One Hundred Years of the Journal of Applied Psychology: Background, Evolution, and Scientific Trends

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To launch this Special Issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology celebrating the 1st century of the journal we conducted a review encompassing the background of the founding of the journal; a quantitative assessment of its evolution across the century; and an examination of trends examining article type, article length, authorship patterns, supplemental materials, and research support. The journal was founded in March of 1917 with hopeful optimism about the potential of psychology being applied to practical problems could enhance human happiness, well-being, and effectiveness. Our quantitative content assessment using both keyword frequencies and latent semantic analyses of raw content, in both bottom-up (corpus driven) and top-down modes (analyst driven), converged to document an evolution ranging from a broad and exploratory applied psychology to a more focused industrial psychology to an industrial and organizational psychology to an organizational psychology. With respect to other trends, during the first 4 decades 20 to 30% of journal items were book reviews, which then abruptly ceased in the mid-1950s. Articles have grown increasingly longer over time. Author teams are increasingly larger, and sole authored articles are vanishingly small in frequency. The use of supplemental materials and articles reporting research support have surged dramatically in the most recent period. Across the various foci we examined, our review portrays the evolution of the journal as reflecting the development of a mature, focused, and cumulative scientific discipline addressing psychological science applied to work and organizations.

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