Translational Issues in Psychological Science (TPS), the first journal developed and co-published through a partnership between graduate students and APA, has made its debut with an issue focused on the causes and consequences of sleep disturbances and sleep loss. The free journal will be sent to students electronically.
The idea for the journal came in 2009, when APA leadership asked APAGS's student science committee to think about ways to involve more students.
They said to dream big, and we started coming up with ideas that would benefit both students and psychological science," says Michael Scullin, then-chair, whom colleagues credit as the inspiration and driving force behind TPS. Scullin, now an assistant professor at Baylor University, saw two benefits of a student-run journal: giving students a reputable publication that they would want to read and offering students a training ground for publishing, reviewing and editing psychological research.
As its name suggests, the journal aims to show how recent research can be used in work, educational or community settings; in public policy; or to advance the work of psychology scientists and practitioners.
"The mission of TPS is to see how psychological science contributes to important topics of the day, and it seems anytime you read a newspaper or journal article, sleep, or the lack of sleep, is a priority topic," says Mary Beth Kenkel, PhD, the journal's editor-in-chief and dean of the College of Psychology and Liberal Arts at the Florida Institute of Technology.
The committee's dream has now come to fruition, with 11 manuscripts published in the inaugural issue. For this issue, the three associate editors and all 60 reviewers were trainees — associate editors reviewed their work — and each article had at least one novice author. Students learned how to review manuscripts by watching an online tutorial that APAGS science subcommittee members developed with the help of editors from The New School Psychology Bulletin, another student-run journal, as well as APA leadership and staff.
Student reviewers were also given a chance to revise their comments with feedback from the senior editors — an uncommon step in the industry, Scullin says.
"If we can impact the quality of peer reviewing, then the papers we ultimately publish will be globally a little bit better, and if you're as optimistic as I am, you think, hey, maybe we could improve science as a whole," he says.
Drexel University graduate student Caterina Mosti says her work on TPS enabled her to understand the other side of the submissions process. "I learned about collaborating with other editors and received feedback on my editorial style," she says, "including whether my critiques were helpful and what I could expand upon for authors."
On the flip side, "Being a reviewer and reading others' work definitely exercises a muscle that we apply to our own writing. To be able to read your own papers and think of the constructive criticism they might be met with gives us the power to strengthen and improve papers prior to publication," says Bruna Martins, a graduate student in clinical sciences at the University of Southern California who is subspecializing in geropsychology.
The learning process extended to the experts, who said the trainees' professionalism and enthusiasm made the process as fun as it was instructional.
"I was inspired by working with these incredibly brilliant, motivated and motivating editors and reviewers," says Hawley Montgomery-Downs, PhD, associate professor of psychology at West Virginia University. "Ostensibly it was about them learning, but frankly the seasoned faculty have a lot to learn as well."
Adds Kenkel: "Graduate students are close to the ground and very aware of current issues, and they were very influential in determining which topics we should concentrate on."
Upcoming issues of TPS will focus on using psychology in the classroom, obesity, and prejudice and discrimination.
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