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Multiple hats

Engineering professor reflects on role as editor of top research journal


By Jackey Locke

Dr. Octavia Dobre knows that with international leadership comes great responsibility.

Since 2016 Dr. Dobre, a member of Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, has been editor-in-chief of IEEE Communications Letters. One of the world’s most prestigious journals, the peer-reviewed scientific publication covers communications technology. It has been published monthly by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Communications Society (ComSoc) since 1997.

Communications and technology

IEEE Communications Letters is one of the leading journals of the IEEE and of the IEEE Comsoc, in particular.

IEEE ComSoc has more than 27,000 members, consisting of engineers, educators, students and leaders around the world, whose goal is to advance communications and networking technology.

“Serving as editor-in-chief has been a fantastic experience,” said Dr. Dobre. “Learning significantly about publications; working with experts in the field, such as editors, authors, reviewers, readers and staff; and, finally, learning how to be a successful leader.

“I was able to bring part of this experience to my research group when training students, post-doctoral fellows and engineers, as well as in the classroom,” she continued. “I would be certainly happy to share this experience in our institution on a larger scale.”

3,000 submissions

As editor-in-chief, Dr. Dobre leads a team of more than 100 junior and senior editors handling approximately 3,000 annual submissions of research manuscripts.

She has worked directly with the journal’s editors regarding paper assignments and editorial decisions, as well as with senior editors on special cases of out-of-scope papers, appeals, pre-publishing and plagiarism. She has also appointed new editors, depending on the need for experts in different technical areas.

Dr. Dobre has provided reports to the IEEE ComSoc Publication Council and has led the journal’s editorial board meetings, handling everything from journal metrics to successes and identifying areas for improvement.

Given the magnitude of her editorial responsibilities, Dr. Dobre says the role quickly became a significant part of her workload.

“Numerous hours are spent dealing with day-to-day assignments, questions from editors, authors and readers,” she said.

“There have also been significant changes related to the journal, such as increasing the maximum number of pages for the submitted manuscripts and working with the staff of the IEEE Publications and Manuscript Central to implement such changes.”

“The turnaround time for first-time submissions is 35 days . . This is quite remarkable, and can be achieved only through the significant effort of the entire editorial team.” — Dr. Octavia Dobre

Despite the demands, Dr. Dobre has had numerous achievements as editor-in-chief, one of which was to institute awards for exemplary editors to recognize exceptional contributions.

As well, the journal’s impact factor has more than doubled, indicating the high quality of the papers published.

“Additionally, being a letter journal, we aim for a short turnaround time,” said Dr. Dobre. “Currently, the turnaround time for first-time submissions is 35 days and 15 days for re-submissions. This is quite remarkable, and can be achieved only through the significant effort of the entire editorial team.”

Memorial ambassador

For Dr. Dobre, the position complemented her role as professor and research chair in subsea communications. She says as professors, faculty typically play different roles in their respective professional societies.

“As editor-in-chief of a prestigious journal, one is also an ambassador of his/her institution. For me, I am an ambassador of Memorial University, and with this editor-in-chief role I am able to raise Memorial’s profile in my professional society – something I hope to be able to continue to do.”

Dr. Dobre is one of the world’s leading authorities in wireless, optical and underwater communications. She was the recent recipient of a five-year $76,000/year discovery grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council for her research project, Non-orthogonal Radio Access with Security Provisioning for Future Wireless Networks.

This grant was the highest in the faculty’s history and among the highest in electrical engineering in Canada.

“Dr. Dobre’s impressive accomplishments as editor-in-chief have raised the calibre of the journal and made it an even more respected venue for top-rate research publications,” said Dr. Greg Naterter, dean, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. “She is an exceptional ambassador of Memorial engineering and her work raises the profile and visibility of our faculty, nationally and internationally.”

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