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An editor-in-chief, often known as a lead editor or chief editor, is the editorial head of a magazine who is ultimately responsible for the operation and policies of the publication.

The editor-in-chief of a magazine may also have the titles of editor, managing editor, or executive editor; however, in cases when these titles are held while someone else is editor-in-chief, the editor-in-chief takes precedence over the other editors in the journal.

Every department within the corporation reports to the editor-in-chief, who is held responsible for distributing duties to staff members and overseeing their completion. Newspapers, periodicals, yearbooks, and television news shows are all frequent users of the phrase. The editor-in-chief is often seen as the liaison between the publisher or owner and the editorial team of a publication.

The word is also used in the context of academic journals, where the editor-in-chief is ultimately responsible for determining whether or not a submitted work will be published. This decision is made by the editor-in-chief after soliciting opinion from reviewers who have been chosen based on their relevant professional experience. In the case of bigger publications, the choice is often based on the suggestion of one of many associate editors, each of whom is responsible for a percentage of the papers that are submitted.