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Kimberly Martin

Editorial Director, Journals, Technical Papers, and SAE MobilityRxiv®, SAE International


Please tell us a bit about yourself (e.g. hometown, current locale, course of study).

I live in Chambersburg, PA, which is in south-central Pennsylvania, close to Gettysburg, and my place of business is SAE International, in Warrendale, PA, northwest of Pittsburgh, PA. I graduated from Millersville University of PA with a major in English and a minor in German. I have been in publishing for 35+ years in a variety of publishing roles, beginning as a proofreader and progressing to my current role as Editorial Director.

Describe some of your current responsibilities, and what type of organization you belong to.

I have been with SAE, a non-profit society, for 6 years as Editorial Director of journals and technical papers and, most recently, our preprint server (SAE MobilityRxiv®). I am responsible for the growth and development of these programs and have a small staff that I oversee. Oversight includes the full range of publishing, from soliciting manuscripts, hiring editors, overseeing peer review, reviewing permissions/IP, trafficking from editorial to production, obtaining indexing and abstracting services, to publishing online and more.

SAE is a leader in the mobility/transportation field and establishes/creates and publishes standards for ground vehicles, commercial vehicles, and aerospace, as well as publishing books, journals, technical papers, and preprints. SAE is an established leader in the autonomous vehicles field, having set the 5 levels of autonomous driving that is used worldwide. SAE also provides events, professional development courses, and K-12 programs to support STEM in education, 

What was your first scholarly publishing role? How did you get that job? What path led to your current position?

I started in publishing as a proofreader straight out of college, working for a small local publisher that specialized in materials science journals, where I then became a manager, learned marketing and production roles, and ended there in an editorial position for acquiring work. From there, I moved to the vendor side and worked for Progressive Publishing Alternative, where we handled overflow work for major textbook publishers. I then moved to Taylor & Francis (T&F) where I began working on acquiring and managing society journals in engineering, math, and physical sciences and was responsible for all journals and revenue in these subject areas. After T&F, I worked for Maney Publishing, a UK company that was expanding in the U.S. through acquisition of society journals and purchases of small publishing companies in the humanities and health science fields. Maney was later purchased by T&F, which is when I decided that my society publishing experience would be beneficial to a society that is publishing journals.

I started working with SAE in January 2016, initially to improve the relatively new journals program that had simply been repurposing event papers in journals. Within 3 years, we had stopped repurposing event content and were publishing only original research and launched new journals pertinent to the transportation/mobility field, which is SAE’s specialty. In 2019, SAE’s technical papers program became part of my responsibility, and we launched the MobilityRxiv (SAE’s preprint server) in 2020.

If there was a pivotal moment or key person in your career development, please describe briefly.

I’ve had particularly good supervisors along the way that have helped me to learn and grow. I was usually able to adapt to their management styles to provide work and proposals that were easily approved. Tony Deraco, at Technomic Publishing, taught me the mechanics of publishing journals and gave me an introduction to acquisitions. Corey Gray, at T&F, taught me about P&Ls, finances, and society journal acquisitions. Mark Simon, at Maney Publishing, helped me to learn to look at things in many different ways. Every proposal or development that I brought to Mark was changed, which was initially frustrating to me—until I realized that he was simply looking at things from many different directions/aspects so that everything was covered in a proposal at the outset. He helped me to evaluate proposals and changes in many ways, rather than simply “towing the company line.” Michael Gallico, managing director at Maney Publishing, was also a valuable mentor, helping me to understand larger acquisitions in a different light.

What tools, websites, and organizations do you find most valuable for your career development?

The Chicago Manual of Style has been the most-used style guide that I have used, although I’ve also had to be familiar with AMA and APA styles. I have found SSP and Council of Science Editors to be the most valuable organizations throughout my career. It is always important to network and see how other people are working to help develop your own career.

What are some of the surprises/obstacles that you’ve encountered during your career?

It has been disconcerting to me to see that men still hold the majority of top positions in publishing companies, although women dominate the second level of management positions. It seems that you often have to change jobs/companies to advance your publishing career, rather than getting promoted from within.

What do you wish you knew more about?

I’m not sure that there is anything from my perspective, simply because of the number of years I’ve spent in publishing, but my wish for early career publishing professionals is that they have an opportunity to learn about all aspects of scholarly publishing—not just the area in which they are working. I think you can make more informed decisions if you understand the entire process.

What advice would you give to people interested in a career in scholarly communications?

Especially in today’s technological world, I would recommend learning as much as you can about all aspects of publishing—from submissions and peer review to production, online publication, HTML, marketing, and sales. Participate in mentorship programs so that you can learn from people who have been established in the business. Be clear on your goals and aspirations and set steps to accomplish them. Always be open to new opportunities and changes for expanding your expertise or learning new aspects of publishing.

Most importantly, if you have an opportunity to learn more about your supervisor’s role and responsibilities, do it! At some point, that person will be moving on, and that could create an opportunity for you to advance. On the flip side, if you are a supervisor, allow your employees to learn more about your own role so that, if you have the opportunity for advancement, you won’t be held back because no one else can fill your current position.

Connect with Kimberly on LinkedIn!

Career Stage: Established (15+ years) | Industry Area: Editorial, Publishing