Psychology journals represent sources of information to those in a psychology career. They contain the latest scientific research and news and provide opportunities for psychologist networking. Publishing in a psychology journal is considered to be very prestigious.
Each psychology journal is devoted to research in the field of psychology. Most are peer-reviewed, meaning that articles submitted to a journal are reviewed by a panel of experts in that field. Psychology journals began as publications for the different psychology societies (e.g., American Journal of Psychology). The first psychology journal in the United States to develop was the American Journal of Psychology in 1887. The journal was started by G. Stanley Hall with a $500 grant from the American Society of Physical Research. The American Journal of Psychology represented the first real attempt in the United States to present information about psychology research as it relates to the actual practice of psychology. As psychology research bloomed and specialization grew more popular, the number of psychology journals increased and so did journal submissions. The sheer volume of journals now is such that some tend to be practice specific.
Psychology journals are primarily read by practicing psychologists. As many journal articles are written by research psychologists, they often contain complex statistical analyses that may be difficult for a clinical psychologist to interpret. For this reason, journals also contain articles with greater focus on clinical practice, such as psychology news, review articles, and educational content.
Before an article is published in a psychology journal, it undergoes a review process. As stated earlier, many journals use a peer review process to evaluate submissions. Usually, prior to this process, an editorial board will evaluate the article to make sure it has met the requirements for submission to the journal. The article will be checked to make sure funding descriptions are given and institutional review board (IRB) approval for research is mentioned along with other formalities. A full peer review involves sending an article for review by two or more experts in the addressed area. Articles that stand up to this scrutiny will usually be sent back to the authors to address any comments prior to publication.
The constantly evolving state of psychology demands that practitioners keep up with advances in order to provide the best care to their patients. Psychology journals are also struggling to keep up with a different kind of advancement—technological. Many journal articles are available online, some even for free. This can be an enormous benefit to a busy psychologist who does not have the time to go to a library to perform research. Articles available on demand may even contribute to a higher percentage of psychologists utilizing journals to aid in diagnosing and treating patients.
Psychology journals can also be used as sources of career networking. If a psychologist is beginning a career in research, reading articles by other researchers in the same field will help introduce him or her to the area and its key players. Contacting researchers in the area of specialty might even lead to research opportunities. Publishing in a psychology journal bestows prestige and is likely to produce contacts from others in the field as well. These contacts may come from budding researchers or from other experts looking to discuss similar advancements. Additionally, some psychology journals will advertise for employment openings.
There are many psychology journals published in the United States and worldwide, some more popular than others. What most have in common is a dissemination of new and original research that can aid in the practice of psychology by its readership.