The editorial assistantship at Slavic Review provides graduate students with the opportunity to engage with leading scholars in our field and, just as importantly, demystifies the world of academic publishing. Editorial assistants are involved in every stage of getting articles published— from preparing new submissions to be sent out for peer review to meticulously checking footnotes when an article is finally ready for publication. They also have the opportunity to help shape the journal’s content by proposing topics for clusters of articles or other critical discussion forums. In addition to the benefits of gaining practical experience and sharpening editorial skills, working closely with the authors and reviewers as well as the journal’s editors and the publisher allows graduate students, who are often trying to get their first articles published, to gain an insider’s understanding of the process.
Editorial assistants also act as book review editors in their respective fields. We order new books from publishers and then present an overview of their structure, content, and publication information at a weekly meeting with the entire staff to determine how each book should be presented in the journal. We then seek reviewers for the books in our field. The breadth of scholarship you get to know and engage with is remarkable. For example, as the editorial assistant in charge of literature and culture, my book review shelf currently has a French book on monsters in Russian folklore, a book on Soviet architecture, another about women in Russian animation, and several translations of Serbian, Ukrainian, Russian, and Polish poetry and novels in addition to a variety of books on canonical literature, music, and culture. I am also working with our new film review editor to finalize the first set of reviews she has brought together. Through the process of seeking reviews for all these new texts, I get to interact with new and established scholars, see emerging trends in research, and really get to know the field in a way I wouldn’t otherwise.
After working at the journal, I also have a better understanding of my options after graduation. With teaching and research jobs becoming less tenable and harder to find, the publishing industry offers a variety of alternatives to the traditional academic career path that still allow me to build on the knowledge and expertise I’ve worked so hard for as a graduate student. Whether you are interested in a career in academic publishing or just gaining a broader understanding of our field or working with some of our leading scholars, the editorial assistantship at Slavic Review is an incredible opportunity that is unique to UIUC students.
Meagan Smith is a graduate student in the Department of Comparative and World Literature and is an Editorial Assistant for the Slavic Review at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.