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Australian Psychologist Vol. 22 No. 3 November 1987, 393-394

Sources and Themes of Papers in The Australian Journal of Psychology, 1970-1985

J. J. Ray

University of New South Wales


A survey of all papers published in the Australian Journal of Psychology from 1970 to 1985 (inclusive) showed that personality and social psychology was the main topic area published, that of the various Australian cities most papers came from Adelaide and that the institution most represented was Flinders University. The most published author was N. Feather. Lists of the top 12 authors and institutions are also given.

White, Sheehan, and Korboot (1983) have presented an intensive analysis of The Australian Journal of Psychology (AJP) for the years 1949 to 1978. It would therefore seem of some interest to examine the characteristics of the journal in more recent years. To some extent, White et al. have told us how the journal was rather than how it is. For the present survey, the period 1970 to 1985 (inclusive) was adopted. This overlaps somewhat with the period taken by White et al. but it was feared that taking a shorter period might give numbers in some categories that were too small to represent stable estimates of trends.

To take topics first, the category most represented was personality and social psychology -- with 157 papers in that area published. The next most represented category was experimental and learning with 96 papers, followed by perception and memory with 89 papers. Of the other categories surveyed (developmental, clinical, comparative, industrial, educational, intelligence and ability, statistics and scaling) the biggest was developmental with only 27 papers. Perhaps interestingly, this was not always so. For about the first third of the period surveyed, the numbers published in the experimental psychology and social psychology areas were running neck and neck. Personality and social psychology gained its ascendancy only in the last 10 years.

The categorization of papers under the headings chosen above was not of course always easy. Some papers obviously fell under more than one of the headings to at least some extent. There was also a small "miscellaneous" group of 8 papers concerned mainly with philosophical psychology. The doubtful cases were, however, too few to affect the broad trends outlined above.

The next most interesting breakup of the papers is probably according to author. There was some difficulty in deciding what to do about papers with multiple authorship and it was of course an option to count half-papers, thirds of papers, etc. To do this, however, one would logically also have to consider the length of each paper and this was thought too tedious and petty. In the end, therefore, what was counted was the number of times the name of each author appeared - whether in company or alone. The top twelve authors (followed by the number of papers published) were as follows: N. Feather (24), G. O'Brien (13), P. Glow (10), D. McNicol (8), A. Russell (8), J. Ray (7), J. Furedy (7), G. Halford (7), J. Brebner (6), H. Winefield (6), G. Stanley (6) and I. John (6). The most typical case by far, however, was of where the name of an author appeared only once.

Again there seemed to be some trends within the period. Authors McNicol, Glow, Russell, John and Halford contributed mainly or exclusively in the first third of the period surveyed. The papers of the second most prolific contributor (O'Brien) appeared almost entirely during the editorship of Leon Mann and one of the other prolific contributors (Ray) had no papers published under the editorship of Leon Mann.

Perhaps the most surprising result, however, is the breakdown of the papers into the institutional affiliation of the senior author. Again, half-affiliations for dual authorship papers could have been done but as the trend is for multiple authors to come from the same institution, it was thought that little would be lost by considering just the first or sole author. What was unexpected in the results was the role of the city of Adelaide. Tertiary institutions situated in Adelaide provided roughly the same number of papers (82) as did institutions in Sydney (80). This is despite the fact that Sydney is three times more populous than Adelaide. The third main centre was Melbourne (49). Part of the reason for this can be seen if we look at the breakdown into individual institutions. In order, the institutions contributing most papers were: Flinders (48), Adelaide (31), Macquarie (30), Queensland (27), Newcastle (24), Melbourne (23), Sydney (23), ANU (20), New South Wales (20), Western Australia (16), New England (15) and James Cook (11). Both of the top institutions are of course located in Adelaide. Although Flinders made a remarkable contribution for its small size, it may be noted that two other of the smaller institutions (Newcastle and Macquarie) also made disproportionate contributions.

There were 27 other Australian institutions which contributed 66 papers between them. Of these the biggest contributor was Monash with 9 papers. New Zealand institutions contributed 20 papers and other overseas institutions contributed 55 papers. Most of the other overseas institutions were North American but there were also six papers from British and two papers from Indian institutions. Interestingly, there was one paper each from Harvard and from Oxford (England). The small number of papers from British institutions is perhaps a surprise, particularly when one considers that those that were published appear to have come from authors who have for at least some of the time worked in Australia. It seems that British authors with no specific Australian connections show little interest in the AJP.

In summary, then, the findings of White et al. could with some accuracy be conveyed by saying that little would be lost by re-naming the AJP as The Sydney Journal of Experimental Psychology. From the present results, however, re-naming the AJP as the Adelaide Journal of Personality and Social Psychology could be better justified.


White, K. D., Sheehan, P. W., & Korboot, P. J. (1983). The Australian Journal of Psychology: The first 30 years. Australian Psychologist, 18, 261-272.


The aberrant editorship of Prof. Leon Mann is also discussed here

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