What is history of psychology? Network analysis of Journal Citation Reports, 2009-2015

Burman, J. T., Jan-2018, In : SAGE Open. 8, 1, p. 1-17 17 p.

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This essay considers the History of Psychology—its interests and boundaries—using the data behind the Journal Impact Factor system. Advice is provided regarding what journals to follow, which broad frames to consider in presenting research findings, and where to publish the resulting studies in order to reach different audiences. The essay itself has also been written for those with only passing familiarity with its methods. It is therefore not necessary to be an expert in network analysis in order to engage in “virtual witnessing” while considering methods or results: everything is clearly explained and carefully illustrated. The further consequence is that those who are new to the History of Psychology as a specialty, distinct from its subject matter, are introduced to the myriad historical perspectives within and related to psychology from the broadest possible perspective. A supplemental set of exemplary readings is also provided, in addition to cited references, drawing from identified sources from beyond the primary journals.

*Press release abstract*
What a scholarly discipline is—what defines it—is something that insiders know, but which can be very difficult to explain fully to outsiders. This is referred to as “tacit” knowledge: the stuff you learn by doing. And it’s a real problem that it can’t be explained, especially for students (and teachers who aren’t specialists). But if there were a way to represent _the doing_ in a new way, then time-consuming and expensive misunderstandings could be reduced. That’s ultimately what this essay does: it introduces new methods to visualize an entire discipline and enable outsiders to see at a distance what insiders have learned by doing. In this case, the discipline represented is the History of Psychology. (The _doing_ of history, not the _content_.) The methods then also highlight aspects of the discipline that even the specialists didn’t know; maybe couldn’t have known, given the breadth of the knowledge required.

*Plain language summary*
Historians of psychology have a reputation for caring about topics that aren't relevant to contemporary science. But when you consider the entirety of what the specialist community is doing, then it's clear that much of what historians study is indeed relevant to understanding how psychological science produces its impact: not only what the science itself is about, but also how it affects those it describes, where the money comes from that pays for it, how ideas and people become famous or influential, and how those factors combine to make it possible to conduct the experiments that advance our scientific understanding of ourselves. We show for the first time how all of those pieces fit together, and how they are used differently by different historians. In short, we show how history is done in psychology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalSAGE Open
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2018


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