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Anales de Psicología

versión On-line ISSN 1695-2294versión impresa ISSN 0212-9728

Anal. Psicol. vol.36 no.1 Murcia ene./abr. 2020  Epub 07-Dic-2020 


The role of the Association of Psychologists-COP in the international ranking of Spanish Psychology (1979-2018)

Macarena Tortosa-Pérez1  *  , Francisco González-Sala2  , Jesús Santolaya-Prego de Oliver1  , Constanza Aguilar-Bustamante3 

1Universidad Internacional de Valencia-VIU (Spain)

2Departamento de Psicología Evolutiva y de la Educación. Universidad de Valencia (Spain)

3 Departamento de Psicología. Universidad Santo Tomás, Bogotá, (Colombia)


The presence and spread of Spanish psychology journals in different international databases (JCR and SJR) is an indicator that determines the maturity and growth of this field, apart from providing an interesting view of the scientific activity for what concerns psychology and its situation within the international context. The objective of the present work is to determine the role of the Association of Psychologists (COP) as editor of psychology high-impact journals. 17 indexed journals were simultaneously selected in the JCR and SJR databases. The results show how 53% of them are edited or coedited by the professional association of psychologists-COP, with salience of that of Madrid (COP Madrid), having both, a greater presence in other databases and a greater number of journals in the first JCR quartile, with differences in the number of records per quartile between those journals edited or co-edited by the COP and those that are not. We could conclude that the state policies and the ranking campaigns of universities, associations and colleges play a key role in internationalization and ranking, since, in the case of Spain, the Association of Psychologists is the main editor and promotor of a true policy focused on these objectives.

Keywords: Scientific journals; Spanish psychology; Professional association of psychologists-COP; Editorial policy; JCR; SJR; Internationalization


The prominence of journals and the discussion on the ¿crucial? role of communication within the scientific activity is growing more and more in the circulating literature. It is not unusual to find discussion on the pressing need to publish in order to move forward in one's academic career, on the mechanical assumption of impact as equal to excellence, on the suitability of the criteria held by the Spanish agencies of evaluation, on the prominence of articles published in impact journals for the relevance of a country, institution, region or author (Osca-Lluch, González-Sala, Haba-Osca, Tortosa, & Peñaranda, 2019).

The journal constitutes the main and more agile formal communication channel between those who practice science and those who consume it, and it is the key element for what concerns assessment. Moreover, it has a special role in the process of institutionalization of any scientific discipline. Its existence or inexistence, its number, internationalization1, and its position in international rankings help to explain the level of institutionalization of autonomous communities (in the case of Spain), countries, regions, or continents (Buela, Guillén, Ramiro, & Quevedo, 2017; López, de Moya, Acevedo, García, & Silva, 2015; Moreno, López, Rubio, Saúl, & Sánchez, 2013; Navas, Abadal, & Rodrigues, 2018; Osca-Lluch, González-Sala, Fonseca, & Civera, 2017; Polanco, Gallegos, Salas, & López, 2017, Tortosa, Alfaro, Martínez, & Tortosa, 2019; Visca, Gallegos, López, Polanco, & Cervigni, 2018).

Spanish psychology journals are oriented towards concrete plans and strategies aimed at improving their indexing, which, undoubtedly, has improved the professionalization of editorial activities. During the past 20 years there have been meetings, forums, workshops, congresses, technical meetings, focused on how to face this complex scenario and improve the future of journals published in Spain. All of this had the purpose of generating strategies and resources aimed at enhancing the visibility of journals, and place them in the first quartiles of impact factor indexes for “quality assessment” and “sharing of recognition and resources”, responding to the Spanish quality policies (ANECA, 2019a; Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad, 2013). In this context, in which the whole weight of evaluation is given to what is published in journals included in the Journal Citation Reports and what quartile they are included in, the impact factor has become the “golden pattern” (Torres, & Cabezas, 2013) for the evaluation of everything in the scientific world.

This has generated a quantitative growth of production and patterns in the international elaboration of Spanish psychology, as well as a noticeable increase in the worldwide most cited articles (FECYT, 2018, 2019). We are witnessing a clearer and clearer international ranking of Spanish authors and journals (Tortosa, Osca-Lluch, Alfaro, & López, 2019). A process that is not easy, nor it is cheap for the economical possibilities of potential publishers, who are quite often required to pay in order to access publications, and sometimes even to publish themselves. Many journals, in fact, sell what they publish; and they charge this cost not on those who publish, but rather on those who consume the product, and thus establish a selective and restrictive system: only those who pay can access the contents. Other journals establish this restriction even earlier in the process: those who wish to publish need to pay in order to do so, and consumers are those who can freely access the information. However, this is not always the case, not even with these conditions, and sometimes both those who publish and those who want to access the content must pay. A third possible solution could be that other stakeholders should pay: institutions, universities, associations, corporations etc. (López, 2018).

This situation has generated different business models based on journals (Björk, & Solomon, 2015; Navas, 2016; Villarroya, Claudio, Abadal, & Melero, 2012). Globally speaking, we find the widely debated (Björk, & Solomon, 2015; Larivière, Haustein, & Mongeon, 2015; Spezi, Wakeling, Pinfield, Creaser, Fry, & Wilett, 2017), even though economically profitable, models of the big commercial houses (i.e., Taylor & Francis, Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Springer, Sage, o Wolters-Kluwer) and mega-journals (i.e., Frontiers, Scientific Reports, Plos One, BMJ Open). Both in Spain and Latin America the “diamond route of free access”, a business model “in which the costs of editorial production, the management of contents, the accessibility, the visibility and the diffusion are undertaken by the publishing institutions”, especially universities (López, 2018) and, recently, Professional Colleges from some fields (Tortosa, Alfaro, Martínez, & Tortosa, 2019).

In all cases, academic groups (researchers and university professors) have played a key role. In some occasions, they have initiated (and maintained) journals that, considering the economic weakness of the Spanish university system, were not always able to achieve a full professionalization and survival; they have indeed suffered a high tax of editorial mortality, which has been diminishing throughout the years (Alcaín, & Ruiz, 1998; Osca-Lluch, Civera, Tortosa, Quiñones, Peñaranda, & López, 2005). In other situations, they have taken over the direction and the changes in editorial policies of journals managed by financially solvent institutions, such as professional colleges that, in many cases, are included within international databases, thus proposing editorial managing models based on co-edition and co-sponsoring (Rodríguez, & Giménez, 2013).

In the case of Spain, where the General Spanish Council of Psychology and the Official Psychologists' Associations2 have initiated this policy in cooperation with several universities - such as, for instance, (Tortosa, Osca-Lluch, et al., 2019), precociously co-editing Psicothema (1997), Anales de Psicología (co-sponsorship since 2008), The Spanish Journal of Psychology (2011), or The European Journal of Psychology Applied to Legal Context (2013). Actually, the formal inclusion of Association of Psychologists-COP within reference databases started with the co-edition model, and has only recently started to include their own self-produced journals.

From a historical perspective, one of the first tasks carried out by the Association of Psychologists-COP was creating organs of expression for psychology practitioners (Colegio Oficial de Psicólogos, Delegación de Madrid, 1982). The first to appear were the Boletines (“newsletters”), which were immediately named Papeles del Colegio (Junta de Gobierno, 1981), and they maintained this name for 9 volumes, until they were finally called Papeles del Psicólogo on volume 36-37 (1989). Soon other journals began to appear, following the idea that other professional sectors (then called Secciones - “Sections” and now Divisiones - “Divisions”) should also have their own vehicles of expression (Junta General Delegación de Madrid, 1991, 4). The very own College and its territory delegations of the time followed this strategy (Pérez, 2008), at the same time as the co-editing format was beginning to raise, with the 1989 publication of Psicothema, edited by the Faculty of Psychology of the Universidad de Oviedo and by the Official Association of Psychologists (Northern Delegation) (Quevedo, & Ariza, 2013). The objective was no other than contributing to the task of both professionalizing and legitimizing the practice of psychology and its profiles in Spain. To these objectives, a clear interest for internationalization was added (Santolaya, 1995), which was soon to take shape in the publication of Psychology in Spain. This had the purpose of spreading, using English, the best works published in the college organization's journals, and thus filling the gap between Spanish psychology and the rest of the world (Anónimo, 2012).

Since the publication of Law 43/1979, December 31st, on the creation of the Official Association of Psychologists-COP (Jefatura del Estado, 1980)3, this organization has maintained a prolific editorial activity (Civera, & Tejero, 1993). A clear indicator of this is the high increase of the expenses used for publications, especially those in printed format and with numerous print runs, during the first 20 years of life of the COP (Santolaya, 2001; Tortosa, & Civera, 2001). The COP was becoming one of the main producers and managers of psychology journals (Pérez, 2008). Since it was constituted, in the year 1979, the COP has maintained a prolific activity outreach activity of Spanish psychology, through the periodical publication of different journals, first in printed format, and then in electronic form4. This active policy would find an important turning point in 2010, when some of the Colleges considered developing a strategical publishing plan for approaching the international databases (Colegio Oficial de Psicólogos de Madrid, 2010, 5): in this plan, the directors, who were also university professors, proposed actions directed to the core and format of journals, with the purpose of positioning their edited and co-edited journals, both nationally and internationally.

The XXI century is characterized (following governmental plans), by an objective assessment policy of high-quality scientific activity, oriented towards the promotion and distribution of status to university professors and professional researchers (Moreno et al., 2013; Osca-Lluch, et al., 2019). In Spain, such promotion was carried out by ANECA (created in 2002), through the acknowledgment of research stages (“sexenios”) by the CNEAI; and, in the case of licensing for the employment of full professors and teaching staff, through the ACADEMIA and PEP programs.

All of them generated criteria, which have been hardening throughout the years; for instance, in the field of behavioral science, the CNEAI started stating that in order to obtain a sexenio at least two out of five contributions had to be published in JCR journals (Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia, 2005). Now, in Psychology, the CNEAI requires at least four, among which three must be in at least 1st and 2nd quartile (Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades, 2018). The case of the accreditation programs necessary for becoming full professors or teaching staff is not much different, since the number of articles required by the national accreditation system (Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia, 2007) has raised to dozens in some levels (ANECA, 2018).

This model, since its very beginning, let out (without any profitability for the professional career of university staff), almost 90% of Spanish journals of every field (Ruíz, Martín, & Delgado, 2015). This fact turned the JCR journals into objects of desire for professional psychologists (Buela, & Sierra, 2007; Carbonell, & Calvó, 2009), a situation that could led to bad, or even pathological, publication practices (Buela, 2014; Santos, & Fernández, 2016).

In order to deal with the growing demand for qualified space, and facing the lack of periodical high-impact publications, universities and associations kept, founded or improved the criteria of editorial quality comparable to those of the scientific psychology journals included in JCR. However, until well into the XXI century, the presence of Spanish psychology journals in the aforementioned index was basically anecdotal. The hardening of the criteria established by the Evaluation Agencies was very important for the process of professionalization of the editing and publishing of journals (requiring more articles published in high quartiles); the increased exigency for every type of academic or research activity, promotions and evaluations of people and institutions also played an essential role (Osca-Lluch, et al., 2019; Tortosa, Osca-Lluch et al., 2019).

In order to deal with such a situation, there were only 3 possible solutions: either publishing in impact journals that were not published in Spain, or increasing the number of Spanish psychology journals in the referenced databases. Or else, abandoning the system and giving up the desired promotion. Many people left the system, which has led to a decreasing rejection rate of sexenios applications (ANECA, 2019b), but there has also been a response from universities, from the COP and from some psychology associations (Tortosa, Alfaro, et al., 2019). There were some international attempts, especially with ibero-american universities and psychology associations, which periodically conducted journal symposiums within the frame of the following Ibero-American Congresses of Psychology. congresses. There were also failed attempts of universities, such as the 1st Meeting of Editors of Spanish Journals of Psychology, that took place in Madrid in April 2004 and had no follow-ups (Buela, & López, 2005). Documentarists and journal directors published evaluation guides, manuals and articles with instructions, criteria and models for scientific evaluation (Buela, Fernández, & López, 2003; Delgado, Ruiz, & Jiménez, 2006; Ruíz, Delgado, & Jiménez, 2006). Boards and databases were created in journals such as LATINDEX, RECYT, or DICE, as well as indexes, lists or rankings of journals built on quality, diffusion or impact criteria, basically fostered by autonomous institutions or by institutions of public documentation, such as RESH, IN-RECS, CARHUS, o MIAR (for instance, Delgado, & Jiménez, 2006).

The government was acting in the same direction. The Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology, created in 2001 (Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte, 2001), after analyzing the disappointing situation of Spanish journals in the international reference databases, started the ARCE Project in 2006, in order to support the professionalization and internationalization of scientific journals. It was created with the objective of promoting journals of outstanding quality, supporting them in their professionalization, internationalization and improvement of visibility. To achieve this, among other actions, it started a series of evaluation calls that is still active today, which allowed for the obtaining of a “Quality Label” and offered instructions, criteria and evaluation models for the edition of scientific journals (Delgado, Ruíz, & Jiménez, 2006). A few years later, a manual of good practices for the edition of scientific journals was also published, which contained, as an example, a journal edited by the COP, Psychosocial Intervention (FECYT, 2012).

Those were years of worries for knowing and complying with the JCR criteria, so that journals could be included in this database5. The use of integral software for electronic publication and editing started to be included in order to improve the managing of journals, and, in general, to ease up the free-of-cost access to the journals' contents (Albarracín, 2008; López, Aguilar, Aguado, & Becerril, 2016; Tortosa, Osca-Lluch, et al., 2019).

This new policy benefited from the general shift towards a democratization of knowledge, provided by the Creative Commons foundation, and registered in the “Open Access” Budapest declaration and its follow-ups, which aimed at achieving both the worldwide electronic distribution of articles from scientific journals and techniques assisted by a selection committee; these should be freely accessible and bear no restriction for scientists, scholars, university professors, students and other stakeholders.

In that context, the Association of Psychologists-COP maintained active their editorial policy. They started the new millennium with 19 journals, later achieving 29, 7 of them being coedited by universities, 5 by scientific association and 17 by 11 different colleges. The role of the Madrid Official Association of Psychologists was particularly original, with 12 edited or coedited journals, and the very same General Council having 8 journals, even though 2 of them are not under publication anymore (Revista de Psicología General y Aplicada and Psychology in Spain).

The investment of the first decades was high, even though the costs were gradually regulated (Pastor, 1989; Consejo General de la Psicología España, 2018). The COP is responsible, through the edition, co-edition and co-sponsoring, for 20% of Spanish psychology journals, many of them included in JCR. Together with universities as a whole, the collegial group is nowadays a key referent in contemporary Spanish psychology. Moreover, thanks to its strategies, now it is helping the worldwide distribution and ranking of academic psychology, which grow nearer and nearer, as well as its consumption, since only a few of them are located within the “private collegial-only area” or subscription publishers.

In the historiography of Spanish psychology, the role of the COP in editing and/or managing prestigious scientific journals has not been considered enough, a national peculiarity if compared with other countries, as it was done by the American Psychological Association (, or the British Psychological Society only. Thus, the present work's objective is to analyze the role played by the COP in the spread of Spanish psychology through JCR journals, in whose first quartiles, in different ways, it has 7 journals. These journals constitute the essential evaluation element for Spanish Evaluation Agencies, both in their research path (ANECA, 2019b), as in the universitary career (ANECA, 2019c, 2019d), and in the case of project presented in public calls.


Materials and variables

This article offers a descriptive study based on a documental analysis carried out using different editorial variables that characterize the Spanish journals of psychology, selected through the criteria of belonging (or not) to the Scimago Journal Ranking - SJR- and Journal Citation Reports JCR (SSCI) databases, corresponding to the 2018 edition. This way, the number of selected journals was seventeen, excluding twelve journals that were solely indexed in SJR.

The Spanish journals of psychology edited in Spain and included in both JCR and SJR that were selected for the present study are gathered in Table 1. The number of journals not included in the study, because they were indexed in SJR only, is twelve6.

In order to observe the diffusion of the journals, we referred to their webpages, as well as to databases, catalogues and journal directorates.

The variables that were studied were year of publication, entity, responsible editor, publication policy -open or closed publishing -, databases or archive where the journals are indexed- InDICEs-CSIC, DIALNET, PSICODOC, RESH (Revistas Españolas de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades), PSYCINFO, SCOPUS, Red de Revistas Científicas de América Latina, el Caribe, España y Portugal (REDALYC), Scientific Electronic Library Online (Red SciELO), DOAJ (Directory of online scientific journals with free and cost-free access), and LATINDEX (which collects serialized scientific publications edited in Latin America, the Caribbean, Spain and Portugal). We also considered the number of real members of the editorial teams, accounted with no repetitions and the distribution of members according to their function, defined with 3 categories -director/editor, associate editors and scientific/editorial committee-.

Table 1.  Spanish Psychology Journals indexed in SJR and JCR (SSCI), year 2018. 

Note: *In order to identify the exploitation rights and the permission for the Spanish journals' self-archiving we followed the SHERPA/ROMEO taxonomy, displayed in the DULCINEA Project ( green (open access to any version of the document), blue (they allow for the public availability of the post-print version, or the editor's version), and white (no copyright available in open access).

**They are included as Spanish journals since, even though they are indexed in the UK according to JCRS (due to the publishing house being from this country), they correspond to Spain. They are in fact a product of the Fundación Infancia y Aprendizaje (Foundation for Childhood and Learning), as it can be seen in previous edition of JCR itself.

In order to know the editorial policies of our selected journals regarding the access to their texts and archives, their copyright, and how it can affect their subsequent self-archiving in institutional repositories, we relied on the Dulcinea project7 ( The project classifies journals by color according to the SHERPA/ROMEO taxonomy (

Moreover, we took into account the journals' quartile and thematic category according to the database, both in the case of JCR and SSCI (Psychology, Applied; Psychology, Biological; Psychology, Clinical; Psychology, Developmental; Psychology, Educational; Psychology, Experimental; Psychology, Mathematical; Psychology, Multidisciplinary; Psychology, Psychoanalysis; Psychology, Social), as in the SJR (Applied Psychology; Clinical Psychology; Developmental and Educational Psychology; Experimental and Cognitive Psychology; General, Psychology; Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology; Psychology (miscellaneous); Social Psychology).


First of all, journals were selected based on the information provided in the JCR-SSCI and SJR databases, corresponding to the 2018 edition. In both cases, the thematic areas in which psychology journals are classified were consulted, thus selecting the Spanish ones. Lastly, during the data collection phase, the journals' webpages were consulted, with the aim of obtaining more updated information on the editorial team group and the circulation of the journal, focusing on the “about this journal”, “abstracting & indexing”, “information” and “board/s-editorial board” sections (in English and/or Spanish).

After that, we performed the corresponding analyses, frequency and average values calculations, χ2 square test and Student's t test, in order to determine the differences between journals edited by the college of psychologists and those edited by other entities. We then proceeded to elaborate the conclusions.


Psychology journals edited in Spain in JCR and SJR 2018: general aspects

The selected psychology journals are chronologically recent. The oldest one, Infancia y Aprendizaje, is forty years old, and the most recent one, European Journal Psychology Applied to Legal Context, is ten. The 1990s were the time when the highest number of journals was founded, concretely nine (47.0%) out of the seventeen journals analyzed.

Universities, foundations, associations, and above all, the Association of Psychologists-COP (53%, 9 journals), are directly responsible for most of the journals from the sample, or they collaborate in many different formats, in comparison with other publishing groups.

Among the professional Psychologists' Associations, the Madrid Association of Psychologists is the one that edits most of the journals, a total of five, all of them incorporated in the last two years: Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, Clínica y Salud, Anuario de Psicología Jurídica, Psychosocial Intervention and Psicología Educativa. It also co-edits, together with the Spanish Society of Legal and Forensic Psychology, the European Journal Psychology Applied to Legal Context; and, with the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, the Spanish Journal of Psychology. Two more colleges contribute to the edition of journals in JCR. The Colegio Oficial de Psicólogos del Principado de Asturias with the Universidad de Oviedo in the edition of the Psicothema journal, and the Colegio Oficial de Psicólogos de la Región de Murcia, which collaborates in the edition of the journal Anales de Psicología8.

Numerous universities publish journals, through different collaboration formats established with societies, associations and/or foundations, and, above all, with the collegial structure. To the aforementioned cases, we should add the Universidad de Valencia with the Psicológica journal, the Universidad del País Vasco with Revista de Psicodidáctica, and the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona with Revista de Psicología del Deporte.

Societies and foundations also publish journals, alone or in collaboration with universities and colleges, such as in the case of Fundación Infancia y Aprendizaje, which edits three journals in Routledge (Estudios de Psicología, Infancia y Aprendizaje, and Revista Psicología Social), or the VECA Foundation and APICSA, which are responsible for Behavioral Psychology, and also AEPC for International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology.

All of them have electronic and paper versions, they publish in English and/or Spanish, and they edit under some type of Creative Commons licenses, although there is a discontinuous prominence of some commercial publishing houses (Elsevier, De Gruyter, Taylor & Francis). Even when specific contributions of prestigious authors are required, or when special or monographic numbers are demanded, the originals are submitted to a process of anonymous review performed by peers. Journals generally provide their content in immediate open access, sometimes with conditions (only available for 6-12 months), and they offer the complete texts, in PDF format and in English and/or Spanish. The frequency is usually every four months, but there are some yearly ones. The most common journals have permissive access policies (green), followed by the ones that allow for the access to the post-print or editorial version (blue), although there are a few journals that charge money in order to download their contents (white) (Robinson, Delgado, & Torres, 2011). The journals establish rigid ethical standards, anti-plagiarism policies through the aid of specific software programs, and require the authors to declare the existence (or lack) of competing interests.

Looking at the country, Spain has a group of high-quality journals. Many of them have received the “Certificado de Revista Excelente” (Certificate of Excellent Journal), given by the Fundación Española para la Ciencia y la Tecnología (FECYT). In fact, in the six calls that have taken place since 2007, eleven journals - Anales de Psicología, Anuario de Psicología Jurídica, Behavioral Psychology, Clínica y Salud, European Journal Psychology Applied to Legal Context, Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, Psicología Educativa, Psychosocial Intervention, Revista de Psicodidáctica, Revista de Psicología del Deporte and Spanish Journal of Psychology - have received said award (64.71%). Again, a relevant prominence of the journals edited by the Association of Psychologists-COP can be observed.

All of them comply with the quality indicators for non-indexed publications, in accordance with CNEAI and ANECA (Quintas-Froufe, 2016), in addition to the ones normatively established (Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades, 2018).

Dissemination of Spanish psychology journals based on national and international data

The journals have a wide circulation in documentation centers, databases, catalogues, and directorates of multidisciplinary journals (see Table 2). The journals are also simultaneously spread along a high number of databases. Four journals appear in all databases, three of them edited (Clínica y Salud, Journal of Work Organizational Psychology, Psychosocial Intervention) and one co-sponsored (Anales de Psicología) by Psychologists' Associations. In nine databases, there are six journals, three edited, co-edited or co-sponsored by the General Council of Psychology or by some Psychologists' Association (Psicothema, European Journal of Psychology Applied to Legal Context, Anuario de Psicología Jurídica), two by universities (Revista de Psicología del Deporte, Psicológica), and one by the AEPC (International Journal of Clinical and Helath Psychology). Seven databases spread the contents of Psicología Educativa, another journal by the Madrid Official Association of Psychologists. Six more journals are found in five databases, one of them co-edited by the Madrid Official Association of Psychologists (Spanish Journal of Psychology). The differences between the number of databases in which the journals edited by the COP and those that are not edited by it are indexed were found to be statistically significant (t = 2.680, gl = 15, p = .017): Journals edited or co-edited by a Psychologists' Association were found in more databases ( = 8.11; SD = 1.054) than those edited by other institutions ( = 6.75; SD = 1.035).

Table 2.  Dissemination of the analyzed Spanish psychology journals. 

Note: *Edited and/or editorially managed by the College Organization.

Differences among journals according to their thematic category

Journals are differentially distributed among the different classificatory categories of the two selected international indexes (JCR and SJR) (Table 3).

In SJR, no journals within the thematic category of Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology were classified, and in JCR the same happened for Psychology, Biological, Psychology, Mathematical and Psychology, Psychoanalysis.

Table 3.  Distribution of journals according to their thematic category in databases. 

Note: *Editorially edited and/or managed by the College Organization.

In JCR, the categories that account for the highest number of journals are: Psychology, Multidisciplinary; Psychology, Educational; Psychology, Clinical. Following them, we have Psychology, Applied; Psychology, Developmental; Psychology, Experimental; Psychology, Social. In turn, SJR has many journals classified in several thematic areas, but those with most journals are: Psychology (miscellaneous); Social Psychology, followed by Applied Psychology; Developmental and Educational Psychology, while Clinical Psychology; Experimental and Cognitive Psychology have the least of them.

Overall, the Multidisciplinary or Miscellaneous categories are the most prevalent ones. Seven journals are edited or co-edited by the COP in this category. The other two are left in Psychology, Clinical and Psychology, Applied. In the case of the rest of journals, there is a wider range of difference in thematic areas.

Differences between journals and their quartiles according to the time in the databases

Data show the growth of journals in databases, as well as their better positioning (Table 4). JCR went from two journals in Q4 in 1997 to seventeen in 2018, three in Q1, three in Q2, three in Q3, and nine in Q4. In the first quartile, the COP edits or co-edits two, European Journal Psychology Applied to Legal Context and Psychosocial Intervention. Also, in Q2, two journals come from the Association of Psychologists-COP, Psicothema and Revista de Psicología Educativa.

Table 4.  Chronological distribution of the seventeen common journals according to quartiles in JCR and SJR between 1997 and 2018. 

Table 5.  Number of records per quartile of the Spanish psychology journals analyzed in JCR. 

The presence of the COP has been SJR globally went from seven journals in 1999 to thirty-five in 20189. Out of the seventeen common journals with JCR, it goes from having four in Q4 and Q3 in 1999 to having 2 in Q1, 4 in Q2, 8 in Q3, and 3 in Q4 in 2018. They multiplied four times in barely 20 years. Again, with a major presence of journals that are edited or co-edited by the COP, with a total number of 4 out of 6 journals placed in Q1.

In the case of the register by quartile of JCR according to whether the journal is edited or co-edited by the COP or by another publishing house, there are statistically significant differences (χ 2 = 39.353, 3 gl., p < .05, Ф = .519), having a greater number of records in Q1 and Q4 for journals edited by other publishing houses and a greater number of records in Q2 and Q3 in journals edited or co-edited by the COP (Table 5).


The data show that the perceived relationship between the level of institutional development, professional implementation, the number and characteristics of the journals seem to be true. The growth and diversification, their international outreach, and their ranking in first quartiles, are indicators of disciplinary maturity. Through them, authors, contents, institutions, communities, and even the country are positioned.

In 1990 the situation depicted a very scarce international acknowledgment of psychology both researched and published in Spain, as recognized in the actions of the Spanish government. The vehicular language used to be Spanish (Osca-Lluch, et al., 2005), and the editorial managing was completely amateur, often balanced with teaching and researching. Journals were, in fundamentally, publicly owned (by associations and foundations, university departments, and colleges of psychologists), and, in many cases, responsible for the publication services. They also had an irregular frequency of publication, with a dissemination that depended on the people's own exchanges and shipments, a very local characterization that was mostly directed at Latin America due to the language, and an internal system of assessment (not always among peers) and of national judges. Many journals would appear, but their content would not achieve the international databases, and were often used to spread the authors' own researches, and the management and editorial quality were definitely improvable.

That pre-professional situation was meant to change, mostly because of what we could call the “Open Access effect” and “Agencies effect”, of which the Budapest Initiative (2002) was the turning point, as well as the definition of specific evaluation criteria for the scientific activity divided into legally defined fields.

In this context, the entire field of Spanish Psychology, from the academic to the professional areas, had a proactive response. There was a generally-spread attempt of universities, foundations, associations, and colleges to professionalize the management of journals, and to raise the level of demand needed for publishing, finding support in more rigid assessments, framed within a general rethinking of editorial policies. However, an entity or organization with an exclusively commercial character was lacking, that could put together, with a professional management, a set of journals complying with the criteria established by the referenced databases (Albarracín, 2008). This agency, self-financed, independent from the administration, and that could define and maintain a professional project, turned out to be the COP. The Association of Psychologists-COP is currently editor of five journals, and co-editor or co-sponsor in other four, out of the seventeen journals included in 2018 in JCR, a 53% of them. The four on shared management allowed JCR to reach and be represented from the beginning, with Psicothema. After a long period, it is responsible, through its own editing, for the last five journals that have managed to reach JCR, 30%.

Moreover, it is responsible for some of the journals with the greatest international impact. Specifically, it is responsible for four of the six journals included in the first two quartiles, practically a 67%. In addition, its journals, and those co-published or co-sponsored, are those that circulate through a greater number of databases10.

The presence of the COP has been constant. The editorial management can be that of a commercial publisher, university, scientific society, or the school itself, but content management has always had a strong academic role. There has been an outstanding role of a faculty that, although framed in a university, is demanded from the COP to manage the guidelines of editorial policy and content (Gracia, 2012). In all the cases in which the COP co-publishes or sponsors, even in those in which it is solely responsible, the initiative in the management of editorial policy and content has been university, showing an active collaboration between the professional and university worlds.

The data show the indisputable role that, in any of the adopted formats (publishing and own or shared management), the COP has played as the driving force behind scientific journals. The school organisation is present in more than half of JCR/SJR journals. And if we go to Table 4, this influence is also chronologically present from the first journals that entered JCR and SJR. But if we look at the five exclusive journals of professional associations present in JCR, this presence is very recent: three were incorporated in 2017, and two in 2018. This allows us to mark two stages in the process. The first one, in which the model followed is that of sponsorship and shared management until 2016, which is still maintained, and a very recent one, in which the COP acts as exclusive manager and editor, although entrusting the direction of editorial policy and content management to academicians, something which has begun to bear fruit since 2017.

The response of psychology to internal and external pressures was conclusive, as can be seen in Table 4, and in it the COP was present and played a leading role. In 2006 there was only one journal listed in both JCR and SJR, no more journals in JCR, and, out of the ten that were in SJR, 6 would then be in JCR. Only three years later, in 2009, there were nine Spanish psychology journals that were common to both JCR and SJR, and out of twelve that were in SJR, two more of them would later be in JCR, a tendency that was to be maintained in the following years. Nowadays, Spain is the most important Ibero-American country regarding its publications, and the tenth in the world ranking, since more than 2% of journals are from Spain (Navas, 2016; Navas, Abadal, & Rodrigues, 2018). Moreover, Spain is among the top 10 countries in SJR and JCR.

If we consider the indicators of results provided by the Spanish System of Science, Technology and Innovation, it seems that when considering psychology, the response that began in the first decade of the new millennium has produced good global results. Something obvious if we compare the before (CRUE, 2006; FECYT, 2007) and the after (CRUE, 2018; FECYT, 2018, 2019), even despite the criticism moved against its errors and misuses (American Society for Cell Biology, 2013; Hicks, Wouters, Waltman, Rijcke, & Rafol, 2015), its possible detrimental effects regarding the integrity and good practices of those who publish (Fanelli, 2009; Fanelli, Costas, & Larivière, 2015; Fong & Wilhite, 2017; Grimes, Bauch, & Ioannidis, 2018; Wilhite & Fong, 2012), and over the production of contents in Spanish language (Tortosa, Osca-Lluch, et al., 2019).

They are journals whose outreach extends to a high number of documentation, databases, catalogues, and directorates of multidisciplinary journals, which contributes to the international visibility and ranking of Spanish works, authors, groups and institutions. Within this dimension, it is particularly remarkable the prominence of journals with which the COP collaborates.

The predominant journals are whether of a multidisciplinary nature, or they are linked to the traditionally so-called “soft areas” (clinical and psychotherapy, developmental-educational, and socio-organizational), at the expense of the hard ones (neuropsychology, psychophysiology/ psychobiology, methodology and mathematical psychology), together with the ones with a psychoanalytical focus. They are also oriented towards evidence-based works, and specifically towards a predominantly cognitive, cognitive-behavioral and behavioral orientation, being dominant in the professional (Santolaya, Berdullas, & Fernández, 2001) and, for a few years now, university context (Tortosa, Santolaya, & Civera, 2017). There is more to this: journals linked to Psychologists' Associations represent the most numerous Professional Sections and Divisions, and, therefore, those where most psychologists work, being consequently a virtual area where university and practice meet.

All in all, there has been a remarkable growth of Spanish journals in big, international referenced databases, but yet few Spanish journals satisfy the one and only criterion managed by the three Spanish Agencies for assessment: just seventeen of them. According to the scientific ethos (Merton, 1942), any journal, following the assessment of allegedly bias-free reviewers and complying with universal and impersonal criteria, is valid to spread scientific contents. However, from the personalist perspective of subjective expected utility, in order to achieve progress in the academic field, not every journal is valid; only 17 of them would be valid. Therefore, we must keep making way for progress in this sense; and we must acknowledge that, through such a process, the Association of Psychologists-COP has so far played a key role.


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1We do not debate this elusive concept (Buela, 2001), and neither how to calculate its index (Buela, Perakakis, Taylor & Checa, 2006; Buela & Zich, 2012; Zich & Buela, 2010). Operationally speaking, we reduce it to the presence of journals in international reference databases used by the three Spanish Agencies of Evaluation: Agencia Nacional de Evaluación y Prospectiva (ANEP – National Agency of Evaluation and Perspective), Comisión Nacional Evaluadora de la Actividad Investigadora (CNEAI – National Committee for the Evaluation of Research Activity) and Agencia Nacional de Evaluación de la Calidad y Acreditación (ANECA – National Agency for the Evaluation of Quality and Accreditation).

2When there is no reference to a specific territorial College, but rather to the General Spanish Council of Psychology AND the territorial Colleges, we will use the expression Collegial Organization or COP.

3It became the General Council of Official Colleges of Psychologists by the Law 7/2005, 13th of May (Jefatura del Estado, 2005).

4Until the introduction of the internet, the spread of journals happened through subscription, selling in bookstores, presence in university libraries and in specialized databases (not accessible in every university library) (Romero, 2009). The internet has radically transformed the outreach strategies of journals. This, together with the use of English and the not less prevalent collaboration of foreign authors, has fostered the internationalization and positioning of psychology journals edited and/or managed in Spain (Tortosa, Osca-Lluch et al., 2019).

5The objective of the article was to find out the criteria used for the selection of journals, as well as offering a methodological guide that may help editorial managers prepare their publications for entering these databases. They structured such criteria in four sections: complying with the scientific journals' publication standards (regularity, punctuality, quality and correctness in the article's title, summaries, key words, authors' names, professional affiliation, bibliographic references, and peer review use), the journal's thematic coverage (originality, type of works published and their topics), international representation (sponsoring organization, publishing team, authors, cited bibliography, readers, presence in libraries and databases), and citation analysis (international citations and impact of the journal, of the publishing team's members and the authors who publish).

6Ansiedad y Estrés, Anuario de Psicología, Electronic Journal of Research in Educational Psychology, International Journal of Psychology & Psychological Therapy, Papeles del Psicólogo, Psychology Sociey & Education, Revista de Psicopatología y Psicología Clínica, Revista Iberoamericana de Psicología del Ejercicio y el Deporte, Revista Iberoamericana de Psicología y Salud, Salud y Drogas, Psicooncología, Cuadernos de Psicología del Deporte.

7Proyect "El acceso abierto (open access) a la producción científica en España: análisis de la situación actual y presentación de políticas y estrategias para promover su desarrollo" (“Open Access to Scientific Production in Spain: Analysis of the Current Situation and Presentation of Strategies and Policies to Promote its Development”), coordinated and approved by the former Minister of Education and Science within the 2008-2011 National plan, which includes two sub-projects (References: CSO2008-05525-C02-01/SOCI and CSO2008-05525-C02-02/SOCI).

8The collaboration of the College with Anales de Psicología started in 2008 (Romero, 2009). The institutional agreement allowed for the incorporation of a person related to professional practice in the Redaction Team, and another person to take care of administrative tasks. The journal started to have a fixed section of articles related to “Psicología y práctica profesional” (Psychology and professional practice). This situation went on until vol. 32 in 2016. Since then, the College gives a yearly prize to the article which has the highest professional projection, published in the journal.

9Counting journals published by foreign publishing houses that are not included in the country's category.

10The importance of COP in the edition and/or management of psychology journals indexed only in SJR (2018), up to five journals (Ansiedad y Estrés, Anuario de Psicología, Electronic Journal of Research in Educational Psychology, Papeles del Psicólogo y Revista Iberoamericana de Psicología y Salud), out of twelve, can also be highlighted.

Received: July 09, 2019; Revised: August 01, 2019; Accepted: September 25, 2019

Correspondence address (Dirección para correspondencia): Macarena Tortosa-Pérez. Universidad Internacional de Valencia-VIU (España) Calle Pintor Sorolla nº 21, Valencia (Spain). E-mail:

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