My name is Kevin Floate. Back in 1985, I became a member of the Entomological Society of Canada (ESC) and found it to be a warm and supportive organization. I’ve since undertaken a number of roles, because I enjoy a challenge, but also because I believe that it is important to give back to the Society and the scientific discipline that has given so much to me during my career. I have served on the Society’s Governing Board and I have Chaired the Publication Committee and what is now the Marketing and Fund-raising Committee. I am a past-Editor of theESC Bulletin and have been a Subject Editor for The Canadian Entomologist (TCE) since 2002. In September of last year, I embarked on my most challenging role thus far, that of Editor-in-Chief (EiC) for TCE.
I didn’t make the decision lightly. The journal has been continuously published since 1868 under the capable hands of a long-chain of EiCs and I wanted to be sure that I could devote the time to do a credible job. So for six months prior to saying ‘yes’, I job-shadowed the activities of the previous EiC, Chris Buddle. It also helps that I ‘inherited’ a strong Editorial Board and a very competent Assistant Editor (Andrew Smith). With their support, my first six months at the helm have been relatively smooth sailing.
So what exactly does it mean to be the EiC? I’m coming to realize that it means several things. First, I’m the gate-keeper. TCE is an international journal that publishes on all aspects of entomology. We only ask that submissions meet the journal’s publication policy and that they be written well-enough to permit a thorough scientific review. I assess each new submission and reject those that don’t meet these criteria. Second, I represent the Editorial Board, who help shape the journal’s publication policy and ensure that manuscripts are reviewed by qualified individuals in a timely manner. I note that Board members (myself included) are all volunteers and receive no compensation for our efforts. Third, and equally important, I represent the authors, who have taken the time to develop and complete a project, write up the results and submit their findings. If we all do our jobs right, the outcome is a quality publication that enhances the entomological literature. And finally, I am the public face of the journal… the bull’s eye at which authors can aim their emails.
Being EiC also means keeping up with changes in technology. Consider that the very first article published in TCE is a report of a luminous larva authored by C.J.S. Bethune. He would be amazed to learn that his article remains readily available 147 years later to journal subscribers across the world. He would be even more astounded to learn of downloadable PDFs, the internet, computers, and open-access electronic journals (e-journals). This latter topic is of particular interest to me, both as an author and as the EiC. If you haven’t educated yourself on the potential pitfalls associated with some of these journals, I urge you to read Open access, predatory publishers, The Canadian Entomologist, and you (Bulletin of the ESC, vol. 45 (3): 131-137). I co-authored this article as a way to understand why I was being inundated with spam emails from journals I’d never heard of, promising to quickly publish my next paper for a nominal fee. As part of my on-going education as an EiC in this brave new world of publishing, I’ve also become a regular reader of Retraction Watch and Beall’s Blog.
With changes in technology, we also have improved our services for authors and subscribers. In 2012, TCE entered into a partnership with Cambridge University Press (CUP). CUP is the world’s oldest publishing house and, in keeping with the philosophy of the Society, is a not-for-profit organization. This new partnership has allowed us to drop the requirement for page charges, and papers now appear online as ‘First View’ articles prior to hardcopy publication. Last year, TCEadopted a hybrid open-access model to give authors the option of making their papers open-access upon payment of a one-time fee. These changes have increased the number of manuscript submissions, which has allowed us to expand our published content by ten percent as of this year. Quite frankly, I’d be swamped if it weren’t for the efforts of the Assistant Editor to ensure a high-quality standard of editing for all accepted manuscripts.
Another feature of the journal that is often overlooked is that we accept proposals for review articles, special issues and supplemental issues. Special issues are papers with a common theme that appear in a regular issue of the journal. Supplemental issues are issues that are in addition to the normal six per year. This year is particularly exciting, because we have one of each. A special issue on Emerald Ash Borer will appear in the June issue. A supplemental issue on the history of forest entomology in Canada is being published later in 2015. Be sure to keep an eye open for these issues, and send me an email if you want to discuss ideas for potential reviews, special issues or supplemental issues.
Other than EiC, what is it that I do as a researcher? My graduate research encompassed pests of wheat in northern Saskatchewan and gall-forming insects in riparian forests of Utah and Arizona. In 1993, I was hired by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to develop a biocontrol program for insect pests of livestock. Although I’m still with AAFC, my current research has expanded to include insect-symbiont interactions, insect-parasitoid interactions, the ecology of cow dung communities, the non-target effects of chemical residues, and use of molecular methods to barcode insects or characterize their bacterial associates. I worry a bit about being a “jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none”, but this breadth of experience has served me well in dealing with the large variety of submissions to the journal. Away from work and depending upon the season, you’ll find me hiking, curling, playing table tennis, reading, gardening and… of course… looking at bugs.
I’m getting more comfortable in my position as EiC, but I’m not complacent about the job. It takes time to do it well and I promise to take that time to ensure your submissions are dealt with in a timely and respectful manner. If I don’t, you know where to aim your emails.