Instructions for Authors

These guidelines are intended for invited contributors or authors of accepted proposals who are preparing their manuscripts for submission. Please do not submit complete manuscripts unless invited to do so. For instructions on submitting a proposal, please go here.

Our guidelines differ from those for conventional scientific papers, in many cases because of our goal in assuring that our articles appeal to a broad readership. I am very pleased that you are undertaking this article for the journal. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can answer any questions.

-Robert Goldstone, Editor

Read the latest editorial policy updates from the APS Publications Committee.

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The raison d’etre for Current Directions in Psychological Science (CDPS) is to provide distillations of whole programs of cutting-edge research in easy-to-understand reviews by the authors intimately familiar with the research. CDPS has an avid readership because its articles pay big informational dividends for relatively small investments of reading time, and also inspire readers to dig deeper into literatures about which they originally knew very little. CDPS keeps abreast of developments across the broad spectrum of the behavioral sciences.

The journal publishes brief reviews intended to alert a general audience to important new developments in research, theory, methods, and applications, in language that is accessible to a much wider audience than the target audience of other scientific journals. The authors of our articles are generally invited by the Editor and are the researchers who conducted the empirical work that is the focus of the articles. If an article is invited, a few coauthors are permitted, but we expect the first author to be the person invited to write the article.

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The Writing Challenge

The writing challenge for a CDPS manuscript is to present the latest science in ordinary and everyday (jargon-free) language, as our articles are intended to be readable not only to psychologists but also to graduate and undergraduate students, who are not necessarily experts in the domain of the article, as well as to scientifically literate laypeople. CDPS articles are often used as readings in psychology courses, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and they are also sometimes sent to science writers and policymakers. Given the broad audience, you should assume that the readers may not be familiar with terms, concepts, paradigms, and methods that are commonly used in your area of research.

As you prepare the article, please be alert to the degree to which the terms and concepts you use require explanation or elaboration. Indeed, whenever possible, replace technical terms with more familiar words and phrases that require no explanation. Use as few acronyms or abbreviations as possible (better yet, none), and spell them out on first use. If a technical term is used, it would be best to provide the clarifying material at the point where the new concept appears in the text—perhaps a short explanatory phrase will suffice.

Wherever possible, use examples to illustrate abstract ideas, principles, and processes.

CDPS is not considered to be a primary-source journal in which new empirical results are reported.  CDPS articles distill and integrate several primary-source articles.  This mission dictates the kinds of statistics reported in CDPS articles.  CDPS policy is to eschew most statistics unless they are needed to convey a conceptual point. Remember that many readers of the journal have no training in statistics. Means, standard deviations, and percentages are fine. Significance tests and p values should not be reported. It will suffice to refer to results as significant (or not). Terms like “effect size” and “meta-analysis” can be used, but generally should be accompanied by a plain-English explanation—e.g., “a study aggregating the results of earlier studies of x (i.e., a meta-analysis).” If effect-size values are reported, they should be accompanied by descriptions—e.g., “an effect size of .50, which is considered a moderately large effect.” Correlations are acceptable if needed to clarify meaning, and are preferably reported in parentheses. As with effect sizes, correlations should be explained in plain English—e.g., “… x and y were strongly positively correlated (+.80).”

When referring to brain regions, do not assume that readers are familiar with common anatomy and function. Introduce brain areas as areas associated with particular functions. Avoid unnecessary detail—it is very unlikely that readers’ comprehension of your main message will be increased by lists of brain regions. Details that are burdensome in text can often be provided in accompanying figures. Avoid medicalese either by using clear language—e.g., “damage” is better than “lesion” (unless the terminology is specifically needed)—or by defining terminology—e.g., “in the rostral (forward) anterior cingulate cortex.”

CDPS articles are intended to be succinct and focused. For that reason, we impose limits of 30 cited references (although we would prefer that the number be nearer to 20) and 2,500 words for the abstract and text proper (this is pretty strict). All theories and the full history of the topic need not be covered. Of course, the very notion of summarizing cutting-edge research clearly requires placing the current work in context. Accordingly, concise attention should be given to a broader contextualization of the underlying issues before current perspectives and new advances are presented. CDPS does not report data not yet vetted by peer review elsewhere.

A good rule of thumb is to take one of your recent colloquium presentations and turn it into a short article.

Figures can be very helpful to explain, illuminate, and clarify points made in the text. Please consider incorporating one to three figures that will enhance the accessibility of your thesis to our audience. In preparing figures, please consider that their size may be substantially reduced in the printed article. If the figure was used in a previous publication and includes some conditions not mentioned in your manuscript, please redraw it, leaving out the unmentioned conditions.

Figures and tables should be relatively simple and easy to interpret. They should preferably not exceed a couple of panels. A table’s title should fully summarize the content of the table. Color may be used in a figure, and is encouraged if it will help readers make sense of the figure (but simple bar graphs or line graphs generally work fine in black and white). Particular attention should be given to figure captions, which should be fully understandable without reference to the text. Every figure element should be mentioned (e.g., if a line graph shows results for experimental and control groups, the caption should mention both groups), and a caption for a diagram/model should walk the reader through each part. CDPS captions tend to be lengthier and more informative than the usual APA-style journal captions.

Each article should end with a list of three to five recommended readings, at least one of which should be a review of the literature that is general enough that it includes the references to the field that the author would include if CDPS were not so restrictive regarding the number of sources cited. Recommended readings may or may not overlap with those listed in the References section (and are not included in the 30-source limit), and each should be accompanied by a brief description in the form of a sentence fragment (e.g., “A comprehensive, highly accessible overview of what is known about TOPIC X” or “A recent article discussing ISSUE Y about TOPIC X in more detail than the current article”). Please consider the accessibility of the sources you cite. Include one or two recently published reviews of the relevant literature and key primary sources that are readily accessible through ordinary library or search resources. Unpublished articles and articles in sources that may be difficult to access should not be used as recommended readings.

The recommended readings, cover page, tables, figures, and figure captions do not count in the 2,500-word limit.

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Preparation of Manuscripts

You may upload your manuscript and ancillary files using the CDPS SAGE Track submission system. The files may be Word .doc or .docx, .rtf, .pdf, or .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. Double-space all material. We recommend that you divide the main text into sections with headings; further subdivisions may be used, but must be clearly distinguishable from the main headings.

The order in which elements of the final manuscript should appear is as follows:

  • Cover page, including a word count and postal and e-mail addresses of the contact author
  • Title page
  • Abstract
  • Main text, including figures, tables, and captions located where they are discussed in the text*
  • Recommended Reading
  • Acknowledgments and endnotes
  • References

*Please note the exception to APA style in the location of figures and tables. It is easier on the reviewers and Editor if the initial submission has the figures and tables integrated into the text where they are discussed.

The journal uses the American Psychological Association’s format (7th edition) for in-text citations and reference entries. Explanatory material is presented in endnotes. Footnotes are not used in CDPS. Consecutive superscript numbers in the text are used to refer to endnotes.

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Preparation of Graphics

Authors are requested to provide their figures in their native file format (e.g., Excel if they were created in Excel, Word only if they were actually created in Word, and definitely not TIFF or JPEG, except for photographs). This facilitates reformatting the figure labels, etc., without the typesetters having to completely redraw the figures, which can introduce major errors.

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

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Supplemental Material

Authors are free to submit certain types of Supplemental Material for online-only publication. This material should enhance the reader’s understanding of an article but not be essential for understanding the article. If the manuscript is accepted for publication, such material will be published online on the publisher’s website, linked to the article. Supplemental Material will not be copyedited or formatted; it will be posted online exactly as submitted.

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Notes on Accepted Manuscripts

When a manuscript is accepted for publication, the authors will receive information on how to prepare the text and figures for publication. Accepted manuscripts are edited to improve readability and effectiveness of communication.

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 Publishing Agreement, any permissions documentation, and production-quality figure files — rather than the date the acceptance letter was sent to the contact author.

Authors are free to disseminate to colleagues and media outlets information about a forthcoming article that they have contributed to CDPS as soon as the manuscript has been accepted and they have completed the Contributor Publishing Agreement.

Additionally, it is anticipated that media releases may be written for some articles published in CDPS. Such releases generally benefit the field of psychology, and the author as well. Authors who do not want a press release about their article should notify the Editor of this when their manuscript is accepted. Media or press-office inquiries should be directed to APS’s News & Information department at [email protected].

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 Research Council UK.

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. Authors who wish to pay to make an article 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.

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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Authors may include in their submission the names of four to five potential reviewers without a conflict and their e-mail addresses. Individuals with conflicts of interest include former mentors and teachers, current colleagues, and collaborators. Authors often are familiar with experts in their area of research, and their suggestions are appreciated. Keep in mind that the Editor will consider these requests but cannot guarantee that they will be honored.

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Other Considerations

Manuscripts under review at another journal cannot be simultaneously submitted to CDPS. A submitted article cannot have been published elsewhere, and authors are obligated to inform the Editor of similar articles they have published. Manuscripts should not contain substantial sections (e.g., larger than two sentences) copied from other publications even if these other publications were written by the author. If a submission has a history at another journal, the author should submit the reviews and editorial letter when submitting the manuscript, as this information has the potential to accelerate the decision process.

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Checklist for Format Requirements

Consideration of your manuscript requires that a number of formatting specifications be followed exactly. You may find the following useful as a checklist. Please note that the word and reference limits are strict.

_____Cover page for corresponding author (name, full address, phone, fax, e-mail address, & word count)

_____Title page with name and affiliation (including department) of each author

_____Abstract (10–200 words) and 3–5 keywords underneath

_____Double spacing of all material

_____Page number(s) and source of any quoted material

_____Headings (optionally, subheadings as well) to break up the text

_____Technical terms kept to a minimum and explained (The manuscript will be heavily edited to reduce such terminology in a later step of the production process.  It is acceptable to use terms that we as psychologists converse with freely, such as effect size, proportion of variance, and heritability, but even commonly used terms must be explained if undergraduate students are unlikely to be familiar with them.  Any reduction in technical terms at the submission stage will be very helpful later.)

_____Word count maximum of 2,500 (count only the abstract and all text)

_____Recommended Reading section (3-5 related readings you would recommend, each with a very brief description)

_____Notes section (if applicable) following Recommended Reading

_____References (APA format; list all authors unless there are 21 or more, in which case list the first 19 and then the last, preceded by ellipsis dots; page numbers for chapters in edited books; full titles of journals; DOIs required for articles in online-only journals)

_____References — maximum of 30 sources listed at the end of the manuscript

_____Figure captions (if applicable)

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