Student Notebook

The Development of a Student-Operated Journal

Many students currently pursuing degrees in psychology aim to one day work in an academic or research setting, and throughout graduate training they spend a great deal of time developing their CVs and skills to best prepare themselves for the competitive job market that lies ahead. Experience in manuscript preparation, editing, and peer-reviewing are fundamental skills necessary for students to obtain post-graduate school positions. However, there are few opportunities for students to cultivate their publishing skills or participate on editorial boards during their graduate school training.

As students in the Clinical PhD program at the New School for Social Research who are considering future careers in research and teaching, we became interested in publishing and peer-reviewing early in our graduate careers. We were concerned by the limited opportunities that existed for students to gain experience in publishing and peer reviewing, and we felt that additional opportunities should be provided for students such as ourselves. After discussing the topic with our mentors, we concluded that a student-run peer-reviewed journal could serve as an innovative opportunity for graduate students to participate in the many facets of publishing and editing not directly offered through coursework. We envisioned that a peer-reviewed journal could provide important didactic experiences where students could gain practice preparing and submitting manuscripts and sharpening their editorial skills.

Moreover, a student-run journal could act as a vehicle for sharing the wide range of research being conducted by graduate students. It is common for many graduate students to feel somewhat cut off from the work that fellow students are doing in other labs, and a graduate student publication could keep students in different labs connected. Ideally, this would encourage peer feedback and critical debate amongst students from a plurality of backgrounds.

Developing a student-run journal would also provide involved students with an opportunity to learn the type of software technology required for operating and publishing a journal, such as designing and building a website and laying out print publications. As technology becomes progressively more integrated into the development and dissemination of all aspects of academia and research, students seeking jobs within these fields will benefit from having extensive experience in the software used to create publications and build web sites.

In addition, we felt, as clinical psychology students, that a student-run journal would be particularly relevant to students in applied psychology programs who might otherwise be less inclined to become involved in research during their training. Many applied psychology programs adopt the scientist-practitioner model in theory, but critics argue that many programs fail to integrate the two (science and practice), emphasizing training within one part of the model. Anecdotally, students from applied psychology programs might view professional journals as intimidating, extremely competitive, and purely research/science driven, resulting in fear of getting involved. We felt that a student-run journal would be more accessible and less threatening than more established scholarly journals, which would encourage submissions and foster the integration of science and practice in applied psychology programs.

The Journal: The New School Psychology Bulletin (NSPB)
The NSPB is published semiannually and operates on a limited budget of $5,500 per year. Since its inception in 2003, the journal has aimed at publishing the diverse work of graduate students in psychology programs throughout the country. Published work includes a wide range of topics such as empirical research, literature reviews, opinion articles, letters to the editor, and a New School psychology historical series. To increase readership and circulation, all published articles are also accessible in PDF format through NSPB’s Web site, www.nspb.net.

Although the journal began with authors and peer reviewers solely from the New School, we now receive manuscripts from students throughout the United States and overseas that span all of the subfields in psychology. We also have seen a great interest from students throughout the country looking to gain experience as peer-reviewers. Our editorial board for this year was selected from an extremely large applicant pool of talented students with sound academic and research training. We feel that the large number of applicants is a clear reflection of the need for additional opportunities for graduate students to serve on editorial boards.

The NSPB editorial board does an impressive job with manuscript submissions. Each article is anonymously peer reviewed by three students who each provide a written narrative as well as direct edits and comments to the authors. Manuscripts submitted to the NSPB are reviewed in a timely manner; authors receive feedback from peer reviewers in about four to six weeks. The aim is to provide a more economical and didactic experience than that of long publication lags commonly found in established journals. Each reviewer receives up to four manuscripts per year. A small cohort of students is involved in the design and layout of the journal and the website.

How to Get Involved
The response to the NSPB has been positive and students frequently contact us with questions regarding how to submit a manuscript or how to become a peer-reviewer. We are always looking for new and interesting manuscripts from graduate students, and students interested in submitting are encouraged to send their manuscripts electronically to the editors-in-chief. Peer-reviewers serve on the editorial board for one-year intervals, and new peer-reviewers are selected at the end of the summer each year. Students interested in applying for a peer-review position are encouraged to send their CVs to the editors during the spring semester or over the summer.

For more information about journal production, submission guidelines, or how to become a peer reviewer, please refer to the NSPB’s Web site (www.nspb.net) or contact one of the authors (Brown@nspb.net or Antonius@nspb.net).

Observer Vol.20, No.5 May, 2007

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