Editor Spotlight: Leo Zeilig on Editorial Sensitivity, Solidarity, and Making Science More Open

Editor Spotlight: Leo Zeilig on Editorial Sensitivity, Solidarity, and Making Science More Open

image of Leo Zeilig

Dr. Leo Zeilig is a distinguished writer, researcher, and editor with an extensive background in African politics and history. He has authored numerous biographies of prominent African political thinkers and revolutionaries, in addition to his acclaimed novels, including Eddie the Kid, An Ounce of Practice, and most recently, The World Turned Upside Down. Along with his role as a Research Associate at the Society, Work and Development Institute (SWOP) at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, Zeilig serves as editor of the Review of African Political Economy (ROAPE), a radical African-studies journal founded by activists and scholars in 1974 – and available on ScienceOpen.

Background and Career

Dr. Leo Zeilig’s journey began with political activism in the 1990s, transitioning into academia where he earned his PhD and conducted research across Africa, particularly in Southern and West Africa. He reflects on his deep-rooted commitment to editorial work, which has evolved over 15 years into a full-time role as editor of ROAPE’s online platform:

Editing was always part of my work… a decent and active academic and scholar is also an editor.

Editorial Approach

Zeilig’s editorial philosophy centers on sensitivity and solidarity. This involves nurturing core arguments and themes within submissions, with the goal of maintaining the integrity of authors’ propositions. “Sensitivity and solidarity with our authors are critical,” according to Zeilig, ensuring a partnership that respects and enhances the author’s voice. This approach is especially important when working with submissions from diverse backgrounds.

Open Access Advocacy

A passionate advocate for Open Access, Dr. Leo Zeilig criticizes the traditional corporate model of academic publishing, where publications are hid behind a paywall:

We were under corporate lock and key for too long.

Transitioning to ScienceOpen has been transformative for ROAPE, realigning the journal with its mission of broad accessibility: “It seems almost ridiculous to have to restate that… surely that [broad accessibility] is the project of scientific research.” The move to Open Access has reconnected the journal with its founding principles, making content freely available to a wider audience and promoting a more inclusive academic community.

Critical Engagement for Early Career Researchers

Dr. Leo Zeilig emphasizes the importance of engaging with the broader research community, particularly for early career researchers. He speaks about reaching out to a new generation of ‘young scholars, activist scholars, and scholar activists’ committed to innovative and impactful research. By staying critical and informed – an affordance made easy with open, accessible research  – new and young scholars have the best chance at making their own valuable impact on society at large.

Call for Submissions and Support

Dr. Leo Zeilig encourages researchers in African political economy to submit their work to ROAPE and its blog. Community support through subscriptions and donations is essential for maintaining their Open Access model, and subscribing to the print issue or making a donation helps sustain the journal’s mission of providing free and accessible scholarly content.

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