Editors are ultimately accountable for the quality of their journal’s content. Editors are responsible for identifying important ‘hot topics’, sourcing high quality manuscripts, handling day-to-day paperwork, and organizing the flow of manuscripts (i.e. from author to referees and back and finally to the publisher).
The two most important attributes of a good editor are (1) having a detailed knowledge of the subject area and (2) being organized. Depending on the size of the journal, the number of editors can range from one or two people to many more.
Common roles and responsibilities of journal editors include:
The most senior editor who has overall responsibility for the journal.
A managing editor who commissions articles; coordinates peer review; liaises with authors, reviewers and board members; writes short editorials, news and research highlights, and carries out heavy developmental/technical editing of manuscripts.
An editor responsible for lighter copyediting of manuscripts.
Responsible for the online content.
In reality, many of these roles have overlapping responsibilities, especially in small journals where one person may be responsible for running the entire journal.
If there are other editors, expect to have regular interaction with them as you are working with them as a team. It is important to have people who you trust to carry out whatever is required to get the papers peer reviewed, edited and published with consistent levels of quality and timekeeping. Some editors may be specialists who only deal with certain journal topics; some may manage specific regions of the world and others may only handle certain types of articles.