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Guidelines to Authors of Research Reports

What is the Journal of Consumer Psychology (JCP) looking for in Research Reports?

We are looking for phenomenon-driven research in the domain of consumer psychology. Research Reports (formerly referred to as Short Articles) should contain (i) novel and interesting ideas with preliminary empirical findings, or (ii) novel and interesting findings with plausible theoretical explanations. Authors are not expected to pinpoint the specific underlying process for their findings or rule out alternative explanations (except when developing or testing an alternative process explanation that represents the actual research goal). Thus, the type of manuscript being sought for Research Reports is different – it should be focused more on cutting-edge, discovery-oriented research that propagates new research in consumer psychology domains. Despite these differences from Research Articles, we will maintain the same standards of rigor (in terms of literature search, conceptualization, methodology, empirical analysis, stated insights derived from analysis) as for full length articles. Authors may even be asked to collect additional data for further support of the phenomenon (additional study) or for a more rigorous testing of the phenomenon (new study to replace an original study). Since Research Reports are meant to be widely disseminated to spark new research, they should also be easy to read. Research Reports are required to be less than 4000 words in length excluding the abstract, title, references, tables and figures.

What may qualify as a Research Report with novel and interesting theoretical ideas?  This category includes manuscripts that develop: (1) an alternate process explanation for an existing theory, (2) alternate theory for existing findings, (3) a theory that accounts for commonly held beliefs (with data to support these beliefs), or (4) a new theory. Some preliminary empirical support (one or two studies) is required for this category.

What may qualify as a Research Report with novel and interesting empirical findings (based on data from experiments, surveys, secondary sources, interviews or observations)? This category includes manuscripts whose findings: (1) are novel and interesting by themselves, (2) refute commonly held beliefs, (3) refute prior theory, or (4) refute prior explanatory processes. Some preliminary theoretical explanation must be offered for this category, but it is not necessary for authors to rule out all possible alternative explanations. Thus, inconclusive process evidence is not a reason to reject a Research Report (unless an alternative explanation is obvious and more compelling).

In addition, authors must also consider the following when they submit a Research Report:

  1. The importance of the General Discussion section:
    Since one of the primary objectives for Research Report is to stimulate follow-up research, a manuscript that is being considered for publication needs to have a General Discussion section that strongly serves this objective. Failure to offer specific and compelling implications for future follow-up research may in fact serve as the basis for unfavorable evaluations or a downright rejection of a Research Report.

    The General Discussion section also serves a secondary purpose. While Research Reports are not expected to pinpoint the specific underlying process for their findings or rule out all alternative explanations (except when this is the stated goal), they are expected to recognize limitations and alternate explanations and suggest possible process explanations that could be tested in follow up research. An appropriate place to do this is in the General Discussion.
  2. Novelty Criterion:
    While judging the novelty of the theoretical ideas or empirical findings of a Research Report involves a high degree of subjectivity, a manuscript that is a cast off from one's previous studies or is a mere modification of previous research it is not considered to be novel. Novelty is more closely related to innovativeness. The bottom line is that JCP is welcoming of Research Reports that make readers instantly pick up their phones to share their thoughts with their friends or cause readers to slap their forehead, exclaiming "Silly me, why didn't I think about this/why didn't I observe this?"

Reviewers of Research Reports are sent these guidelines along with the manuscript and are encouraged to limit themselves to 3 or 4 major concerns.