Feature

APA is now accepting manuscripts for the Archives of Scientific Psychology, a new journal with open-methods, open-data, and open-access policies that could change the face of psychological publishing, says co-editor Harris Cooper, PhD, chair of Duke University's psychology and neuroscience department.

"Anyone in any country anywhere in the world who has access to the Internet can look for research in this new journal and find the full report, free of charge," he says.

While Archives isn't psychology's first open-access journal, it is the first to require authors to contribute their full data set to a central, restricted-access data repository, says co-editor Gary VandenBos, PhD, executive director of APA's Office of Publications and Databases. This data-sharing setup will allow other researchers to re-analyze study results, conduct more thorough meta-analyses and even conduct new data analyses, says Cooper.

"The data repository will make data more useful and it can also...make it more difficult for people to fabricate data or to misreport what procedures were followed in the data collection and analysis," he says.

Researchers will also be required to explain their data collection and analysis in a template format, making it easier for reviewers to catch potential problems and helping meta-analysts put together data from different studies, VandenBos adds.

"It all comes back to increasing the transparency and comprehensiveness of science reporting," he says.

The journal, now accepting new manuscripts, is expected to publish its first articles next year.

Dual audiences

Since the journal will be easily accessible to both scientists and laypeople, the editors have built in several features to make studies meaningful to both audiences.

For non-scientists, study authors will provide plain-language summaries of their findings in addition to traditional abstracts. These summaries will explain the importance of studies in easily accessible language for the general public and reduce the likelihood of misinterpretation, Cooper says. Study authors will also explain their methodology in terms that the average reader can understand.

If psychologists or other readers want to learn more about a study's methodology, they can read the methodology template, provided by the study's authors. The template, based on APA's Journal Article Reporting Standards (JARS), requires authors to provide detailed information on every aspect of their data collection and analysis. For instance, scientists with longitudinal studies will need to discuss their participants' attrition rate throughout the study.

"By using the template format, it will be very easy for reviewers to see [whether a researcher] hasn't included some important piece of information," VandenBos says.

When articles are published, laypeople and scientists alike will be able to comment on them in a blog-like forum. Psychology professors, for example, might share how their students reacted to the study, or readers might ask the researchers questions about their findings. Longer-form commentary by article reviewers may also be published alongside the study, says VandenBos.

"We want to give reviewers the opportunity to both praise the work and point out things the author wasn't able to address," VandenBos says.

Because the journal will not include a print version, the reviewer commentary, JARS template and other supplemental material — such as videos of procedures and software programs used in data analysis — will link to articles. As a result, the journal should be easy to navigate, whether people read it on desktop computers or mobile phones, VandenBos says.

A new model for publication

Since the Archives won't have subscribers to cover publication costs — which include design and upkeep of the website and database, coordinating manuscript review and editorial expenses — it will be funded by article submission fees: $350 to submit a paper for review plus an additional $1,950 if it is accepted for publication. These costs, says Cooper, are increasingly being built into grants or covered by institutions, which then save money on journal subscriptions.

"It's our expectation that authors won't be paying the fees themselves," says Cooper. "As open-access journals are becoming more common, we are seeing grant-givers begin to see this as a routine expense."

While fees may be a downside for authors, the Archives editors hope that the benefits of publishing in the journal will more than make up for it. In addition to getting research directly into the hands of policymakers and the general public, several studies suggest that articles published in open-access journals garner more citations than those published in traditional, subscription-only journals. For instance, one study published in 2010 in PLOS ONE found that articles in open-access journals were cited more often than articles in traditional journals, even when accounting for potentially confounding factors.

In general, psychology and other social sciences have been slower to adopt the open-access model than medicine, biology and physical sciences, VandenBos says. "In the past, open-access psychology journals have been very low-prestige, low-impact publications," he says.

Cooper believes Archives should help eradicate any remaining stigma psychologists have against the open-access model. "Archives will publish only the highest quality research that's been vetted through rigorous peer review," he says. "It's our hope that we'll quickly become a high-impact, open-access journal, and perhaps one of the highest-impact psychology journals."

Submit an article to the Archives of Scientific Psychology.