The January issue of Nature Climate Change has papers on changing bird migrations, projections of lemur habitats in the Malagasy rainforest, climate change detection in daily weather, and the risk of breadbasket failures. It’s a publication that brings together a number of disparate disciplines from every corner of the world in a common cause – tackling climate change. One of the people responsible for this publication is Jenn Richler, PhD Cognitive Psychology, Vanderbilt 2010.
Jenn works at Nature Research, where she is a Senior Editor at Nature Climate Change and also another research journal, Nature Energy. She evaluates, selects, and oversees peer review of scientific manuscripts from across the behavioral and social sciences, including psychology, sociology, behavioral economics, political science, human geography, and communications. In addition, she commissions, edits, and writes non-primary research content like Reviews, Comments, Research Highlights and Editorials. It’s a job perfectly suited to a psychologist, and Jenn says,
“A key part of my job is evaluating scientific manuscripts from across social science disciplines. Although I handle manuscripts outside of psychology, training in scientific thinking and research design applies broadly across the fields I cover. We also get very ‘hands on’ with papers that are ultimately published, and so the experience I have writing manuscripts and presenting data is very valuable. Finally, being in academic publishing means that I rely a lot on what I learned about publishing and peer-review when I published my own papers in graduate school and during my post-doc. Those experiences were critical to shaping my ideas about what makes peer-review work well, what the problems are, and how we might develop innovative solutions.”
One of the highlights for Jenn is the intellectual side of the job –justifying editorial decisions requires balancing a lot of different factors, as few decisions are easy. It’s intellectually stimulating to craft arguments about each manuscript, and then discuss them with colleagues. This is the part of Jenn’s work that takes place behind the scenes, but is of crucial importance to the final product. Jenn says that, and highlighting the work of others, give her the deepest satisfaction.
"I always liked research, but I was never deeply passionate about any one research topic - I never wanted to have to convince anyone that my research was interesting. I get much more satisfaction from getting a bird’s eye view of a lot of different fields, inviting experts to write about important topics, championing the work of others, and helping authors make their work as strong and impactful as it can be. I feel that I am truly providing a service to my authors, and take a lot of pride in that.”