David Knight, Associate Professor in Engineering Education at Virginia Tech, has been a part of the Journal of Engineering Education (JEE) for several years, serving as an associate editor, senior associate editor, and deputy editor. In January, he’ll tackle a new challenge: co-editor-in-chief with Joyce Main, an Associate Professor in Engineering Education at Purdue University.

Knight, who received his Ph.D in higher education from Penn State University and completed an engineering education postdoctoral fellowship with the School of Civil Engineering at the University of Queensland in Australia, is dedicated to improving and advancing the field of engineering education.

“It’s important to help authors move their ideas forward,” Knight said. “That’s part of this new role that I’m really looking forward to. I love helping researchers build out their ideas, and as co-editors, Dr. Main and I share that mindset.” 

He and Main have a variety of ideas to begin their role as co-editors, including a big one in particular: analyzing the efficiency of article and paper publications. 

The journal process all starts with someone submitting a manuscript submission, followed by editor leaders deciding whether it merits being sent out for external review. If it does, it will go through layers of peer review, and ultimately the editor team will make a decision whether something will be published in the journal. 

“We’re thinking about the efficiency of our review process,” said Knight. “Are there ways we can more quickly move from an initial submission to the time it eventually appears in the journal, while maintaining quality?”

“Additionally, how can we be sure we’re being respectful of reviewers by acknowledging they’re offering their unpaid time to provide constructive feedback? We want to make sure we are being really intentional about our requests for bringing their expertise to a manuscript.”  

For Knight, peer review is a critical step in the process for vetting ideas and essential in the knowledge generation process. When considering his own research, he firmly believes peer reviewers have been helpful for enhancing and refining his ideas. Peer-reviewed articles “provide critical evidence and credibility” for ideas that researchers share.

Submitting a paper to a journal like the Journal of Engineering Education can be a daunting task, but Knight believes accepted papers and articles should make a contribution to the field.

“I try to push authors to think about the implications of their work for research, policy, and practice; we want each article to be relevant to the field of engineering education,” he said. “My advice for new authors would be to find somebody who has published with JEE previously and work closely with them, learn from them. I firmly believe that mentoring is an important activity in the research process.”

Knight also emphasized the value of working as a team. He said oftentimes it's undergraduates and graduate students who come up with the best ideas,“pushing the boundaries of what we know.”

He looks forward to formally connecting with his fellow co-editor-in-chief, Main, with whom he shares research interests. And he praised the outgoing editor-in-chief, Lisa Benson who has “done an incredible job leading the journal.” He’s grateful for the trust in Main and himself regarding this influential position in the field.

“We appreciate that our colleagues have entrusted the leadership of JEE with us and very much look forward to working with and learning alongside the incredibly talented editorial board, our partners at ASEE and Wiley, our colleagues who lead other engineering education journals, and authors, reviewers, and readers from around the world.”

Written by Megan Reese, Writing Intern for Engineering Education