Feature

Since its launch in 1904, Psychological Bulletin has been lauded for synthesizing, critiquing and setting new directions for psychological research and practice. In fact, the journal has been such an institution that 1999 APA President Robert J. Sternberg, who edited the journal between 1991 and 1996, joked that it was the only continuing-education course a psychologist ever needed.

Maintaining and enhancing that strong reputation are the goals of incoming editor Dolores Albarracín, PhD, a social psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania. "My task is to keep it at its present high level and to continue its upward trajectory in terms of its high impact factor and its ability to inform other disciplines and assimilate cross-cutting research within psychology," says Albarracín, who starts her term in January.

Like past editors, Albarracín will continue to favor quantitative reviews as the journal's gold standard.

"If a meta-analysis can be done, it has a lot of advantages in terms of establishing the domain and frequency of a phenomenon," she says. Still, she recognizes that data may be too sparse or scattered in certain domains to make conducting such reviews feasible, in which case qualitative or theoretical analyses may be more appropriate.

Albarracín also encourages manuscripts that further another important journal mission: developing theory, using research syntheses as a lab for the field's growth. For example, after summarizing the literature in a given area, the journal's articles have proposed new ways of thinking about "hearing voices" in schizophrenia; given new insight on why insomniacs tend to underestimate total sleep time; and offered a richer understanding of men's and women's cooperation styles.

"Good reviews really reach forward and move the field in an empirical direction," she says.

Submitters should also be aware of a few trends, says Albarracín. These include: 

  • "Hot" is good; creative is better. Recent submissions have included summaries of such popular areas as social-cognitive development, culture and health promotion. All of these are good, says Albarracín, but she also seeks submissions that develop new questions from existing data. "What can we learn that is new in a given area, what questions need answers based on reviewable data?" she asks. "What are the fundamental, indispensable principles of our discipline, gauged through research synthesis methods?"
  • Incorporating technology. There's a lot of room to analyze data on newer technological developments such as neuroimaging and to develop new methodologies for such analysis, says Albarracín. "I predict we'll see a lot of growth in such areas in the next editorial periods of the Bulletin."
  • Making connections. Albarracín also is interested in papers that link to current events or that connect psychology's subdisciplines. And she welcomes interdisciplinary analyses: "That's where science is going in general, and we need to push that as much as possible."

To submit a manuscript, visit the journal's online submissions portal.

Tori DeAngelis is a writer in Syracuse, N.Y.