Steven Penrod, PhD, JD, wants you to think more about the intersection of law, public policy and psychology.
He aims to spark such thinking by expanding the readership of Psychology, Public Policy and Law, as the APA journal's new editor. He also urges current readers and contributors to think more broadly about that intersection, and he's welcoming original research on it-a new direction for the journal.
"If you looked across all of the APA journals, you could find work that is relevant to law and public policy," says Penrod, a psychology professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Clinical, developmental, family, social, cognitive, health and aging psychology are just a few of the areas in which Penrod sees public policy and legal implications.
"I would, for example, like to see more multistudy papers that tackle problems at the juncture of psychology and law," Penrod says. "I want to encourage research that makes a significant contribution to our understanding of legal practices and theories, and that addresses, tests and sometimes challenges psychological assumptions embedded in the law."
At the same time, Penrod wants the journal to continue to appeal to legal practitioners and policy-makers. So, while the focus is ultimately psychology, he expects that research published in the journal will include a thorough examination of relevant law and policy. Penrod wants the journal to be less of a review of research in psychology, public policy and law, and more like a traditional research journal, but with a legal bent.
"One of the strengths of the journal is that the editors have had a very broad concept of what areas of psychology bear on public policy and law," says Penrod. "I want to encourage people to use this platform."
The journal has examined a wide variety of issues, such as capital punishment and state government's response to drug-addicted babies. Penrod hopes that by reaching out to diverse areas in psychology, he might delve into issues that are not usually addressed from a legal or public policy point of view. He also wants the journal to make significant contributions to scientific knowledge. He feels that too often laws and policies are set without solid data on the implications.
Through its scientific methods, psychological research on law and policy can have a clarifying impact, Penrod says.
However, research will be only part of his focus. To make the most of the journal's relatively small amount of space, he's looking for a wider array of article lengths. Pieces could be anywhere from one page to 30 or more.
The idea is to engage readers, he says, while promoting open and frequent exchanges between the psychological and legal communities. He points out that the journal is already indexed in traditional legal search engines. With the advent of broader Internet search engines, he envisions attracting other readers.
"The draw of the journal is the opportunity to reach a broad audience," says Penrod. With tools like Google in hand, who knows who might be enticed by Psychology, Public Policy and Law?