Increasing Publication Likelihood in JBSS

Increasing Publication Likelihood in the Journal of Behavioral and Social Sciences
Following are some notes that may be useful for authors wishing to have their manuscripts considered for publication in the printed, peer-reviewed Journal of Behavioral and Social Sciences (JBSS).

Important Manuscript Guidelines
APA Style Required
There is no "hard science" regarding the protocol for how papers are accepted.  However, we do begin with proper APA form.  That is, having your paper in flawless APA style does not guarantee its publication, but having incorrect form in places makes its selection less likely.  Be sure to have others read and critique your work, checking it for form and style, prior to submitting it for professional review.  

Per APA style, papers should never begin with a heading such as "Introduction," or "Literature Review." Instead type the title as a major heading, then begin the literature review.  APA style guidelines also includes properly formatting tables, figures, and the reporting of statistics in within your manuscript.  The Purdue University Online Writing Lab’s APA Style Guide is a helpful resource for APA-related questions.

Important Note: The editors will wish to engage content issues, not make APA corrections.  APA related corrections are the sole responsibility of author(s).

Reporting Statistics
All figures, tables, and statistics must be reported per APA guidelines.  Both the Illinois State University and the University of Washington’s Psychology Writing Center have an excellent short documents on reporting statistics in APA format.  When reporting statistics, assume that your audience has a professional knowledge of statistics.  Therefore, you do not need to explain how or why a certain statistical test or model was used unless the particular analysis is unique or unusual.

Every statistical test that you report should relate directly to the hypothesis/research question/problem you are seeking to address in your manuscript.  A good rule of thumb is to begin your results section by restating your hypothesis, then state whether your results supported it.  This will be followed by the data and statistics that allowed you to draw this conclusion.  If you have multiple hypotheses, you should break them up and address them individually throughout the results section.  

If you are reporting multiple statistical tests, it is often helpful to present them as a figure or a table.  However, there are two important considerations: 1) Too many figures and/or tables can be overwhelming to the reader; 2) data that is reported in a table or figure should not be reported in the text of the manuscript and vice versa; each table/figure must not exceed a single 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper with one inch margins.

Data Collection Rationale
JBSS publishes qualitative, quantitative, mixed methods, and non-empirical articles.  Therefore, it is imperative that authors take great care in providing a clear and concise rationale regarding the type and amount of data that was collected.

A manuscript generally does not start with an affirmative review when the writer states something such as the following: "We selected 50 individuals from a local elementary school...." Provide a rationale for the sample.  A study truly does rise or fall on its sample selection.  For the rest of your paper, the reader will be connecting your conclusions with the sample selection.  Begin strong by convincing the reader that you had apt reasons for selecting these particular individuals—they were not selected simply because they were close by or convenient—and the participant selection strengthened your qualitative methodology rigor.

JBSS acknowledges that the research focus and availability of participants for certain studies limits the extent to which authors can secure relatively large numbers of participants (for instance, a study involving, say, elderly women in rural communities who use or abuse, say, methamphetamine).  Authors should not assume, however, that the readership understands the challenge in identifying and recruiting participants for such studies.  Authors should provide explicit discussion about the potential difficulty of enlarging their sample and how they attempted to resolve it, if this occurs.

Samples that use 8 or less individuals as participants should use the phrase "case studies" in the title of their manuscript.  Also, indicate a rationale for such small samples as previously noted.

Increasing Publication Likelihood in the Journal of Behavioral and Social Sciences
Just as authors must take great care in providing a rationale for the type and amount of data collected, so they must also provide a clear rationale for its analysis.  A number of manuscripts sometimes have not been accepted due to failure in providing an adequate rationale for qualitative and/or quantitative data analysis. 

For example, suppose you state something like the following: "This project was developed using a constructivist model as our guide...." The reader is left with many questions as to why you selected that paradigm and why other approaches were not chosen.  Specifically, did you also consider other models or a completely inductive (atheoretical) interpretive approach?

Internal validity issues need explicit attention for articles published in JBSS.  Including components such as references from your field notes, describing participant observations, validation of conclusions from triangulated sources, member checking, review by an independent researcher, generating an audit/data trail, and other validity rigors will strengthen the conclusions you are making in the paper.  This will be of utmost importance for qualitative and mixed-methods studies.

You will find the journal editors to be very open to a variety of perspectives—but authors must be clear and convincing in their rationale for why they adopted particular methods and analysis paradigms.

Avoid Jargon
Journal readers may not be familiar with narrow phrases or the nuances of meanings you use via idioms.  As one concrete example, avoid phrases such as "alternative-deconstructionist perspective." Rather than using ambiguous "lingo," write straightforwardly so that the widest array of readers can benefit from your work.

Conclusions
State your conclusions in a forthright manner.  The reader needs to be able to set down your paper, close his/her eyes, and clearly repeat the main points of your results.  JBSS editors desire that you explicitly enumerate your points in the manuscript narrative.  The reader should be able to explain to another colleague what you concluded from the research study.  The results section should not contain discussion, and the discussion section should not report new findings.

Page Limit and Style
The total pages (excluding title page, abstract, references, tables, and the like) should not exceed 35 full pages.  Use only Times New Roman, 12-point font with one-inch margins.  The entire manuscript must be written in narrative form, free from bullets or abbreviated forms of communication typically used in handouts.  Tables and charts must be placed at the end of the paper, following the APA manual's instructions of "insert figure 1 about here." Do not use footnotes for any reason.  Papers are not published in JBSS without a limitations and future research section.

No Publication Fees
There is no cost for submitting manuscripts for peer-review and publication consideration.  All authors will receive a complimentary copy of the journal issue in which their published article appears as well as a PDF of their respective article.

Evaluation Rubric
Manuscripts successfully screened by the journal editors will be routed for blind-peer reviewers.  The reviewers use a scoring rubric and provide narrative feedback to the managing editor regarding recommendations for accepting/rejecting the manuscript for publication.  Suggestions typically also are offered for strengthening the article's overall quality.  View a copy of the evaluative rubric.