Feature

Want policymakers to read about your research? Publish it in Psychology, Public Policy and Law, says editor Ronald Roesch, PhD, a psychology professor at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia.

The journal has a direct line to the policy world as the only psychology publication that doubles as a law review and is featured in legal databases frequented by judges, congressional aides and other legal professionals, he says.

Since Roesch took over as editor in 2008, more researchers than ever can make the most of that access. While continuing to emphasize the policy implications of research, Roesch has broadened the journal’s scope, now accepting single-site, empirical studies in addition to the law review articles and multisite, multijurisdictional studies it’s always published.

Roesch hopes to expand the journal’s legal community readers and authors even more by encouraging law professors and members of the Association of American Law Schools to send in their law reviews. He is also urging more psychologists to submit their research, especially when it intersects with important legal issues. The U.S. Supreme Court, for example, recently considered whether adolescents should be sentenced to life in prison without parole, a policy issue that is informed by psychologists’ research on human development, says Roesch.

He’d also like to see more research on how to help minorities in courts and jails. “We have a shockingly disproportionate number of minorities in the legal system,” he says. “I’d like to see more research and policy papers on what can be done to address that inequity.”

With the help of his editorial board, Roesch has also revamped the journal’s schedule to narrow the journal’s review time, from submission to decision, to an average of 40 days. That will give authors more timely feedback, he says.

In addition to teaching at SFU, Roesch directs the school’s Mental Health, Law and Policy Institute, which conducts interdisciplinary research on psychology and law through the university and collaborates with research centers in Sweden, Spain, Poland and Italy. He and his colleagues developed several popular forensic assessment instruments, including the FIT-R, which is used to evaluate a person’s competency to stand trial. He was the editor of Law and Human Behavior from 1988–96. Next month, he will accept the 2009 American Psychology–Law Society Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology and Law.