The journal editors roundtable discussion – APA Convention 2010

Division journal editors participated in a session that focused on issues related to being a journal editor and discussed creating a network where they could share information, strategies and experiences

Nadya Fouad, PhD and Jan Yoder, PhD, chairs of this session, welcomed the division journal editors explaining that the idea for this session originated from a discussion they had on issues related to various aspects of being a journal editor and wanting to connect with other editors. They decided to find out whether other division journal editors were interested in creating a network where they could share information, strategies and experiences. Drs. Fouad and Yoder thought that APA’s Council of Editors might provide a good model for the network and spoke to APA staff about having representatives come to talk to interested and available division journal editors at the 2010 APA Convention in San Diego.

Journal editors roundtableAt the start of the session participants were asked to introduce themselves and provide initial thoughts. Those present had various things to say about what was most pressing. Some said that they were overwhelmed with submissions while others were having difficulty attracting articles.  Division journal editors in attendance were Clark Chinn, PhD (Div. 15), Armando Estrada, PhD (Div. 19), Nadya Fouad, PhD (Div. 17), Lisa K. Kearney, PhD (Div. 18), Ron Levant, EdD (Div. 51), Rodney Lowman, PhD (Div. 13), Wade Pickren, PhD (Div. 26), Ralph Piedmont, PhD (Div. 36) and Jan Yoder, PhD (Div. 35).  APA Staff members on hand to answer questions were Rhea Farberman (Public and Member Communications), Susan J. A. Harris (Publications and Databases) Sarah Jordan (Division Services), Jesse Raben (Office of the General Counsel). 

A participant noted that the journal editor’s job doesn’t stop once the issue is put together. The editor is also responsible for marketing the journal. Editors were urged to find new ways to promote their journals, possibly through podcasts, blogs and other new technologies.

Division 17 is trying to increase the visibility of its journal through new social media.  For example, manuscript authors are invited to create podcasts or audiotapes with a facilitator using an interview format. This allows researchers to discuss the implications of their work for psychology practice – giving good science away. It extends the articles and generates interest in the issue.

Also noteworthy is that students are likely to download links and libraries are looking for articles. This added exposure may lead to increased submissions.

It was suggested that editors use a 60-day production schedule targeted to the date of the next issue. Links from the table of contents (TOC) sent 30 days before the issue is available in print can generate interest. One way to publicize the issue is by having people receive online alerts; however, in order to do this people need to sign up. The first release of the issue is online and citable through its doi number. The print version can become available at any point after the article’s online release, although APA’s P&C Board advises keeping a backlog of no more than two full issues, depending upon the frequency of the journal. The impact rating of the journal is based on print numbers.

APA Senior Director of Journals Susan J.A. Harris met with the division journal editors to answer questions. She noted that online usage is going up dramatically but there is still a place for print journals for divisions as a benefit of division membership.

Discussions among the participants yielded a number of recommendations:

  • Develop the journal’s credibility factor and brand loyalty among division members. The division’s mission should be reflected in the content of its journal. 

  • Part of the editor’s job is attracting submissions; check out poster sessions to find new and interesting research. 

  • Create ISI links (links between journal articles with the current work and prior work of others.) Don’t apply for ISI until the journal is in the 4th year of publishing. 

  • Make sure your articles are abstracted in PsycINFO 

  • As far as impact factor is concerned, ask yourself if you are achieving the mission of your division. If so, be satisfied. 

  • Book reviews are not cited. Editorials and introductions to special issues create interest in the issue but are not cited. ISI varies in whether they include these in calculating their impact factor. Although ISI does not disclose the basis for its calculations, your publisher can provide some information that may help you determine what is, and what is not, counted. 

  • Create good science -- the quality of the science is critical. 

  • Keep the backlog of articles down by increasing the frequency and/or pages per issue.

Consider an online only venue for supplemental materials and materials that you don’t want counted toward your impact factor. Thomson Reuters is the organization that gathers information on journal citations, reporting annual a journals impact factor in Journal Citation Report (JCR), otherwise referred to as the ISI Impact Factor. The journal impact factor is a measure of the frequency with which the average article in a journal has been cited in a particular year. Thomson looks at the number of articles a journal publishes and the number of citations it garners during a specific 2-year period of time. In other words, the impact factor released in 2010 measures citations in 2009 to items published in 2008 and 2007 only. The calculation is below:

Citations in 2009 to items published in 2008 = XX 
                                                        2007 = XX
                                                        Sum = XX

Number of items published in 2008 = XX 
                                           2007 = XX 
                                           Sum = XX

Calculation: Sum of cites to recent items       = impact factor 
                  Sum of number of recent items       

In assessing the Council of Editors as a model for the formation of a division journal editors’ group, Ms. Harris was asked about the issues that make up the Council of Editors’ agenda. She noted the following:

  • Best practices 

  • Sharing what the editors are experiencing 

  • Warning against possible conflicts of interest and other legal issues 

  • Establishing a normative database 

  • Resource exchange

The group asked about the possibility of appointing a representative from the division journal editors’ group to liaise with the Council of Editors. Ms. Harris agreed to find out if this would be possible.

Executive Director of Public and Member Communications Rhea Farberman spoke about what APA is doing to market its journals. APA has retooled and repurposed its online media releases. Her staff reviews every article that APA publishes that has news value and good science. News releases go out to 250 press outlets. Releases are developed using phone interviews with authors and are about 2 pages/9 paragraphs in length.

Ms. Farberman said that APA’s process is: 1) first release (print or online), 2) print release, 3) web-linked for APA and Google searches, and 4) interviews with authors by audio or audio/video. She mentioned that pick-up rates are about 90%.

Ms. Farberman warned that doing webcast interviews and using Facebook require a significant amount of time and staffing resources will be key. Monitoring is required for Facebook. Twitter and RSS news feeds may be good options but require your members to sign up for alerts. In sum, be wary of starting projects that cannot be adequately maintained.

The group discussed the possibility of cross disciplinary and co-publishing opportunities. Associate General Counsel Jesse Raben said that in order to do this journal editors would have to address copyright issues and come to an agreement prior to publication of the articles. Mr. Raben also cautioned editors about possible copyright issues when using Facebook.

Mr. Raben told division journal editors that earlier division journal contracts sometimes contained problematic language. For example, some of the contracts named the editor who negotiated the contract as the journal copyright owner rather than the division. In assisting with contract renegotiations, APA has been able to straighten our copyright ownership issues, helped to better define contract terminology (royalties, net revenues, etc.), and get more lucrative contract terms for divisions. He is eager to assist any of APA’s divisions with contract negotiations whether or not APA is their journal publisher.
He mentioned that the publications industry has changed radically over the past 10 months and he is willing to talk to divisions about how those changes may affect their journal. He recommended that the division begin the renegotiating process eighteen months prior to the expiration date of their current contract.

Mr. Raben also talked briefly about the protection of attribution. He recommended that divisions do regular searches for individuals or organizations that may be using the division’s or journal’s name illegally. If the division finds illegal usage, he will assist in sending take-down notices and writing cease-and-desist letters.

Finally, Mr. Raben said that he will be looking into e-copywriting issues to inform APA policies aimed at protecting its intellectual property.

Before the session concluded, there was a recommendation from those attending to launch a division editors' listserv through the Division Services Office so that editors can share and solicit information.