Editor in a (60-second) spotlight – Stelvia Matos
January 5, 2022 | 5 min read
By Stelvia Matos
"The most satisfying moment is when you press the ‘accept’ button"
What inspired your career in research?
I’ve always enjoyed discussing how and why things happen, which basically are the fundamental questions that frame research. With regards to my specific research on social exclusion and sustainability, I was motivated by my experiences growing up in one of the poorest regions in Brazil, where I observed people’s daily struggles for survival and their attempts to carve out a better life for their families.
Initially I thought my technical training in engineering could provide solutions for sustainability challenges, which are now framed as the Sustainable Development Goals(opens in new tab/window) (SDGs). However, I soon realized that technical solutions are not enough for successful innovation – there are also commercial, organizational and societal implications that must be understood. My research in innovation and entrepreneurship is thus an attempt to utilize inter-disciplinary insights to address real-world problems, particularly in marginalized regions.
How would you describe a typical working day?
As a faculty member at the Surrey Business School(opens in new tab/window), I divide my time between research, teaching, administration and the Technovation co-editorship. I am also Head of the Centre for Social Innovation Management, a problem-driven inter-disciplinary research centre looking at societal grand challenges such as climate change, social exclusion, digital innovation, business ethics, sustainable supply chains and global health issues. Like the journal editorship, the Centre allows me to connect with great academics from different disciplines.
How do you measure success in your work?
Business schools have specific performance measures to evaluate academic success, including the number of publications in top management journals (of which there are many rankings), citations, journal editorships, awarded grants, etc. Additionally, I find it very rewarding when students enjoy discussing my research in the classroom or when managers and people from a variety of organizations show interest in my research. Running these ‘reality checks’ acts as a measure of whether my work is connected to those that I intend to inform.
On a personal note, perhaps the most enjoyable ‘reality check’ is when I try to explain my work over dinner with my kids in such a way that I can capture their interest and stimulate a conversation. The whole point of sustainable development is about protecting future generations, so if I can’t explain the importance of my research to them, what’s the point?
Do you have any particular advice for younger researchers?
Choose a research topic that you find interesting, meaningful and which addresses real world problems. Doing research is hard work, requires resilience, perseverance, and patience. Given the high rejection rates of most journals, you also need a thick skin. I’ve always been a strong advocate of problem-driven research, which can lead to great theory building and contribute to management practice, as long as importance and rigor are present.
What drove you to become an editor?
Having published a few times in Technovation, I was familiar with the journal’s influence in the field of technology and innovation management. I was also aware of the significant improvements by the previous editor, Jonathan Linton. I was thus delighted to join the editorial team and contribute towards disseminating high quality research through the journal.
What is the most rewarding aspect of editorial work for you?
Since the pandemic, many journals have had a significant increase in submissions, with some calling it “the age of big literature”. However, people seem to have less time to review or dedicate adequate time to do it carefully. Editing can be rewarding by, for example, having the opportunity to be one of the first to read a study that may have a significant impact. Such “that’s interesting” moments are intellectually very stimulating. Of course, the most satisfying moment is when you press the ‘accept’ button, as you know it will help peoples’ careers.
What is the most important attribute for being an editor?
In my view, a good editor makes serious effort to put the paper “in the right room of conversation”, which begins by selecting the right reviewers. We want to avoid reviewers rejecting a promising paper for not ‘seeing’ relevant issues because it is unfamiliar to them, which may happen if the paper is theoretically or methodologically outside the reviewer’s comfort zone. However, we also want to make sure that reviewers do not reject papers that deal with issues that are too obvious to them but would likely be novel to most of our readership.
Name one item/tool/resource that you cannot do without in your editorial role?
What would you be doing now if you were not doing what you are?
Probably running a beach restaurant in the northeast of Brazil.
What is the most interesting image/photograph you have come across in your journal?
Our field of research doesn’t naturally use photographs and images. However, we are noticing a gradual increase in creative ways of communicating and disseminating research in general, through for example images, figure or videos. We are encouraging authors to consider creating abstract figures that capture the interest of the reader(opens in new tab/window), if they think it will be worth "a thousand words".