Editor in Brief

April 19, 2004

Mark Miester
Phone: (504) 865-5714

Most research professors aspire to publish their work in the top academic journals. Art Brief has the job of deciding what gets published in the top academic journal of his field.

briefBrief, Lawrence Martin Chair of Business and director of the Burkenroad Institute for the Study of Ethics and Leadership in Management, is in the second year of a three-year term as editor of the Academy of Management Review, one of the most prestigious peer-reviewed academic journals in business.

"We had 500 submissions last year, and we probably accepted 23 articles for publication," Brief says. "Among academics who study journals in the management area, we're always ranked in the top three. The Social Sciences Citation Index ranked us as the most-cited business publication--period."

Brief has been a contributor to the review since 1977 and has served on the editorial board for a number of years. In 2001, he was selected to serve a three-year term as editor beginning in January 2003.

While those unfamiliar with the job might think the title of editor is largely honorific, nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, editing the review is practically a full-time job for Brief.

"It's a really big enterprise," he says. "About 80 percent of my time is spent on the Academy of Management Review. My teaching load is down and my research is way down. But I love it."

Brief works with managing editor Susan Kliebert Pauli to log and process the more than 500 manuscripts the review receives each year. Brief rejects about a quarter of the manuscripts submitted. Papers that make it through the initial cut are assigned to three reviewers, who read and provide suggestions as to whether the paper should be accepted, conditionally accepted, revised or rejected.

"Out of the 23 manuscripts that were accepted, all of those went through at least one and up to three or four revisions before the final version," Brief says.

One of the most satisfying aspects of the job, Brief says, is that he gets to play a role not only in determining what articles get published but also in influencing the direction of academic research. As editor, Brief can devote issues of AMR to special topics he feels are worthy of attention.

"If the journal commissions a special issue, people will actually start doing research in that area," says Brief. "So I can nudge the field by creating a special issue because people will want to submit to appear in the journal."

During his tenure, Brief plans to devote issues to corporations as social-change agents, the influence of politics and political systems, corruption in organizations, and stigma and stigmatization. While the review is influential within the field of management, what's most impressive about it, perhaps, is that, like the New England Journal of Medicine or Science, it's an academic journal whose articles often cross over to the mainstream press.

"Clearly, when you're talking the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times, those reporters are savvy enough," Brief says. "Good reporters know the journal."

If there's a downside to the job, Brief confides, it's that for the first time in his 30-year academic career he can't escape work. "I have to assign manuscripts every single day no matter where I am," he says. "I can't go on the road without a computer. That part drives me crazy. I'm used to going to the beach and disconnecting. Last year was the first year I didn't get to disconnect."

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