In recent months, I've begun receiving invitations to serve as a "guest editor" for various journals from publishers I've worked with in the past that I believe are reputable.

I recognize that there's significant workload for such an issue and very little, if any, compensation, but I'm wondering what the benefits are for tenure-track faculty to serve in such a capacity. Is it worth the investment to do so, relative to the time required?

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    I got one of these "guest editor" invitations a few days ago, and I took it as an indication that the journal, which I hadn't heard of before, is junk. Feb 3, 2018 at 2:58
  • @AndreasBlass: The journal is from a legitimate publisher.
    – aeismail
    Feb 3, 2018 at 3:05

2 Answers 2


Disciplines are typically organized in loose groups around a fairly small number of persons. They organize conferences, are editors, are on boards of professional organizations, etc. They are always looking for the next generation, new researchers who could take over when they retire. Being a guest editor for a journal, organize a workshop, chair a session, etc. signals that you might be the next generation. Having a reputation of being the next generation won't hurt when you aply for your next job. It is also good practice for when you become a regular editor.


The advantage of being a guest editor is that you can invite people to submit papers to the issue you are editing. If there is no fee charged to authors, then the invitees may view this as a favor. They might provide you with a favor in return.

You can also invite authors who are likely to cite your own work.

Your institution's tenure and promotion committee may view serving as a guest editor favourably.

Edit: You should certainly never solicit any reward or repayment from any authors you invite.

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    BE CAREFUL, I think favor-based invitations are not ethical. And You can also invite authors who are likely to cite your own work is absolutely wrong, check this retractionwatch.com/2018/02/02/….
    – Hazem
    Feb 3, 2018 at 7:44
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    @Haz I disagree. How would you go about inviting people who will not view it as a favor? Are you saying all favors are unethical, or just ones that invite someone to submit a paper? Inviting authors in your area of expertise as the guest editor and inviting authors who are likely to cite your work are indistinguishable strategies. Editorial decisions, however, should be impartial. An invitation to submit and a decision to publish are totally different. Feb 3, 2018 at 8:39
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    Maybe the better way to say it is building goodwill.
    – aeismail
    Feb 3, 2018 at 15:56
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    -1. For an editor to send out invitations to submit papers with the intent of benefiting themselves in such a way would be unethical and an abuse of the editor’s power. You can send invitations, and it’s fine if those invitations generate “goodwill”, but that shouldn’t be your goal, and it shouldn’t influence your decisions of whom to send such invitations to. Nor should the invitations be formulated in a way that makes them appear as “favors” or contain insinuations that they are conditioned on some kind of quid pro quo.
    – Dan Romik
    Feb 3, 2018 at 22:41
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    @DanRomik I did not address what goals a guest editor should have. That was not part of the question. I strongly agree that nothing should be insinuated. However I do not see how invitations could be issued without leading to these indirect benefits. This is what the asker wanted to know. Personally, I do not care one bit what the "intent" was, it is the actual actions that matter. The intent of self-promotion or the intent of contributing to the discipline can both lead to high quality academic work. They can also both lead to low quality work. Feb 4, 2018 at 4:22

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