An APA Journal?

An APA journal on psychology and religion? Yes, the rumor is true -- APA and Division 36 are considering establishing a journal. Some time ago the Division sent a questionnaire to about 700 members, and a substantial majority of those who responded were in favor of a journal. Details remain to be worked out, but my understanding at this point is that the journal would be a quarterly, publishing about 250 pages per year.

Among the arguments in favor of a journal is that it would add a prestigious place to publish psych of religion research. This might lead to less "ghettoization" of our work, and help psychologists see psych of religion as more central than peripheral to psychology as a whole. The success of the religion and spirituality books published by APA has obviously helped in this effort. In my opinion, we all owe Ed Shafranske, Allen Bergin and Scott Richards a hearty "Thank you!" They were the first to open up this avenue for psychologists interested in religion.

Most people I asked were quite excited about the possibility. A few did wonder whether there would be enough high-quality manuscripts to maintain the journal. My memory may be fuzzy on these details, but I think that the journal would strive for at least a 50 - 70% rejection rate, and would need 40+ manuscripts submitted per year in order to meet its goals. Given that we have several good journals available already -- IJPR, JSSR, MHRC, the Archiv, J of Psych & Christianity, J of Psych & Theology -- it will be interesting to see how an additional journal affects the existing ones. I hope that they all remain strong in the coming years.

On a related note, it would be interesting to know the rejection rates for these various journals. For example, I recall hearing from someone that JSSR rejects approximately 80% of the manuscripts it receives. If that is true, and the APA journal is successful & rejects, say, 65% of the manuscripts it receives, I could picture the odd situation that the APA journal is considered equally- or even more-prestigious than JSSR, despite its more lenient rejection rate. The typical psychologist or grad student searching through PsychInfo may be influenced more by the institutional status of APA than by the rejection rate. Who knows?! Either way, the next few years promise to be interesting.

Post your thoughts about this subject! Are you in favor of it? Against? What are the advantages and disadvantages?


RTC said...

I didn't realize their wasn't a journal already dedicated to the psychology of religion... Shows you the discplinary boundaries of academia. In the sociology of religion we have a number of major journals, like JSSR, Sociology of Religion, Review of Religious Research, Social Compass, Nova Religio, etc. I don't see why psychologists shouldn't have their own journal (though it would definitely limit what is sent to JSSR, which wouldn't make the editors there happy).

My question about journals is always the same: Do they have a large enough base of contributors to keep up a stream of quality submissions? If you have 700 members in the religion section of the APA, that seems like you would. I believe SSSR has over 1600 members; not sure how many members the religion section of ASA has... Do you think there is a large enough base of contributors?

Pizza Cutter said...

Dr. Neilsen, first off, it was good to meet you in New Orleans. I look forward to it being the first time of many. On this one, the previous comment is clearly correct. The question is whether there is enough good research going on to fill this new journal. If APA wants to launch this journal, then perhaps it should also consider some investment of resources in nurturing along new scholars in the field?