Dec 312012
 

Dear Reader,

This issue’s editorial note marks a transition: The editorial responsibilities are hereby handed over to the next generation of editors. For this reason, the editorial note is divided into two parts: First a JUnQ “veteran” will explain what it meant to put JUnQ together in the past years — in other words, what the “Labor of JUnQ” entailed. Then a JUnQ “apprentice” will present his point of view.

Veteran:

When I think about the actual labor of putting together an issue of JUnQ, my thoughts jump around a bit, hit the ceiling, and like popcorn in the microwave they fall back down to where they came from: My desk at home, untidy as usual. As always when working for JUnQ it is evening after 8 o’clock and I am sitting here trying to write a decent — or let’s be honest: awesome — piece of text. In these moments my little bathing duck called Ente Einheitswurzel, which – for lack of a big bath tub – ended up here, stares at me reassuringly. “Come on”, it seems to say “do it for JUnQ”. Ever since we put together the very first issue of JUnQ its glance has been unvarying in these moments. What has changed since then are the challenges that Ente Einheitswurzel’s cheer refers to.
Trying to assemble the first issue, the most difficult and important task was to convince potential authors of writing an article or open question for us. I sometimes say tongue-in-cheek that we promised friends home-made cake to charm them into making a contribution. This is imprecise: In actuality, we made a lot of friends by asking new acquaintances whether they could write a piece. With some it immediately sparked and we found ourselves discussing the significance of negative results for the next three hours.
At a certain point these long discussions about negative results and honesty in science started to include the whole Federal Republic of Germany. During the plagiarism scandal involving Minister of Defense zu Guttenberg more newspapers and radio stations wanted to talk with JUnQ, this grass-root project that promotes honesty, elaborateness, and truthfulness in science, than we ever thought existed. Interview after interview was given and we argued, discussed, debated, elaborated the virtues and advantages of our newly born journal.
The talking paid off. It solved the problem of having to actively search for authors and we could concentrate on the more creative part of making JUnQ — writing. From the second issue on the most laborious task of a JUnQ issue has been the creation of a journalistic part. Finding a topic that appeals to lots of readers, composing interviews, articles, essays, and proofreading what other editorial board members wrote are to this day the most time-consuming but to me also the most rewarding aspects of the labor of JUnQ — if you overcome this nasty “angst of the blank page”.
By the second issue of the second volume the “angst of the blank page” had entirely turned into a “concern of the blank future”. As the founding generation of JUnQ was approaching their last few months of Ph.D. work a new generation of editors had to be found and trained. Professionalization of procedures and structures and the search for new editorial board members were the distinctive features of this period and we are very proud to have succeeded. We are happy to welcome David Huesmann, Stephan Köhler, Stefan Kuhn, Robert Lindner and Felix Spenkuch as new members of our main editorial board. Another addition to our team is junior- professor Thomas Kühne, our newly appointed senior editor, whose help is already most valuable to us.
I hereby gave the reader a real, genuine, open-hearted account of my labor for JUnQ. The problem with every real and genuine account is, though, that it lies in human nature to make a coherent story out of anything. Details that do not support the narrative are easily discarded and forgotten. The account stays true — no lies told — but there is most certainly never a one-to-one correspondence with reality. The present issue deals with exactly this area of conflict. In “Scientific Labor” scientists from different disciplines give their real and genuine account of how science is actually done and how science works behind the scenes. I would like to thank them for their willingness to face this unusual task and for the wonderful results.
For me it is now time to say goodbye to JUnQ. New challenges lie ahead and starting from January I will merely have “advisory” status in the JUnQ editorial board. But you can be sure that Ente Einheitswurzel and I will be cheering for JUnQ forever.

— Leonie Mück

Apprentice:

As a freshly minted editor for JUnQ it is my duty and pleasure to address you here. As I am a theoretical physicist by training I have only little experience in writing texts that are not highly technical. So I apologize for the sudden change in style you might be experiencing. But don’t be alarmed, just take your usual dose of JUnQ and you will get used to it in a few issues.
It was the possibility to experience what working for a scientific journal entails, that drew me to JUnQ. I attended my first editorial meeting blissfully unaware of the day to day business of running a journal. Sure, I knew about the peer review system and about null results and their importance, a large amount of which I picked up during events organized by the previous editorial board, but the correspondence with authors, coming up with a topic for the journalistic part and many other minutiae were nothing I had actively thought about before. So I spent the first couple of editorial board meetings trying to soak up the working culture of an editorial board, making mental notes of all the things that have to be dealt with in order to produce the finished product you are holding in your hands, or more likely, reading on your computer screen, right now.
In the following months I was systematically confronted with the duties of an editor: judging contributions and then finding referees to evaluate them in detail, formatting and proof reading the contributions and finding interesting questions for our weekly blog. During this last task the previously mentioned fear of the blank page struck. How was I supposed to come up with a good questions that readers might find interesting? I spend nearly two days looking around the internet but couldn’t find anything. Then, on my way home from work I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts. The hosts were discussing a topic I might just be able to work into a question. It was not from my field, so I had to spend quite a bit of time reading up on it to feel reasonably comfortable writing about it. Since then I came across more questions to write about and in my second run the whole process was already much faster.
One of the things I find most interesting in my work for JUnQ is the broad spectrum of disciplines that are covered. As you can read in the rest of this issue, topics ranging from the theory of soft matter to masturbation are covered. This is a fascinating opportunity to get an idea of what other researchers do. Or in the case of the current issue even how they do it, a perspective that one doesn’t get during the everyday lab work. Usually a researcher’s view is very narrow and a physicist is already considered interdisciplinary if he is working with physical chemists. It is more than easy to imagine how often I would come across research from e.g. the humanities if it weren’t for JUnQ.
I don’t have a guardian duck (yet) encouraging me from my desk, only a cheat sheet for my research project is glaring at me from below my monitor. But still, I am hoping the new editorial board can continue to produce a journal that you, the reader, finds interesting. My fellow editors and I at least are excited about the opportunity to continue the journey.

— Stephan Köhler

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