My Interests in Research
Let me provide a little background on myself and my relevant experience. As an undergraduate and graduate student, I was both encouraged to and supported in conducting research studies, so I have long known the value of students engaging in research. I received my BS from the University of Houston (TX) and my PhD in experimental psychology from Texas Tech University in 1978. I spent 26 years of my teaching career at a small private liberal arts college (Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, AR) where I taught Statistics, Experimental Psychology, and Research Methods for every psychology major in the program. Because of my belief in the importance of research experience for undergraduate students, I required all students in the Experimental and Research Methods courses to develop an original research proposal and to carry out that proposed project. It was a lot of work, to be sure, but I firmly believe that all students benefited from this approach—even (perhaps especially) those who did not go to graduate school. I also helped found the Arkansas Symposium for Psychology Students—a meeting for students to give presentations of their research projects—over 25 years ago. As I experienced as a student, I have spent much of my career supporting and encouraging undergraduate research.
My Experience as an Editor
In the 1980s, I learned about the journal Teaching of Psychology (ToP) and met its editor, Dr. Charles L. Brewer. Because of my interest in teaching and Charles' kind offer, I began to review manuscripts for ToP. Apparently I did a good job of reviewing because Charles sent me more manuscripts to review! Later, he asked me to become a consulting editor for the journal. Aft er many years of reviewing and serving as a consulting editor, I was chosen to serve as editor aft er Charles finished his two terms. I spent 12 years as the Editor of ToP (1997-2008), so I have a good deal of experience that I bring to the editorship of the Psi Chi Journal of Undergraduate Research.
I believe that the most important thing I bring to editing the Psi Chi Journal is a firm conviction that reviewing and editing should serve both educational and supportive functions. Almost any faculty member can relate a horror story about having sent a manuscript out for review and receiving harsh, punitive feedback about the paper. It almost seems as though some reviewers and editors see their function as gatekeeping—they seem to want to keep authors from publishing rather than helping authors to publish. Rest assured that this philosophy is not in place at the Psi Chi Journal of Undergraduate Research! I want submitting and getting feedback from the Psi Chi Journal to be a pleasant experience, even if we reject a manuscript. If you receive a rejection letter, it and the accompanying reviews will clearly provide reasons for the rejection. Ideally, the letter and reviews will also give suggestions for revising the manuscript so that it might fare better in another round of reviews. Realize, of course, that sometimes a manuscript might not be strong enough that a simple revision will suffi ceâ€”sometimes reviewers will suggest that additional research with improvements would be necessary for a manuscript to be publishable. We want students to be able to publish in the Journal, and we want them to publish the best possible manuscript that they can produceâ€” that is why we spend the time that we do with each manuscript.
My Review Process
In addition to being educational and supportive in the review process, I also hope to be timely in responding to authors' submissions. When I receive a manuscript submitted by a Psi Chi member (see www.psichi.org/pubs/journal/submissions.aspx for submission guidelines and the submission link), I send it to three reviewers who have expertise and interest in the topic area. I ask them to return a review of the manuscript within a month (reviewers are faculty members who have busy lives, of course!). Sometimes I will have to remind a reviewer, so it may be more than a month before I have all three reviews. When I have all three reviews, I can turn my attention to the manuscript, assuming there are no older ones already waiting for me. So, all things considered, I endeavor to get a response back to an author within two months (three months at the outside). With the backlog that I inherited, I have been a little slower than my targeted goal.
My Direction for the Journal
I took over the reins of editing the Journal in September from Dr. Martha Zlokovich, who is the Executive Director of Psi Chi. Martha had stepped into the breach on a temporary basis and did yeoman's work in helping the Journal to recover from an emergency situation. Together, we have worked to reduce the backlog of manuscripts that had built up over a period of time. We apologize to any students or faculty who were affected by the situation that led to a backlog and extended periods of time waiting on manuscript reviews. Further, we will do our utmost to make sure that this situation is not repeated.
I have long admired and respected the Psi Chi Journal of Undergraduate Psychology and the people who founded and edited it. Now I have my chance to follow in their footsteps. As the Journal enters its 15th year of publication, I hope that I can count on you— members and faculty sponsors of Psi Chi—to help me as we strive to return the Journal to its leadership position in helping educate undergraduate psychology students.