Like most Americans, I spent time last month celebrating our Thanksgiving holiday. For me, this involved taking a few days off of work, watching football all day, sharing a nice meal with family, and reflecting on all of the bounties and benefactors over the past year. While these come in many forms, the most important are the special people who have touched our lives. As I reflect on my position as editor for this journal, the same is true.
When I started my editorship, my greatest concern was whether I would be up to the task. I quickly realized the immense support system I had at my disposal that keeps everything rolling along and allows me to focus on major issues. We have an outstanding editorial board that recruits papers and manages the peer review process, an extensive network of reviewers who rigorously evaluate each submitted manuscript, and an experienced staff who oversee the entire process, ultimately turning the efforts of the authors and professional volunteers into an excellent scientific product. For this, I am extremely grateful.
While there are many people who are critical to the operation of this journal, four individuals are especially helpful to me and deserve my special thanks. You will be hard pressed to find their names on the journal website, and will only see them buried in the fine print inside the front cover of the print journal. They primarily work behind the scenes, but I can tell you that the journal would simply grind to a halt without them.
Karen Klokkevold is the primary peer-review coordinator assigned to Optical Engineering, and she takes care of the day-to-day operations of the journal. She handles every submitted paper, which includes performing the initial quality control check, overseeing the peer review process, communicating with authors and editors, and ultimately passing on the final manuscript for accepted papers. As you might imagine, there are a myriad of issues that can—and often do—regularly arise in the peer review process. Karen stays on top of all this, keeps me apprised as concerns arise, resolves the far majority of issues directly with the authors, associate editors, and reviewers, and only demands my attention to the most serious. I have no idea how she fits all of this within regular work hours. On a more personal side, Karen loves dogs and traveling to scenic beach areas in the northwest United States where she can go on long hikes. She often sends me pictures, which usually make me envious.
Gwen Weerts is the managing editor of the journal, and has been particularly helpful to me in coordinating special sections. These are a priority to me, as our analysis of citation and download rates indicates that our special section papers exhibit substantially higher interest and impact than regular submissions. Because of this, I have put an emphasis on recruiting guest editors for special sections. As any of these guest editors can tell you, I quickly hand them off to Gwen, and she takes care of the rest, including coordinating the call for papers, publication timeline, guest editorials, and a variety of issues that arise along the way. She also takes care of my editorials when I submit them. She makes it a point to give me positive feedback, but I can tell when she really likes them. All editorials are created equal; some are just more equal than others.
Karolyn Labes is the journals manager. This means that she maintains responsibility over all ten SPIE journals, but I cannot imagine how that can be given the attention she gives Optical Engineering and her responsiveness whenever I request her help with anything. She handles strategic journal issues, such as coordinating our editorial board meetings, refining the journal scope, tracking its vital statistics and overall health, and implementing our procedures to handle plagiarism and dual-publication issues. She has also taken the lead in responding to a number of my special requests, such as compiling reviewer information to help identify the top 10 reviewers for each year and performing a comprehensive assessment of journal performance. She is also responsible for talking me into recording the introductory video for this journal. I suspect that was not one of her better outcomes.
Eric Pepper is the director of publications, which means that he has responsibility for all SPIE publications: proceedings, journals, books, videos, and other media types. Eric is a principled professional, always well-reasoned and objective, forward leaning, and able to effectively lead his supporting staff and the large number of professional volunteers who are critical to SPIE publications. While he spends much of his time dealing with larger issues such as the SPIE Digital Library, open access, impact factors, proceedings-to-journal policies, and search engine presence, he is always willing and able to serve as my counsel when I need it. This includes being my confidant in making well-founded decisions on sensitive ethics violation cases that arise. Eric possesses a mastery of the English language and personally edits all of my editorials. Like the others, he makes me look good.
For those of you who have had the pleasure to interact with Karen, Gwen, Karolyn, and Eric in connection with Optical Engineering or other SPIE activities, you have personally experienced their professionalism, proficiency, and proactive personality. For those of you who have not had that pleasure, I thought that you should know a little about the individuals who really keep this journal rolling along. The next time you see, talk to, or email them, please pass on my thanks for their service to our journal and professional society.