Submission Guidelines

Updated 9 August 2017

Psychological Science welcomes the submission of papers presenting original research, theory, or applications on mind, brain, or behavior. Preference is given to papers that make a new and notable 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), 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 submitting your manuscript, please be sure to consult the Contributor FAQ.

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Manuscript Review Process

Two-Tier Review

Two members of the editorial team read each submitted manuscript. One reader has interests and 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. In most cases, the specialist reader is an Associate Editor, whereas the generalist reader is a Senior Editor or the Editor in Chief.

If either reader thinks the paper has a reasonable chance of ultimately being accepted for publication in the journal, then it is sent to two or more external referees for extended review. The Associate Editor usually oversees this process and writes the subsequent decision letter (accept, reject, or revise and resubmit). Alternatively, if both readers decide the paper is unlikely to be competitive for publication, then the paper is declined on initial editorial review.

Within 2 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 experts for extended review. For manuscripts afforded extended review, authors can expect a decision within 60 days of manuscript submission. Manuscripts declined after either initial or extended review cannot be reconsidered unless the responsible action editor has invited resubmission following revision (see Question 16 in the Contributor FAQ).

Authors may submit a list of recommended (and opposed) reviewers. Authors often are familiar with experts in their area of research, and editors appreciate the suggestions. Keep in mind that editors will consider these requests but cannot guarantee that they will be honored.

Please note: Psychological Science uses StatCheck, an R program written by Sacha Epskamp and Michele B. Nuijten that is designed to detect inconsistencies between different components of inferential statistics (e.g., t value, df, and p). StatCheck is not designed to detect fraud, but rather to catch typographical errors (which occur often in psychology; see We run StatCheck only on manuscripts that are sent out for extended review and not immediately rejected after extended review. Authors are informed if StatCheck detects any inconsistencies. Authors are welcome to run StatCheck before submitting a manuscript (

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Journals of the Association for Psychological Science (APS)

Psychological Science does not compete with other journals of APS, including Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science, Clinical Psychological Science, Current Directions in Psychological Science, Perspectives on Psychological Science, and Psychological Science in the Public Interest. 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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Preparing Your Manuscript

Article Types

See also Table 1 below.

Research Article. Most of the articles published in Psychological Science are Research Articles. Research Articles may present new data, new theory, new methods, or any combination of these. They are limited to

  • 2,000 words (includes all introductory and discussion material in the main text, any footnotes, acknowledgments, and appendices; does not include Method or Results sections (except footnotes), cover page, Author Contributions, or reference list)
  • 40 references

The Method and Results sections of Research Articles do not count toward the total word count limit. The aim here is to allow authors to provide clear, complete, self-contained descriptions of their studies. But as much as Psychological Science prizes narrative clarity and completeness, so too does it value concision. In almost all cases, an adequate account of method and results can be achieved in 2,500 or fewer words for Regular Articles. Methodological minutiae and fine-grained details on the Results—the sorts of information that only “insiders” would relish and require for purposes of replication—should be placed in SOM-R, not in the main text.

Many Research Articles contain two or more studies. Such submissions may include “interim” introductions and discussions that bracket the studies, in addition to an opening “general” introduction and a closing “general” discussion. Authors who opt for this sort of organization should bear in mind that the aforementioned word limits on introductory and Discussion sections include both interim and general varieties. Any combined “Results and Discussion” sections will be counted toward the word limit.

Narrative material that belongs in the introductory or Discussion sections should not be placed in the Method or Results section, within reasonable limits. Thus, for example, authors may include a few sentences to place their findings in context when they are presented in the Results section. However, excessive packing of a Method or Results section with material appropriate to the introduction or Discussion will trigger immediate revision or rejection of the manuscript. Hybrid “Methods & Results” sections are disallowed for any type of submission.

Short Report. Short Reports present concise but complete accounts of new empirical findings of broad interest. They are limited to

  • 750 words (includes all introductory and discussion material in the main text, any footnotes, acknowledgments, and appendices; does not include Method or Results sections (except footnotes), cover page, Author Contributions, or reference list)
  • 20 references

Commentary/Reply. Commentaries criticize and/or supplement target articles previously published in Psychological Science. They are limited to

  • 1,000 words (includes main text, notes, acknowledgments, and appendices; does not include cover page, Author Contributions, or reference list)
  • 20 references
  • 1 figure or table (no more than 2 panels)

Upon acceptance of a Commentary that is critical of a paper previously published Psychological Science, the action editor will invite the authors of the target article to submit a Reply that is subject to the same limits noted above. Replies, like the critical commentaries that initiated them, are subject to external and/or internal review, and thus their acceptance is not assured. The criterion for Commentaries and Replies is general theoretical significance.

Preregistered Direct Replication. Preregistered Direct Replications (PDRs) report high-quality, preregistered, direct replications of studies published in Psychological Science. Authors of a PDR must make a convincing case that the replication will make a valuable contribution to understanding a phenomenon and/or theory of broad current interest to psychologists. As with all Psychological Science submissions, the primary criterion is general theoretical significance. Direct replications should reproduce the original methods and procedures as closely as possible, with the goal of measuring the same effect under essentially (but not necessarily superficially) the same conditions as in the original study. Researchers undertaking a PDR project are encouraged to consult with the author or authors of the original article. Researchers are encouraged to submit a proposal for a PDR before they begin data collection (as per the procedure for Registered Reports as described at, although submissions of completed work will also be considered provided that the study was preregistered.

Table 1. Limits for Psychological Science Articles by Type

Article Type

Word Limit

Reference Limit

Figure and/or Table Limit

What counts toward the word limit?

Introduction & Discussion

Method & Results

Notes, Acknowledgments, appendices

Cover page, abstract, Author Contributions, references

Research Article






Short Report










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

Preregistered Direct Replication






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Manuscript Style, Structure, and Content

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. Please embed figures and tables within the main text.

Authors are encouraged to consult the APA Guide for New Authors for more information on the manuscript-submission and peer-review process.

Further guidance can be found on our Manuscript Structure, Style, and Content Guidelines page.

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File Types

You may upload your manuscript and ancillary files as Word .doc or .docx, as .rtf, as .pdf, or as .tex. If you submit a .tex file, please also submit a PDF file conversion, as the submission portal cannot render .tex files in the PDF proof.

Preparation of Graphics

The journal requires that authors embed figures within the main document near to where they are discussed in the text. A figure’s caption should be placed in the text just below the figure.

Authors who are submitting revisions should also upload separate figure files that adhere to the APS Figure Format and Style Guidelines. Submitting separate, production-quality files helps to facilitate timely publication should the manuscript ultimately be accepted.

Authors who wish to reproduce figures in color should bear in mind that color printing is expensive. Authors are allowed one free color figure per article; additional color figures cost $250 each. If the authors of an accepted manuscript opt not to pay for printing a figure in color, the figure may be published in color online but in gray scale in print. In this case, the authors are responsible for ensuring that the figure will be clearly understandable in black and white. Alternatively, the authors may prefer to provide a new black-and-white version of the figure to replace the original color figure in both the online and the print publications.

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Psychological Science recommends the use of the “new statistics”—effect sizes, confidence intervals, and meta-analysis—to avoid problems associated with null-hypothesis significance testing (NHST). Authors are encouraged to consult this Psychological Science tutorial by Geoff Cumming, which argues that estimation and meta-analysis are more informative than NHST and that they foster development of a cumulative, quantitative discipline. Cumming has also prepared a video workshop on the new statistics that can be found here.

Authors must include effect sizes for their major results and distributional information in their graphs (or tables, for that matter). Fine-grained graphical presentations that show how data are distributed are often the most honest way of communicating results. Please report 95% confidence intervals instead of standard deviations or standard errors around mean dependent variables, because confidence intervals convey more useful information—another point discussed in Cumming’s tutorial.

Reporting Statistical Results
Please report test statistics with two decimal points (e.g., t(34) = 5.67) and probability values with three decimal points. In addition, exact p values should be reported for all results greater than .001; p values below this range should be described as “p < .001.” Authors should be particularly attentive to APA style when typing statistical details (e.g., Ns for chi-square tests, formatting of dfs), and if special mathematical expressions are required, they should not be graphic objects but rather inserted with Word’s Equation Editor or similar.

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Guidelines for Reporting fMRI Data

Studies involving fMRI or other neuroimaging methods typically entail much larger numbers of measures than those found in behavioral research. Analyses of neuroimaging data have their own well-developed statistical frameworks and reporting standards. We recognize that the focus of fMRI analyses is often not on effect sizes, but rather on (a) statistical reliability and (b) replicability. We refer authors to Poldrack et al. (2008) for a useful list of reporting guidelines for such analyses.

We also recognize that adherence to the kind of complete reporting suggested by Poldrack et al. (2008) may require partitioning some of this material to Supplemental Online Materials (SOM). Most of the items listed by Poldrack et al. (2008) in their Appendix A can be succinctly and completely described in the main text. Exceptions that should be put into SOM are sections of the appendix labeled “Intersubject registration” and “Statistical modeling” (if nonstandard).

For region of interest (ROI)-based analyses, the process of ROI selection should be clearly stated in the main text; in particular, it should be noted whether the ROI was selected prior to any analyses of the data. Reports of ROI analyses should include effect sizes. Any ROI-based analyses must be supplemented by whole-brain analyses. A complete table of activation coordinates, together with their statistics, should be provided; however, such tables should typically be put in SOM.

The strongest submissions will address both reliability and replicability and will report results for appropriately large samples and/or a replication study. For instance, a study concerning correlations of brain activation with behavioral measures may typically require a sample in excess of 100 subjects, although we recognize that sample size will vary widely depending on the details of the study. Power analyses are recommended (see Mumford, 2012).

Psychological Science will place emphasis on those functional neuroimaging studies that make a clear and compelling contribution to understanding psychological mechanisms, above and beyond a purely neuroanatomical contribution. Therefore, authors should carefully support reverse-inference statements in their Results and Discussion sections. Such support could come from strong prior results in the literature, as well as from separate meta-analyses (see Poldrack, 2011).

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Candidate Gene Research

The editors of Behavior Genetics have established perceptive policies regarding candidate gene association and Candidate Gene × Environment interaction studies of complex traits (Hewitt, 2012). Submissions to Psychological Science that report similar candidate-gene studies are expected to follow those policies.

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Research Disclosure Statements

Submitting authors must declare that they have disclosed (a) all of the dependent variables or measures collected, (b) any data exclusions (subjects or observations), and (c) all of the conditions/groups/predictors tested for each study reported in the submitted manuscript. The Disclosure Statement section looks like this:

For all studies reported in your manuscript, check the boxes below to confirm that:

  1. All dependent variables or measures that were analyzed for this article’s target research question have been reported in the Methods section(s)
  2. All levels of all independent variables or all predictors or manipulations, whether successful or failed, have been reported in the Method section(s)
  3. The total number of excluded observations and (b) the reasons for making those exclusions (if any) have been reported in the Method section(s)

Submitting authors are also asked to explain why they believe that the sample sizes in the studies they report were appropriate. Bakker et al. (2016) reported evidence that many published research psychologists have faulty intuitions regarding statistical power. Over the past 50 years, many psychologists have conducted large numbers of studies with low statistical power and submitted for publication those studies that obtained statistically significant results (Cohen, 1969). That practice leads to exaggerated estimates of effect size. Indeed, when statistical power is very low, only results that exaggerate the true size of an effect can be statistically significant. Therefore, it is typically not appropriate to base sample size solely on the sample sizes and/or effect sizes reported in prior research or on the results of small pilot studies (see, e.g., Gelman & Carlin, 2014). There is no single right answer to this question, but authors must explain (in the submission portal and in the manuscript) why they believe their sample size is appropriate. If an estimate of the size of an effect is given, the unit of measurement (e.g., Cohen’s d) must be specified and some rationale for believing that the estimate is sound must be provided. If the study tests more than one effect, authors must make clear which of those effects their power analysis was based upon.

Submitters are also asked if they conducted preliminary analyses on the data and decided whether or not to collect additional data based on the outcome of those analyses. That practice, known as “optional stopping,” inflates the risk of making a Type I error (see Simmons, Nelson, & Simonsohn, 2011).

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Author Contributions

Authorship implies significant participation in the research reported or in writing the 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 in which the authors are listed and must have read the final manuscript and approved its submission. 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), after the body of the main text and before any acknowledgments, that states each author’s contribution. Here are examples:

“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 manuscript, and A. C. Brown and H. L. Jones provided critical revisions. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript for submission.”

“D. P. Smith is the sole author of this article and is responsible for its content.”

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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. Authors reporting research involving nonhuman animal subjects should indicate whether institutional and national guidelines for the care and use of laboratory animals were followed.

Identifying information of participants will not be published unless the information is necessary and written, informed consent is obtained.

Any potential conflicts of interest should be reported in the online submission process and in the article. If you have been remunerated for advancing a particular perspective related to the research reported in your manuscript (e.g., regarding the efficacy of an intervention) then that should be declared as a potential conflict when you submit a manuscript related to that topic. The Declaration of Conflicting Interests section that appears in every article will state any reported conflicts or will read “The author(s) declared no conflicts of interest with respect to the authorship or the publication of this article.”

Manuscripts should conform to the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, which can be found in full at In particular, authors should reference the following sections:

  • II.A. Defining the Role of Authors and Contributors
  • II.B. Author Responsibilities—Conflicts of Interest
  • II.E. Protection of Research Participants
  • III.B. Scientific Misconduct, Expressions of Concern, and Retraction
  • III.K. Clinical Trial Registration (if applicable)

The APS journals follow the code of conduct of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and follow COPE guidelines when misconduct is suspected or alleged.

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Conference Proceedings

Authors who wish to submit to Psychological Science a manuscript that contains research previously presented at a conference must do so in accordance with the following guidelines:

If the proceedings published only the abstracts of the conference presentations, or if the conference proceedings were provided only to attendees (i.e., not made available to the public or to members of the press), authors may submit their manuscript to the journal. If the proceedings were more widely distributed or made available to the press or public, please include an explanation in an additional file, and the editor-in-chief will determine if the manuscript is eligible for consideration by the journal. If the proceedings material contained reports more substantive than just abstracts, the journal submission must be significantly different from the proceedings material in order to be considered. As a rule of thumb, the Psychological Science submission must be at least twice the word length of the proceedings material, to provide authors the opportunity to clearly distinguish between the two reports in terms of their scientific scope and significance.

If any version or part of the submitted manuscript has been published in conference proceedings, the authors must disclose this in their submission and provide a complete reference to the publication in their manuscript. Authors must also upload the published proceedings material as supplementary material with their submission.

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Supplemental 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 online material, reviewed (SOM-R) and unreviewed (SOM-U). 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). 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.

The editorial team takes 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. Read More

To reiterate a key point made earlier (see Article Types), “SOM-R is the preferred location for methodological minutiae and fine-grained details on the Results—the sorts of information that only ‘insiders’ would relish and require for purposes of replication.” Authors are strongly advised to take full advantage of SOM-R for this purpose, as it allows the editors to make efficient use of their limited annual allotment of printed pages.

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

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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. A listing of some of these companies follows. Please be aware that the journal makes no endorsement of any of these companies. 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 Contributor FAQ before submitting manuscripts to Psychological Science.

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Following Acceptance of Your Manuscript

Open Practices

Manuscripts accepted for publication are eligible to earn one or more of the following badges in recognition of open scientific practices:

  • Open Data badge for making publicly available the digitally-shareable data necessary to reproduce the reported result. This includes annotated copies of the code or syntax used for all exploratory and principal analyses.
  • Open Materials badge for making publicly available the digitally shareable materials/methods necessary to reproduce the reported results. Authors are also encouraged to make publicly available video recordings of their study procedures; in return, a special Visualized Methods notation will be added to the authors’ Open Materials badge.
  • Preregistration badge for having a preregistered design and analysis plan for the reported research and reporting results according to that plan. An analysis plan includes specification of the variables and the analyses that will be conducted. Please see Steve Lindsay’s statement on preregistration for more information.

The criteria for earning badges and the process by which they are awarded, along with answers to frequently asked questions, are described in the Open Practices document. The document proposes two ways for certifying organizations to award badges for individual studies: disclosure or peer review. For now, this journal will follow the simpler disclosure method. Please see the Open Practice Badges page and Eric Eich’s Observer interview for more information.

Read More about the Visualized Methods notation

Journal staff will contact the corresponding authors of accepted manuscripts with details on the badge-awarding process.

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Embargo Policy and Media Relations

Psychological Science does not impose media embargoes. 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, Assistant Director of Public Affairs, at

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Contributor Publishing Agreement

In order for SAGE to proceed with publication of your article, you must complete a Contributor Publishing Agreement online. You can find this form in your Author Center at Within your Author Dashboard is the “Manuscripts with Decisions” queue, where you will be able to access the “Contributor Form” link within the “Action” column for your accepted manuscript. Please note that without a completed agreement, we are unable to proceed with publication of your article.

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Third-Party Permissions

If your accepted manuscript contains third-party material requiring permission, please forward all permission agreements to the editorial office ( within 5 days of signing the Contributor Publishing Agreement.

If a figure or video includes an image of a person, the authors must obtain a signed Audio/Visual Likeness Release Form from each person appearing in the figure or video before the article can be published. This is also true for photographs or video of celebrities. Please contact the editorial office ( if you have any questions.

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Authors of accepted manuscripts must be prepared to provide production-quality figure files to editorial office staff. This typically means high-resolution [> 300 dots/in. (DPI)] JPEG files for image elements and editable files for graphs or other line drawings. Please see our Figure Format and Style Guidelines for more information.

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Acceptance Date

Please note that the official acceptance date will reflect the day our editorial office has all the files necessary to begin the production process—including the Contributor Agreement, any permissions documentation, and production-quality figure files—rather than the date the acceptance letter was sent to authors.

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A member of APS’s production team will contact you regarding copyediting of your manuscript. Please note that copyeditors edit accepted articles—often extensively—so that they will be clear and accessible to all readers of Psychological Science.

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Funder Mandates/Open Access

The APS journals offer both green and gold open-access options that enable authors to comply with mandates from funders such as the National Institutes of Health, Wellcome Trust, and RCUK.

APS and SAGE can help fulfill many funders’ mandates to archive your accepted manuscript by making your article open access and depositing your manuscript files in PubMed Central. NIH-funded manuscripts submitted to Psychological Science after September 1, 2013, will be deposited into PubMed Central upon acceptance for publication as long as the authors indicate the funding during the submission process. 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).

Note that authors who do not choose to participate in SAGE Choice must choose a 12-month embargo for manuscripts submitted to PubMed Central.

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

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Permission to Reuse

As author and copyright holder of the article, you may do the following at any time without seeking permission:

  • Distribute photocopies of the published article for teaching purposes or to research colleagues on a noncommercial basis.
  • Circulate or post the original manuscript submission (i.e., the pre-peer-review version) or an abstract of the article on any repository or Web site.
  • Post the accepted (post-peer-review) version of the manuscript on your own personal Web site, your department’s Web site, or the repository of your institution.

At any time after publication, you may use the final published version of the article in a book you write or edit without seeking permission.

One year after publication, you may also

  • Post the accepted version of the article in any repository or Web site not listed above.

You may not post the final published article on a Web site or in a repository without permission from SAGE.

When posting or reusing the article, please provide a link to the appropriate DOI for the published version.

Please note that the SAGE-created PDF of the final published article may not be posted elsewhere at any time.

For any use not detailed above, please contact SAGE at Please forward to SAGE all inquiries and requests received from third parties for permissions, reprint rights, subsidiary rights licenses, and all other use and licensing of the article.

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If you discover an error in your published article, please email immediately. The journal’s managing editor will work with you and the editor-in-chief to determine whether a correction should be made and what form it should take. An erratum corrects an error made by APS or the publisher; a corrigendum corrects an error made by the author(s).

A correction notice will be published if an error affects the publication record, the scientific integrity of the article, or the reputation of the authors or the journal. In general, Psychological Science will not publish a formal correction for spelling or grammatical errors or for errors that do not significantly affect an article’s findings or conclusions or a reader’s understanding.

If a correction notice is published, a new, corrected version of the article will be posted online unless there is no obvious corrected version to replace the original. For example, if the purpose of the correction is to acknowledge work that was not cited but perhaps should have been, there will be a correction notice but no new online version.

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OnlineFirst Publication and TWiPS

All accepted manuscripts are published online (OnlineFirst) as soon as they reach their final copyedited, typeset, and corrected form, and each accepted article appears in a monthly print issue 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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Approximate Timeline

After you have submitted your Contributor Publishing Agreement, you may be contacted by an editorial assistant requesting the proper files needed for production. (If you do not receive a message from the editorial office after you submit the Contributor Publishing Agreement, it means you have already provided all the files we need for production – thanks!) Once your article has entered 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.

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