Feature

Isabel Gauthier, PhD, was hooked by psychology when in college she read about visual agnosia — the inability to recognize objects in one’s field of view. But as the incoming editor for the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, she clearly recognizes which direction the journal needs to go to keep up with the field: allowing for more leeway in article length and broadening the range of submissions.

Gauthier, a cognitive psychologist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., began accepting submissions in January and will take over next year. She comes into the position with six years of experience as an associate editor at the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance.

Gauthier delights in editing journals. What began as occasionally reviewing articles has led to a passion. “I started noticing that some editors out there did a particularly good job,” she says. “You notice, ‘Wow, this person really seems to bring a lot of energy to it, and they’re being very helpful.’” Gauthier wants to be that person.

But first and foremost, Gauthier hopes to maintain the high level of quality she’s inheriting from her predecessors. “This journal is in a great position right now, so my first priority is not to mess it up,” she says.

She’s looking to improve on a few areas, too. Gauthier plans to introduce a section dedicated to brief articles that can summarize an important study in just a few pages. There’s a demand for high-impact short articles, she says, and the journal has space for them, since recently it hasn’t been using all the pages allotted to it. “This means we can publish short articles that are excellent without stopping doing the things JEP: General is known for,” she says.

Providing more brief articles will also give her more room to broaden the scope of research the journal covers. While the journal already does a good job of featuring studies from a range of disciplines, she says, she would like to fix a few oversights. For example, it’s surprising how little cognitive neuroscience the journal has featured in the last few years, she says.

And by surrounding herself with associate editors from diverse backgrounds, she says she hopes to further emphasize the “general” in JEP: General.