JRP Editor's Report

Richard E. Lucas

Richard E. Lucas

In the past year, the Journal of Research in Personality (JRP) has continued to grow. As has been true for a number of years, submissions to JRP continue to increase fairly rapidly. In 2010, we had about a 10% increase in submissions from the previous year, and it looks like the rate of growth will be similar in 2011. This means that by the end of the year, we will likely reach between 450 and 500 new submissions. This speaks well of the vitality and productivity of the field, and it is great news for the journal, as it means that we have an increasingly large pool of papers from which to select. This pool of papers allows us to maintain and even increase the quality of the work that we are publishing. Not surprisingly, the increase in submissions has also led to more selectivity; the JRP rejection rate has steadily crept up to around 80%.

One of the things that our team is most proud of is the speed with which submissions to JRP are handled. Editorial time has been cut in half over the past five years (and this downward trend started before we took over, so the previous editorial teams and the editorial system itself have played an important role in these improvements). In addition, the average time to first decision is now down to just five weeks. Of course, this includes a large number of papers that are handled very quickly, either with triage decisions or through the streamlined review process. However, even for papers that are sent out for review, most first decisions come within two months. One often-ignored statistic related to editorial time is the time to the final decision, and this has been reduced to just over eight weeks. By carefully considering which revisions need to be sent out for review, and by acting quickly on the revisions that do come in, the editorial team is working hard to make sure that manuscripts are acted upon quickly. When combined with the decreased production time (the publisher takes less than one-third of the time they took five years ago to get accepted articles published), this means that the time from submission to actual publication has been reduced dramatically. This means that research published in JRP is some of the most current work in the field. The associate editors and I, along with the Elsevier staff, are working hard to maintain and continue these improvements.

The challenge for the future will be to continue efficiently evaluating the large number of high quality manuscripts submitted to JRP.  To address these issues, the publisher has agreed to some restructuring of our editorial team, which will take place in 2012. Most notably, we will be moving to a new model where one “senior associate editor” will aid the editor-in-chief in conducting the initial evaluation of submitted manuscripts. Brent Donnellan has agreed to serve in this role, and we hope that this restructuring will allow the team to make additional improvements in editorial efficiency. We will continue with five additional associate editors, though after two and three years of service respectively, Mike Furr and Peter Borkenau have decided to step down. Both have done an exceptional job, both in terms of speed and quality of their feedback, and I would like to thank them for their service to the journal. Additional information about changes to the editorial staff will be posted on the JRP website as it becomes available.

Although the growth of JRP is a positive feature, it has had one somewhat surprising consequence related to the journal's impact factor. As some might have noticed, this impact factor dropped slightly from 2008 to 2009, and has rebounded slightly in 2010. This appears to be a function of the dramatic, and quite rapid, growth in the number of papers published. Specifically, the number of papers published (the denominator in the impact factor calculation) has risen five-fold from 2005 to 2009 (the last year that contributes to impact factor calculations), whereas the numerator has not quite caught up yet. Our publisher assures us that this is typical of such rapid growth and is no cause for concern. Indeed, after years of growth, the number of papers we are publishing has stabilized and will likely even decline somewhat after a very high number of publications in 2009.

One other piece of good news concerns the return of the annual “Best Paper” award for JRP. At the beginning of this year, the editors of the journal reviewed all the papers that were published in the previous year. After this review, a set of papers were nominated and ranked. At the Association for Research in Personality Meeting in Riverside, we announced that Nicholas Holtzman, Simine Vazire, and Matthias Mehl's paper “Sounds like a narcissist: Behavioral manifestations of narcissism in everyday life,” won the 2010 award. Congratulations to these authors for this great contribution; we plan to continue recognizing excellent papers in future years.

Before closing, I want to remind authors to consider submitting papers to JRP under the streamlined review process. Papers that have previously been submitted to APA or APS journals can be resubmitted to JRP with the original reviews and a response letter. We will consider these reviews and can usually make a decision about the acceptability of the paper for publication without sending the paper out for additional review. This shortens the review process considerably, with the additional benefit of reducing reviewer burden, and streamlined papers often receive decisions within a few days.

On a final note, I again want to thank all of you who have reviewed for us over the past years. As everyone knows, journals simply cannot function without the thoughtful contributions of the reviewers to whom we turn when new manuscripts come in. We very much appreciate the hard work that reviewers put in to the process, as it makes our jobs much easier. And, of course, we thank all the authors for submitting such great work to the journal. We look forward to seeing much more of it in the years to come!