Icarus Editorial Transition

To: Icarus Editors & Editorial Board members
From: Phil Nicholson
Subject: Editorial transition
Date: 9 August 2017

Dear Colleagues:

After almost 20 years at the helm of Icarus, and discussions with our Publishing Editor at Elsevier, Kate Hibbert, during a recent visit to the UK, I have decided that it is time to step down as Editor-in-Chief and clear the way for a new, and younger, person. Kate and I have discussed this with the DPS Chair, Lucy McFadden, so that the DPS can begin a search for a new Editor. 

Traditionally, the DPS Committee has selected the new editor after an open search, with the advice and consent of Elsevier, and it is my hope that we can follow a similar process in this instance. It is our intention that a new Editor will take over early in 2018, but there is no specific deadline. I will stay on as editor until the new person is chosen, and during whatever transition period may be deemed necessary.

Our goal is to make the transition process as smooth as possible, and to maintain the current organization of the Editorial Office. To that end, Eva Scalzo will continue in her position as Managing Editor, at least for the foreseeable future, and we hope to be able to maintain our physical office in the Space Sciences building at Cornell. With almost all editorial activities now conducted online, the co-location of Editor and office is no longer as essential as it was 20 years ago, when I took over from Joe Burns.

If I may be permitted a few words of reflection, I would like to make two observations. Firstly, the continued pre-eminence of Icarus as the international ‘publisher of record’ in planetary science is largely due to the dedication and knowledge of its team of editors and reviewers. In 1997 it was still possible for one person—or at least for Joe Burns—to command the entire field and handle all of the submitted papers. Nowadays, we have editors who are experts in planetary geology & geophysics, atmospheres, magnetospheres, spectroscopy, and dynamics, as well as specialists in Martian, cometary, and exoplanet studies. Not only does this distribute the workload, it ensures a much broader and more thoughtful selection of reviewers, and thus better quality papers. It is my earnest hope that most (or all) of the current editors will choose to continue their service under the new Editor-in-Chief.

Secondly, it is my belief that an important strength of Icarus has been the continuity of its editorial staff, something that has become increasingly rare in our business. Icarus has had only three editors since 1968, when Carl Sagan brought the office to Cornell (pre-dating the formation of the DPS itself by several years). And since 1987 we have had only two editorial assistants/managers, Cheryl Hall and Eva Scalzo. Several of our editors have served in that role for over 10 years, and one, Morby, for over 15 years.

I look forward to seeing you all at what will be my final Editorial Board meeting in Provo in October, and encourage those of you who are so inclined to throw your hat in the ring when the search is formally announced.