From hot topics to the marvellous mundane
Yesterday, we held a meeting of The Psychologist and Digest Editorial Advisory Committee in London. Sitting here looking at my scribbled notes, a mild panic descends when I realise they basically amount to 'it's about finding what we do best and identifying new and creative ways of doing varying amounts of it better more of the time'. So I thought I would try to make sense of where we are in the evolution of The Psychologist, and share thoughts on how you might help us keep moving on.
I firmly believe there has never been a better time to contribute to The Psychologist. We have a greater reach than ever: in print, via a website which is currently seeing the number of users rise by a third year on year (to averages of around 150,000 users per month), in our app and via social media channels such as our 70,000 followers on Twitter. We have formats for a diverse range of people, from first-time authors to the most eminent in the discipline, and contributors can give us anything from 10 minutes of their time upwards. We try to offer a supportive editorial process to help you truly engage and inform our large and diverse audience.
Given the relatively small team at our disposal, I'm fairly happy with how our website has grown and with our 2017 print relaunch. We've extended 'the brand' to our 'Guide to…' leaflets and to live events (see the free Latitude Festival special in our app). We're definitely doing more than we were five, ten, fifteen years ago.
But are we actually producing material which is better? In particular, are we truly serving as a forum for discussion and debate which brings all corners of the discipline together to address issues of real interest and importance?
There are of course several examples of where we have tried this. But the Committee and I are keen to make it a more regular offering. This could be in the form of a monthly long read, with questions to support a seminar discussion based on the piece; it could be a collection of short, evidence-based opinion pieces from academics, practitioners and those outside the discipline; or it could be a loose 'feature' put together by our journalist on the basis of conversations with those in the know.
As ever, the start point will be ideas for topics/questions/authors coming from you – it's important to us that the membership 'voice' is in there right from the start (read more on this in my blog for PARN). We're open to suggestions but mainly we're imagining these being 'hot topics', timely questions representing the big issues of today and tomorrow which can be addressed from a variety of perspectives within psychology. And it doesn't all have to be deadly serious (see below).
There are also other gaps in our offerings that we're looking to fill. We're overdue a move into video, and it could be time to expand our audio offerings. We'd like to resurrect our international articles, investigating what is distinctive and interesting about psychology in overseas countries. We are actively seeking greater diversity amongst our contributors, for example with more BAME and female authors, and occasional pieces by those outside the discipline looking in. And the quest to find a way of regularly making methods engaging and informative for the average reader continues.
In short, we continue to evolve, and now's a great time to nudge us in a particular direction. The Psychologist is your publication: we need you and we believe we have a lot to offer in return. Get in touch!
P.S. There are currently several specific topics we are interested in your contributions for. If you have relevant expertise or just an evidence-based opinion, please get in touch.
1) The cities of the world are growing as an increasing number of people move to urban areas. Could the design of these spaces be more psychologically-informed, and if so what should the focus be?
2) Is it possible for us to write a feature on 'the psychology of the night' without mentioning sleep?
3) Can you write about the 'marvellous mundane': the banal, trivial, everyday, overlooked, seemingly inconsequential things, which actually reveal bigger truths when you delve into them? I'd love to hear your ideas around that: areas of psychological research or practice that you can scarcely believe someone has bothered to look into, a tiny tatty thread that you pull on and everything unravels.
5) Do you have a 'lost finding', and might it tell us something about the way forward for psychology?
Dr Jon Sutton
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