Academic journal article Journal of Mental Health Counseling

An Ounce of Prevention: An Associate Editor's View

Academic journal article Journal of Mental Health Counseling

An Ounce of Prevention: An Associate Editor's View

Article excerpt

It is my pleasure and honor to serve as the new associate editor of research for the Journal of Mental Health (JMHC) and to continue working with such distinguished colleagues as Drs. James Rogers, Loreto Prieto, and Victoria Kress. I have had the privilege of serving these past two years as a reviewer for JMHC, paying particular attention to the soundness of the statistical and methodological sections of manuscripts submitted. On average I have reviewed one manuscript every eight weeks. As I read these manuscripts, I was pleased to note the quality of preparation and the soundness of the studies conducted. Because no field can advance beyond the quality of its research, this encourages me as both researcher and counselor.

ROLE OF THE RESEARCH EDITOR

In general, I view the role of research editor as similar to that of every JMHC reviewer: I am a gatekeeper, checking both the quality and scope of research studies published in the journal. Any researcher who has questions about the appropriateness of a submission to JMHC may, of course, consult the Guidelines for Authors printed in each JMHC issue. I also encourage prospective authors to read Prieto (2005) and Rogers (2006). The Prieto article should be particularly useful for the novice researcher contemplating a future study, especially if the goal is submission to the JMHC.

Based upon my experiences as research mentor and consultant as well as reviewer of manuscripts for JMHC, I see my role as research editor as having a preventive component: If at all possible, I would like to help those submitting manuscripts to avoid mistakes that might cripple or destroy what could have been a useful study. Naturally, I cannot offer one-on-one advice to the many who submit work for publication in JMHC. What I can do is use opportunities like this editorial to offer words of encouragement, guidance, and caution that are seasoned by my own experience. Therefore, in what follows I offer JMHC contributors information that might help them to produce solid research studies. Though my advice cannot guarantee publication, I hope it will challenge researchers to examine both how they view themselves as researchers and their research practice.

"BUT I'M A COUNSELOR ..."

As both a student of professional counseling and a teacher of statistics, I have witnessed firsthand the fear among counselors-in-training about learning and using statistics. Often you can see it in their eyes, which say, "I entered the field of counseling because I want to counsel. Learning research methodology and statistics is an evil I do not wish to face." Indeed, both students and colleagues have said so to me directly. However, many of these same professionals recognize the need to inform the counseling profession competently by contributing sound research. So, how to face this daunting task? After all, most counselors in training complete only a handful of courses in research methods and statistics. Is it possible to conduct competent research after only a few statistics and research courses?

I believe so. This is admittedly an idea on which my thinking has come full circle since some unusual choices in my own graduate education. I completed my first research course as a master's student in school counseling. Until then I had had no exposure to research or statistics. After completing my master's training with its two research courses, I headed straight into full-time doctoral study in counselor education, which meant five required research and statistics courses. I planned to conduct my own studies in the future, not the least of which would be my dissertation, and I remember thinking, "Five courses is not enough. How can any counselor-in-training expect to be proficient in research without adding years onto an already demanding course of doctoral study?" My solution was to change my course of study mid-degree from counselor education to applied research and statistical methods. …

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