2020 Clinical Psychological Science Submission Guidelines


For authors of manuscripts originally submitted after January 1, 2021, please see the 2021 Submission Guidelines.

Submission of Manuscripts and Journal Emphases

Before submitting a manuscript to Clinical Psychological Science, please read the journal’s Aims and Scope, Alan E. Kazdin’s January 2014 editorial, and Scott Lilienfeld’s 2016 editorial, as well as the guidelines below. Please also read the latest editorial policies from the APS Publications Committee.

Manuscripts must be submitted through Clinical Psychological Science‘s submission website at http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/cpx.

The journal does not require masked review, i.e., that the authors names be omitted from the submitted manuscript. Thus, authors’ names and affiliations should be listed on the manuscript title page.

The manuscript will be evaluated in relation to the advancement of and contribution to clinical psychological science. To facilitate this evaluation, authors are asked to answer the following questions during the “Details & Comments” stage of the online submission process:

  1. What is the substantive, conceptual, or methodological contribution to knowledge that this work provides to the literature?
  2. How does this contribution and any conclusions or recommendations derived from it add to clinical psychological science?

To wit, authors should indicate precisely what in the submitted manuscript makes an important scientific contribution to clinical psychology and related fields (e.g., psychiatry, counseling psychology, social work, public health). The answers to these questions will help editorial staff and reviewers attend to the issues the authors see as the salient contribution. As importantly, the questions are designed to help authors to include the thrust of the question in the storyline of the manuscript itself and to decide whether the journal is the most appropriate outlet.

As of July 1, 2016, Clinical Psychological Science places a particular priority on manuscripts that are interdisciplinary and bring the best available basic science from within psychology (e.g., social psychology, cross-cultural psychology, personality psychology, cognitive psychology, affective psychology, comparative psychology, neuroscience) and outside of psychology (e.g., sociology, anthropology, genetics, microbiology) to bear on our understanding of psychopathology. Hence, our journal prioritizes manuscripts that cut across multiple levels of analysis in the explanatory hierarchy ranging from “neurons to neighborhoods.” Examples might be a manuscript that examines social-cognitive processes and their relevance to the etiology of depression, a manuscript that examines how the interaction between two brain regions places people at risk for anxiety disorders, or a manuscript that examines how cultural variables shape the experience or expression of schizophrenia (of course, these are only three potential examples among hundreds). CPS requires that manuscripts bear direct implications for clinical problems; manuscripts that do not contain measures of constructs pertinent to psychopathology are unlikely to be accepted unless authors can make an especially strong case for their relevance to clinical science.

Please see the Submission FAQs for more information about the preparation of your manuscript.

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Badge System and Open Practices

Clinical Psychological Science strongly endorses the aims of open science, which is consistent with the view that transparency, integrity, and collegiality (including the sharing of materials and data with colleagues) are crucial elements of successful science. In this spirit, all manuscripts newly submitted to Clinical Psychological Science on July 1, 2016 or afterwards will be eligible to earn one or more Open Science Badges. Badges are awarded for promoting openness in science through sharing of data and/or materials, and making study methods, procedures, and analyses more transparent. They are neither a direct nor indirect means of asserting that publications with one or more badges are of higher quality than publications without them.

The following badges are available:

  • 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. If the data contains sensitive, personal information, a PM (Protected Access) notation will be added if the authors post their data according to the guidelines regarding protected access repositories (see below for more information about this notation).
  • 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 (BM)Visualized Methods notation will be added to the authors’ Open Materials badge (see below for more information about this notation).
  • Preregistered 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 note that “Preregistration” does not require all analyses to be confirmatory (planned in advance); it merely requires investigators to state up front which analyses are confirmatory and which are exploratory. High-quality exploratory research is more than welcome in the pages of Psychological Science, as long as authors explicitly acknowledge that the analyses are exploratory and, when relevant, acknowledge potential constraints on the replicability of these findings. If the analysis plan was registered prior to observation of outcomes, the Open Practices note will include the notation DE (Data Exist). If there were strongly justified changes to an analysis plan, the Open Practices note will include the notation TC (Transparent Changes). Authors who have additional unreported registrations or unreported analyses without strong justification (as determined by the Editor-in-Chief) will not qualify for a badge. Please see former Psychological Science Editor-in-Chief Steve Lindsay’s statement on preregistration for more information.

To apply for one or more of these badges acknowledging open practices, authors must provide the information requested in the Open Practices Disclosure form, which is sent to all authors of accepted manuscripts. Unless the authors decide not to apply for badges, the form will be published with the article as supplemental online material.

Badge icons will be displayed at the beginning of the article, and information related to open practices will be published in a note titled “Open Practices” that will appear at the end of the article. Badges are awarded following the disclosure method, in which authors provide public statements affirming achievement of badge criteria.

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 Science Framework wiki. Please see former Psychological Science Editor-in-Chief Eric Eich’s Observer interview for more information.

More about the Protected Access notation (Open Data):

The Protected Access notation may be added to Open Data badges if sensitive, personal data are available from an approved protected access repository. These repositories manage access to such data to qualified researchers who complete a documented process which the repository publicly describes. This notation is not available to researchers who state that they will make “data available upon request” and is not available if requests for data sharing are evaluated on any criteria beyond considerations for compliance with proper handling of sensitive data. Please view the Approved Protected Access Repositories list  for more information.

More about the Visualized Methods notation (Open Materials):

Even with uncapped Method sections in Research Articles and Research Reports (see Table 1), there is only so much an author can convey through words; researchers who want to follow up on someone’s paper might benefit by seeing how things were actually done. Videos of study procedures could also serve as valuable teaching tools for psychology students, undergraduate and graduate alike.

Making such videos publicly available should facilitate obtaining an Open Materials badge, but would not necessarily be sufficient to earn one. For instance, in the case of a study with a computer-delivered behavioral task, the script would need to be available in order for another researcher to reproduce the procedure; a video of someone completing the computer task would not be sufficient. However, the video would make it a good deal easier for some kinds of studies to earn the Open Materials badge, such as those that entail a social interaction of some kind.

By awarding an Open Materials badge with Visualized Methods notation, Psychological Science aims to promote open behavior and to recognize that a video can be very useful for certain manuscripts; however, the journal is not trying to say that a manuscript without a video is somehow inferior to one with a video (which may not make sense in all cases).

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

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Manuscript Review Process

The review process is slightly different from that of many other journals in clinical psychology, in keeping with our overall mission. Two features are noteworthy. First, the review process has two tiers. The submission will first be evaluated by the editors to determine whether the manuscript will be sent out for review. If one of two editors (Editor and an Associate Editor) views the submission as constituting a potentially important contribution, the manuscript will be sent out for further review. Nevertheless, if two editors independently believe that the manuscript is unlikely to be accepted to Clinical Psychological Science, the manuscript will be returned to the author without further review or consideration.

Second, when a manuscript is sent out for external review, the review process also differs from many other journals. Consulting Editors and Reviewers are asked to prioritize the importance of the contribution, with a somewhat less detailed review of the intricacies the manuscript than might be typical at other journals. If the manuscript is recommended for acceptance, reviewers and/or the editor may offer comments about how to present the manuscript in its optimal light. If the manuscript is rejected, reviewers will be asked to convey the rationale for their recommendation. Thus, the primary focus of the review process and criterion for publication are whether the submission is a substantive contribution that advances clinical psychological science. In light of this review process, every effort will be made to minimize the delay between submission and editorial decision for all manuscripts.

Clinical Psychological Science requires authors to name a minimum of three possible objective reviewers when submitting a manuscript. These recommendations should exclude former mentors and teachers, current colleagues, and collaborators. Please keep in mind that the editor will consider these recommendations but cannot guarantee that they will be honored.

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Types of Articles

The primary focus of the journal is on empirical investigations that advance theory, methodology, or application related to topics within clinical psychological science. The journal seeks cutting-edge research and extensions of prior findings worth bringing to the broad audience of clinical researchers. Empirical contributions from all areas of clinical psychological science are welcome. Interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary contributions that connect with clinical psychology, novel methods that reveal phenomena in a different light, and integration of conceptual models in new ways are all well within the scope of the journal. In addition, we welcome articles that provide broad philosophical and historical perspectives on clinical science, as well as those that offer novel methodological or meta-scientific approaches to the field. Replications (both positive and negative) of previous findings in the literature are also welcome, provided that these replications are accompanied by sufficient justification of the importance of the original findings.

Empirical Articles. Empirical Articles should aim for a 12,000-word maximum, inclusive of front (title page) and back matter (references, footnotes, appendices). Articles are limited to a total combination of 4 tables and figures (e.g., 2 tables and 2 figures) that are not part of the word limit. Each table or figure should occupy no more than one printed page. Reporting of multiple investigations within a single manuscript is encouraged, and length adjustments can be discussed if and as needed. An abstract (maximum of 150 words) is included in the word limit.

With rare exceptions, Clinical Psychological Science will not accept studies using case-control designs, which compare a given psychopathological group with ostensible normals. Such designs tend to be markedly limited in the inferences they allow given that they rarely afford rigorous tests of the specificity of deficits to a given disorder, rather than to psychopathology in general. Authors who submit manuscripts using such designs must make an especially compelling case for the manuscript’s theoretical importance.

In addition, as of July 1, 2016, with rare exceptions, Clinical Psychological Science generally does not accept manuscripts focusing on psychotherapy outcome studies given that these manuscripts can generally be accommodated within existing journals (e.g., Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology). Nevertheless, we will happily consider manuscripts that incorporate rigorous tests of mechanisms of change within psychotherapy outcome studies.

Brief Empirical Reports. Brief empirical reports will have a 5,000-word limit, inclusive of front (title page) and back matter (references, footnotes). Articles are limited to a total combination of 2 tables and figures (e.g., 1 table and 1 figure) that are not part of the word limit. Each table or figure should occupy no more than one printed page. An abstract (maximum of 150 words) is included in the word limit.

Theoretical and Review Articles. The journal welcomes theoretical, review, or methodological articles that clearly provide an advance beyond encapsulating the current status of a given literature, that are likely to be of broad appeal, and that are not readily accommodated by review journals. Narrative and meta-analytic reviews may be considered, although they need to provide substantial theoretical advances rather than mere summaries of effect sizes between variables. These types of articles will be evaluated to ensure they are accessible to a broad range of researchers in ways that could be adopted to make important advances (e.g., new and altered directions for a given line of work).

As a guideline, theoretical and review articles should aim for a 17,000-word maximum, inclusive of front (title page) and back matter (table and figure captions, appendices). Articles are limited to a total combination of 5 tables and figures (e.g., 3 tables and 2 figures) that are not part of the word limit. An abstract (maximum of 150 words) is included in the word limit.

Short Communications and Commentaries. Short communications and commentaries occasionally will be solicited to cast multiple perspectives and conceptual views that might advance research or recast findings in a given area of clinical research. Although most of these will be invited, they can also be submitted in response to an article (authors should contact the Editor in advance before doing so to ensure that it has a chance of consideration). Nevertheless, responses to articles must advance the literature in substantive ways; more detailed criticisms of specific issues (e.g., disagreements regarding the interpretation of specific findings or the handling of specific analyses) should instead be submitted to the Letters to the Editors section (see below). As a guideline, these communications should aim for a 3,500-word maximum, inclusive of front (title page) and back matter (references). One table or figure (one-page limit) may be included. An abstract of 100 words is included in the total word limit.

Book Reviews. Clinical Psychological Science now considers reviews of recent books (typically, those published within the past year) that are relevant to the science of clinical psychology and allied fields, such as psychiatry, counseling psychology, social work, public health, and psychiatric nursing. Book reviews should not exceed 750 words (inclusive of references) and must contain no more than 5 references.

Letters to the Editor. Letters to the Editor will now be considered as space allows and should either (a) focus on specific points of disagreement concerning a published article in the journal or (b) offer brief reflections or comments on the implications of the findings. In most cases, the original authors will be afforded the opportunity to respond. Letters to the Editor should not exceed 500 words (inclusive of references) and must contain no more than 5 references. With rare exceptions, such letters must be submitted within 6 months of the article’s appearance in print.

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Other APS Journals

Clinical Psychological Science does not compete directly with other journals of the Association, including Psychological Science, Perspectives on Psychological Science, Psychological Science in the Public Interest, or Current Directions in Psychological Science. Authors may submit manuscripts to Clinical Psychological Science that have been previously rejected from a different APS journal; in such cases, the Editor and Associate Editor(s) will be able to access editorial materials related to the previous submission, including editor comments, external reviews, and the editorial decision letter.

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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.

Clinical Psychological Science allows for the online publication of two types of supplemental online material (SOM). 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 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 that 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 include 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 concerning their methods and procedures, which are often 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. If authors have carried out direct or conceptual replications of their own, they may wish to summarize such complementary studies under SOM-R. Empirical evidence that attests to the replicability of the principal results is greatly 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, ancillary citations, or interesting subsidiary analyses that are not directly relevant to the authors’ hypotheses; for example, authors 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 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.

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Preparation of Manuscripts

The style of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th edition, must be followed with respect to handling of references, tables, figures, abbreviations, and symbols. Permission from the copyright owner must be obtained by the author(s) for use of any figure previously published elsewhere (note that this is not the responsibility of the journal). Descriptions of Methods and Results should be prepared with special attention to readability; be certain to minimize the use of technical lingo, and when such lingo is necessary, be certain to define and explain it clearly. 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 requires significant participation in the conceptualization, research, or writing of a manuscript, including participation in the design and/or interpretation of reported studies 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 after the body of the main text and before the acknowledgments that explicitly states each author’s contribution:

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

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When evaluation of the data involves statistical significance testing, effect sizes and confidence intervals should also accompany the major results wherever possible. When relevant, bar and line graphs should include distributional information, usually confidence intervals or standard errors of the mean.

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Demographic Data

Please include data on participants’ ethnicity/culture, sex, and a measure of income, education, or socioeconomic status; if such data were not collected, this point should be noted explicitly as a limitation.

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Preparation of Graphics

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. Please 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, please supply the original Excel file rather than an Excel file embedded in a Word document. Photographic images such as brain scans, unless incorporated into a larger graph or display, may still be submitted in standard image formats like EPS or 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 be certain to adhere to the following format when naming figure files: AuthorLastNameFigX.fileformat (e.g. SmithFig1.xls, SmithFig2.jpg, etc.).

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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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 to fulfill many funders’ mandates to archive your accepted manuscript by making your article open access and depositing your manuscript files in PubMed Central. Authors who wish to pay to make an article/manuscript publicly available immediately upon publication 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.

Authors may share the version of their manuscript that was submitted to the journal at any time. Upon acceptance, authors may post the final, accepted version of the article on their personal or their departmental Web site(s) or in their departmental or institutional repository(ies) (green open access). One year after publication, authors may make the final, accepted version available in other repositories. Authors may not post the final published PDF anywhere without permission.

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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Ethical Considerations

Authors reporting research involving human participants should indicate whether the protocol was approved by an institutional review board or similar review 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 absolutely necessary and full written, informed consent is obtained.

Any potential conflicts of interest should be reported in the online submission process and in the article. The Declaration of Conflicting Interests section that appears in every article will state any reported conflicts; if there are no conflicts, the Declaration will read “The author(s) declared no conflicts of interest with respect to the authorship or the publication of this article.” When in doubt about whether a personal or financial interest constitutes a conflict of interest, we strongly recommend that authors report potential conflicts: Better safe than sorry.

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 www.icmje.org. In particular, authors should reference the following sections:

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

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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English Language Assistance

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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Submission FAQs

Contributors are encouraged to consult the Submission FAQs before submitting manuscripts to Clinical Psychological Science.

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