Contributor FAQ

  1. Which article format should I select?
  2. Can I submit an abstract for consideration in Psychological Science?
  3. Can you tell me more about the readership?
  4. Does Psychological Science have special requirements regarding style?
  5. Are the word limits real or simply suggestions?
  6. What counts in the word limit and what is ignored?
  7. Why should I use estimation rather than null hypothesis significance testing?
  8. How should I prepare graphics for submission?
  9. It is possible to include color in figures?
  10. Is there any limit to the number of manuscripts that I can submit to Psychological Science?
  11. Is it really okay to list preferred reviewers?
  12. How quickly are manuscripts reviewed?
  13. What is the acceptance rate at Psychological Science?
  14. What is the publication lag at Psychological Science?
  15. Why are manuscripts declined after initial review?
  16. May I resubmit a manuscript that has been declined?
  17. Can I place a version of my accepted manuscript on my web site and with my university’s research article repository?
  18. Does Psychological Science accept supplemental materials?
  19. I have a question that’s not listed here. How can I get an answer?

 
1. I want to submit a manuscript reporting an empirical study, but I can’t decide which of the formats—Research Article or Research Report—is the best one to use to describe my work. Are there any guidelines?

Generally speaking, a Research Report is the preferred format for a manuscript describing a single study with straightforward methods and analyses. The Research Article is the appropriate format for a manuscript that includes findings from multiple studies or that has complex methods or analyses.

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2. I have a manuscript that I’m thinking about submitting to Psychological Science. If I send an abstract, will you read it and tell me if it’s a likely candidate for Psychological Science?

Given the volume of submissions that we receive, we simply don’t have the time or the resources to provide feedback prior to submission. As described in the Submission Guidelines, “Psychological Science encourages submission of papers from all fields—including cognitive science, neuroscience, linguistics, and social sciences—that are relevant to psychological research, theory, or applications.” If your manuscript fits this description, then we encourage you to submit it.

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3. The Submission Guidelines say that “Preference is given to articles … that are written to be intelligible to a wide range of readers.” Can you tell me more about the readership?

Psychological Science is distributed to nearly 800 libraries around the world, and nearly 3,000 libraries belong to consortia that have access to Psychological Science. In addition, more than 25,000 APS members receive the journal. Most have advanced degrees, but a substantial number (37%) are students.

Personality/social, clinical, cognitive, developmental, experimental, and general psychology are the most common topic areas reported by members. Because of the international nature of the readership (83% live in North America, 12% in Europe, 3% in Asia, and 1.5% in Australia), authors should avoid writing in a manner that assumes the reader is a citizen of or intimately familiar with the author’s country (e.g., avoid a phrase such as “participants were students at a Midwestern university”).

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4. Does Psychological Science have special requirements regarding style?

The journal generally follows the style of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th edition. If you do not have access to that manual, the APA Guide for New Authors provides an overview of the manuscript-submission and peer-review process, and further guidance regarding article structure for Psychological Science can be found here. Please consult the Submission Guidelines for additional details about what to include in your manuscript.

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5. Are the stated limits on words, references, and other manuscript components real or simply suggestions?

They are real. Articles published in Psychological Science are intended to communicate innovative methods and findings in straightforward, economical prose; consequently, authors are expected to adhere to the limits for each format. Manuscripts that exceed limits are returned.

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6. What counts in the word limit and what is ignored?
See Table 1.

Table 1. Limits for Psychological Science Articles by Type

Article Type

Word Limit

Reference Limit

Figure and/or Table Limit

6. What counts toward the word limit?

Introduction & Discussion

Method & Results

Notes, Acknowledgments, appendices

Cover page, abstract, Author Contributions, references

General Article

5,000

50

n/a

X

X

X

Research Article

2,000

40

n/a

X

X

Research Report

1,000

30

n/a

X

X

Short Report

1,000

20

1

X

X

X

Commentary

1,000

20

1

All main text, including notes, acknowledgments, and appendices count toward the word limit

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7. Researchers are now meant to use estimation rather than null hypothesis significance testing (NHST). I report effect sizes, but have always used NHST to guide interpretation. That has been the universal practice in my research field, and what I see in the journals. Why should I change?

Psychological Science expects its authors to adopt best research practice, including best statistical practice, which now in most cases is not NHST. Despite the persistence of NHST, its serious flaws have been documented over half a century. Recent heightened concern about selective reporting and lack of replicability adds to the reasons for change. Developing our skills at using estimation, and other preferred techniques, contributes to progress towards psychological science becoming a quantitative cumulative discipline. For further justification for shifting to the new statistics, as well as guidance for making the shift, see this tutorial and this video series.

My main research interest is to establish whether or not my manipulation has an effect. The size of the effect is of little or no importance, so, surely, NHST is an appropriate analysis strategy in this case?

Statistical significance is as much an indication of sample size as of the size of an effect. It is not a reliable indicator that an effect is non-zero. The p value is not a measure of the probability the results are due to chance. We are most likely to be convinced an effect is non-zero after the initial study has been replicated, and a meta-analysis of all relevant studies gives an overall estimated effect size, with confidence interval, that we can interpret as indicating a non-zero effect. Meta-analysis requires effect size and CI information from each study, and NHST is irrelevant. Therefore estimation, which anyway is more informative than NHST, should be used for each study. In addition, using estimation encourages us to move beyond asking merely, “is there an effect?” to asking “how large is the effect?“ Answering “how large?” questions represents progress towards a quantitative discipline. For more, see the tutorial.

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8. How should I prepare graphics for submission?

We ask that authors supply the original versions of graphs and diagrams they create. Do not save the image in a different file format, as this makes it harder to resize and make other adjustments to the image during production. For example, if you created a graph in Excel, supply the original Excel file. Photographic images such as brain scans, unless incorporated into a larger graph or display, may still be submitted in standard image formats like JPEG. To avoid appearing blurry or pixilated in print, all figures must have a minimum resolution of 300 pixels per inch (PPI; more information about pixel density can be found here). Please do not submit images in TIF format. Please adhere to the following format when naming figure files: AuthorLastNameFigX.fileformat (e.g., SmithFig1.xls, SmithFig2.jpg, etc). Please see the APS Figure Format and Style Guidelines for more information.

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9. Is it possible to include color in figures?

Yes. Articles that are published can include color in their figures. However, the use of color is very expensive—printing color images requires expensive inks and a complex manufacturing process. These incur costs several times greater than those of black-and-white images. Consequently, authors are allowed one free color figure per article; subsequent color figures cost $250 each.

We also allow authors to use color images in the version of the manuscript that is published online but black-and-white images in the print version. There is no charge for this option. However, because this increases workload during production, we (a) discourage gratuitous use of color in figures (e.g., presenting bar graphs in blue, where the color provides no unique information), and (b) require that authors provide only one version of every figure—one that will be suitable in color and when gray-scaled for print (e.g., in bar and line graphs, this means that color alone cannot be used to distinguish different graphic elements; texture, shape, or pattern should be used as well). Please see the Submission Guidelines and APS Figure Format and Style Guidelines for additional information.

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10. Is there any limit to the number of manuscripts that I can submit to Psychological Science?

Yes. Since 2004, Psychological Science has had the policy that the editorial staff will not consider papers by the same (set of) author(s) on what the editors consider to be the same topic at the same time. In other words, if Smith and Jones submit a manuscript on modality effects on free recall, Jones and Smith should not submit a manuscript on modality effects on cued recall until review of the first manuscript is complete. In addition, when a manuscript has been accepted for publication, the editors will not consider another submission from that (group of) author(s) on that topic for six months.

Of course, in a true free market of ideas, this policy would be unconscionable. But Psychological Science is seriously constrained in the number of articles that can be published, and this policy is designed to ensure that many different authors appear in the journal’s pages. Editors attempt to follow this policy sensibly, not rigidly (e.g., in deciding whether two manuscripts have the same authors or address the same topic).

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11. I see that the submission system allows authors to suggest preferred reviewers. Is it really OK to list people here?

Yes, provided you refrain from recommending any of your mentors or students, recent collaborators, or colleagues from the same department or university as preferred reviewers.

Authors often are familiar with experts in their area of research, and editors appreciate the suggestions. Of course, editors do not always use the suggested reviewers, because the individuals have reviewed for the journal recently, they are unavailable, their previous reviews have not been sufficiently helpful, or they appear to have a conflict of interest.

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12. How quickly are manuscripts reviewed?

As described in the Submission Guidelines, two editors initially review each new submission to decide whether it is likely to be competitive for publication. Within approximately 2 weeks of submission, you will be notified by e-mail that your manuscript either (a) has been declined after initial review or (b) has been sent to two or more external referees for extended review. For manuscripts in the latter category, we strive to provide you with a decision within approximately 60 days of manuscript submission.

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13. What is the acceptance rate at Psychological Science?

We received roughly 2,700 new submissions in 2012. (Full data for 2013 were not available at the time these FAQs were being revised for 2014.) About two-thirds of them were declined on initial review. Of the approximately 840 submissions that went on to extended reviewed, about one-third were accepted, which worked out to acceptance rate of 10.7%.

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14. What is the publication lag at Psychological Science?

Once your article has been officially accepted and enters production, you can expect to hear from a copyeditor within approximately 4 weeks. Every manuscript receives a thorough, substantive edit, and the manuscript is returned to the corresponding author for review before it is typeset. After the copyediting process is complete, your article should be published online within approximately 3 weeks, depending on how promptly proof corrections are returned.

All accepted manuscripts are published online as soon as they reach their final copyedited, typeset, and corrected form, and each accepted paper appears in the monthly print version of Psychological Science as well as in the digital This Week in Psychological Science (TWiPS), which is distributed weekly to all APS members.

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15. Why are manuscripts declined after initial review?

In general, manuscripts are declined after initial review because they do not meet the editorial goals of Psychological Science. As discussed in the Submission Guidelines, we look for manuscripts that provide clear and compelling answers to three questions: (1) What will the reader of this paper learn about psychology that she or he did not know (or could not have known) before? (2) Why is that knowledge important for the field? (3) How are the claims made in the article justified by the methods used?

These questions signal our desire to publish innovative findings, grounded in appropriate methods and analyses, that are of general theoretical interest across specialties of psychology and related fields, and that are written to be intelligible to a wide range of readers. Of course, not all accepted manuscripts meet all of these aims. However, manuscripts are most likely to be declined after initial review when they are written poorly, directed at a small segment of the Psychological Science readership, or report findings that represent an incremental contribution to the literature or reflect questionable research decisions (regarding design, materials, measures, statistical analyses, sample size, etc.).

Before submitting a manuscript, ask yourself the following question (which we encourage reviewers to use in evaluating manuscripts): “If you’re a ‘specialty area A’ psychologist, do the findings reported in the manuscript represent some of the best work in specialty area A, the sort of results that you’d be excited to mention to your colleagues in specialty areas B, C, and D or to colleagues in areas related to psychology?” If the answer is “yes” then we would be pleased and privileged to consider your paper for Psychological Science.

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16. I’ve fixed some of the problems identified by the reviewers and want to resubmit. May I?

Psychological Science has long had the policy that resubmission is by invitation only. In other words, you should submit a revised version only when the action editor’s decision letter explicitly indicated that he or she would like to consider a revised manuscript. Uninvited revisions are usually declined immediately.

This policy may seem harsh, but it is essential given the number of manuscripts submitted to Psychological Science. That is, of the (approximately) 1,800 manuscripts that were declined in 2012 after initial or extended review, most of them could have been improved by some combination of rewriting, additional analyses, or additional data. But the editorial team simply could not manage 1,800+ revised manuscripts on top of the 2,700+ new submissions that were received.

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17. I’ve had a manuscript accepted for publication in Psychological Science. Can I place a version on my Web site and with my university’s research article repository?

The version that was submitted may be shared immediately; upon acceptance, you may post the final, accepted version of the article on your or your department’s site or in your departmental or institutional repository. One year after publication, you may make the final, accepted version available in other repositories. You may not post the final published PDF.

Authors who wish to pay to make an article/manuscript publicly available immediately upon publication in order to comply with NIH or similar requirements may use the SAGE Choice option (gold open access), in which case SAGE will complete the necessary repository deposits on their behalf.

For more information on open access options and compliance at SAGE, including author self-archiving deposits described above (green open access) or SAGE Choice (gold open access), visit SAGE’s Journal Author Gateway.

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18. Does Psychological Science accept supplemental materials?

Yes. Authors are free to submit certain types of supplemental material. If the manuscript is accepted for publication, such material will be published online on the journal’s Web site and linked to the article. However, such material must be supplemental and cannot be essential for the reader to understand the manuscript.

As described in the Submission Guidelines, Psychological Science allows for the online publication of two types of supplemental material. One type, designated as SOM-R, includes material that has undergone both an initial review (by two members of the editorial team) and an extended review (by two or more external referees). The other type, SOM-U, includes unreviewed material, or information that has not been vetted by either the editors or the external referees.

Common examples of SOM-U include research stimuli, audiovisual recordings or demonstrations of research procedures, and ancillary citations; for example, authors who have reached the allowable limit of references for their type of publication (General Article, Short Report, etc.) may wish to cite additional sources as “Recommended Readings” within the SOM-U.

Under SOM-R, authors may wish to provide more details on their methods and procedures–details of particular interest to specialists in the area, to readers concerned with the reliability, generality, and robustness of the results, or to researchers who endeavor to replicate the results for themselves. If authors have carried out conceptual or methodological replications of their own, they may wish to summarize such complementary studies under SOM-R. Given that Psychological Science places a premium on innovation and discovery, empirical evidence that attests to the replicability of the principal results is generally welcomed by editors, reviewers, and readers alike. SOM-R material is limited to 1,000 words (including text, notes, and captions for tables or figures), 10 references, and 3 tables or figures (combined).

If you intend to upload SOM-R or SOM-U material, please read the Guidelines for Publication of Supplemental Online Material, which describes conventions for naming files and for citing supplemental materials in the manuscript. Files containing SOM-R or SOM-U material should be uploaded to the submission system when the manuscript proper is submitted.

Video files can be submitted in QuickTime (*.mov), MPEG Movie (*.mpg), and Microsoft AVI Video (*.avi); acceptable audio files include Windows Media Player (*.wma) and MP3 (*.mp3). Signed release from all participants in audio and video clips is required; please use the Audio/Visual Likeness Release Form for this purpose.

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19. I have a question that’s not listed here. How can I get an answer?

Send an e-mail to psci@psychologicalscience.org. We’ll answer promptly.

For more information about practices at Psychological Science, we encourage potential submitters to read a 2011 editorial by Eric Eich, the current Editor in Chief.

For information on the new initiatives beginning in 2014, please see Eric Eich’s January editorial and his interview in the Observer.

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