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I am a young postdoc. I am considering submitting a single-authored paper in a journal. My former advisor is member of the editorial board. Would this be appropriate? Obviously she cannot be the handling editor, someone else would have to manage my submission and take the decision. But would it be appropriate at all for me to submit in this journal, or should I just find another?

I am afraid that this situation does not pass the "appearance of impartiality" test; even if my former advisor is never involved in the decision, if the paper is accepted in the end my situation will be "I have published a paper in a journal where my advisor is member of the editorial board", and no one will be able to verify that I did not receive unequal treatment.

  • This is why you normally have more than 1 editor ;) (often from different places in the world). – DetlevCM Jul 30 '18 at 14:49
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I don't see any conflict of interest on your side preventing you from submitting to this journal. You can only assume that your former advisor has good ethics and will abstain from handling this manuscript.

Consider the consequences if someone you had a close working relationship with being on the editorial board would prevent you from submitting to a journal: many senior scientists could not submit to any journal in their field.

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You have no ethical conflict whatever. As you say, the advisor might need to not comment on your submission. However, it is the reviewers, not the editors who will be judging the quality of the submission, with the editors making only final selections.

If there are any conflicts they are for other people and for them to resolve.

I doubt that this is uncommon, especially for specialized journals. They likely have seen the situation many times and have appropriate procedures for handling it.

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  • I would upvote your answer, unfortunately I have not enough reputation. Thanks for your input. I chose the other answer because the obviously absurd conclusion (a senior scientist would be unable to submit anywhere) was very convincing. – user96536 Jul 30 '18 at 12:26
  • @user96536, thanks. And welcome to Academia. Both the site and the profession. (User Roland was also a minute quicker than I was.) – Buffy Jul 30 '18 at 12:36
  • @Buffy Roland is the FGITW – Persistence Jul 31 '18 at 0:27
  • @Persistence, was that "West" or "world"? I'm in the East, actually. – Buffy Jul 31 '18 at 0:29
  • @Buffy just another one of the many memes of meta – Persistence Jul 31 '18 at 0:31

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