Feature

Under her leadership, Cynthia García Coll, PhD, would like the APA journal Developmental Psychology to have the same kind of direct influence on parents, consumers and policy-makers that journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine or Pediatrics have. But to accomplish this, she says, the journal needs to help integrate the field, as well as broaden its resources, infuse a more cross-disciplinary perspective and address pressing social issues, controversies and emerging trends.

"The explosion of the field has brought much sophisticated knowledge, but this knowledge now resides in fragmented and isolated areas that rarely inform each other in new or profound ways," says García Coll, a professor of education, psychology and pediatrics at Brown University whose six-year term as editor begins in January 2005.

"Developmental Psychology should not only reflect the latest advances and promote the integration of our accumulated knowledge, but be a leader in introducing and developing new fields of inquiry," she adds.

To meet these goals, García Coll intends to stimulate publications in areas that she's identified as generally overlooked by developmentalists, such as how the completion of the Human Genome Project and the ensuing research on genetics will influence psychologists' understanding of the developmental process. Other potential areas for exploration include how recent discoveries in neural plasticity can inform developmental psychology, the often-ignored middle-childhood years and the Internet's effects on children, she says.

García Coll, who will begin receiving manuscripts next month, is already laying the groundwork for special sections on some of these topics. She is also proposing the idea of publishing applied research in the form of short reports on, for example, the effectiveness of a well-designed prevention or intervention program, the development of a new methodology or a replication of a developmental phenomena in a new population.

"I don't see myself tied to one format," she explains. Her plans are to keep the journal's high standards while "enlarging the vision" to make more room for promising work in other areas that can inform the field's basic research.

Another way she'll expand the journal's vision is through dialogue with other disciplines, she says. She intends to invite economists, cellular biologists, public policy experts and anthropologists to serve as ad hoc reviewers and consulting editors. Within psychology, she'll also tap the expertise of educational and clinical psychologists, in addition to developmental experts.

García Coll also hopes to see more diversity in submissions. She says she's tired of seeing only deficit-oriented research on minority populations and hopes to publish more replication and normative studies on ethnic minorities.

Indeed, García Coll has particular knowledge of diversity issues. She has studied the development of competencies in ethnic-minority children in the United States and is currently examining how children of immigrants negotiate their experience in two different cultures--one at home and one in school.

So, with all these changes, "What's going to be left out?" she asks. Nothing, she hopes. In fact, she expects that her ideas for format changes and increased diversity will sustain loyal readers and authors and bring back those who may have lost touch with the journal over the years.

Further Reading

As of Jan. 1, authors can submit manuscripts electronically to García Coll at  APA Journals.