Aims and Scope

Clinical Psychological Science

A Journal of the Association for Psychological Science

Clinical Psychological Science publishes advances in clinical science and provides a venue for cutting-edge research across a wide range of conceptual views, approaches, and topics. The principal focus of The Journal is basic research on psychopathology from diverse scientific perspectives, with a particular emphasis on the correlates and causes of mental illness and psychological adjustment. We particularly value manuscripts that draw from multiple lenses of analysis to clinical problems ranging from neurons to neighborhoods. Manuscripts that are interdisciplinary in scope and approach, and that transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries inside and outside of psychology, are especially welcomed.

With rare exceptions, manuscript submissions should include well-validated indicators of psychopathology or mental health; when they do not, the implications of the manuscript for psychopathology or mental health should be evident to readers. Manuscripts that focus exclusively on psychological functioning in the largely normal range will rarely be considered unless they bear clear-cut implications for maladjustment or the promotion of mental health.

The Journal encompasses many core domains that have defined clinical psychology, but also boundary-crossing advances that integrate and make contact with diverse disciplines and that may not easily be found in traditional clinical psychology journals. Among the key topics are research on the underlying mechanisms,  etiologies, and correlates of psychological dysfunction, as well as basic and applied work on the classification, diagnosis, and assessment of psychopathology and risk and protective factors for psychological maladjustment. Note: Because Clinical Psychological Science is a first and foremost a basic science journal, we do not typically accept treatment outcome studies, that is, studies in which Treatment X is compared with a wait-list control condition or with Treatment Y. We regard such comparative studies, when well-conducted, as extremely important and worthy of publication; at the same time, they do not typically fit with The Journal’s basic science mission and can usually be accommodated within many other high-quality psychological journals. We do sometimes make exceptions when (a) the treatment outcome study also features strong tests of basic mechanisms of change (e.g., changes in social-cognitive variables, attentional processing, biological indicators) or (b) the study focuses on an extant intervention that has been scaled up to very large numbers of participants or to novel samples (e.g., individuals in rarely studied cultures), thereby allowing for public health implications. In addition, Clinical Psychological Science is open to novel conceptual and methodological analyses of mediators and moderators in psychotherapy and to advances in psychotherapy treatment research that are informed by basic science.

This broadly based international Journal sits at the interface of clinical psychological science and other disciplines, publishing the best papers from the full spectrum of relevant science. The Journal welcomes empirical papers as well as occasional reviews and associated theoretical/philosophical formulations addressing the following:

  • Research from all subareas of psychology and from all disciplines bearing on psychology (e.g., genetics, neuroscience, psychiatry, public health, social work, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, computational modeling, mathematics) insofar as they relate to clinical problems broadly conceived;
  • Basic research on the psychological and related processes that are disrupted in psychopathology;
  • Research on core areas of cognition, emotion, learning, memory, social and cultural processes, sensation, perception, and neuroscience that clearly addresses psychopathological phenomena;
  • Research related to clinical issues at all lenses of analysis (from genes and molecules to contexts and cultures), using the full range of behavioral and biological methods, and incorporating both human and non-human animal models;
  • Research and theorizing on, and careful philosophical or historical analyses of, specific clinical symptoms, syndromes, and classification systems;
  • Studies with clinical patient populations as well as studies using non-clinical or pre-clinical populations that are relevant to understanding clinical dysfunction;
  • Basic and applied research relevant to clinical classification, diagnosis, and assessment;  Research focusing on precursors and risk factors for dysfunction as well as protective factors and resources that promote resilience and adaptive functioning;
  • Cultural and ethnic studies that advance our understanding of processes that relate to development and manifestations of psychopathology; Sophisticated, cross-cutting, and novel methodological, statistical, and mathematical approaches that enable advances in basic psychopathology research.

These examples and all such approaches are critical components of the Journal. However, the very nature of what is meant by cutting-edge and the rapid advances in methods of assessment mean that its scope cannot be fully enumerated. The key criterion is that the research directly inform some aspect  of basic research on psychopathology or mental health.

View the Editorial Board