Pictured l-r: Marie Hodgkinson and Jill Mellanby at the Royal Society of New Zealand staff office. Photo credit: Royal Society of New Zealand

Pictured l-r: Marie Hodgkinson and Jill Mellanby at the Royal Society of New Zealand staff office.
Photo credit: Royal Society of New Zealand

That is because they publish scientific journals that require all the editorial disciplines found in the publishing industry. The Royal Society of New Zealand publishes seven journals aimed at specialist areas of the world-wide scientific community, including soil science and marine research. Each journal is published quarterly in both hard copy and online, and is available through subscriptions.

The seven quarterly titles are:
Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand – the science and technology of New Zealand and the Pacific region
New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research – temperate and subtropical pastoral science
New Zealand Journal of Botany – biology of plants, fungi and algae of the southern hemisphere
New Zealand Journal of Crop and Horticultural Science – temperate crop and horticultural science research
New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics – the geoscience of New Zealand, the Pacific Rim, and Antarctica
New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research – aquatic science
New Zealand Journal of Zoology – the zoological science of New Zealand, the Pacific Basin and Antarctica.

An eighth journal, titled Kōtuitui: New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences Online, which has two online issues per year, aims to showcase the increasing number of collaborative research endeavours across the social sciences. The Māori name ‘Kōtuitui’ means ‘interweaving’, and reflects the interdisciplinary nature of the journal.

“Every journal is different,” Jill comments. “The Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand is the smallest, with about 60 pages per issue, whereas the biggest journal, the New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, has about 150 pages per issue. Sometimes we have themed issues in one or more journals and these can be longer.”

There are several tools that make this big output possible for the two-person team of Jill and colleague Marie Hodgkinson, who assess the hundreds of manuscripts submitted to the journals every year and provide production-ready documents to their publishing partners, Taylor & Francis, who handle production and distribution. The editorial management system, Scholar One, makes the volume of work achievable for such a small team. The journals have a team of around seventy off-site editors who are practising scientists working within specific subject disciplines. They do a huge amount of work for the journals, organising peer-reviewers for every paper and liaising with authors over scientific content.

Publishing manager Jill Mellanby still retains a soft Scots accent after leaving the UK 13 years ago with her husband and family to settle here – a decision she has not regretted. Jill’s background is in life sciences, which she has also taught at secondary level, and prior to her current post she was a science librarian at ESR. She has been with the Royal Society of New Zealand for five years.

The publishing team divides its effort into different roles, as Jill explains. “Marie works with authors, editors and the production team to ensure that the progress of manuscripts from submission to publication runs smoothly. She has a legal and trade publishing background, holds a BA (Hons) in English and Classical Studies, and a Diploma in Publishing from Whitireia Polytechnic.

“Every manuscript that is submitted – hundreds per year – is assessed by Marie to see if they match the scope of each journal, and if they do, she sends them through to editors. She then works closely with editors and authors on technical content, making sure that diagrams are appropriate for printing as well as on-screen viewing. She supports authors, who often struggle with the technicalities of graphics software and other daily activities, including promotion of individual papers through the Science Media Centre.”

Jill says her own role is varied. “Part of it is making sure we have the right editors covering the individual subject areas; part of it is outreach to New Zealand scientists to promote the journals; part of it is keeping an eye on copy flow, checking proofs, compiling each issue and organising editorial board meetings.

“The journals, through our co-publishing partnership with Taylor & Francis, are circulated to thousands of libraries worldwide and are read internationally.

“The journals aim to take New Zealand science out to the rest of the world and I believe we succeed in that mission.”

Jill and Marie also liaise with Royal Society of New Zealand colleagues in the Science Media Centre who are able to take the research of some the many journal papers and write informative pieces for general press publication.

Summing it up, Jill says “I enjoy seeing the interesting work that New Zealand scientists are doing. I love the collegial atmosphere of the Royal Society of New Zealand; it’s a great place to come to every day because of the fantastic people who work here.”

And, as noted, the Royal Society of New Zealand is not publishing for just this country; their journals receive international circulation and scrutiny, so their scholarly work is accepted and appreciated in the world market for science publications.