The Journal and the Review Process; Enhancing Value and Innovativeness


March 1999 JCR (Volume 25, number 4), pp. iv-v

THE JOURNAL

Twenty-five years ago in the inaugural issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, Ronald Frank, the first editor, stated that the journal's "primary objective is to serve as an interdisciplinary communications vehicle for theory, empirical research, and methodology of the study of consumer behavior" (1974, p. iv). Over the years, the goal of interdisciplinarity has endured as the journal's principal strength (Kernan 1995). Although opinions differ about the extent to which this goal is being met, there is unmistakable evidence from the last decade that JCR is increasingly drawing from, and striving harder to contribute to, a diversity of perspectives, topics, and methods across the social sciences, humanities, and professional areas. Because of its ecumenical spirit and uncompromising standards fostered by its founders, policy board, editors, reviewers, and authors the Journal of Consumer Research has achieved an indisputable prestige as the premier international outlet for inquiry on consumer behavior.

As I undertake the editor's role in July 1999, I intend to reinforce and, where possible, improve on this tradition. The journal will continue to seek manuscripts reflecting the broadest possible range of cutting-edge consumer research, evaluate each according to rigorous and paradigmatically appropriate criteria, and publish those that present the most impactful new learning about consumer behavior. The foremost criterion in judging submitted manuscripts will be the degree to which knowledge of important consumer behavior issues has been extended. As always, JCR will continue to champion those manuscripts that aspire to major and long-lasting, rather than incremental and short-term, advances.

REVIEW PROCESS

The structure of the review process involving a dedicated team of associate editors will parallel the one implemented by the two most recent editors, Brian Sternthal and Robert Burnkrant. The primary merit of this structure is to ensure high-quality reviews, fair and justifiable decisions, and constructive feedback for authors. Nine associate editors, whose expertise in consumer research spans an array of theoretical, substantive, and methodological domains, will assist me in the review process. They are Punam Anand Keller, Eric Arnould, William Bearden, Merrie Brucks, John Deighton, Wayne Hoyer, Joel Huber, Michael Johnson, and Wagner Kamakura. I am pleased and fortunate to have these experienced scholars join me in carrying out the journal's editorial duties.

When a manuscript is received, I will assign it to an associate editor and choose appropriate reviewers after consultation with the associate editor. Typically, three reviewers will be assigned to a manuscript, although as few as two or as many as four may be used in some cases. After the reviews are completed, the associate editor will develop a report based on the reviews and the associate editor's independent assessment of the manuscript. Combining these inputs with my own reading of the manuscript, I will then decide whether to accept, reject, or invite revision of the manuscript. This decision and its basis will be communicated to the authors, reviewers, and associate editor. The chief objectives in all feedback to authors will be to provide clear explanation for the decision and to offer explicit guidance, if appropriate, on how the manuscript might be improved.

ENHANCING VALUE AND INNOVATIVENESS

My top priority in editing JCR will be to enhance its value and innovativeness for all authors and readers. Although the journal rightfully prides itself on being the most interdisciplinary and path-breaking source of new knowledge on consumer behavior, these revered qualities could be further cultivated. They are especially important to nurture at this time as the number of total pages per issue has been compressed in recent years.

Following past trends, theoretically oriented empirical work is likely to remain the modal category of articles appearing in the journal. However, I particularly want to encourage and publish research of the following kinds:

  • Innovative conceptual papers and integrative literature reviews, as both of these types of articles have been among the most influential in the journal historically 

  • Cross-paradigmatic, transdisciplinary, or multimethod projects, namely, melding different doctrines, techniques, or types of data.  Research that addresses conventional or "matured" topics (e.g., decision making and choice, advertising response, diffusion of innovations) in novel or unusual ways.

  • Articles that introduce, develop, and apply new theories

  • Research that draws increased attention to, and expands understanding of, previously undervalued substantive topics

  • Articles that focus on the welfare of consumers, broadly construed

  • Metanalyses of large or growing streams of research

  • Articles that provide new methods (data collection or analysis, quantitative or qualitative) that are demonstrated to have key advantages over existing methods

During the next several months I will also be considering and planning some new developments at the journal to increase its intellectual benefits. Two of these come under the rubric of reviews and reflections. The first would involve invited essays by leading consumer scholars on new books that have had a significant impact on their current thinking and research. The second would involve invited essays by distinguished researchers who have not published before in JCR, but whose pioneering work in their respective fields (e.g., economics, psychology, philosophy, folklore, women's studies) has definitive relevance to consumer behavior. They will summarize their past and present work as it relates to theoretical and substantive knowledge of consumer behavior, and propose valuable directions for future research. Among other positive outcomes, both forms of these invited essays should have the salutary effect of enlarging the circle of interactions and insights among all consumer researchers.

CONCLUSION

Details about the submission of new or revised manuscripts, as the transition of the editorial office is finalized, will appear in the front pages of the June 1999 issue of JCR. In the meantime, I must acknowledge that it is an immense honor and responsibility to be entrusted with the editorship of the Journal of Consumer Research. We all owe considerable gratitude to Bob Burnkrant and the prior editors for their legacies of leadership and scholarship at JCR. I also have appreciated their helpful advice as the journal prepares to move to a new editorial home. I am inspired by the opportunity to make a contribution to the field of consumer behavior and to be a part of the rich heritage of our esteemed journal.

David Glen Mick
Editor-Elect
March 1999

REFERENCES

Frank, Ronald E. (1974), "The Journal of Consumer Research: An Introduction," Journal of Consumer Research, 1 (June), ivv.

Kernan, Jerome B. (1995), "Framing a Rainbow, Focusing the Light: JCR's First Twenty Years," in Advances in Consumer Research, Vol. 22, ed. Frank R. Kardes and Mita Sujan, Provo, UT: Association for Consumer Research, 488496.