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Update: IOP on Its Way  

Stephany Schings, Communications Specialist

SIOP Announced as Semi-Finalist for Best New Journal Award

In early 2006, SIOP’s leadership set out to develop a journal that was different from any other publication in the organizational sciences.

Two and a half years later, Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice (IOP) is successfully finishing up its first volume, awaiting its second editor, and in the running for a Best New Journal award through the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP).

Representatives from Wiley-Blackwell, which publishes IOP, presented the journal to the ALPSP committee July 30 for their Best New Journal award.  IOP is one of four finalists for the award. The winner will be announced at an ALPSP dinner held on September 11 as part of the ALPSP International Conference.

Founding editor of IOP, Paul Sackett, said it’s been a long process to get the journal off the ground and make it the success it is today.  “It was essentially a full-year process of finding a publisher,” he said. “Early in 2006 we decided, ‘yes, we’re going to go ahead with the idea of the journal,’ and I was appointed with the title of editor and they said, ‘make this happen.’”

Sackett said that from the beginning SIOP wanted the journal to be unique.
 
“The idea was that we said ‘we don’t want this to be like every other journal,’” he said. “We didn’t want to start our own journal and just compete for the same manuscripts which would be submitted to every other journal out there. We wanted to bring something to the table.”

It was decided to focus on interactive exchanges in the science and practice of I-O psychology by using a focal article-peer commentary-response format, which is uncommon in the field of science journals, Sackett said. 

“With the other journals in our field, each paper reports a specific empirical research study” Sackett explained. “What we’re doing here is this is not an outlet where people present research findings; rather, the focal articles are broader essays. They are big, integrative reviews of individual studies that have been done on a particular topic. So rather than saying, ‘I went and gathered these data,’ contributors to the journal are presenting an evaluation of where we stand on this issue from their perspective.”

After deciding on the format, Sackett said he and an initial team of Leaetta Hough, Kenneth Pearlman, and SIOP Executive Director Dave Nershi had to find a publisher. SIOP signed a contract with Blackwell Publishing, now Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, in April 2007, and the first issue was published less than a year later, in March of 2008.

“Before we began, we had no idea if we’d get a handful of commentary submissions or if we’d get a ton,” Sackett said. “We had no idea if this would work.” Originally he hoped to include six to eight commentaries per focal article; now the journal averages about 10, Sackett said. “I’m very pleased with the quality and quantity of commentaries,” he added.

The unique format is what has set IOP apart from other journals in its field, Sackett said.

 “It’s essentially saying, ‘here’s our take on where we currently stand on this topic, here are some of the issues we still need to work on, and here is what we need to look at in the future,’” he said. “Ideally, the papers can be pretty provocative. It’s all about interpretation. You can say, ‘here’s my point of view on this topic,’ and, of course, others can think differently. Some of the commentaries are disagreements, some are expansions on the previous idea. So the commentary is pretty open.”

In addition to a healthy number of submissions, Sackett said he has also been pleased with the feedback he has gotten from readers.

 “I’m very gratified at the feedback we’ve been getting,” he said. “I am very pleased with the positive comments. My sense is that the format is clearly a big hit.”

Sackett said he has also made a conscious effort to make sure the journal is filled with a variety of perspectives by including in each issue has at least one focal article with an author from the practice community and one from the academic community.

“There really is a hope that this journal has broad appeal,” he said. “It has become a stated part of our charge that we want our journal to have academic and practitioner perspectives as well as a variety of international perspectives.”

About 30% of the commentaries have one or more authors from the practitioner community, according to Sackett, and 22% of commentaries have at least one author outside the Unites States.

The future of the journal will be in someone else’s hands, however. Sackett is preparing to pass his position on to a new editor this fall. IOP’s new editor is expected to be selected in September, to begin a 3-year term at the annual conference in New Orleans in 2009.

“Most of the other offices at SIOP have 3-year terms, and I have been working on the journal for about 3 years now, so it’s time to pass it on,” Sackett said.

Sackett said he is confident the journal will continue to have a bright future.

“I think it’s great for members; I think it’s great for students,” he said. “I think it’s great for anyone who wants to know what the big issues are in I-O psychology.”

The next issue of Industrial and Organizational Psychology will be published in September, with the second volume coming out in March 2009. All SIOP members receive a copy of the journal as a benefit of membership.