How to become an Editorial board member?
Is it appropriate to contact journal's Editor in Chief to show interest for joining editorial board?
That's generally not a job you can apply for, but a job you're asked to take on. At least in reputable journals, the members of the editorial board are largely scientists well known in their field. They have that role because the editor-in-chief trusts their opinions and perspectives on submitted papers, and also because they have the stature in the field to write to potential reviewers and ask them to review a paper. Well established researchers also have fewer potential conflicts of interest: They no longer have promotions coming up, and so feel less conflicted about rejecting papers by people who might otherwise be asked to write letters of evaluation about their promotion.
I don't know what your career status is, but suspect that because you are asking the question that you are still young. As an editor-in-chief, I usually try to avoid using younger researchers as members of the editorial board. That's not necessarily because I don't trust their judgment, but because they have conflicts of interest and because they will have a harder time receiving the necessary reviews within a reasonable time frame.
How to become an Editorial board member?
I think the most common way is to be refered by somebody who is already on the board (or has been before), or by somebody who already has a good reputation in the community and suggests your name.
So you should let people in your network know that you are interested and ask them if they can recommend you (starting with your advisor/PI if you are a PhD student/postdoc).
In some cases, publishers issue a call for editors. For example:
Applications are invited for the positions of Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Remote Sensing and Editor-in-Chief of Remote Sensing Letters.
Source: Taylor and Francis.
Taylor and Francis is an international publisher founded in the mid-19th century (see Wikipedia), one of the "Big Four" STEM publishers, it is certainly a mainstream publisher and the journals mentioned are certainly mainstream journals.
I became an associate editor for a journal after I effectively left academia. I reviewed 2 journals submissions per month as a hobby, and I make it a point to still read one paper per week in my field. At some point, the other editors notice that you are making their lives easier and then you are invited.
As an editor, I generally find this is what you need to know:
1) Enough of recent research in the journal's field to understand the value of the contributions.
2) Other recent contributions to the field outside of what is explicitly published in the journal.
3) Understand where the journal seems to be headed and what topics are relevant to the community who is reading the journal.
If you are really into your field, you should find that this organically happens even if you do not have an explicit academic affiliation. (It's probably didn't hurt that have had one at some point. In hard sciences, people tend to look more at quality of work because it's easier to quantify)
To become an editorial board member, contact the journal and ask. You can contact the editor-in-chief directly, or the publisher (who will probably discuss with the editor-in-chief in any case).
You'll likely be asked for your CV and area of expertise, and might also be asked about what you can do that the editorial board can't (e.g. if you have expertise in [topic] that nobody in the editorial board knows well).
It's potentially possible they ask you to publish/review a paper for them, or even organize a special issue, to show commitment to the journal.
Edit: It seems many people don't believe that non-shady journals can consider self-nominations. Real life example.
In this article, a group of Polish researchers create a fake academic profile "Anna O. Szust" with woefully inadequate qualifications, and send applications to a variety of journals. A substantial amount of journals listed on Beall's list accepted the fake editor, which is not surprising. However I will point out two things:
- Some DOAJ journals (technically a whitelist) also accepted her.
- Even among JCR journals, almost half the journals sent a formal rejection. Because the fake academic has woefully inadequate qualifications, it's not surprising that they will reject. This indicates, nonetheless, that if you have the necessary qualifications, they will consider self-nominations.
Of course, if you have the necessary qualifications, it's likely that the journal either knows you or knows about you, and might approach you without you having to approach them. However it's one thing to approach someone who might not be interested, and another to be approached by someone who's already interested.
This doesn't even consider those journals that are having trouble filling their issues, for whom if the new editorial board member can attract submissions ... why not. It's not ideal, but the alternative is to let the journal struggle.
tl; dr: You can contact the journal and ask. Your chances of success are slim especially if you contact a top journal; however, they are also not zero.