Q&A with the Editors of Auditory Perception & Cognition
We caught up with Michael Hall and Mike Russell, co-editors of Auditory Perception & Cognition, to find out more about how they have come together to edit a new journal that offers a new venue to read and publish the latest research in auditory science.
Could you talk us through the rationale for launching the journal and what you feel are its core aims?
(MH) Discussions about the journal stemmed from a long-standing satellite meeting of the Psychonomic Society called The Auditory Perception Cognition and Action Meeting, which brings together researchers from different theoretical perspectives who study different levels of processing in auditory perception and cognition. This meeting has grown into a core group of researchers who want to reach beyond their narrowly defined research areas.
The journal’s need became apparent by the fact that there was an exodus of auditory research from what were traditionally considered general perceptual and cognitive journals that would publish auditory work. We collected some data and found that the editorial boards were changing in complexion. Simultaneously, a bunch of auditory work was showing up in journals that were targeted at a more narrow audience. We felt that was bad for auditory science. The way to address this problem is to create an outlet where you bring research areas together without restrictions concerning levels of processing, particular theoretical approaches, or the types of stimuli.
(MR) To expand on that, one of the problems currently facing auditory researchers is where to publish.
You go with the venue where you have the highest readership, but then you’re publishing one auditory research article among 10 or more vision articles. The end result is that you’re publishing in a journal that’s not really devoted to auditory research, and the repercussion could be that your manuscript does not get much attention.
On the flipside, you can publish in a journal that is specific to one area of auditory research. Now your manuscript is among other articles related to auditory research. But the problem has not changed. Your research is in a journal that has a limited audience, and again, you’ve reduced readership. One thing I believe we all want is to have our manuscripts read by the largest audience possible.
One of the core aims of Auditory Perception & Cognition is to have a venue where all auditory researchers can come together and publish their research in a journal that has a high degree of readership. That’s the thing that we all are striving for. We are doing great research and we want as many people as possible to know about it.
(MH) The one thing I’d add is a shared desire to reach a readership that would help researchers realise the general implications of their work.
(MR) I completely agree. Individuals with different theoretical backgrounds and methodological backgrounds all come together reading research that can influence them. It just gives you this big-picture perspective, which doesn’t exist currently with other journals.
What sets Auditory Perception & Cognition apart from its peers in the broader field of cognitive auditory work?
(MH) We don’t see another journal that brings together auditory work in a very general sense. Most auditory journals cater to a specific level of processing—for example, either as with low-level perceptual or cognitive processing. Furthermore, such a journal might only publish one or two auditory articles per issue, and much of the readership might not be focused on auditory work. The combined specificity of an auditory focus and great breadth in content is what really sets it apart.
(MR) One thing that sets this journal apart is that it is not just limited to cognition. It’s basic psychology. It’s applied psychology. It’s language. It’s music. It’s psychophysics. There are no limits in terms of the content area that we accept, on theoretical orientation, or for that matter, word- or page count.
(MH) We’re thinking in terms of how the system works. Like many auditory researchers, I was trained to think that cognition begins where perception ends. As a result, if people ask me if I’m a cognitive psychologist, I say “yes”; if they ask me if I’m a perceptual psychologist, I say “yes”. If these processes do fall along a continuum, then why continue to break up these pieces of the puzzle into different journals? We should have them in one place.
(MR) Exactly, and I’m completely the opposite of you based on my theoretical background. I’m a Gibsonian, an ecological psychologist. My field literally cuts out cognitive psychology; there’s perception and there’s action and that’s the only thing we have to consider when somebody says, “Are you a cognitive psychologist?” I say no. We don’t have to do that. If we get our science right, then we can just understand perception and action and they’re related. As Michael said; that’s the big picture. We have to consider all the pieces together, and that’s the beauty of AP&C.
How would you characterise the work you’re looking to publish in the journal?
(MH) There is a wide array of content areas that are considered by the journal. Submissions can be distinguished by the type of stimuli or methods employed. We accept behavioural work. We accept neuroscience. We’re interested in research on music perception and cognition, concerning either lower-level or higher-order explanations of speech and language processing, environmental noise processing, both basic and applied research projects, as well as animal work that has implications for processing in humans.
(MR) We need a venue where different researchers from different theoretical backgrounds and with different subject matter can all come together to determine the best way to serve science and make progress in the field.
So in terms of the article types that you’re accepting, there are no restrictions there?
(MR) There are no restrictions on any kind of manuscript we consider for publication: literature reviews, theoretical articles, empirical articles, or brief reports.
(MH) It could re-evaluate existing work, or reflect a new empirical focus that could point out bigger theoretical issues.
(MR) We’re not just limited to solely, purely auditory research, but are interested in cross-modal research as well. We can’t consider how we think, perceive and act in a world in terms of just one sensory system, in terms of one modality.
(MH) For instance, speech processing is not solely auditory. In conversation we also rely on the visual system. How can you understand one aspect of speech perception fully without considering another with which it interacts?
(MR) To understand why we think and act the way that we do we have to consider the individual as a single system that composed of multiple sensory systems, multiple sources of information, different cognitive processes, etc. That’s the beauty of AP&C.
What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about submitting to the journal?
(MH) Do your work the way in which you intend it to be done and seen. We just want the work to be good no matter how it's presented. This should liberate researchers to concentrate on doing the job that they think that should be done.
(MR) I completely agree. One of the best parts about AP&C is the lack of limitations or restrictions. Researchers have the opportunity to delve deep into what they found and what they’re trying to express to readers. I would say it’s an opportunity for authors to convey their thoughts in the best way possible.
(MH) Also, researchers should be aware that this is a hybrid journal that has both a traditional subscription component and an open-access option. The journal far undercuts the typical cost of open-access publication fees, thereby making it accessible to a wider variety of researchers. Furthermore, if authors become members of our sister organisation, the Auditory Perception & Cognition Society, then they can get those fees reduced the point they could publish four open-access articles in AP&C for the cost of one article is some other outlets. The review process is the same regardless of whether it’s ultimately destined for open-access or a subscription issue, and that decision is made by the author at the conclusion of the review process.
What are the emerging topics and themes that you’re expecting to see in the field in the next two to three years?
(MR) I am sure everybody in psychology, as well as in all the other scientific fields, is going to agree that our fields are constantly changing. They’re morphing, new areas are being developed, and other areas are going by the wayside. One thing I think that we’re moving in the direction of is the bigger picture. We used to think about cognition as being one very separate field and perception being another field and action being another field. We used to be incredibly specialised,
I think we’re going to move, in due time, to the bigger global picture of seeing all of these areas as being intimately interconnected. So as we’re moving in that particular direction, we’re going to find that specialisation is no longer always the best way to be thinking about things or to be doing research, and thus, isn’t the best way to be develop a true theory about how we think and act.
In AP&C we already have a journal in place that allows the field to progress in whatever way it’s going to progress without having to worry about changing its name or its aim.
(MH) Any time I’ve ever thought that I could anticipate where the field’s going, ultimately my anticipation was incorrect. That’s part of the beauty of it, right? We need publications that permit us to see where connections are possible.
For example, I am seeing more instances of people doing cross-stimulus comparisons, such as between speech and non-speech processing for analogous conditions. Are these acting as shared resources or separate domains? I would expect this journal to provide an excellent forum for having those kinds of conversations.
(MR) As the field is emerging, new topics and avenues of research will arise and some will fall by the wayside. Despite that, AP&C is still going to exist. We are not limited to a particular theoretical approach nor are we limited to a particular domain of research or a particular methodological approach. We don’t have to change our aims, because the aim of this journal is simply to truly understand how it is that we perceive and act in the world based on sound.
Michael D. Hall
James Madison University, USA
Washburn University, USA