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Victoria Rae

Commissioning Editor, ICE Publishing

Victoria RaeFirst, tell us a bit about yourself (hometown, current locale, family, hobbies, community involvement?)

I was born and raised in Lincoln, England, but relocated to the US in 2011, spending one year in Washington DC and then moving to Austin, TX in August 2012. After graduating from university in the UK, I spent 18 months in Tokyo as an English teacher.

In my free time, I enjoy studying Japanese, cooking (and eating), reading, and doing Pilates. I’ve always been the athletic/active type and as a child I dreamt I’d become a professional dancer. I still love to dance but now I also race in sprint triathlons, something my husband roped me into!

Describe some of your responsibilities, and how you or your organization fit into the scholarly communications web.

I started at ICE Publishing in 2010 as a commissioning editor, specializing in physical and applied science journals. ICE Publishing is the commercial division of the Institution of the Civil Engineers (ICE). The ICE is based in London, England and was established in 1818. It has over 80,000 members.

ICE Publishing produces a wide range of publications sharing expert advice, leading research and best practice in civil engineering, construction, materials science and environmental science. ICE Publishing is integral to supporting ICE’s commitment to knowledge transfer and best practice within civil engineering and construction.

Proceedings of the ICE – Civil Engineering, the flagship publication of ICE Publishing, has been continuously publishing issues since 1836. More recently, ICE Publishing has expanded into wider engineering and science subjects, with the launch of the Science series – a collection of journals in interdisciplinary physical sciences – where I commissioned the first three titles in 2011 and continue to develop new journals each year.

Now ICE Publishing is bringing together communities that traditionally work in silos to inspire fresh thinking in how breakthrough research can be practically applied. Our Virtual Library platform serves the ICE membership and our ICE Publishing customers. It’s the most comprehensive online civil engineering resource in the world where users can explore archives back to 1836, browse international journals and access over 1,500 print and ebooks.

What career path led to your current position?

Whilst searching for university degrees at high school, I discovered a course offered by Loughborough University in Publishing with English. I had always been interested in books and reading but never even considered a career in publishing, let alone serving the scholarly community. The course appealed to me as it allowed me to study English literature and language whilst being part of the Department of Information Science. I was able to acquire new skills in research, data organization, knowledge management, and learn about all aspects of the publishing industry – magazines/newspapers, children’s books, academic journals, desktop and internet publishing.

In my third year as an undergraduate, I undertook a work placement as a Journals Editorial Assistant at SAGE Publications, in London. This was my first taste of scholarly publishing. I gained valuable experience working for an international organization, in addition to a wider understanding of developments taking place in the academic publishing community. In my final year of study at Loughborough, my research dissertation focused on Open Access publishing and the viability of open access models for commercial scholarly journal publishers. This work was later published in the UKSG’s journal ‘Serials’.

After graduation, and a brief break in Japan, I continued working in journals publishing, as a managing editor at Palgrave Macmillan responsible for all aspects of journal development and management, budgeting, commissioning and editorial control for business and finance journals. I then joined ICE Publishing as their new commissioning editor for science.

Where do you see scholarly communications heading, and what new directions interest you most?

Technology will continue to play a significant role in all aspects of academic research and publication and I think processes will integrate and evolve to allow the scholarly community the ability to participate in this process – accessing data results during the research phases, commenting and interacting with authors during the article writing and review stage (via online forums), and then sharing future ideas and potentially collaborating post-publication, to further scholarly research and communication.

Traditional publishing models and products (books, journals etc.) will need to be broken down and I am interested in the developments of electronic content and keen to see whether researchers will be able to access not only a particular journal article or book chapter, but a specific graph, data-set or image. Search functionality will need to become more intuitive and data storage and archiving online content will be important, especially if print ceases to exist.

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

The technological developments in scholarly communications continue to impress me. However, these advances also have their limitations and some of the basic ideas take more time, and cost more money, than originally expected. Technological problems will always occur as long as the industry is driving innovation and demanding more from electronic content and the platforms that host scholarly information.

Although scholarly publishing is a universal business which cuts across cultures and time zones, this international business does present obstacles in day-to-day job roles. Communication with colleagues and customers is now global and everyone has to adapt, with some moving at a slower pace and more reluctant to change than others.

What advice would you give to people interested in a career in scholarly communications? What new roles or opportunities do you see emerging in the field?

You don’t need to have a PhD in a particular subject to work in that area of scholarly communications – unless you want to become a Professor at a university! Whilst it will undoubtedly be beneficial to have a chemistry degree if you’re editing chemistry journals, if you are open minded, willing to learn and pay attention to the publishing processes, whilst relying on the academics and subject experts in your area, you can be part of the scholarly process.

I am not a civil engineer or a materials scientist, but I do focus my efforts and knowledge acquisition on the publishing processes involved and industry developments. My understanding of the scholarly communication processes has allowed me to work on a variety of content, including psychopharmacology, pensions and banking, green chemistry and surface engineering.

If you don’t know a specific role you’d like to focus on when starting your career in scholarly communications, try to get as much work experience and/or exposure to the variety of roles as possible – even if it’s just talking on the phone with a production editor, publishing manger, subject librarian, Professor, sales agent etc.

Having an understanding of information technology and communications, and how scholarly research is conducted and communicated will be helpful, in addition to understanding that all researchers are both authors and readers – i.e. customers in scholarly publishing.

ICE Science: http://www.icevirtuallibrary.com/science

LinkedIn profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/victoriarae

Victoria will be presenting a webinar session on October 1, 2013, at 12:00 p.m. ET, that will focus on her pathway in scholarly publishing: from her educational background and early career experiences, to her current role working for a UK engineering institution – from her home in Texas! Victoria will talk about her day-to-day activities as a journals commissioning editor at ICE Publishing, as well as some challenges and opportunities she’s encountered during the development and launch of new scientific products in interdisciplinary subject areas. She will touch upon what it’s like to work remotely for an English company in the US; the goals of global expansion, working with international editors and authors, whilst still meeting the needs of institutional members. Her presentation will also highlight the evolving nature of journals publishing at the Institution of Civil Engineers and the need to stay up-to-date with the latest technology and business models. Please click here if you are interested in registering.