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It is an honor to begin my tenure as the Editor for the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis (JABA). Dorothea Lerman has left the journal in wonderful condition, and she has made my transition very easy. Symbolic of the times, to my knowledge we were the first editors to pass the wand entirely electronically. Dropbox, e-mail, Wiley online, ScholarOne, and the cellphone, none of which were imaginable at the inception of JABA, made that possible. From an intellectual standpoint, there is not much to change in the journal. However, to keep up with the times, four new initiatives will be trial ballooned in the 2014 volume. In addition, a couple of longer term changes will commence beginning this year.

Initiatives

First, other scientific journals have featured “video abstracts,” which are informal short videos in which the author summarizes the idea behind a study, how the study was done, what was found, and what it all means. The video abstract adds a personal touch. Gregory Hanley has agreed to provide a video abstract for one of his articles that appears in the current issue (Hanley, Jin, Vanselow, & Hanratty). We certainly do not envision that all manuscripts will be accompanied by video abstracts, but possibly a few will appear per volume in the future.

Second, we will pilot the use of “video methods,” in which authors can demonstrate via video clips how a procedure was conducted. This is not intended to supplant the technological rigor of the written methods; rather, video methods would be used in some rare cases in which it is difficult to visualize how a session or procedure must have looked. Again, by no means would this be a routine addition to manuscripts, but eventually one or two articles per issue might have them.

Third, we will pilot the use of podcasts, which will take the form of brief interviews with select contributing authors. The authors will answer questions about a particular study they have published in JABA. We aim to discuss the possibility with the certification board of allowing certified behavior analysts to use the podcasts in some way to earn continuing education credits. Eventually, there may be somewhere between two and four podcasts per volume.

Fourth, we will pilot printing brief summaries, titled “Implications for Practice.” These will be companion pieces to research articles, and will be published in the journal immediately following the corresponding article. The authors would translate in written format how the procedures, assessments, interventions, and so forth could be used in practice or as part of a larger process. Eventually we hope to see about two to four such papers per year.

Other Developments

In addition to these initiatives, we will begin two annual awards. One is the “JABA Contribution of the Year.” This award will go to an article that the editor and associate editors deem to be particularly innovative and likely to influence the field for years to come. The lead author will be recognized at the annual Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior (SEAB) banquet (SEAB is the governing body that oversees publication of JABA and our sister journal, the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior). A second award is “Seminal JABA Article.” The award will go to an article that has been established as one having produced significant impact to the field. If the authors are deceased, the award will be presented to a representative from their department or organization at the annual SEAB banquet. Sports personalities, movie stars, singers, and other celebrities have multiple opportunities to receive awards; scientists have few. It is our hope that such awards will help members of our field gain recognition, but the aim is also to draw attention to particular lines of research.

Finally, with the assistance of our new publisher, we will begin a series of “virtual issues.” Virtual issues resemble “special issues,” except that the papers need not be originally published together. Collections on a given topic can be identified and assembled such that JABA subscribers will receive an electronic issue with that collection intact. In this way we hope to attract readers from other disciplines (e.g., health psychology, sports psychology) and multidisciplinary realms (e.g., autism, aging). Further, the virtual issues will serve as a convenient format for seminars and reading groups.

So here we are, firmly in the electronic age. Our science shall remain as rigorous and socially relevant as ever, but it will now be more accessible in many ways. For those of us in the older set, we must recognize that those journals on our shelves represent only one way to relay the information from our work. Younger generations of students and colleagues already rely almost fully on the electronic media. To simply copy electronically what is already printed would not make use of the many advantages the electronic age has to offer.

  • Timothy R. Vollmer

  • Editor