Journal Update

Law and Human Behavior® Update

An update about the 2016 year and Law and Human Behavior moving forward.
By Margaret Bull Kovera

Law and Human Behavior (LHB) had another record year of submissions in 2016, receiving 264 new submissions — an increase of nine percent over the previous year. Despite this increase, our average time to editorial decision for the first submission of a manuscript remains relatively low at just under six weeks. The editorial team thanks all of the reviewers for their uncompensated but much appreciated efforts in submitting excellent and timely reviews.

Other indices suggest that the journal is very healthy. Sixty original articles were published in 2016, an increase of 13 percent over the previous year. The rejection rate continues to hover around 80 percent, and this selectivity in what we publish translates into our continued dominance among psychology and law journals. LHB is the highest impact psychology and law journal, with an impact factor of 2.542. In comparison, the next highest impact journal is the APA-owned Psychology, Public Policy and Law, with an impact of 1.986. LHB also ranks first among psychology and law journals in terms of its citations in Google Scholar. In addition, it is one of only two psychology and law journals that has high impact in both psychology and in law (with the other being Psychology, Public Policy and Law), with the remaining journals either having impact in only one of the fields or in neither.

Recent Changes at the Journal

Two recent changes have been instituted at the journal. The first represents an attempt to communicate our research findings more effectively to a broader audience. When an article is accepted for publication, we now request that authors submit a public significance statement that summarizes the significance of the study's findings for a general audience in one to three sentences . The statement appears at the end of the abstract online and in print. Guidelines for preparing a public significance statement can be found online.

The second change is a program designed to recognize research that has been conducted in a manner consistent with newly evolving open science practices. Specifically, articles published in LHB are now eligible for open science badges recognizing publicly available data, materials and/or preregistration plans and analyses. These badges are awarded on a self-disclosure basis. At acceptance, authors must confirm that criteria have been fulfilled in a signed badge disclosure form that will then be published with the article as supplemental material.

For all badges, items must be made available on an open-access repository with a persistent identifier in a format that is time-stamped, immutable and permanent. For the preregistered badge, this is an institutional registration system. Data and materials must be made available under an open license allowing others to copy, share and use of the data, with attribution and copyright as applicable. Available badges are:

  • Open Data. All data necessary to reproduce the reported results that are digitally shareable are made publicly available. Information necessary for replication (e.g., codebooks or metadata) must be included.
  • Open Materials. All materials necessary to reproduce the reported results that are digitally shareable along with descriptions of non-digital materials necessary for replication are made publicly available.
  • Preregistered. At least one study's design has been preregistered with descriptions of the research design and study materials, including the planned sample size; the motivating research question or hypothesis; the outcome variable(s); and the predictor variables, including controls, covariates and independent variables. Results must be fully disclosed. As long as they are distinguished from other results in the article, results from analyses that were not preregistered may be reported in the article.
  • Preregistered Plus Analysis Plan. At least one study's design has been preregistered along with an analysis plan for the research, and results are recorded according to that plan.

Note that it may not be possible to preregister a study or to share data and materials. Applying for open science badges is optional.

A New Editor for LHB

As I near the end of my term as editor-in-chief of LHB, I am pleased with the state of the journal and am excited to be passing the journal off to the very capable Bradley McAuliff, PhD, of California State University-Northridge, who will be succeeding me as editor. As you probably know, Brad has served since 2012 as an associate editor of the journal and has a record of timely, fair and insightful decision making in that role. He will begin handling all new submissions to the journal starting Jan. 1, 2018. In the coming months, he will be naming his team of associate editors and his editorial board members so you can expect to see announcements about his selections later this year. The current editorial team will continue handling any new submissions to the journal through the end of 2017 and continue to process any revisions that were invited prior to the end of 2017 through at least the first half of 2018. Brad and I will be working together to ensure a smooth transition in leadership, and I know I am leaving you in more than capable hands.

Until then, feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about the journal. And please continue to send us your best work.