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  • Publishing YourPsychology Research

    A guide to writing for journalsin psychology and related fields

    Dennis M McInerney

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  • First published in 2001

    Copyright Dennis McInerney 2001

    All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced ortransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical,including photocopying, recording or by any information storage andretrieval system, without prior permission in writing from thepublisher. The Australian Copyright Act 1968 (the Act) allows amaximum of one chapter or 10% of this book, whichever is thegreater, to be photocopied by any educational institution for itseducational purposes provided that the educational institution (orbody that administers it) has given a remuneration notice toCopyright Agency Limited (CAL) under the Act.

    Allen & Unwin83 Alexander StreetCrows Nest NSW 2065AustraliaPhone: (61 2) 8425 0100Fax: (61 2) 9906 2218Email: frontdesk@allenandunwin.comWeb: www.allenandunwin.com

    National Library of AustraliaCataloguing-in-Publication entry:

    McInerney, D. M. (Dennis M.), 1948 .Publishing your psychology research: a guide towriting for journals in psychology and related fields.

    Includes index.ISBN 1 86508 362 3.

    1. PsychologyAuthorship. 2. Scholarly publishing.3. PsychologyResearch. 4. Academic writing. I. Title.

    808.06615

    Set in 10/11.5 pt Arrus by DOCUPRO, CanberraPrinted by South Wind Production Services, Singapore

    10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

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  • CONTENTSContents

    Acknowledgments vIntroduction vii

    1 Quality in psychological research: What journaleditors are looking for 1

    2 Quality problems and issues in major types of research 123 Selecting a journal outlet and submitting your article 284 Writing your literature review for an effective article 575 Writing your method for an effective article 746 Writing results and discussions for an effective article 897 The review process 1 998 The review process 2responding to reviewers

    comments 1119 From thesis to journal article 129

    Appendix Code of ethics 137Index 142

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  • ACKNOWLEDGMENTSAcknowledgments

    I wish to acknowledge all the wonderful researchers who havepublished clear and powerful studies that have acted as exemplarsfor my own work. I also want to acknowledge all the editors andreviewers who have responded to my work and given me insightsinto what makes a piece publishable. In particular, I want to thankProfessor Herbert Marsh for sharing with me many of his insightsinto research publishing that have helped shape my own attitudesand skills. Finally, I want to thank Elizabeth Weiss for her warmencouragement in this project, Rebecca Kaiser for her excellentcontribution to the design and publication of the book, and tothe three reviewers of the manuscript for their excellent sugges-tions which improved the text.

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  • INTRODUCTIONIntroduction

    At the outset I want to say this is not a research methodologybook. There are many excellent methodology tests available andI do not want to proliferate these. However, what is lacking is atext that guides the competent early researcher through the mazeof getting published.

    While it has always been important for academics to bepublished if they wished to contribute to, and disseminate, knowl-edge in their field of expertise, the imperative to be published isstronger today than ever before. There are a number of reasonsfor this, not the least being the way in which funding touniversities internationally is allocated partly in terms of researchproductivity and output. Furthermore, promotion and progressionas an academic, in most university settings, requires an academicto be a productive researcher. Productivity is most often measuredthrough the vigour and depth of ones research program that isreflected in the quality (and quantity) of research publications,as well as through the research grants awarded to the researcher.Hence the squeeze is on all academics to be productive researchwriters.

    But few academics are taught how to write their own researchto maximise its potential for publication. Indeed, statistics revealthat in many research fields the average per annum publicationrate per individual is very low.

    Research publishing is tough. As an academic psychologist Ilearnt through trial and error what to do and what not to do in

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  • order to be published. This book is written for the individual whowishes to have the process de-mystified and de-terrorised. I takethe reader step-by-step through the publication process. First, Iillustrate how to read research in psychology intelligently so thatthe exemplars can act as models for personal research writing.Second, I illustrate how to design research so that it has potentialfor publication. Third, I take the reader carefully through theprocess of writing research so that it may be published in theappropriate and best journals. There is not much use doingresearch unless it is published. Even commissioned commercialand in confidence research should be publishable in the bestjournals, albeit there might be an embargo on publication. If theresearch is not good enough to be published then it should notbe done. If it is good enough, then this book should help it seeprinters ink (or cyber space representation).

    The book is written in an accessible style and should appealto a wide audience from raw beginners through to seasonedveterans who have the responsibility for training the researchersof the future and who will pass the book on to graduate studentsand novice researchers. It should also be of interest to profession-als in general, administrators and consultants. There is limitedtechnical information (such as on methodologies and statisticaldescriptions) and these are used for illustrative purposeseg, toillustrate where individuals can make flawed presentations whichwill preclude their article from being reviewed and accepted forpublication. In each chapter there are excerpts from publishedresearch and editorial/reviewer comments as examples. Many ofthese are chosen from my own work. The reason for this is nota big head as many of the examples are negative ones, but rather,it is less problematic to obtain copyright permission to reproduceones own work.

    I hope the reader enjoys the book and finds it a valuableintroduction to the world of research publication. I welcome anycomments.

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    viii Publishing Your Psychology Research

  • 1QUALITY INPSYCHOLOGICALRESEARCH: WHATJOURNAL EDITORS ARELOOKING FOR

    Quality in psychological research

    The heuristic value of research Being knowledgeable about research The stages of the research process Contributing to researchstudent, novice and experienced

    researchers Ethical standards of research

    THE HEURISTIC VALUE OF RESEARCH

    If you are reading this book you are probably a budding researcheror a mentor of budding researchers. You might also be a proficientresearcher, just curious about the nature and purpose of this book.In any event, it is important for all researchers to examine thepurpose and importance of research in their areas and theirparticular role in it. Research is usually associated with acquiringnew knowledge through empirical means. It is also associated withchange, development, and more often than not, progress in aparticular area. In most areas of human endeavour there is formaland informal research dedicated to issues of interest, significanceand importance. Lets look at a few examples. There is extensiveand continuing research in an incredibly wide range of medicalareas. Some of these are very high profile areas, such as AIDSand cancer research, while many others are less high profile, butnevertheless of great significance such as research on palliativecare. There is also extensive and continuing research in the

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  • sciences, for example the research effort of groups such as CSIROand NASA, and many other scientific organisations. Again, muchof this research is very high profile, such as that on geneticallymodified food and cloning. There is extensive research in areasdealing with social and personal are