COVID-19 has impacted everyone in many different ways, not least how we work collaboratively across borders and time zones. Polina Zelmanova is in her final year of her BA in Film Studies at Warwick and is also the Reinvention Editor for volume 13. She discusses some of the challenges the Reinvention team faced whilst preparing the latest issue and how they overcame them to produce another outstanding issue.
This April we published the first issue of our 13th volume of Reinvention an International Journal of Undergraduate Research. The experience of publishing during COVID-19 has been a particularly challenging one. The pandemic has caused a massive strain on everyone’s working lives around the world. Many have lost their jobs due to the inability to work remotely while others have had to adapt to the new routine of working from home. Like in many other work places and enterprises, the pandemic has made us at Reinvention reflect on our current practices moving forward. However, working remotely has always been the norm at the journal, which is why we found ourselves in an extremely fortunate position when the lockdown happened as the way we work and the means through which we communicate hadn’t been affected.
Having half of our team based in the UK and the other half in Australia makes remote working the best and only solution. Our bi-monthly meetings, individual calls and web-chat catch-ups allow us to stay in touch across time-zones and easily communicate and seek assistance and advice on the papers we are managing. The editorial roles largely involve a lot of research and emailing, especially when it comes to communication with our international authors and peer reviewers, emphasising the need for flexibility in our working hours which is supported through working from home. This existing system allowed us to navigate these difficult times with relative ease and helped us adapt other aspects of our lives swiftly, knowing that the work would remain the same and we’d still be able to publish in April.
The fact that we were able to stay on track and not experience initial delays also meant that we could react fasters when obstacles did arise. Despite working on the issue months in advance, the month leading up to publication is usually the most crucial period as it is the time when the papers undergo copy-editing and therefore require further corrections. Some of our papers also need a final push over the finish line, requiring a lot of communication between editors and authors. During March of this year, however, we had to make staffing adjustments based on some editors being unavailable as various impacts of the pandemic began to hit. As well as facilitating remote working, Reinvention is also an extremely collaborative environment. While there is usually one editor managing each paper, there are many instances of working together and sharing reviewer contacts, as well as regular team updates during meetings and the upkeep of our shared tracking spreadsheet which allows to keep up to date with the latest life-event of a paper. Not only does this regularly prove useful for the leading editor to monitor the publication’s progress, it also turned out to be a key resource for short-notice handovers, which is what happened here. These practices allowed us to swiftly transition to working with a reduced team and allowed other editors to pick up papers with ease, emphasising the key role of these communication structures.
Our full team is now back and we have an incredible new issue behind us, and one on the way in October. As we work through this challenging period, we are keen to strengthen our existing practices, particularly in light of the currently changing working environments world-wide, both adapting ourselves and sharing our practices with other student-led initiatives.