In an effort to get more research into the pages of School Psychology Quarterly (SPQ), new editor Randy Kamphaus, PhD, is calling for authors to be clearer and more succinct and has set a 6,000-word limit for new submissions. The move will allow the journal to publish twice as many articles and, ultimately, will build more evidence about what works in fostering children's cognitive, social and emotional development, Kamphaus says.
"We may have drifted in a direction of trying to make individual research studies absolutely authoritative on a topic, as opposed to producing a body of evidence in the form of multiple journal articles that built logically on one another," he says.
The official journal of Div. 16 (School), SPQ became an APA publication last year. Before that, SPQ was published by Guilford Publications from 1991 to 2006, after starting as Professional School Psychology by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., in 1986. Kamphaus was named editor by Div. 16's Search Committee, a group drawn from division leadership and APA's Publications and Communications Board in May 2007.
Div. 16 President Tammy L. Hughes, PhD, says Kamphaus's vision of employing the journal to expand the field's body of evidence resonated with the Search Committee.
"He has an excellent record of publication, a passion for the editorial process and a clear plan for a scientific dialogue," Hughes says.
Kamphaus was named dean of the College of Education of Georgia State University (GSU) in August. Prior to coming to GSU, he was a distinguished research professor and head of the University of Georgia's department of educational psychology and instructional technology, having served on the faculty there since 1986.
In addition to shorter articles, the journal is also debuting a new design and larger page size this year, growing an inch wider and an inch taller.
In another sweeping change, Kamphaus is also organizing a new journal section called "Evidence for Practice," which will guide practitioners on the latest research and the best interventions for addressing particular problems, such as bullying and victimization.
He believes the section will help psychologists apply research to practice. "It's been my observation that the gentle nods to practice usually included in journal articles are not often fully developed enough for practitioners to apply," he says.
Looking to other challenges faced by educators, Kamphaus says serving children with significant behavioral and emotional problems remains a concern. Noting that in any given year only one in five children with a mental health disorder receives any type of mental health care, Kamphaus says researchers can help by designing cost-effective methods for universal screening, followed up by intervention and prevention programs for children identified as needing assistance.
Kamphaus became interested in school psychology when he served as a liaison to the Quincy, Ill., public schools while working at the Adams County, Ill., community mental health center.
He discovered that he liked working with children and found that school psychology offered a way to help individual children. From there, he moved into research to try to help larger numbers of children. His current research focuses on studying the value of school-based mental health screening in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
In the long term, he'd like to see mental health screenings for children be as regular as vision and hearing screenings at school.