John F. Dovidio, PhD, incoming editor of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology's (JPSP) Interpersonal Relations and Group Processes section, wants to publish a wider range of new ideas in a faster turnaround time. And he has big plans for how to accomplish that.
Dovidio aims to preserve what's already in the section--the quality, the breadth and the traditional focus on how people operate in relation to other people and to groups. But he also wants to encourage more groundbreaking studies, and to boost coverage of emerging areas, such as social neuroscience, and overlooked areas in the journal, such as developmental psychology. In addition, he plans to publish more articles faster by cutting review time from four months to three months.
To meet his goals, Dovidio will:
Consider the balance between single-study and multistudy papers, which take more time to review.
Appoint reviewers willing to work on shorter deadlines.
Recognize and help authors polish research articles that are "diamonds in the rough."
"My biggest editorial insight is that the perception of an editor as a gatekeeper keeping things out and sending people away is really wrong," says Dovidio, a Colgate University psychology professor who has held editorial appointments on numerous other journals. "An editor's job really is shepherding good things into the journal, and that's the challenge."
He believes this open-minded approach gets better research out to the public while also advancing the careers of young researchers. He plans to coach authors, helping them fine-tune their arguments by talking them through the process.
Dovidio also applies this mentoring philosophy to his work with associate editors. He is entitled to four associate editors, but he will start off with three in hopes of "discovering" someone else he can promote. His goal is to groom a young scholar "who is quietly doing important work"--preferably a minority researcher.
In fact, Dovidio has taken great care to include scholars of color among the consulting editors he has chosen--not surprising considering his research background in diversity and racial and ethnic issues.
Though he "doesn't plan to create a journal in the image" of his research, he will ensure that it is inclusive and covers minority interests. "We need to realize that there may be systems that exclude certain people and certain ideas, and that we have to bend because the ideas and the people are worth bending for," he says.
In line with his supportive approach, Dovidio also hopes to convince researchers that their papers don't have to be "perfect" to be published in his section of JPSP--a journal so esteemed that some have joked "only God publishes in it." While still preserving the section's high standards, Dovidio wants to maximize researchers' chance to publish there.
To make room for more of their papers, he encourages brevity and plans to get back to researchers in three months instead of the usual four. That way, if their papers are among the 80 to 85 percent of papers JPSP rejects, they can more quickly shop them elsewhere.
"We have people's professional lives at stake," says Dovidio. "So to the extent that we can give good feedback and do it in a timely fashion, it is in everybody's best interest."