Together, the Editorial Team for the Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research agreed to share their top publishing advice and give you a glimpse of what it is like working with the journal.
The team includes the Editor: Dr. Debi Brannan (Western Oregon University); five Associate Editors: Drs. Mary Beth Ahlum (Nebraska Wesleyan University), Erin Ayala (St. Mary’s University of Minnesota), Jennifer Hughes (Agnes Scott College, GA), Tammy Lowery Zacchilli (Saint Leo University, FL), and Steven V. Rouse (Pepperdine University, CA); and the Managing Editor: Bradley Cannon (Psi Chi Central Office). You can view their full bios HERE.
The Editor and all five Associate Editors were selected to lead the journal, largely due to their prior service to the journal as both excellent reviewers and authors. Each person has demonstrated an impressive passion and skill for helping students and faculty authors to navigate the peer-review process and strengthen their research and writing skills. (And they’ve got a bit of a fun side too, as you can see in the pictures below!)
The journal would not be the one-of-a-kind teaching tool for Psi Chi that it is without each and every one of them. We are greatly appreciative of them for everything they do!
Caption: (top row from left) Tammy and Joy; Debi enjoying a floating restaurant on the Columbia River in Portland, Oregon; Erin and a tasty treat; Steve at the top of Mount Whitney; (bottom row from left) Jenny and Winston; Bradley proudly framing his vehicle emissions test paper (Pass! Third time’s a charm!); and Mary Beth posing with the NWU Prairie Wolf.
What’s the #1 advice you would give to a student who is considering submitting a manuscript for publication?
ERIN: Pay attention to details! Ask a colleague to carefully read through your submission to make sure it adheres to APA style guidelines and is free from grammatical errors. By eliminating those minor errors, reviewers can focus on the content of your study. Second, listen to the reviewers and respond to all of their suggestions in an open manner. Reviewers spend a lot of time on their reviews and are subject matter experts, so it is important for authors to listen to their suggestions and to thank them for the time spent reviewing your work.
JENNIFER: The journal sees the publishing process as developmental. That means that we try to teach authors when giving feedback. I would tell students to prepare the best manuscript possible and then be open to feedback. That feedback can help students to become better researchers for future projects.
MARY BETH: Before submitting your manuscript go to apa.org and look up the many resources there about publishing. Read at least 2 of the articles and then adapt that advice to your manuscript.
STEVE: Be sure to have a faculty coauthor rigorously proofread the manuscripts. There are some faculty members who do not realize that the Psi Chi Journal is now a full peer-reviewed journal, indexed in PsycINFO—they may think it's just a repository for student term projects. As a result, they may not be as critical in reading these manuscripts as they would submissions to other journals. As a result, some manuscripts get submitted that are not quite at a stage that's ready for the peer-review process.
TAMMY: I recommend that students work closely with their advisor during this process and be open to getting another set of eyes to review the paper before submission. Be open to feedback and do not get discouraged if the outcome isn't what you expected.
BRADLEY: Go ahead and expect to receive a Revise and Resubmit decision the first time around. I think that receiving this decision sometimes disappoints student authors, who were hoping for an automatic Accept and who maybe didn’t know that a Revise and Resubmit decision is nothing to be ashamed of. However, Revise and Resubmit is the most common decision for original submissions to receive. And when you think about it, this totally makes sense because a key part of our peer-review process is to provide specific educational feedback to help you propel your research and writing skills to the next level.
DEBI: Just know that publishing a manuscript takes time and attention to details. Sometimes it feels like a lot to take on but that is when you rely on your faculty advisor and/or coauthors and trust the process. When you submit a manuscript for publication the worst-case scenario is that you will learn a lot—best case scenario is that you WILL learn a lot!
What’s your favorite part of being on the team?
ERIN: I truly love our team on the Editorial Board! I also enjoy working behind the scenes to make sure the research we publish is rigorous and methodologically sound. It's especially rewarding for me to work with the students and early career researchers. I want authors to have a positive experience submitting to journals, and to learn a lot along the way so that they feel prepared to submit to more journals in the future.
JENNIFER: It has been great fun to work with the Editor, the other Associate Editors, and the Psi Chi staff. We all bring different strengths to the team and learn from each other.
STEVE: Although the mission of the Psi Chi Journal has broadened from what it was previously (to now be a research outlet for Psi Chi members at all levels of professional development, rather than exclusively undergraduates), I appreciate that this journal's leadership still recognizes that one of its primary goals is supporting the educational development of undergraduates. Maybe I'm a walking cliche, living out Erik Erikson's stage of Generativity vs. Stagnation, but at this stage in my professional career I'm really seeing the importance of training the next generation of researchers—both at my own school and at others.
TAMMY: I love reading about the exciting research studies that our members are conducting. Psi Chi has always been dear to my heart so I love being involved with the journal. I love working with our editorial board!
BRADLEY: I am always happy to assist authors and reviewers with navigating the online system and the peer-review process. But for me personally, a highlight of working with Psi Chi Journal has been the numerous opportunities to help initiate new journal programs and technologies that will help disseminate our authors’ research. For example, obtaining DOIs (digital object identifiers) for our published articles and ORCID IDs for our published authors has been especially rewarding. DOIs and ORCIDs ensure that Psi Chi Journal articles will always be easy to access and attributed to the correct authors, even if the articles change location on the Internet or if an author’s name changes or is identical to another author’s name. I get to read a broad range of interesting articles too!
DEBI: The best part of being part of this team is having the opportunity to work with the best in the business! The associate editors, editor emeritus, and managing editor are a dream team of mentors, writers, researchers, and just good humans. It has been an enormous privilege to know this group and learn from them all—but most importantly, call them friends.
Of all the submissions that you have overseen, which one were you the most excited/proud to see ultimately published?
ERIN: I'm working with one right now that I'm really excited about! Unfortunately, it's in the final stage of the revision process, so I'm not able to provide too many spoilers. In sum, it examines the extent to which culturally diverse historical scholars are recognized by students in psychology. It's an important and eye opening piece of work.
MARY BETH: There have been some "weak" manuscripts where the authors worked diligently to follow the reviewers' advice and thereby improve the work substantially. Those authors deserve a lot of kudos. They demonstrate that hard work pays off!
STEVE: I was grateful for the opportunity to be the Invited Editor for the Special Issue on Open Science Practices (Vol. 23, Issue 2). As a result, I saw these manuscripts progress all the way from proposals to finished products. That was really rewarding.
TAMMY: It's difficult to pick a favorite. However, as a close relationship researcher, I am always excited to review manuscripts on this topic. For example, I was excited to see "The Effects of Perceived Attractiveness on Expected Opening Gambit Style" published as well as "What Makes You Swipe Right?: Gender Similarity in Interpersonal Attraction in a Simulated Online Dating Context."
BRADLEY: We have published more than a hundred outstanding articles since I first joined the journal team. However, one article stands out to me as an especially fascinating topic. That article, is “The Effects of Age and Sex on Saving Pets Over Humans.” In it, the authors investigated the number of college-age students who indicated that they would choose to save their pet instead of an actual human being! I have found myself bringing up this article during many conversations, both at Psi Chi and beyond with my family and friends around the dinner table. In particular, I love to ask people to guess the percentage who save their pet! Research like this really goes a long way to remind me just how diverse the field of psychology really is.
DEBI: I can honestly say that I do not have one manuscript that sticks out more in my memory than any other. Every time we publish a new issue of the Psi Chi Journal I feel so much pride. I am truly as invested as every author and faculty mentor. It is exciting to watch the progression of every single manuscript from the moment it gets submitted to the day that it goes to press!
Why would you recommend for faculty members to submit, in addition to students?
ERIN: Psi Chi members are lifetime members, and publishing in our journal is one of the membership benefits. As a journal that publishes broadly about topics in psychology, publishing with us is a great way to increase readership and your audience. Often, faculty members publish in journals that are specific to their discipline, which means the audience is limited to people who specialize in their respective area. By publishing in Psi Chi Journal, faculty members can introduce students to a breadth of topics. Many faculty members also use Psi Chi Journal articles in their classes for teaching, so it's a great way to contribute to the education of students, and to introduce students to your particular area of expertise! Finally, our reviewers are top notch, and are known for being constructive and generally quite friendly. :)
JENNIFER: It is a great journal that publishes quality research. Also, by submitting, they will be supporting Psi Chi.
MARY BETH: Articles authored by faculty members will be inspirational to students. Students will see an article by a professor in their department and be proud of one of their mentors.
STEVE: The Psi Chi Journal's mission is not a topical one but a community one. Whereas other journals exist to serve as a publication outlet for research on a narrow set of topics, the Psi Chi Journal exists to serve as a publication outlet for all psychological researchers (across the subfields of psychology) who are members of Psi Chi. As a result, this is one of the few truly peer-reviewed generalist journals in psychology. I would especially consider this a good place for a faculty member to send manuscripts that address issues that span multiple subfields.
TAMMY: This is an amazing journal that publishes some excellent and timely research studies. I think faculty should definitely consider publishing with the journal.
DEBI: The Psi Chi Journal is an inclusive journal that does not reach just one field of psychology but rather it accepts manuscripts from every area of psychology. Additionally, we accept qualitative and quantitative methods. This enables us to support professional development and disseminate all types of psychological science.
In what ways has your involvement with the journal helped to advance your research experience and/or career?
ERIN: When conducting my own research, I now actively search for flaws or holes in my project that reviewers might find, and address them early on. My writing has also improved as a result of my work as a reviewer, and now as an Associate Editor. Finally, my involvement in the journal increases the quality of my teaching and mentorship regarding research; I use Psi Chi articles regularly, and often bring in anecdotes for students and my research team when discussing the research and publication process.
MARY BETH: An academic position typically involves teaching, research/scholarship, and service. I enjoy contributing to the Psi Chi community by serving as an Associate Editor.
TAMMY: I think that this experience has improved my methods for teaching writing to my research methods I, II, and II students. I have always been actively involved in research with undergraduates but my experience with the journal has led me to encourage students to consider the journal for their projects.
DEBI: Because the Psi Chi Journal accepts papers from every field of psychology, I have read and edited many types of research in many domains. I have learned so much about the greater field of psychology just by the exposure to such diverse research. This has helped me think through my own teaching techniques, scholarship, and mentoring advice.
Submissions to Psi Chi Journal are welcome year round. Undergraduate, graduate, and faculty authors are all invited to submit.