Inside the Black Box: Psychological Bulletin

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Psychological Bulletin is a bimonthly peer-reviewed academic journal that publishes evaluative and integrative research reviews and interpretations of issues in psychology, including both qualitative (narrative) and/or quantitative (meta-analytic) aspects. The editor in chief Stephen Hinshaw gives us insight into this journal

What makes you go “Wow!” or “Yuck!” when first read a submission? Our journal (Psychological Bulletin) is different from most others, in that it publishes only lengthy, synthetic review papers–across the entirety of psychology and behavioral science.  So, I look for a deeply conceptual introductions and systematic reviews of primary literature, written in an accessible yet still scholarly fashion.

What are the common mistakes people make when submitting/publishing? Not reading instructions carefully (or at all)–so that we sometimes receive single empirical studies or extremely preliminary ‘review’ papers suggesting leads for further study (but not providing a deep review of a mature literature)

What are your best tips on how to successfully get published? Research, research, research your topic and revise, revise, revise your writing.

How are reviewers selected? In consultation with Associate Editors, I scour reference sections and consult lists of experts in various subfields.

How can a young researcher become a reviewer? When is the best time during one’s PhD to start doing so? See if a more senior person will ask the editor to enlist you as a co-reviewer (with permission of Editor).

What constitutes a good (i.e., well explained/written) review, from an editor’s standpoint? What makes one a good reviewer?  Good reviews are thoughtful, respectful, and reveal deep knowledge of topic – showing how the paper does or does not provide an advance in that field.

How do you resolve conflicts when reviewers disagree? Careful reading and rereading of the paper…and sometimes going to a Consulting Editor for a ‘tie-break’ review

What’s the best/worst way to react to a revise and resubmit, and worse, to a rejection? Worst way is to get overly defensive and battle every point of the reviews.

Is there a paper you were sceptical about but turned out to be important one? Yes, sometimes initial submissions that didn’t really deliver can be greatly improved with substantial revision.

As an editor, you get to read many papers and have an insight emerging trends, what are the emerging trends in research topics/methodologies? PB is so broad that it’s hard to see emerging trends across all of the sub-facets of the field.

What are the biggest challenges for journals today?  Finding and engaging willing reviewers, keeping up with flow of submissions, battling ‘crank’ journals.

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