|Proceedings of a Workshop—in Brief|
International Perspectives in U.S. Psychological Science Journals
Proceedings of a Workshop—in Brief
Most empirical research in psychology historically has been conducted in North America and Western Europe, despite the importance placed on culture in theoretical models. The consequence of conducting basic science only in high-income, Western countries is that psychological science is defined by the experiences of individuals in those countries. Therefore, to fully understand psychological science, research must be conducted with people in the broad range of cultural contexts in which they live. Collecting data in a wide range of countries, establishing international collaborations, and incorporating diverse cultural perspectives are central to the effort to expand cultural context. Publishing the research in high-quality, peer-reviewed journals is also critical.
At a 2017 meeting organized by the U.S. National Committee (USNC) for Psychological Science of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies), leaders from 17 U.S. psychological societies recognized the need to strengthen international perspectives and some of the challenges in doing so.1 Some of the strongest comments were expressed about the challenges of publishing high quality international work in U.S. journals.
To discuss these challenges and suggest solutions to incorporate international perspectives into U.S. psychological journals, the USNC invited journal editors, society representatives, and publishers to a virtual workshop on June 28 and 29, 2021. In opening the workshop, planning committee chair Jennifer Lansford (Duke University) welcomed the 62 participants, highlighted the statement of task and agenda,2 and acknowledged the sponsors supporting the effort. Through presentations and facilitated breakout sessions, the workshop focused on ways that journals can seek and/or strengthen contributions from diverse cultures, countries, and backgrounds by supporting scholars, enhancing peer-review processes, and promoting high-quality science. The purpose of this workshop was to discuss ways to improve the engagement and representation of researchers from around the world in U.S. psychological science journals. The international community provided a necessary and important
1 A brief summary of this meeting can be found on the event page, https://www.nationalacademies.org/our-work/international-perspectives-in-us-psychological-science-journals-a-workshop.
2 For the agenda, statement of task, biographical sketches of presenters, and list of participants, see https://www.nationalacademies.org/our-work/international-perspectives-in-us-psychological-science-journals-a-workshop.
perspective to this U.S.-focused activity and international scientists were included in the planning committee, invited as speakers, and as workshop participants.
In addition to the 2017 meeting mentioned above, the USNC has organized additional efforts to support international collaboration. In highlighting them, former USNC member Judith Torney-Purta (University of Maryland, College Park, professor emerita) recounted that 15 years ago the committee’s leadership began discussions about how to increase the international reach of psychological science by recognizing the value in the process of cooperation, as well as in the products that resulted. Establishment of the committee’s long-term agenda coincided with growing involvement by U.S. psychological scientists in international partnerships, she noted. She also described a worst-case “international” scenario in which U.S. researchers go to another country, obtain data, but do not involve local scientists in interpreting the results or in subsequent publications. She emphasized that such scenarios do not bring international perspectives to U.S. psychological science.
The USNC held its first workshop on international collaboration in behavioral and psychological sciences at Northwestern University in 2006.3 A survey of psychological scientists conducted for that workshop identified several challenges to international collaborations, including complex U.S. Institutional Review Board (IRB) processes and promotion and tenure policies that de-emphasize collaborative work. The survey indicated these challenges particularly affected early-career scientists, Torney-Purta added.
A 2013 USNC workshop in Washington, DC, identified policies and approaches that had the potential to build a scientific infrastructure that would be more adequate to support high-quality international collaborations.4 Participants discussed how academic institutions, with the help of professional organizations, could help build international networks; ensure that international experience factors into hiring decisions; provide funds to attend international meetings; adjust promotion guidelines to recognize international collaborators; and examine IRB requirements, which might vary in different countries. Developing appropriate attitudes and skills to build international research competence was an overarching emphasis, Torney-Purta added, referring to the discussions during the 2013 workshop.
At the 2017 “U.S. Psychology in a Globalizing World” meeting, leaders from psychological societies discussed the rising number of psychological scientists around the world and the increasing importance of considering the impact of the global context on U.S. psychology. A summary of the meeting5 highlighted the need for psychologists from cultural contexts outside the United States to publish in the journals that are read by U.S. psychologists, Torney-Purta related.
All three activities highlighted the importance of and obstacles to publishing high-quality global research in U.S. journals, Torney-Purta said, and pointed to the value of data sharing within and across cultural contexts. The 2017 meeting also recognized that many journal editors do address specific issues to increase international papers. For example, some have offered mentoring and language assistance to international authors unfamiliar with U.S. journal requirements, especially those who lack experience preparing publications in English. Several workshop attendees noted that informal comments from authors who received mentoring show that this assistance is highly valued by researchers from outside the United States who submit manuscripts.
CURRENT PRACTICES AMONG U.S. JOURNALS
Workshop planning committee member Jeffrey M. Zacks (Washington University in St. Louis) reported on findings of two pre-workshop questionnaires sent to editors and society representatives respectively about international representation in their journals. He summarized the
3 National Research Council (NRC). 2008. International Collaborations in Behavioral and Social Sciences. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/12053.
4 NRC. 2014. Building Infrastructure for International Collaborative Research in the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/18970.
5 Part of the background for this workshop can be found at the event page, https://www.nationalacademies.org/our-work/international-perspectives-in-us-psychological-science-journals-a-workshop.
responses received from 21 editors and nine society representatives to seed the discussion for the workshop.
The questionnaire asked about submissions and published articles from international authors, especially those from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Except for the International Journal of Psychology and the International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, the numbers are modest, he reported (see Figure 1). LMIC representation among editorial staff, editorial boards, and publications committees is similarly low. Society memberships are somewhat more international, but society members mostly reside in high-income countries (HICs).
Qualitative responses revealed that journal editors want to increase international engagement, and 17 editors reported this engagement is part of their strategic plans. Their stated reasons for doing so include the benefits of diversity for psychological science, the need to expand knowledge about human development and functioning, and the opportunity to expand collective understanding of concepts and issues central to the discipline. As one editor commented, “non-WEIRD6 (western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic) populations in particular are disproportionately unrepresented among authors and study populations.”
Among the challenges identified by questionnaire respondents were the quality of some papers because of a lack of mentorship or English-language editing; differing styles of research in many LMICs; lack of fit of a submission with a journal’s aims and focus; open access fees; and low submission rates by international scholars. Some editors considered language proficiency a significant barrier to LMIC submission rates, but others did not. Responses also diverged about whether the editors considered their LMIC submissions at a level that they consider fair and appropriate.
Strategies to increase international authorship include mentoring early career scientists as they start reviewing papers, free or low subscription rates for LMICs and/or early career researchers, calls and special issues on relevant topics, cooperation with societies’ international committees, expanded editorial boards, active recruitment of authors, and language referral services. In the discussion period that followed, the costs and processes of open science were raised as another challenge to publish in both U.S. and international journals, and this topic was explored later in the workshop.
UNDERPINNINGS OF AN INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
Planning committee member Mary Gauvain (University of California Riverside) moderated two presentations that expanded on the need for international perspectives in U.S. psychological science. Charles Super (University of Connecticut) discussed why globalization of the profession and cultural considerations underlie the importance of international perspectives. Merry Bullock (International Council of Psychologists) discussed how such a perspective can be envisioned and put into practice.
Related to globalization, Super reminded participants that the world changed dramatically. Fewer than 25 percent of psychologists now reside in the United States. He posed a question to the group, especially to those who serve as gatekeepers: Can we remain at the center of global psychology if we don’t let others in? Psychologists in other countries will find their own outlets, he contended, if barriers are kept too high. He said he did not advocate lowered standards but a recognition that “good science is more than what Francis Bacon put
6 WEIRD is an acronym coined by Henrich et al. (2010) which stands for Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic. It is used as shorthand for the reliance of psychological and behavioral science on a narrow population set from which the observations are generalized to all people. Henrich, J., Heine, S.J., and Norenzayan, A. 2010. The weirdest people in the world? Behav. Brain Sci., 33(2-3):61-83; 83-135. doi: 10.1017/S0140525X0999152X.
forward. Other scientific strategies are also important, and we have to recognize those voices.”
Super asserted that a second reason that calls for an international perspective relates to culture. In 2008, it was estimated that 95 percent of the psychological literature was based on Americans, who comprise less than 5 percent of the world’s population.7 Although the percentage has improved slightly since then, he said most psychological constructs remain based on Euro-American folk theories, and ideas of development are rooted in Euro-American culture. Training U.S. students in the way things have always been done no longer suffices. “We need to pay attention to culture,” he stressed. “How do we go from ethnoscience to global science?”
Super offered two conclusions. First, to remain the center of psychological science, U.S. journals need to maintain high standards while also expanding to become more inclusive of the global discipline, for which the comments and suggestions provided by speakers might be useful. Second, the psychological literature needs to prioritize culturally informed research that advances concepts and theories that may not rest on ethnotheories drawn from psychology’s Euro-American origins.
Building on Super’s discussion points, Bullock offered reflections on how to move from the present state to one in which journals, including U.S. journals, collectively provide data to help understand what is universal about behavior, thought, and action; what is specific to cultures; and how to tell the difference. The sub-discipline of cross-cultural psychology explicitly attends to cultural differences and can be used as a reference point for other sub-disciplines of psychology to incorporate a cultural lens.
A 2015 study by Piocuda et al. of international representation in the 25 more impactful journals found some improvement from the Henrich et al. (2010) study cited by Super and the dominance of WEIRD over non-WEIRD science, but still with significant underrepresentation by international authors8 (see Figure 2).
Moreover, of those non-U.S. authors in U.S. journals, most are from Europe or English-speaking countries. “This is an issue because we can no longer assume that the science that comes from the U.S. with U.S. data and U.S. perspectives is a universally generalizable science,” Bullock said.
To consider what it means to increase international perspectives, Bullock stated that “the ultimate goal is to broaden the lens which we all use to understand psychological phenomena.” She also noted that publications serve as a record of science, so research that is not published in journal articles is not part of the public body of knowledge. Scientific knowledge can be biased if it is based primarily on studies that represent only a limited range of perspectives (in both scientists and research participants).
Research production varies by country, Bullock observed. The development of psychology often moves along a trajectory from its first emergence in a country to its establishment as a mature, independent discipline with a full-blown research community, and the process takes time.
She suggested the concept of “international authors” has several meanings. They include local authors drawing from local data; U.S. authors originally from other countries who collect data in their home countries and then return to the United States to analyze the data; U.S. authors collaborating with colleagues in other countries;
7 Arnett, J.J. 2008. The neglected 95%: Why American psychology needs to become less American. American Psychology 63(7), 602-614.
8 Piocuda, J.E., Smyers, J.O., Knyshev, E., Harris, R.J. & Rai, M. 2015. Trends of Internationalization and Collaboration in U.S. Psychology Journals 1950–2010. Archives of Scientific Psychology, 3, 82–92 DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/arc0000020.
and international consortia. Of these categories, she added, international consortia are the most reported in the literature, and local researchers at home are the least reported, according to Piocuda et al. (2015). She does not include U.S. authors collecting data in other countries without meaningful contact with the local community as providing an international perspective, reflecting Torney-Purta’s concern about this type of research.
Bullock suggested several ideas to ponder during the workshop. Tacit assumptions must be made transparent and explicit, with norms articulated that may be taken for granted in the United States. Submission guidelines may have unwritten requirements, and reviewers may have biases that are not openly expressed, she added. The culture of publication has power implications that differ across cultures and academic contexts. Finally, she acknowledged that international perspectives have long been missing, and it will take time and effort to move the needle.
The ultimate goal of internationalization is one without a disproportionate weighing of U.S. psychology compared to the rest of the world.9 Many countries/regions have their own journals in their own language(s). Cheung et al. (2011) commented on the need to move beyond current psychological constructs to “adequately deal with culture in our theories and models and to better accommodate cross-cultural differences and similarities in our theories.”10
PANEL: ISSUES AND CONCERNS IN PUBLISHING PAPERS BY LMIC AUTHORS
Suman Verma (Panjab University, India) moderated a session with five presenters who have served as editors, reviewers, and/or authors to discuss some of the challenges LMIC authors face in publishing in U.S. journals.
Abigail Gewirtz (Arizona State University) noted she is a bit of an outlier as editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Psychology, the flagship journal of the International Union of Psychological Science, because of the journal’s specific mission to publish research from around the world. Last year, the journal received more than 800 submissions from more than 80 countries. A special section on the psychological implications of COVID-19 received more than 300 submissions, which she said, “suggests that psychologists around the world are engaged and want to publish” on the issue. The challenge, she pointed out, is how to increase submissions from LMIC to ensure equity in peer-reviewed publishing. She observed a “double-whammy for early career researchers in LMIC.” They have pressure to publish but lack mentors in the publishing and writing process. Her journal recently started a mentored early career reviewer program and would like to start a similar program for authors, but finding mentors is difficult. Changes in publishing practices, such as those related to open science and open access, also might threaten authors in LMIC with fewer resources, she commented.
Silvia Koller (Universidade Federal do Rio Grande, Brazil) said she offered views on internationalization from a Latin American and African perspective. She and colleagues published a paper in Nature Climate Change in 2017 about the need for a connection between the Global South and North to improve science.11 In the Global South, Koller said, “it is very important to improve the quality of studies of our students and new researchers to publish in U.S. journals.” But she also shared examples of prejudice in comments from reviewers related to data, language expression, requirements for sample details, and other aspects of papers submitted by Global South authors. Strategies to improve international authorship, she said, include less prejudice among editors and reviewers and more mentorship for both researchers and reviewers. She concluded, “We don’t think publishing papers from Latin America or Africa is lowering quality. You have to recognize the good science we are doing in our countries.”
9 Adair, J. G., and Huynh, C.-L. (2012). Internationalization of psychological research: Publications and collaborations of the United States and other leading countries. International Perspectives in Psychology: Research, Practice, Consultation, 1(4), 252–267. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0030395.
10 Cheung, F. M., Van de Vijver, F. J. R., and Leong, F. T. L. (2011). Toward a new approach to the assessment of personality in culture. American Psychologist, 66: 593-603. doi:10.1037/a0022389 in van de Vijver, F. J. R. (2013). Contributions of internationalization to psychology: Toward a global and inclusive discipline. American Psychologist, 68(8): 761–770. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0033762.
11 Blicharska, M., R. Smithers, R., M. Kuchler, et al. 2017. Steps to overcome the North–South divide in research relevant to climate change policy and practice. Nature Climate Change 7: 21–27. https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate3163.
Anne Petersen (University of Michigan) said she spent the latter part of her career mentoring early-stage researchers from the majority world, especially from Africa. She noted they are bright and highly motivated, but often have had limited opportunities, especially related to publishing. She suggested two approaches to address publication barriers. The first is collaborative research to teach practices that include publishing. Research by Caroline Wagner on cross-national research found that publications by cross-national research groups achieve higher impact scores than those by within-country research groups.12 Collaborating with LMIC colleagues also has the potential for greater impact over the long term by developing more researchers operating at a higher level. Across disciplines, psychology is among the lowest in terms of international collaborations, she pointed out. Wagner analyzed Web of Science data to find that particle physics has the highest rate of international collaborations at 60 percent of papers published, the average across fields is 30 percent, and the rate in psychology is under 10 percent (C. Wagner, pers. comm. to A. Petersen). Petersen’s second approach is to caution against predatory publications practices, which she noted are on the rise in part because of the challenges to publish in mainstream journals. She referred participants to a 2020 Inter-Academy Partnership workshop report on this topic for strategies to counter such practices.13
Publishing in leading journals is hard, including for U.S. authors, Frank C. Worrell (University of California, Berkeley) reminded participants. When extended beyond the United States, it becomes more difficult. The notion of what is involved in publishing, ethics requirements, the types of analyses needed, and assumptions by reviewers pose particular challenges for LMIC authors, Worrell said. When he served as editor of the Review of Educational Research, he recalled only a small percentage of papers were accepted from international authors. He said some international authors told him that their institutions give them credit for just submitting manuscripts to English-language journals and they do not pay close attention to journal guidelines. For those who seek publication, rejection letters with feedback or pointing authors to other more appropriate journals can be helpful, he suggested. Sometimes editing that provides constructive feedback on a paper’s structure is important, in addition to line-to-line editing. He asked his managing editor to articulate basic requirements in feedback to authors, such as APA guidelines. He also observed that many studies from LMICs are replication studies in that they apply psychological theories in local contexts. Replication studies typically do not get accepted in top tier journals, but he pondered how to give more space to studies that bring in culture and thus are more than replication.
Hirokazu Yoshikawa (New York University) concurred with the issues raised by the previous panel members and focused on several potential solutions. First, he suggested that a journal’s mission statement and goals can explicitly welcome content from LMICs, among other aspects of diversity. Issues of representation are important for editorial leadership, including among associate editors and reviewers. Very few organizations track international diversity of reviewers or authors, he observed, and even fewer look at diversity of reviewers or authors hailing from HICs as compared with those from LMICs. He suggested professional development not only for international authors, but also for U.S.-based reviewers, noting the microaggressions that may occur in reviews. To broaden outreach, Yoshikawa urged contacts with LMIC organizations, universities, and early-career scholar networks. He suggested looking at approaches from other disciplines, such as anthropology and cross-cultural psychology, which have global experience. Finally, he called for the establishment of metrics for global equity and inclusion (distinguishing HICs from LMICs) that are tracked over time at the journal level and at the field level across journals.
In a short follow-up discussion, Petersen stressed the need to avoid a priori biases when looking at papers from other parts of the world. “We all have biases that we bring to reviews,” Petersen commented. “What is important is that we recognize them and try to minimize their impact in a review. We also have a responsibility to help our colleagues do the same.” Related to replication
12 Wagner C. S., W. Travis, B. Jeroen, and K. Jonkers. 2018. Openness and Impact of Leading Scientific Countries. Frontiers in Research Metrics and Analytics, vol. 3, https://doi.org/10.3389/frma.2018.00010.
13 InterAcademy Partnership. 2022. Combatting predatory academic journals and conferences. https://www.interacademies.org/project/predatorypublishing.
and different contexts, several participants stressed the need not to assume that studies taking place in the United States are applicable everywhere.
Gewirtz added that many authors submit papers with good science, but the papers are not at the English-language standard that a journal can accept. She has asked her publisher to create a fund for English editing. Authors get frustrated when after many levels of revisions, their papers are still not deemed sufficient. Applying pressure to publishers to support editing could help achieve equity, she suggested.
PANEL: MOVING FORWARD WITH INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVES
In a panel moderated by Anna Papafragou (University of Pennsylvania), presenters continued the discussion on how to overcome barriers related to editors, reviewers, editorial boards, content, research participants, study contexts, and other topics.
Cynthia García Coll (University of Puerto Rico) drew from her experience as former editor of Developmental Psychology (American Psychological Association) and of Child Development (Society for Research in Child Development, SRCD), at which she especially considered issues of culture. She sought to have all continents represented among the associate editors, as well as on the journal’s editorial and consulting groups. She proactively asked members of SRCD, especially its governing council and committees, for recommendations of experts in other countries. Several policies were developed, including a statistical policy about data to be reported and a sociocultural policy.14 She stressed the importance of allies and buy-in to recognize the importance of representation of other populations and the limitations about generalizability of findings. García Coll also warned against what she termed the “chapter 13 phenomenon,” in which culture is tacked on at the end of a publication or other effort. Instead, she has advocated for the integration of cultural considerations throughout the field.
Gerald Matthews (University of Central Florida) related that during a research collaboration in Kazakhstan, he was invited to discuss what it takes to publish in a topline U.S. journal. After making his presentation, the first question asked was, “Why is this so difficult?” The barriers to international authors are real, he said, and journal editors must understand which barriers are and are not under their control. For example, beyond the control of an individual editor, the standards of the science and scientific writing and the lack of infrastructure in some countries make high-quality submissions difficult. But the editor can have an impact where there is a mismatch of expectations about the correct way to submit to a journal. One example is conventions for style. Many authors find the APA manual daunting. He suggested looking at Elsevier’s “Your Paper, Your Way” scheme. According to Elsevier, this is an easier submission process that focuses initially on the quality of the science by asking the scientist(s) to submit a simpler manuscript with the necessary elements for scientific evaluation and requiring production elements and formatting only if it advances to revision stage.15 Although associate editors do great work with international submissions, he questioned how much in-depth coaching they should do. To guide authors, he suggested journals find partner institutions in other countries, such as national psychological associations or journals in other languages.
As a U.S.-based researcher working internationally, Vaishali Raval (Miami University, Ohio) related that she has faced challenges publishing her own work on international topics in mainstream journals. She also has been part of many conversations about research and publishing in her role as editor of the International Psychology Bulletin and co-chair of the International Committee of the Society for Research on Adolescence. Suggestions from these conversations and a survey conducted by the committee include broadening a journal’s aims and scope to include an explicit commitment to international research and to the methods best suited to engage in international research. Although sometimes authors submit papers that are clearly a mismatch with a journal, in other situations the scope of the journal can be expanded to consider
14 For the SRCD sociocultural policy, see https://www.srcd.org/news/new-sociocultural-policy-enacted-across-all-srcd-journals.
15 For more information, see https://www.elsevier.com/authors/tools-and-resources/your-paper-your-way.
the submission. In many international contexts where little previous work has been carried out, researchers may have to use exploratory qualitative methods, which makes their research challenging to publish although often essential to building a scientific base in a new field. “Openness to international research means openness to methods we may not be as familiar with,” Raval said. Another comment international researchers often receive is to include a western comparison group, even when their focus is an in-depth examination of a particular community. Being explicit about publishing rules and assumptions can reveal inherent biases and more easily communicate the rules to individuals who are less familiar with them. Finally, she urged training and mentorship both for international scholars and for U.S. boards, reviewers, editors, and others involved in the publishing process.
Dawn Witherspoon (Pennsylvania State University) shared perspectives based on her experience as associate editor of Journal of Research on Adolescence and co-chair of the SRCD publications committee. To address imbalance and increase internationality, she suggested specific outreach to international scholars outside of North America and particularly to areas that have not seen increased representation in publications. This might involve reaching out to professional organizations and expanding programming. Virtual knowledge campaigns and information sessions by the journals can open and expand the lines of communication between scholars and gatekeepers. She suggested a program like the NIH Early Career Reviewer program,16 which allows early-stage researchers to learn about the review process to make their own submissions more competitive. Journals could also issue specific calls, although she recognized the need not to marginalize or silo international topics. She concluded that inviting international scholars to become consulting editors for a specific issue could create a pipeline in which they could take on larger roles.
As part of the general discussion of the role of professional organizations, Raval noted that committees with international representation bring perspectives that people from the United States may not have access to. It is also helpful when a society’s international and publications committees work together, she observed, in such areas as policy development and special issues. García Coll urged international representation on every society committee, not just an international committee. “We can’t isolate this effort,” she said. “It has to be something that the society does, and everyone thinks, ‘How am I helping the science by bringing in the perspectives of others?’”
Ideally, the presenters said, a special section is not needed for international perspectives, but special sections can provide a route for international authors. Witherspoon proposed a “both/and” approach—special issues are needed but the research should also be embedded throughout a journal to really understand development around the world. Raval pointed out that one advantage of a special section or issue from the perspective of international scholars is they are not competing with all other authors. She expressed hope for a point in time when special sections would not be needed. However, García Coll stated, “Ghettoization of knowledge about other cultures and non-mainstream populations (that is, the walling-off of knowledge not referring to WEIRD populations) needs to stop.”
FOLLOWING THE INQUIRY
Sarah Dryden-Peterson (Harvard University) spoke from the field of educational research. She noted that many issues in education, psychology, and other fields require looking across nation-states; time; and political, social, and economic contexts. They require a shifting of the boundaries of research, which she said she confronts in her own research on refugee education. To move from ethnotheories to global science, as Super raised earlier in the workshop, she suggested an approach that she termed “following the inquiry” related to three themes: listening, relationships, and collaboration, and how power operates across them.
She shared that a critical question she asks herself is, “Who am I in this work?” One’s own social position shapes how research is designed and carried out in field sites and in analyzing data, she suggested. “Just as we use historical, political, social, and relational contexts in
any particular setting that we are studying to understand people and their actions in time and space, the identities and experiences of the researcher also become essential context for understanding the processes and outcomes of research,” she stated. Related to journal publication across disciplines, she suggested finding stronger ways to articulate how questions are framed, research designed, data collected and analyzed, and findings shared.
Fields such as comparative education and psychology are tied to colonial interests, knowledge production, and values based in the Global North and sometimes mainly serving the Global North, Dryden-Peterson said. Much research in LMICs is funded by Global North governments and international organizations. To understand the root causes of inequities, she suggested relationships and collaborations can serve as key tools, which she uses to clarify identities and power, as well as to ask hard questions among participants, collaborators, and herself. Psychologists who use qualitative methods or mixed methods are increasingly likely to situate their identities in the research process to understand how their own perspectives and biases affect the questions they ask and ways in which they interpret data. Typically, she observed, “these processes are described only peripherally or in an appendix in journals, yet the ethics and validity of our research are often dependent on accounting for these processes and being transparent about them.” She urged attention to the dimensions of these relationships when methods are written up in a paper.
In discussing implications for editors, Dryden-Peterson said that some editorial boards of education journals are encouraging or requiring authors to describe their collaborative processes and how they developed their research questions. She acknowledged that these statements are difficult to develop, especially in a concise manner. Similar to ethics statements, authors could provide short collaboration statements and elaborate upon them in an online appendix, but she warned against them becoming formulaic.
HIGHLIGHTS OF BREAKOUT SESSIONS
An important part of the workshop was the opportunity for breakout groups to discuss a series of questions about current initiatives and difficulties in publishing non-U.S. authors and subject areas. Five randomly selected groups were formed and met twice during the workshop. In a final plenary, the groups presented highlights of their discussions.
Overview by Breakout Group
According to spokesperson Rachel Walther (SRCD), Group 1 spoke about the onus on editors, societies, and publishers to strengthen international perspectives but also recognized the time pressures that journal editors and reviewers face when having to balance this goal amidst multiple and sometimes competing priorities. Koraly Pérez-Edgar (Pennsylvania State University) reported that Group 2 discussed the need for continued conversation with explicit goals to get buy-in from action editors, reviewers, publishers, and publication committees, where people can act either as gatekeepers or become ambassadors for outreach. Amanda Morris (Oklahoma State University) reported that Group 3 discussed how editors value impact and how these values must be transparent because they can affect publication decisions. They pointed out policies may be created that are well intentioned but end up limiting inclusion, such as policies related to open access. Qi Wang (Cornell University) reported that Group 4 shared strategies for editors, researchers, scientific societies, and publishers to increase an international presence in U.S. journals, such as explicitly recognizing this priority in journal mission statements and reviewer instructions. Eric Dubow (Bowling Green State University) reported that Group 5 discussed the challenges to identify and recruit international scholars as authors, reviewers, and editors, especially when there is a lack of institutional support for them to become more involved.
Topics discussed in multiple breakout groups are summarized below.
The Publication Process
The groups discussed journal policies and procedures that encourage or conversely discourage international perspectives. Topics included intentional efforts to solicit international perspectives, mentoring and training for all stakeholders (e.g., authors, editors, and reviewers), the role of special issues and sections, and resources directed toward LMIC scholars.
Elevating international equity: An important starting point, according to Group 4, is to add an international focus to a journal’s mission statement that explicitly states it welcomes LMIC scholars, research that has an international focus, and research focused on a single non-WEIRD population. Group 3 suggested more transparency when explaining how editorial decisions are made to less experienced authors and urged elevating equity throughout the process through such means as discussion and training of reviewers. Group 1 noted the pivotal role of editors-in-chief and said they need to be trained and empowered to speak up to psychological society committees and ask for assistance/more resources if bandwidth does not allow them the time for thoughtful review through an international lens. Group 2 noted that outreach should be explicit, transparent, and consistent.
Being proactive: Increasing submission and acceptance rates by non-WEIRD authors and about non-WEIRD populations should be proactive, several participants stressed. Group 4 urged that journals aim towards helping non-WEIRD scholars publish their research—whether in one’s own journal or another publication (e.g., through informative rejection letters or by writing suggestions).
To expand representation, Group 5 noted the “tendency to rely on people we already know” and called on editors to look in new places for editors, reviewers, and authors. To take the process from behind “closed doors,” Group 4 suggested wide dissemination of open calls for reviewers and editorial board members and soliciting recommendations from U.S. researchers who know non-WEIRD scholars, recognizing that those who have less experience reviewing may need mentoring. Editors can ask authors to recommend an LMIC scholar to serve as a reviewer of their manuscripts. Recruiting for reviewers, editors, and authors at conferences, in online networks, and at regional meetings were also frequently mentioned suggestions.
Editorial Boards: Editorial boards should buy in to the goal of emphasizing an international presence, noted Group 3. It is important not only to diversify the boards, but also all members may need training or mentorship, commented Group 1, and enlarged for greater representation, according to Group 2. This group also differentiated between Editorial Advisory Boards and Editorial Review Boards, noting the former can provide ideas and input to expand international perspectives. Group 5 suggested targeting early-career scholars from underrepresented countries to serve on editorial boards and as associate editors, although they recognized a challenge in that these positions may be not compensated or adequately counted in promotion and tenure decisions.
Reviewers: Group 1 noted the importance of assigning reviewers who have the skills and mindset to review international submissions. Several groups urged explicitly reminding reviewers to focus on the science and not English-language proficiency or APA style, which can be considered in revision. Related to the science (discussed more fully below), reviewers may need to put international research into context and not just view it through a U.S. lens. Editors can require all authors to describe and justify their sample demographics and provide a statement about generalizability, said Group 4. Group 1 also suggested having at least one reviewer with cross-cultural experience review international papers.
Other efforts for reviewers include, as Group 2 suggested, training in how to write constructive reviews for international authors, so reviewers focus on the science (and not the language) and consider the challenges of the context. They also suggested ideas to increase the participation of reviewers from other countries, such
as compensation or defraying of expenses. Group 4 recommended a note in the instructions to reviewers that the journal is interested in work on non-WEIRD populations and that reviewers should provide equal weight to its importance as to other instructions about scientific rigor.
LMIC Authors: While it was recognized that international perspectives can come from a variety of sources, including U.S.-based authors, the groups discussed how to increase LMIC submissions and acceptances. For example, they suggested providing editorial, APA style, and language assistance (Group 3); outreach through LMIC professional organizations, regional meetings, education and partnerships across universities, study abroad, and educational and cultural exchanges (Group 3); and the establishment of international collaborations well before researchers are submitting papers (Group 4). Group 2 urged taking advantage of technology, such as Zoom, YouTube, and Twitter, to reach early-career and less-resourced researchers. Group 5 noted that a journal could assist with English language editing before a paper moves forward in production, so the reviewers are not distracted by language issues. Several groups commented on the utility of regional workshops for training on scientific writing, mentoring, and networking.
Tools and Resources: Group 1 suggested the creation of checklists for reviewers about things to consider and to watch out for Western biases and checklists for authors with common reasons why their papers may be rejected. Group 1 also suggested having information and resources easily available, such as possible reviewers, language services, and other resources. Group 4 suggested specific instructions to editors, editorial members, and reviewers about the importance of including scholarship from non-WEIRD scholars and about non-WEIRD populations. Group 4 also suggested asking authors for an initial “letter of intent,” which can clarify whether the topic is of interest/fits the journal and save authors’ time and resources before they submit full manuscripts. Group 5 suggested that some journals need to collect better data on the representation of LMICs as authors, editors, and reviewers.
Mentorship and Training: Several groups noted that authors, editors, and reviewers can all benefit from different forms of mentorship and training. For example, Group 1 suggested pairing volunteer mentors with international researchers to move papers forward. Group 2 suggested mentoring and training on how to develop a paper’s theoretical rationales, as well as how to avoid unintentional plagiarism. A YouTube channel could provide training on such topics as how to write constructive reviews and how to structure a paper. Group 5 urged training gatekeepers on watching out for prejudicial microaggressions that could prevent LMIC representation. Microaggression examples include requesting that a manuscript originated in the Global South be reviewed by a native speaker even though one of the authors is from the U.S., or when the journal editors make demands of non-WEIRD researchers that are not made of WEIRD researchers, such as a description of the sample, or cases where reviewers or editors require more justification of certain cultures or countries while not questioning the focus on WEIRD countries or cultures. Mentors, who can be difficult to find, could also guide scholars to identify which journals may be most appropriate and receptive to their research. Emeriti professors could be recruited to serve as mentors because they might have both the expertise and time to serve in mentor roles.
Special Issues or Sections: The creation of special issues or sections has both advantages and disadvantages, according to several participants. As noted by Group 2, they provide a way to publish international authors and topics. Group 5 observed that special issues can focus on research from underrepresented individuals, perhaps even targeting specific universities in these countries to increase visibility. Group 4 suggested that special sections may serve as a “steppingstone” for non-WEIRD scholars and added that serving as a guest editor of a special issue provides exposure and an introduction to the broader process. However, several participants cautioned that special issues may also marginalize these authors and subjects, with lower readership and attention to their research. Participants also raised the concern that requirements to include the country or cultural group of the research sample in the title of the
journal article has the potential to decrease readership of the article if potential readers are not interested in that particular cultural group. Group 3 cautioned against a bias to publish international research in major journals rather than in more specialty or regional journals.
Predatory Journals: Several groups warned about predatory journals targeting international scholars. LMIC scholars, especially early-career scholars, do not always have the support or mentorship to identify predatory journals and be guided away from them. With pressure to submit to English-language journals by their institutions, scholars may submit to these journals. Group 1 suggested distributing information to universities in other countries to avoid the predatory journal trap.
Publishers: Groups 2 and 4 urged publishers to provide affordable English editing services to scholars from LMICs and assist with or waive open access fees. Some publishers have these programs, but they are not well publicized, noted Group 2. Group 4 suggested that publishers can make Western research more accessible to scholars in LMICs through low-cost subscriptions.
Issues Beyond the Publication Process
Among the issues raised in the breakout groups that go beyond the publication process were the role of scientific societies and institutions of higher education, as well as those related to open science/open access and to research design and methods.
Role of Scientific Societies: Scientific societies can set the tone about how receptive they are to international research, several groups said, and provide valuable resources and expertise. Group 1 suggested that scientific societies invest the time and resources into incorporating diverse cultural perspectives so that psychology in the range of contexts where people live is better understood. Group 3 noted that societies can show intentionality by incorporating international priorities in their mission statements. On a practical level, societies can make memberships more accessible to lower income scholars, but, as one participant commented, “giving discounts to lower-income authors isn’t enough anymore.” Group 1 suggested that societies’ press operations can highlight international papers or offer interviews with editors and others about their international needs, values, and presence. Other suggestions included ensuring international representation on all committees, including publications, public policy, and others.
Group 1 suggested societies put pressure on publishers to allocate funds to authors to pay open access fees. They also suggested collecting and sharing data across publications on submitting authors’ countries of origin and the corresponding acceptance/rejection rates.
Societies can provide resources to conduct publishing workshops and webinars for non-WEIRD and other less experienced scholars (Group 4); provide editing services (Group 3); support the costs of conferences, memberships, and travel, especially for early-career scholars (Group 5); establish mentorships that include exchanges to visit both mentors and mentees in their context and environments (Group 5); and providing or increasing stipends to LMIC associate editors (Group 5). Often the beginning of a publishable article is participation in conferences, and societies can recruit and support authors to participate in regional and international conferences, said Group 4. Group 5 reported on the value of a Young Investigators Program at world conferences, in which senior scholars serve as mentors and the society provides financial support to participate.
Role of Institutions of Higher Education: Institutions can provide encouragements and incentives, noted several groups, or obstacles and disincentives. Bringing psychology “out of the WEIRD world” must start with students’ education in the United States, suggested Group 3, at the undergraduate and graduate levels through university curricula, study abroad programs, and educational and cultural exchanges. For faculty, Group 1 noted that service as an editor or reviewer of international research should be included in tenure portfolios. Group 5 suggested to set up an international reward structure that recognizes and compensates service to the field, such as being a reviewer or associate editor.
Open Science and Open Access: While open science and open access have brought about many benefits for science, they have implications for LMIC authors, several groups
stated, and, as Group 1 noted, may limit LMIC inclusion in U.S. journals. Open access fees may be prohibitive, so it is important to consider how to waive, lower, or find other means to pay these fees (Group 2). Groups 2 and 4 pointed to national and structural barriers that prevent researchers from less-resourced institutions from conducting and publishing open science. Open science requirements such as annotated datasets and data-sharing before publication are too burdensome for some researchers from less-resourced institutions, Group 4 noted. Group 5 pointed to differences in local ethical constraints, with many researchers not allowed to share data without violating local ethics. This may limit inclusion in a journal or, in some cases, result in a retraction if the data cannot be shared, which would hurt the reputation of the authors and their institutions.
Prioritizing International Perspectives: Encapsulating the many issues discussed during the workshop, Group 1 noted, “Societies need to prioritize these measures within journals. It’s great that we’re discussing these issues, but journals and societies really need to make a choice to whether they are going to prioritize these concerns or not among competing goals. What are your priorities? Are you willing to make changes internally?”
Jennifer Lansford drew the workshop to a close by thanking all speakers, group leaders, and participants for generating productive discussions about ways in which psychological science journals can encompass perspectives from diverse cultures, countries, and backgrounds by supporting scholars at all career levels, peer-review, and high-quality science. She invited participating societies and editors to share ideas from the workshop with their respective organizational leadership and editorial boards to effect change moving forward.
DISCLAIMER This Proceedings of a Workshop—in Brief was prepared by PAULA WHITACRE and ESTER SZTEIN as a factual summary of what occurred at the workshop. The planning committee’s role was limited to planning the workshop. The statements made are those of the rapporteurs or individual workshop participants and do not necessarily represent the views of all workshop participants; the planning committee; or the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
PLANNING COMMITTEE JENNIFER LANSFORD (Chair), Duke University; MARY GAUVAIN, University of California, Riverside; LAURA JOHNSON, University of Mississippi; ANNA PAPAFRAGOU, University of Pennsylvania; SUMAN VERMA, Panjab University, India; and JEFFREY ZACKS, Washington University in St. Louis. Staff: ESTER SZTEIN, Acting Director, and JAMES MANNING, senior program assistant, Board on International Scientific Organizations.
REVIEWERS To ensure that it meets institutional standards for quality and objectivity, this Proceedings of a Workshop—in Brief was reviewed in draft form by SILVIA KOLLER, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul; AMANDA MORRIS, Oklahoma State University; FROSSO MOTTI-STEFANIDI, The National and Kapodistrian University of Athens; and KORALY PÉREZEDGAR, The Pennsylvania State University. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the process.
SPONSOR This workshop was supported by the American Psychological Association, Cognitive Science Society, International Society for Research on Aggression, International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development, National Science Foundation, Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, Society for Research in Child Development, Society for Research on Adolescence, Society for Text and Discourse, Society of Multivariate Experimental Psychology, The Center for the Study of Culture, Health, and Human Development (University of Connecticut), and an anonymous donor.
For additional information regarding the workshop, visit: https://www.nationalacademies.org/our-work/international-perspectives-in-us-psychological-science-journals-a-workshop.
Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. International Perspectives in U.S. Psychological Science Journals: Proceedings of a Workshop-in Brief. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/26742.
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