The Journal of Credibility Assessment and Witness PsychologyJournal Flag

1997, Vol. 1, No. 1, 1-3

Published by the Department of Psychology of Boise State University

Welcome to the Journal of Credibility Assessment and Witness Psychology

Charles R. Honts, Editor

Copyright 1997 by the Department of Psychology of Boise State University and the Author. Permission for non-profit electronic dissemination of this article is granted. Reproduction in hardcopy/print format for educational purposes or by non-profit organizations such as libraries and schools is permitted. Modification of this article is strictly prohibited. For all other uses of the this article, prior advance written notice is required. Send inquiries by hardcopy to: Charles R. Honts, Ph. D., Editor, The Journal of Credibility Assessment and Witness Psychology, Department of Psychology, Boise State University, 1910 University Drive, Boise, Idaho 83725, USA.

Welcome to the Journal of Credibility Assessment and Witness Psychology (JCAAWP). On February 9, 1997 this welcome and three articles became available to the general public as the first issue of JCAAWP. The publication of this first issue represents over a year of effort on the part of the authors and the Editorial Board. In particular, I believe that we have assembled an outstanding group of international scientists as our Editorial Board. I want to thank all of those who have generously given of their time and effort on this project.

I would like to use this welcome to document a bit of history of the founding of this journal and to present my editorial philosophy. I became interested in publishing a journal on the WWW for a number of reasons. My original inspiration for came from the example of Joseph J. Plaud. Dr. Plaud was my colleague at the University of North Dakota and I had the opportunity to observe and to talk with him as he began the Journal of Behavior Analysis and Therapy. During our discussions, the advantages of WWW publishing became obvious. The cost of publication is extremely low; the cost to the readership is essentially nil, lag time between acceptance and publication could be greatly reduced, and the potential readership is enormous and growing rapidly. Moreover, as compared to the printed page, the format is unconstrained. Article length is unimportant. Color graphics are easy. Audio and video are possible. WWW documents are instantly available, are never missing from the stacks, and don't get dropped from the library's holdings when the budget cuts hit.

It seemed to me that because of these advantages the WWW was the perfect place to publish science. During my graduate training, Dr. Joe Franchina said something that has stuck with me and has been a guiding point to my view of science. He said that science was a public endeavor. No matter how good the quality of your work, if you did not publish it, it was not science. This fits well with the American Psychological Society's notion of "giving science away." The flow of ideas and knowledge should be free. Of course, publication of a paper journal has costs, and publishers are entitled to make a reasonable profit, but when the focus of scientific publication becomes make a profit, rather than distributing science, something has gone amiss. Unfortunately, APA's recent policy concerning science on the WWW (any article on a personal WWW page is considered as published and cannot be submitted to an APA journal) reflects a far greater concern for protecting profits than for the advancement of science. At least that is my opinion. JCAAWP will not follow APA on this policy. We welcome and encourage the free flow of information and ideas. Moreover, we have structured our copyright policy so that the integrity of the publication is protected while at the same time students and educators can have unrestricted rights to reproduce the articles for non-profit educational purposes.

My second motivation in starting JCAAWP came from working the area of the scientific study of credibility assessment and witness psychology for 17 years. Publishing is that area had at times been a very frustrating experience. There simply was no natural home for such research. For example, scientific research on the psychophysiological detection of deception has been published in journals ranging from Law and Society Review to Nature. Much work was published in first tier journals such as, The Journal of Applied Psychology and Psychophysiology. However, much good scientific work was also published in more obscure (at least from a psychologist's perspective) sources such as The Journal of Police Science and Administration and the trade-journal, Polygraph (which does, on occasion, publish scientific articles that have been peer-reviewed).

The scattering of this literature not only made scholarly work difficult but also resulted in a situation where submissions on the psychophysiological detection of deception were almost always a novelty, and where there were few people who were truly qualified to do peer review. It was not unusual to submit an article, have one of more of the peer reviewers write a unfavorable review, either because they did not know the literature, or because they simply were unfamiliar with the topic. The authors then had to resubmit and essentially educate the reviewers. It was not unusual to have to go through several rounds of this and in my own case it was often only dogged persistence and stubborn unwillingness to take no for an answer that finally got the work published.

The problems with peer-review in the area of the psychophysio1ogical detection of deception were exacerbated by the polemic and at times ad hominem debates that have characterized the area since the late 1970ies. Such personal animosities continue to this date, and in my opinion they have had a negative impact on the peer-review process. This was and is particularly true in journals that were/are staffed by persons who were/are not privy to the nature of underlying personal dynamics.

When I began to do work in the area of witness psychology, and in particular in the area of the credibility of child witness, it became clear to me that much the same situation existed in that area. Persons lobbied and acted to keep scientific work from being published, based not on the merit of the work, but on the political acceptability of the research outcome, or on the identity of the author. This is a tragic and deplorable situation.

In starting The Journal of Credibility Assessment and Witness Psychology it was and is my hope to avoid these problems as much as possible. This journal will be open to all points of view. The guiding rule here will be to maintain scientific quality. Political correctness and personal biases will not hold sway in this venue. I intend to welcome the controversial, and to stimulate debate. When appropriate, I will ask for, and publish peer commentary. Moreover, the Credibility Assessment and Witness Psychology List is available to support running commentary on the articles published here. I welcome any and all comments and I hope to see lively debates in that forum.

I see the main goal of JCAAWP as a archival journal for scientific research. However, it is also my hope that we will receive a number of theoretical and integrative reviews. The area of credibility assessment is in crying need of this work, and it will find a home here. Challenge the readership with new ideas and perspectives. I also invite contributions that challenge the notion of the form of a publication. We can do things in this format that cannot be done on the printed page. I urge contributors to take advantage of the medium in new and innovative ways. We will do all that we can to support and further such efforts.

From this point on, we will be doing everything we can to streamline and expedite the publication process. As soon as the review and revision process is complete, we will mark-up and publish articles. Although for clerical purposes we will organize the journal into volumes and issues, articles will be published as soon as they are ready. I am hoping that our time from receipt of an article to publication will be on the order of 60 days. Time will tell if we can achieve such performance, but we will try.

So again welcome! Visit these pages often, and send us your comments.

More importantly, please send us your manuscripts!

Thanks for visiting here.

Charles R. Honts, Ph. D.

Editor, The Journal of Credibility Assessment and Witness Psychology.

Number of page accesses since 9 February 1997:

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