Guidelines for Manuscripts Submitted Before January 1, 2014

Updated 8/7/13

Please Read Carefully Before Submitting Any Manuscript

Psychological Science encourages the submission of papers from all fields—including cognitive science, neuroscience, linguistics, and social sciences—that are relevant to psychological research, theory, or applications. Preference is given to articles that make a new and important contribution—an idea, a discovery, a connection—to psychological science, broadly interpreted to include emerging as well as established areas of research (e.g., neuroeconomics versus psychophysics). Preference is also given to articles that are deemed to be of general theoretical significance or of broad interest across specialties of psychology and related fields and that are written to be intelligible to a wide range of readers.

Submission of Manuscripts
Manuscripts should be submitted electronically to the Psychological Science submission site, Before doing so, please be sure to consult the 2012 Contributor FAQ.

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Types of Articles Published

General Articles

General Articles (up to 5,000 words*), may

  1. Give perspectives on the role of psychology in government, sustainability, public affairs, and other areas of broad social significance.
  2. Review new developments in one field of research that would be of interest to readers in other fields;
  3. Present a tutorial or critical review of literature on a research problem or research method.

General Articles are not empirical papers or meta-analyses; they should include an abstract of no more than 150 words, the reference list should not exceed 50 items, and figures and tables should occupy no more than a printed page.

Research Articles

Research Articles (up to 4,000 words*) may present new theory, new data, new methods, or any combination of these. They must be written to be intelligible to a relatively broad readership. Psychological Science does not normally provide for the primary publication of extensive empirical studies with the full presentation of methods and data that is standard for the more specialized research journals. Broad theoretical significance and interdisciplinary interest are major criteria for acceptance. A Research Article should include an abstract of no more than 150 words and a maximum of 40 items in the reference list.

Research Reports

Research Reports (up to 2,500 words*) are expected to present new research findings and will be favored if they present innovations in approach or method. A Research Report should include an abstract of no more than 150 words and a reference list not exceeding 30 items.

Short Reports, Commentaries, and Letters

Short Reports (up to 1,000 words*) may present brief experiments of broad interest. While these articles are published without an abstract, an abstract of no more than 150 words must be included with submissions in order for the article to be sent out to reviewers. Commentaries (up to 1,000 words*) and letters (up to 500 words*) may discuss problems of general interest to psychological and social scientists or may criticize or supplement articles or reports previously published in Psychological Science. Neither of these have abstracts. Short reports, commentaries, and letters are also limited to one table or figure, and the figure may include no more than two panels.

*Word counts include the main text plus any notes or footnotes, acknowledgements, and appendices. Abstracts, cover page material, references, and authorship information are not included. Submissions exceeding specified limits on words counts, abstract length, or number of references will be returned to the corresponding author without review.

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APS Journals

Psychological Science does not compete with other journals of the Association, including Clinical Psychological Science, Perspectives on Psychological Science, Psychological Science in the Public Interest, and Current Directions in Psychological Science. The journals vary in terms of domain and manuscript formats. Manuscripts rejected by another APS journal on the grounds of quality (e.g., flaws in methodology, data, or concept) are not eligible for consideration by Psychological Science.

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Review and Selection of Manuscripts

On receipt, every submission is read in its entirety by two members of the editorial team, which includes the Editor-in-Chief and his Senior, Associate, and Advisory Editor colleagues. Typically, one reader has expertise in the relevant research area and offers a specialist’s opinion, whereas the other reader, who is less knowledgeable in the subject matter, provides a generalist’s perspective. If both readers decide the paper is unlikely to be competitive for publication, then the paper is declined on initial editorial review. Alternatively, if either reader thinks the paper has a reasonable chance of ultimately being published, then it is sent to two or three experts for extended review.

Within two weeks of submission, authors are notified by e-mail that their manuscript either (a) has been declined on initial editorial review or (b) has been sent to outside referees for extended review. For manuscripts afforded extended review, authors can expect a decision within 60 days of manuscript submission. Manuscripts declined after extended review cannot be reconsidered unless resubmission following revision has been invited by the responsible action Editor. For more details on the manuscript submission and selection process, see Roediger (2010) or Eich (2011).

Every manuscript receives a thorough, substantive edit, and the manuscript is returned to the corresponding author for review before it is typeset.

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 that is distributed weekly to all APS members.

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Supplemental Online Material

Authors are free to submit certain types of supplemental material for online-only publication. If the manuscript is accepted for publication, such material will be published online on the publisher’s web site, linked to the article.

Psychological Science allows for the online publication of two types of supplemental material. One type, referred to 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.Neither type of supplemental material will be copyedited or formatted; it will be posted online exactly as submitted.

Before discussing this distinction, it is important to note that the editors take the adjective “supplemental” seriously. Both SOM-R and SOM-U should include the sort of material that enhances the reader’s understanding of an article but is not essential for understanding the article.

One intuitive way to understand the SOM-R/ SOM-U distinction is that the SOM-R would be the kind of information that you might write in a rebuttal letter to reviewers who want to see more explanation of methods or supplemental analyses, whereas SOM-U would be the kind of information you might post on your own lab’s website to make available background information or provide stimuli.

Thus, under SOM-R, authors may wish to provide more details on their methods and procedures–details of particular interest to specialists in the area (e.g., ERP measurement: Piton et al., 2000; fMRI: Poldrack et al., 2008; structural equation modeling: Raykov, Tomer, & Nesselroade, 1991); to readers concerned with the reliability, generality, and robustness of the results (e.g., Simmons, Nelson, & Simonsohn, 2011); 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 welcomed by editors, reviewers, and readers alike. SOM-R material is generally limited to 1,000 words (including text, notes, and captions for tables or figures), 10 references, and 3 tables or figures (combined); requests to exceed these limits must be approved in advance by the Editor-in-Chief.

Common examples of SOM-U include research stimuli, audio or video recordings, 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.

If you intend to upload SOM-R or SOM-U material, please read the 2012 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 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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Preparation of Manuscripts

The style of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th edition, must be followed with respect to handling of references, abbreviations, and symbols; however, to make the review process more manageable for editors and reviewers, we ask that authors embed figures and tables within the main text rather than including them each on a separate page at the end of the manuscript. Permission from the copyright owner must be obtained for use of any figure previously published elsewhere. In Research Articles and Research Reports, descriptions of methods and results should be prepared with special attention to readability. Please submit manuscripts in an editable text format (e.g., Word document or RTF file); do not submit manuscripts in PDF format. Tables should be in an editable format, not inserted as graphics. Each manuscript should include a cover page with title, author names and affiliations, full contact information for the corresponding author, and key words.

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Authorship implies significant participation in the research or writing of a manuscript, including participation in the design and/or interpretation of reported experiments or results, participation in the acquisition and/or analysis of data, and participation in the drafting and/or revising of the manuscript. All authors must agree to the order of the author listing and must have read and approved submission of the final manuscript. They must also agree to take responsibility for the work in the event that its integrity or veracity is questioned.

Each submitted manuscript must include a paragraph (not included in the word count) in a separate section after the body of the main text and before the acknowledgments that states each author’s contribution:

Example: “D.P. Smith developed the study concept. All authors contributed to the study design. Testing and data collection were performed by D.P. Smith. D.P. Smith and A.C. Brown performed the data analysis and interpretation under the supervision of H.L. Jones. D.P. Smith drafted the paper, and A.C. Brown and H.L. Jones provided critical revisions. All authors approved the final version of the paper for submission.”

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Effect sizes should accompany major results. When relevant, bar and line graphs should include distributional information, usually confidence intervals or standard errors of the mean.

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Preparation of Graphics

Beginning September 1st, 2013, the journal will require that authors embed figures and tables within the main document near to where they are discussed in the text, as this makes the review process more manageable for editors and reviewers. Manuscripts submitted after September 1st that do not have tables and figures embedded will be returned to authors.

Additionally, we strongly encourage authors who are submitting revisions to upload separate files that adhere to the APS Figure Format and Style Guidelines. Submitting production-quality files helps to facilitate timely publication should the manuscript ultimately be accepted. For these separate, non-embedded figure files, we ask that authors submit graphs and diagrams in their native file format, which is the format of the program in which the figures were originally created (for example, if a graph was created in Excel, please submit the .xls or .xlsx file). Photographic images such as brain scans, unless incorporated into a larger graph or display, should be submitted in standard image formats like JPEG or EPS. To avoid appearing blurry or pixilated in print, all image files must have a minimum resolution of 300 pixels per inch (PPI; more information about pixel density can be found here). 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.). Note that these guidelines take effect in June 2013 and represent a change from our previous instructions.

Authors who wish to reproduce figures in color should bear in mind that color work is expensive. Authors are allowed one free color figure per article; subsequent color figures cost $250 each. Authors of accepted manuscripts that include color figures who opt not to pay for color reproduction are responsible for providing both figures and captions that are clearly understandable both in color and in black and white OR new black-and-white versions of the figures along with appropriate captions.

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Ethical Considerations

Authors reporting research involving human subjects should indicate whether the protocol was approved by an institutional review board or similar committee and whether it was carried out in accordance with the provisions of the World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki available here. Authors reporting research involving nonhuman animal subjects should indicate whether institutional and national guidelines for the care and use of laboratory animals were followed.

The journals of the Association for Psychological Science follow the code of conduct of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and pursue COPE guidelines when misconduct is suspected or alleged.

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Embargo Policy

Psychological Science does not impose media embargos. In accordance with our mission of sharing the science with the public, APS may in some cases publicly disseminate information about the content of accepted articles before they are actually published in the journal. Authors are free to disseminate to colleagues and media outlets information about a forthcoming article that they have contributed to Psychological Science as soon as the manuscript has been accepted and they have completed the Contributor Publishing Agreement form. Media or press office inquiries should be directed to Anna Mikulak, Public Affairs Coordinator, at

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English Language Help

Authors who would like to refine the use of English in their manuscripts might consider using the services of a professional English-language editing company. We highlight some of these companies at

Please be aware that SAGE has no affiliation with these companies and makes no endorsement of them. An author’s use of these services in no way guarantees that his or her submission will ultimately be accepted. Any arrangement an author enters into will be exclusively between the author and the particular company, and any costs incurred are the sole responsibility of the author.

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Contributor FAQ

Contributors are encouraged to consult the 2012 Contributor FAQ before submitting manuscripts to Psychological Science.

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