The Role of the Journal’s International Advisory Board

By Rosalind James and Greig Krull

Dr Ros James is the current chairperson of the International Advisory Board (IAB) for the ETHE Journal and is also a former co-editor of the journal and Dr Greig Krull is the current Executive Chair of the IAB and supports the Chairperson. A challenge facing us in 2017 was how to obtain advice on the strategic direction of the journal. As with similar journals, ETHE already had a long-established Editorial Board. However, as a growing journal processing a very large number of submissions, the Editorial Board, of necessity, had to be large enough to provide a substantial bank of reviewers. This meant it was sometimes unwieldy as a mechanism for editors to obtain advice on major decisions and key policy areas. We were also mindful of the workload imposition on our Editorial Board members.

We primarily planned to form an IAB to more firmly establish ETHE’s credentials as an international journal, to consolidate and extend ETHE’s global presence, to broaden the exposure of the journal and to have access to regionally relevant advice so as to ensure that our journal truly had an international flavour and spoke to the interests of our readers worldwide. As well as providing local contextual knowledge, we wanted broader input to our decision-making, especially regarding strategic matters, regional promotion of the journal and the development of special issues or thematic collections. For example, noting few submissions from South American countries, a thematic collection was proposed by IAB members and the journal editors for Technology-mediated educational innovations in Latin American higher education institutions which was published in 2022.

The formation of an IAB enabled ETHE to create an independent forum to offer advice that develops and strengthens the journal to grow and achieve its longer term goals. The primary purpose is to act as a sounding board for ETHE’s editors around strategic directions, challenges faced and opportunities arising. It also afforded us the opportunity for more equitable diversity in geographic and gender representation or to appoint more specialist expertise as and when required. IAB members are active academics from different countries in the field of educational technology in higher education and bring in their own expertise and experience. The IAB meets twice a year to discuss the strategic direction of the journal. IAB members were also extensively involved in the formation this blog (initiated by the editorial team) to further promote the aims and scope of the journal.

We see the Editorial Board and the IAB fulfilling different roles. The Editorial Board is more directly involved in the “day-to-day” functioning of the journal, that is, in procurement and peer review of content and input to editorial policy regarding integrity and quality matters. The IAB is primarily concerned with providing advice about more strategic issues and reviewing proposals for thematic collections. Of course, there is some overlap in the functions of the IAB and the Editorial Board, especially in promoting awareness of the journal, sourcing new submissions and readers, nominating potential peer reviewers, and identifying suitable topics of interest. We welcome comments and debates about the roles of advisory boards versus editorial boards in supporting editorial teams and strengthening the aims and scope of journals.