Onboarding New Editors and Reviewers#

The pyOpenSci open peer review process is supported by volunteer editors. Here we discuss processes for onboarding new editors.

The success of our peer review process is dependent upon a well-balanced editorial board. Our board needs to have combined expertise in:

  • A suite of specific science domains that fall within the scope of our peer review process

  • Technical expertise in Python packaging.

  • Awareness of the importance of documentation and package usability.

  • Awareness of the importance of CI / test suites to ensure robust software development.

Recruiting new editors#

Recruiting new editors and maintaining a sufficient and well-balanced editorial board is the responsibility of the software review lead (position to be defined) with support and advice from the editorial board.


pyOpenSci is a newly restructured organization. While we’ve been performing peer review for almost 4 years, we are now beginning to formalize our process thanks to funding support from the Sloan foundation. In these early months, this software review lead role will be completed largely by the Executive Director with support from the Editor in Chief. In the future we hope to find someone with interest in leading peer review for pyOpenSci

Where to find new editors#

As we build our pyOpenSci community our pool of potential editors will grow. A few options to consider include:

  • Contributors who have reviewed for pyOpenSci

  • Contributors who have submitted a package to pyOpenSci

  • Contributors who have served as a guest editor

  • Colleagues that you know who have reviewed for JOSS or rOpenSci who have Python expertise

Experience required to be an editor#

We prefer that editors have some experience with reviewing software. This experience could come from a previous review they worked on with pyOpenSci, rOpenSci or JOSS.

If they do not have experience as may be the case in the early months or establishing a robust editorial board, we offer a “mentorship” process. Editor mentorship is where someone with existing editorial experience, mentors the new editor through their first review(s).

A new editor will be considered “guest” for the first 3 months of their tenure and/or until they have completed their first review. Once they have a completed a review they can be considered to be a full editor as deemed appropriate by the software review lead and the current editorial board.

Adhoc guest editors#

In some cases you may require a guest editor for a single package (a one-off type of situation). Examples of when this might happen include:

  • if there a conflict of interest between a package submitter and the editorial team (e.g. a close colleague of everyone on the team)

  • if the editorial board is at capacity handling the current review load

In this case, you may consider using our internal reviewer signup list to see if someone who signed up to be a reviewer might want to serve as an editor.

Process for inviting a new editor#

  • Editorial board candidates most often start as guest editors.

  • After 3 months or their first review (which ever comes first) assess how the review process went. Allow other editors to provide input as well.

  • Once it is determined that the guest editor is committed to support the pyOpenSci review process, you can email them to fully participate on the editorial board using the template below.


We would like to invite you to join the pyOpenSci editorial board as a full
member. [*SPECIFIC REASONS FOR INVITATION (mention contributions TO pyOpenSci)*].
We think you will make a wonderful addition to our pyOpenSci open review team!

[IF GUEST EDITOR: You are familiar with the editor's role as you've been a guest editor].  We aim for editors to handle reviews for four packages per year
([IF GUEST EDITOR including the one that you just finished!]).
We ask that editors make an informal commitment to serve for two years and
re-evaluate their participation after that.
On a short-term basis, any editor can decline to handle a package or say,
"I'm pretty busy, I can't handle a new package for a few weeks."

In addition to handling packages, editors weigh in on group editorial decisions,
such as whether a package is in-scope, and determining updates to our policies.
We generally do this through Slack, which we expect editors to be able to check
regularly. We have editorial board calls annually.

Every 3-6 months the Editor-in-Chief responsibilities rotate to a new editor.
You'll have the opportunity to enter this rotation once you have been on the
editorial board for at least 6 months.

OPTIONAL: Some editors also take on bigger projects to support pyOpenSci and
improve the peer-review process. This is entirely optional but please let us
know if you are interested in additional activities that support the organization.

We hope that you'll join our growing editorial board!

Please give this some thought, ask us any questions you have, and let us know
whether you can join us.

[your-name-here], on behalf of the pyOpenSci Editorial Board

Onboarding a new editor#

To onboard a new editor:

  • Ask them to add themselves to the pyOpenSci website using a pull request. If they are already listed on our website, then they only need to add the title: yaml element and update contributor_type: as see below:

- name: FirstName LastName
  sort: 2
  title: "Editor" # Make sure this says Editor
  bio: ''
  organization: ""
  github_username: ghusernamehere
  github_image_id: 11934090 # You can find this value by opening your github profile image
  # in a new browser tab and grabbing the id https://avatars.githubusercontent.com/u/7649194?v=4 <-
  # in this example 7649194 is the image_id
    - current editor # Make sure current editor is added here
    - contributor
  packages-submitted: [""]
  packages-reviewed: ["pystiche"]
  packages-editor: [""]
  • Next work with the new editor to create a blog post introducing them which will get posted on the pyOpenSci blog.

  • If they haven’t already done, ask the new editor to turn on two-factor authentication (2FA) for GitHub.

  • Give editors permissions they will need on GitHub to manage reviews:

    • For ad-hoc guest editors: invite the editor to the software-submission repository with “maintain” permissions.

    • For new editors (not ad-hoc): invite editors to the pyOpenSci GitHub organzation as a member of the editorial-board team. This will give them appropriate permissions and allow them to get team-specific notifications.

  • Add the new editor to the pyOpenSci Slack workspace and specifically the private editors channel.

  • Post a welcome message for the new editor in the editor channel, pinging all editors.

Offboarding an editor#

When it’s time for an editor to step down:

  • Thank them for their work!

  • Remove them from the editors-only channel and the editors Slack team.

  • Moved them to alumni-editor on the pyOpenSci website as follows:

- name: FirstName LastName
  sort: 2
  title: "Emeritus Editor" # Modify this to say Emeritus Editor
  bio: ''
  organization: ""
  github_username: ghusernamehere
  github_image_id: 11934090 # You can find this value by opening your github profile image
  # in a new browser tab and grabbing the id https://avatars.githubusercontent.com/u/7649194?v=4 <-
  # in this example 7649194 is the image_id
    - current editor # Make sure emeritus editor is here
    - contributor
  packages-submitted: [""]
  packages-reviewed: ["pystiche"]
  packages-editor: [""]