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Tao Tao

Managing Editor, JACC: Asia


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

I was born and raised in Chengdu, China, a city famous for being a culinary hotspot and the hometown of all giant pandas. I majored in English at West China University of Medical Sciences, which later became part of Sichuan University. After graduation, I went to work in Beijing for over two decades, then moved to Maryland and have been living and working there ever since.

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

As the launching Managing Editor for JACC: Asia, a journal published by the American College of Cardiology, I am in charge of the daily operation of the journal, working as the central hub with the editors, authors, peer reviewers, internal teams, contractors, and the publisher. I also coordinate the journal’s peripheral products, such as educational videos and podcasts.

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

My career path is a curious loop, in that my first and current job is very similar and very different at the same time.

I was recruited as an editorial assistant for the Chinese Medical Journal, straight from college. My responsibilities then were similar to those of mine now but handled with little modern technology apart from the telephone. I started the job without a computer. All letters were handwritten on various preprinted letter papers. All documents of a manuscript were kept in a folder and sorted by manuscript numbers in drawers labeled by stages of the manuscripts. I remember biking to the Editor-in-Chief’s office with a big bag containing all the manuscripts for an issue. A few years later, I got an irresistible opportunity to start the China office for the Charlesworth Group from scratch. There were many challenges in the process, but I gained invaluable experience in this position in almost all sectors of academic publishing services, from production to sales and marketing of content. In 2014 I was re-located to the Charlesworth Group’s US office to manage customer relations. In this job, I got to know many society publishers and their products. A few years later, I moved on to become an independent consultant, during which period I was able to dive deep into some areas that I was always interested in and started to write posts for The Scholarly Kitchen. In 2021 I joined the American College of Cardiology as the Managing Editor for JACC: Asia, the only regional cardiology journal in the JACC portfolio. While my responsibilities are very similar to my first job, the daily operation is carried out in totally different ways. If I were not in the same industry between the jobs, it would have been like time traveling.

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

I have always been in the academic publishing world, but there was a pivotal moment that changed my path dramatically. In my first job, one day, the then Chairman of the Charlesworth Group, Mr Neil Charlesworth, walked into my office accompanied by my manager, and later, he joined us for lunch. We started to know each other, and I learned about his initiative to open a business in China. He chose me to be his first employee to start his first overseas office, and I still feel deeply honored and grateful. The years at Charlesworth enabled me to learn all other aspects of academics, especially journal publishing, outside the editorial office.

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

The Scholarly Kitchen is a nice place to keep me up to date, as the editors write timely about all topics and news in the area. When working as a consultant, I found Delta Think’s OA Data and Analytic tools very useful for learning about open access. I also find Digital Science’s Dimensions a good source of academic publishing data.

What do you wish you knew more about?

I wish I knew more about computer and data science.

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

Reading blogs such as The Scholarly Kitchen is a good way to keep up to date with industry developments. Scholarly communications cover so many disciplines that anyone interested in this could find something to dig into and further one’s career.