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Editorial Policies

Peer Review Process

All articles submitted to HPB are initially assessed by an Editor, who decides whether or not the article is suitable for peer review. Submissions considered suitable for peer review are assigned to one or more independent experts, who assess the article for clarity, validity, and sound methodology.

HPB operates a double-blind peer review process, meaning that authors and reviewers remain anonymous for the review process. The review period is expected to take around four weeks. Reviewers are asked to provide formative feedback, even if an article is not deemed suitable for publication in the journal. For the majority of submissions, peer reviewers will be selected from the journal's long list of editors.

Based on the reviewer reports the editor will make a recommendation for rejection, minor or major revisions, or acceptance. Overall editorial responsibility rests with the journal’s Editors-in-Chief, who are supported by an expert, international Editorial Board.

Reviews and editorial communication are mandatorily unblinded and published upon an accepted article's publication. 

Section Policies

Pre-registration

  • Open Submissions
  • Indexed
  • Peer Reviewed

Pre-registered study report

  • Open Submissions
  • Indexed
  • Peer Reviewed

Empirical paper

  • Open Submissions
  • Indexed
  • Peer Reviewed

Systematic review or meta-analysis

  • Open Submissions
  • Indexed
  • Peer Reviewed

Theoretical/debate paper

  • Open Submissions
  • Indexed
  • Peer Reviewed

Open Methods paper

  • Open Submissions
  • Indexed
  • Peer Reviewed

Editorial Policies for Reviewers

As a Health Psychology Bulletin reviewer, it is important to keep HPB’s specific profile in mind. One of the goals of HPB is to remedy the ‘File Drawer’: studies that remain unpublished and thereby distort effect size estimates through systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Another goal is to accelerate science by making sure all lessons that can be learnt are communicated in the literature. Because of this, HPB publishes all papers that communicate one or more of such lessons, such as reports of failed manipulations, null findings, and replications. This means that common reasons to reject papers in other journals are no grounds for rejection for HPB:

  • HPB does not reject papers because the study is insufficiently novel;
  • HPB does not reject papers because the manipulation failed to work;
  • HPB does not reject papers because the expected results were not obtained;
  • and HPB does not reject papers because a very similar study was recently published already. 

There should normally be only one reason to reject a paper, and that is if the authors refuse to revise the paper (on the basis of review comments) such that the conclusions are consistent with those that can be drawn based on the data. As a reviewer, therefore, important responsibilities are for example to:

  • Make sure that every weakness in the employed methodology is acknowledged as such and accurately described;
  • Make sure the analyses are appropriate given the research question(s);
  • Make sure the analyses are interpreted correctly, paying attention to for example:
    • Omitted effect size estimates;
    • Omitted confidence intervals;
    • Neglect to take the increased likelihood of making Type-1 errors, as more associations are examined, into account;
    • Important steps in the analysis that are not described;

In other words: HPB welcomes all reports of empirical research, but an important condition is accurate description of the methods and results. The focus is on learning what can be learned, as opposed to achieving a narrative consistent with a given theory.

In addition, the reviewing process is seen as a collaborative effort to optimize the quality of empirical reports. It is important to be constructive and civil. To promote this, as well as make it possible for reviewers to claim credit where appropriate, the review procedure will be unblinded upon completion, regardless of whether a paper is accepted or rejected. That means that reviewers agree, upon submission of their review, with the publication of their review on the HPB website.

The killswitch

Sometimes, authors submit contributions that suffer from such severe problems, such as very bad English or an omitted methods section, that initiating the review process is premature. While editors normally catch such submissions before sending them out to review, some submissions may slip through. To save reviewers’ valuable time, the reviewer form contains a ‘killswitch’ option, where reviewers can briefly indicate such severe problems and return the review without inspecting the submission in detail.

The review procedure

For submissions that do warrant serious review, the HPB review process is two-tiered.

In the first tier, the introduction and methods sections are reviewed. In this tier, the reviewers focus on the clarity of the introduction, the justification of the design and operationalisations, and the proposed analyses. Note that in most cases, the data will already have been gathered, and therefore, it is most useful to comment upon the way the authors describe and justify their choices, rather than requesting, for example, the use of different operationalisations or sampling methods. Data gathered using inferior methods are not useless. They are less useful, but still of value from a meta-analytical perspective, if for no other reason than that they can help shed light on exactly how much less useful. Many scientific reports gain a lot in terms of usefulness if the readers have access to the original materials, both to facilitate replications and to prevent others from repeating the same errors. Therefore, in the first tier of the review process, also inspect the Replication Package, making sure it makes replication of the study relatively easy.

In the second tier, the results and discussion sections are submitted, as well as the Analysis Package, containing the raw data, analysis scripts, and relevant analysis output. In this tier of the review process, the emphasis is on optimizing the analyses and representing the outcomes of those analyses as accurately as possible. As a reviewer, an important responsibility in tier two is to make sure that the conclusions of the paper are consistent with the data. Some authors have preferred outcomes that they will try to ‘sell’ using the analysis outcomes, and it is important to prevent this from happening. Instead, encourage authors to stick to the data.

Ideally, the only reason HPB rejects papers is because authors refuse to conduct the appropriate analyses or to rewrite their discussion section to properly reflect their methodology (as designed and executed, which may be different) and/or the patterns in the data. This can happen if authors are unwilling to set aside preconceptions/preferences/hopes they had before they started collecting data.

Of course, in most cases authors, reviewers, and editors will be able to arrive at a manuscript that accurately reflects how the data were gathered and what can be concluded. In that case, the paper will be published, along with the review history.

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