AMPPS to Be a Top Resource for Research Innovations

Simons Dan

The new APS journal devoted to research methods and practices is receiving a steady flow of submissions and has already accepted a number of papers for publication. Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science (AMPPS) is APS’s sixth journal. The editorial scope of the journal will encompass the breadth of psychological science, with editors, reviewers, and articles representing a balance among diverse disciplinary perspectives and methodological approaches.

AMPPS will be published quarterly, initially both in print and online, and will also use the “Online First” publication practice employed by other APS journals. The first issue will appear in early 2018. Submissions guidelines can be found here.

AMPPS Editor-in-Chief Daniel J. Simons (University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign) and his editorial team are reviewing invited submissions for a special section in the first issue on data sharing. The Observer recently interviewed Simons about the objectives behind the journal and how those goals will be reflected in the pages of the publication.

The Observer recently interviewed Simons about the objectives behind the journal and how those goals will be reflected in the pages of the publication.

Methodological issues and advancements have been touched on in other APS journals. What was the reasoning (thought process) behind creating a new journal to focus on these topics?

Although psychology has several excellent method-focused journals, most of the articles in those journals target an audience of statisticians and methodologists. They include articles written by methodologists for methodologists. Over the past 5 years or so, we’ve seen a groundswell of interest in research practices and improving methods — the innovations and issues that methodologists have long discussed are now of interest far more broadly. That growing interest was reflected in and furthered by the many articles published in Perspectives on Psychological Science, for example. Given that broadening interest in best practices as well as the many new and innovative approaches to large-scale research such as RRRs, ManyLabs studies, and other consortium-based projects, we felt the time was right for an outlet focused on best practices, methods, and innovative approaches to psychology.

What do you hope will set AMPPS apart from other methodology-focused journals?

The biggest difference between AMPPS and other method journals is one of audience. The target audience for AMPPS is the broad membership of APS: researchers and readers from all areas of psychology who use a wide variety of approaches in their own work. The goal is to help APS members enhance their own research skills and knowledge of innovative research practices. Although many of the ideas discussed in the pages of AMPPS will appeal to methodologists as well as non-methodologists, articles will be targeted to an audience of non-experts.

Another difference between AMPPS and other method journals is the variety of article types we will publish. In addition to articles describing new techniques, we will publish meta-science articles, discussions and debates about research practices, tutorials designed to provide hands-on skill development, and empirical work that adopts novel approaches (e.g., RRRs and large-scale collaborations, multi-lab registered reports, etc.).

How do you think this journal fits into the discussions about open science and replicability? What role (if any) do you feel the journal will play in this conversation?

AMPPS will include articles on research best practices and meta-science, including discussion and debate about replicability and open science. Although many in our field agree on the need for improving the robustness of the psychological literature, the push for best practices is not a monolithic “movement.” Advocates for open science and replicability disagree on the best approaches to reach those goals. As just one example, open science advocates differ on whether peer review should be entirely open or completely blinded. Some advocate for making all reviews and action letters public. Others argue that the review process could be improved, eliminating biases, by using a triple blind procedure: The authors’ identities are masked to both reviewers and the editor, and reviews are anonymous. At AMPPS, we hope to discuss disparate perspectives on how to improve our science.

One of the goals of this journal seems to be the introduction and discussion of new methodological and analytic techniques – topics that can be highly technical and nuanced. What steps will the journal take to make this type of information accessible to all readers?

Making sure that articles are accessible to a wide readership is essential to the success of AMPPS. The editorial team is working closely with authors to ensure that their papers are accurate, precise, and accessible. Although equations are often the most precise and concise way to convey an idea or construct, equations in the absence of explanation tend to hurt comprehensibility for non-experts. To that end, we insist that all terms in any equations have a plain-text explanation written at the level of a first year graduate student in psychology. That said, we don’t want to eliminate math from a method-focused journal. My goal is to encourage readers to delve into the details once an idea has grabbed their interest. We don’t want math to be a deterrent to thinking about best practices, but we also want to encourage readers to delve into the math when they want a complete understanding. One approach we’re taking is to encourage the use of “In Detail” text boxes. These boxes will appear in the text of the manuscript and can be used to provide derivations, proofs, or further mathematical explanation. They can safely be skipped if a reader wants a more surface understanding of the ideas in the paper, but we hope that the article text will spur interested readers to learn more and to work through the details to gain a deeper understanding.

What special topics and sections do you have planned for upcoming issues?

For the initial issue, we have a special section on the challenges of making data as open and available as possible. For some types of data, de-identifying participants and posting publicly is trivial. For other types of data, it is anything but (e.g., longitudinal health data). The section will include invited papers addressing the ethical and practical issues involved in making more complex data available.

Where do you hope to see the journal in 5 years?

In 5 years, I hope that AMPPS will be the go-to source for new ideas about research practices and methods in psychology. It will be a resource for all researchers in psychology that helps them stay up-to-date on the latest method tools and research practice innovations.