Law and Human Behavior


Update on the status of Law and Human Behavior

By Margaret Bull Kovera

Law and Human Behavior continues to have a strong presence in the field. The most recent impact factor available for the journal is for 2012, increasing from 2.176 in 2011 to 2.388. LHB fares well among journals in its category, ranking ninth out of 60 journals in the Social Psychology category and 13th out of 134 journals in the Law category. LHB's five-year impact score also increased in 2012 from 2.646 (2011) to 2.750. Editorial and publication lags remain competitive. For manuscripts submitted or resubmitted during 2013, the mean number of weeks from submission to a decision was 4.93 weeks and we met our commitment (with rare exceptions) to get authors decisions within two months. For manuscripts published in 2013, the mean number of months from the time of final acceptance to the time of print publication was 8.72, a major improvement over 2012's average 13.5 months to publication. Manuscripts are normally published online even more quickly, often within two months of acceptance.

Despite strong indicators like increasing impact factors, decreasing publication lags, and short editorial lags, submission rates have been rather volatile over the last two years. In the first year of our new publication contract with APA, submissions increased 23 percent but then dropped 16 percent in 2013, returning to pre-APA submission levels. For the first quarter of 2014, submissions are back up 20 percent. This fluctuation in submission patterns is a relatively new phenomenon at the journal. Although we do not know the cause, we are delighted that submissions are increasing again. Even with the fluctuation in submission rates, we have been able to increase the number of articles we are publishing in each issue of the journal from seven to nine. Moreover, we have a page allotment from APA that would allow us to include even more high quality research in the journal; we merely need you to send your best work to the journal and encourage your colleagues to do the same.

Although the transition to publishing the journal with APA went very smoothly, we did discover one hiccup in the transition. Although in our negotiations, we received a commitment from APA to continue the placement of LHB in both the Westlaw and Lexis databases, we learned last summer that the negotiations between APA and these two publishers had stalled. The result was that LHB articles published under the new contract did not appear in the databases, although articles issued by our previous publisher did. Members of the editorial team and the APLS Executive Committee were vocal in their disappointment in this development and insisted that APA return to the table. I am delighted to report that APA signed a new deal with Westlaw in March, resulting in a complete set of LHB articles appearing in that database. Although a deal has not been reached with Lexis, our APA team has resumed negtiations with them and is hopeful that they can come to mutually agreeable terms soon.

Overall, however, our new agreement with APA has brought positive developments for the journal and the authors that publish in it. Recognizing the increasing desire to include color figures in published articles and the often prohibitive cost of doing so for authors (who are required to pay for some of the extra costs of color printing), APA has introduced the option for authors to publish their figures in color online at no cost to the authors. Although the figures would be printed in black and white in the print journal, this option represents a cost-effective way for authors to have color figures in the digital version of their article. As in the past, authors may opt to have their figures appear in color in the print copy as well but only if they agree to pay a portion of the production costs. It is also possible to archive datasets and stimulus materials, as well as other optional resources, with the online version of the article.

APA has also increased public awareness of the journal, issuing press releases about select articles that we have published. Their most recent release reported the findings of a study by Jillian Peterson and her colleagues demonstrating that crimes committed by offenders with serious mental illness were rarely motivated by symptoms associated with that illness. The story was picked up by 36 different news outlets. Although the New York Times has not yet followed up on any of the releases, given what interesting and relevant work you all are conducting, I have no doubt it is just a matter of time.

As always, if you have any questions or suggestions, please send me an email.