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Academic Publishing & Peer Review

Readings on Sakai: Furguson & Heene, 2012; Suls & Martin, 2009

How Research is Disseminated

Personal contact (in-person, e-mail, talks by invited speakers, listservs) Presentations at professional meetings

Posters Talks or symposia (often15-20 minutes per speaker) Chapters Some less prestigious journals

Publications that are not peer reviewed


Peer-reviewed journal publication

(see Chapter 16 in the textbook for an overview)

Publishing in a Peer-Reviewed Journal Step 1: Select the Journal

Fit with the journal: Social psychology alone has over 60 journals (in addition to clinical, cognitive, developmental, neuroscience, and interdisciplinary journals) Journals are ranked by impact factor (the number of citations received by the average article in that journal) Top-tier journals reject >80% of submitted manuscripts! Example impact factors over 5 years

Science = 33.6 Annual Review of Psychology = 23.3 Psychological Bulletin = 18.1 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology = 6.9

Publishing in a Peer-Reviewed Journal Step 2: Peer Review


Key figures: author(s), editor, reviewers
1.
2.

3. 4. 5.

Author submits the paper to the editor of a relevant journal. Editor quickly checks to make sure that the paper is appropriate (~60% are rejected [triaged] at this stage). Editor sends a copy of the paper to 3-5 reviewers who are experts in the area. Each reviewer reads and critiques the paper and sends a written review to the editor. The editor reads the paper and the reviews, makes a decision, and provides feedback.

Editorial Decisions

Ultimately, decisions are the responsibility of the editor The editor may decide to:

accept the paper as it is with no revisions requested. (This almost never happens!only ~2% of the time) accept the paper for publication contingent on the author making minor revisions. ask the author to revise and resubmit the manuscript it for further consideration. Then, the editor may:

decide to approve or reject her- or himself send the manuscript back to the original reviewers send the manuscript to a new set of reviewers

reject the paper with no opportunity for resubmission to that particular journal.

Why peer review?

Filter out research that includes major:


methodological flaws statistical flaws unaddressed limitations or inappropriate conclusions

Provide feedback and allow authors to improve the paper Prioritize research that is novel and contributes to the research literature

Publishing in a Peer-Reviewed Journal Step 3: Copy Editing / Press

Copy editors check for errors in APA format, wording, grammar, etc. After changes, the manuscript is in press Some journals quickly post articles online It usually takes several months (up to a year!) until the article appears in print

Approximate Research timelines


Collect data and prepare manuscript (at least 1 year) Write the manuscript (several months) Submit and wait for feedback (about 3 months)

Editor identifies reviewers (1-2 weeks) Reviewers provide feedback (3-6 weeks) Editor makes a decision and sends feedback (0-4 weeks)

If not rejected, respond to feedback and wait for round 2 (several months, possibly a year to collect more data!) Copyediting (1-2 months) In press (up to a year before print)

The research you see in print began at least 2 years ago!

Serving as a Peer-Reviewer

A high quality review

Demonstrates understanding

Start with a brief summary of the manuscript Make sure you understand the paper! Be specific and accurate.

Is appropriately critical

Are there major methodological or statistical flaws? Are there other interpretations of the results? Are there limitations that should be acknowledged?3
Highlight the positives and the contribution of the paper Interpret negatives in a broader, balanced manner

Is balanced

Clearly distinguishes between major and minor issues

Writing a review

First paragraph:

Begin by summarizing (perhaps in just 2 sentences) what you see as the major theme of the paper. To what extent does this theme contribute to the literature? Provide an overall assessment of the manuscript.

The next several sections should back up the overall assessment by addressing major concerns with the paper, including:

Major methodological or statistical issues Potential artifacts or plausible alternative explanations Inappropriate conclusions

Finally, you might address minor concerns and (optionally) comments on grammar or writing.

What you might address in the review

Does the introduction provide an appropriate review of the relevant literature? Are any major papers or theories omitted that should be addressed? Are the hypotheses logically derived from the background material? Are the methods and statistical analyses appropriate for testing the research question? Are the data analyzed appropriately? Is everything reported and interpreted sufficiently? Is the discussion appropriate? Do the authors go beyond the data in their interpretations? Do they appropriately address major limitations and alternative explanations? Is the manuscript longer than it needs to be?

Example Reviews

Problems with Peer Review and Publication

Publication bias nonsignificant results are difficult to publish

Due to null hypothesis significance testing, null results are difficult to interpret (no effect? low power? problem with the manipulation?) Authors can easily rationalize and dismiss a single null result. As a result, nonsignificant findings are often filed away and are not visible (the file drawer effect) Meta-analysis helps, but it is difficult (maybe impossible) to identify all unpublished studies

Some editors or reviewers are inexperienced, biased, or overly negative

Potential Solutions to Problems with Peer Review

Open Access journals (e.g., PLOS ONE)


Authors (or Universities or grants) pay publication fees rather than libraries or consumers Articles are often posted online, speeding publication PLOS ONE reviews based on methodological soundness rather than novelty or statistical significance

Ongoing, public review