We have provided a bird's eye view of how Cochrane operated as an enabling platform for systematic reviews, but today we pull back the curtains a little more and profile one of our managing editors, who are the backbone of the enabling platform. Below is an interview with Jordi Pardo Pardo, Managing Editor of the Cochrane Musculoskeletal Review Group.
First question, what is a managing editor?
That’s a big question. The managing editor is the nucleus of the Cochrane Review Groups. We are responsible for managing the editorial process for systematic review preparation and publication. This involves:
- providing specialised editorial support to review authors;
- managing the process of peer review;
- maintaining communication between the editorial team members and the public;
- submitting reviews and protocols to the publisher; and,
- representing the group to all relevant individuals and agencies.
In my case, I work for Cochrane Musculoskeletal, so I manage all the reviews related to arthritis and other chronic, non-transmittable inflammatory conditions.
What does a typical day look like for you?
The first thing I do is check my e-mail! We have another office in Australia, so when I arrive at my desk on Monday morning, I tend to have a whole day of work to catch up on with them. I receive requests from all over the world with different types of questions about our group - from inquiries on how to register new titles and advice on setting up a new team, to comments about current reviews, as well as all kinds of other requests for information from our various stakeholders.
After I have dealt with my e-mail, I jump into our editorial management software, known as Archie (named after Cochrane founder, Archie Cochrane). From there, I can track the editorial process of our reviews: we have 410 reviews, protocols and titles in process right now, enough to keep us busy!
What other kinds of duties do you have in your group?
Almost everything: you name it and I’m probably doing it. I manage our website, our Twitter account, and our group of patients. I need to keep our editors motivated at the same time because I require them to work really hard! Some days I am a counsellor, others a psychologist, or a career advisor; often a copy editor, a methodologist from time to time, a knowledge broker, a trainer... A bit of everything all rolled into one!
Are there any projects you are involved with that you’d like to share?
We are currently updating our network meta-analysis on the efficacy of biological agents: it’s a controversial topic with a lot of vested interests, so you know you are going to be criticized no matter what you do! The first round of comments was extremely challenging, but also really helpful to make the review more meaningful and useful for clinicians. After that, we have divided the update into three different reviews to ensure the clinical messages are clear and not mixed up: I’m looking forward to having the first review out.
What is the biggest challenge you face in your work as an ME?
Unpredictability: You need to plan your work, but there are some elements that you cannot control: like when an author is going to submit a manuscript back or a peer-referee will provide comments. Sometimes is seems to be an endless task, when you are trying to clear the editorial backlog and the next day you have a mountain of responses that need to be processed.
Another big challenge is the huge amount of diverse skills you need to have. I was trained as a journalist, and my degree has helped me with some of these tasks, but the work is so specialized that you really need to learn by doing: no formal degree can provide you all the skills and knowledge you need. Although Cochrane has programs to train and support managing editors, it takes years of learning on the job until a new managing editor can perform at the level of an experienced one.
What do you enjoy the most about your work?
I really love working with people and learning why they are passionate about their topic. We all have different motivations and I love to add some personal touches when contacting people to keep this motivation. Cochrane is full of interesting people and that provides an excellent opportunity to interact with world-class researchers and make a difference for healthcare systems around the world.