knows that there are more and more questions and issues arising in the information and technology space, and he looks forward to helping the scientific community navigate these topics.

“The review process is voluntary, and it’s what makes the community work,” Sawyer said. “It’s an invisible process that a lot of people don’t know about.”

Sawyer comes to his new role as leader of the journal with a wealth of experience in this process. Since his research spans across multiple disciplines, he has worked as an editor for multiple different journals, and served on the editorial board for JASIST for the last decade. His term as Editor in Chief begins in January, and he will serve for five years.

“We are honored to have one of our distinguished professors be named the chief editor for JASIST, a leading journal in our field,” comments iSchool Dean Raj Dewan. “The iSchool is happy to support Steve and the Journal in its mission of publishing world-class research.”

As for Sawyer, he’s just excited to get started on his major goals for the paper. As an advocate for the peer review process, this leadership role will allow him to build a more inclusive and welcoming space in the academic community.

“It’s rare that you get excited about doing work for other people for free,” he says.