Degree In Sight

Cindy De Vaney Olvey of Argosy University/Phoenix didn't let her student status keep her from getting her research published in a professional psychology journal.

Identifying a void in the literature while working on her doctoral research, Olvey compared licensure requirements in psychology with those of other professions. She decided to submit her study for publication because she felt the findings-on psychologists' length of time to licensure and earning potential vis-à-vis other professions-would be useful to the field.

Olvey was pleasantly surprised, when, on her first try and only one draft later, the editors at Professional Psychology: Research and Practice (PPRP) accepted her article for publication. The article-"Licensure requirements: have we raised the bar too far?"-appeared in the June 2002 issue (Vol. 33, No. 3).

"It was an interesting learning process," says Olvey, who is in a clinical psychology PsyD program at Argosy. "The reviewers' feedback was invaluable, and, whether it was accepted or not, just to get that fresh perspective was helpful."

Learning about the journal submission process can be every bit as important as the publication credit, Olvey says. For one, she learned the importance of selecting the right journal for submission. She decided to target PPRP because a number of the articles she used in her literature review came from there, and she figured its readers would have an interest in the topic.

Olvey also stresses the importance of consulting and following the journal's submission guidelines. She used resources such as the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association: Fifth Edition (APA, 2001), particularly the section "Converting the Dissertation into a Journal Article," and the chapter "Manuscript Acceptance and Production."

Olvey first became interested in researching licensure requirements during an Arizona Psychological Association task force meeting on the differences between licensing for psychologists and other professionals-such as attorneys, dentists and physicians.

It also surprised her when her research revealed that psychologists take longer to earn their licenses and often still don't earn as much as professionals in the 12 other professions studied. "I was especially surprised that clinical psychologists actually take two years longer than psychiatrists to complete board certification," she says. Also, clinical psychologists took longer to complete board-certification requirements beyond high school than did general or family physicians-14 years versus 11 years.

Her research also revealed that psychologists' median earnings-$48,050, according to 1998 data-were lower than those of most other professionals. For example, the median was $56,000 for physical therapists and $110,160 for dentists. Psychologists' earnings were closer to dental hygienists' earnings of $45,885, and hygienists take two to four years to complete their programs, Olvey notes.

Her publication success shows that students shouldn't shy away from submitting their doctoral research for publication or taking part in presentations, Olvey says. She has already presented her research findings at one of APA's Annual Conventions and plans to present again at this year's Toronto convention on her latest research project, "Generations X, Y and beyond: what psychologists need to know."

"One of the most important things I have learned is that students can successfully publish their work," Olvey says. "I think some students underestimate themselves by not recognizing they have important contributions that can-and should be-shared with the profession."