Join us in Pasteur’s Quadrant as Psychonomics launches a new journal

Jeremy Wolfe

Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications

Join us in Pasteur’s Quadrant

The Psychonomic Society has launched a new journal,Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications (CRPI…. pronounced “creepy” …but in a nice way). I am delighted to be the founding editor. Let me tell you what you need to know about this venture:

  • Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications will publish new empirical and theoretical work covering all areas of Cognition, with a special emphasis on use-inspired basic research: fundamental research that grows from hypotheses about real-world problems. We expect that authors will be able to explain in a Significance section how their basic research serves to advance our understanding of the cognitive aspects of a problem with real-world applications
  • Submissions to CRPIwill be subject to rigorous peer review, in keeping with the standards of the Psychonomic Society.
  • CRPI will be a fully open-access journal, published electronically.
  • Eventually CRPI will be supported by author fees (Article processing charges), but all fees will be waived for papers submitted before December 31st, 2016.
  • In managing the journal, I will be aided by a truly excellent team of Associate Editors:

Woo-kyoung Ahn, Yale University

Vicki Bruce, Newcastle University, UK

Nora S. Newcombe, Temple University

Hal Pashler, University of California, San Diego

John Wixted, University of California, San Diego

Jeffrey M. Zacks, Washington University in St. Louis

Click here to learn more about them.


You should think about submitting a manuscript to CRPI.

The journal website (with a link to the submission portal) is here:

A more detailed authors guide is here

To give you a better idea about whether you should be submitting to CRPI, let me say a bit more about “use-inspired basic research” and let me explain that “Pasteur’s Quadrant” phase in the title of this piece. Donald E. Stokes introduced the idea in his book, Pasteur’s Quadrant – Basic Science and Technological Innovation and the basic 2´2 conception is illustrated here, redrawn from his work.

Ask two questions about your latest work: Is it relevant to the advancement of fundamental knowledge? Is it relevant for immediate application? If you answer “no” to both questions, you would be in the lower left quadrant. This is a sad place and I am sure you are not really there. A lot of work by Psychonomic scientists is in the upper left quadrant. Stokes identifies this space with the physicist, Neils Bohr—fundamental basic science. We could call it “curiosity-driven”. This is good science and the Psychonomic Society has six excellent journals where such work is at home. The lower right quadrant is Edison’s Quadrant, the home of applied research. This can also be excellent science and would be published in journals like Human Factors.

Pasteur’s Quadrant is the home for work that starts with a problem in the world and brings it into the lab for rigorous study. With a bit of luck, the basic science that emerges from the lab will be relevant to applications back in the world. That kind of work will be CRPI’s specialty.

I can give an example from my own work. In most visual search studies in the lab, observers look for a target among some distracting stimuli. Typically, that target would be present on something like half the trials. We started to think about some important search tasks out in the world; tasks like breast cancer screening, airport security screening, etc. A characteristic of those searches is that the targets are very rare (~3-4 in a thousand in North American breast cancer screening, for example). Does that low target prevalence matter? We brought the problem into the lab and discovered “If you don’t find it often, you often don’t find it.” That is, the same target was missed much more often when it was presented in a low prevalence context than in a high prevalence context. We published a string of papers, working out the basic science behind this prevalence effect/ Subsequently, we transitioned this work back out into the field with studies of radiologists and of airport screeners. It is those first studies, where we worked out the basic science, that constitute “use-inspired, basic research”.

Another example: Elizabeth Loftus gave the keynote at Psychonomics (you can watch it here) a couple of years ago, describing a career of beautiful work in Pasteur’s Quadrant. Does the way you are asked about an event influence your recall of that event? This is a question with roots in practical issues in our judicial system. How might the phrasing of lawyers’ questions influence testimony? The answers came from basic research in the lab in a body of research that also told us new, fundamental facts about human memory.

You will be able to generate many other examples. Indeed, I hope you can generate examples from your current work – examples that could become submissions to CRPI.

This is not just an academic exercise. In an era where the value of behavioral science is under attack from the very legislators who need to vote to fund it—with the President being a notable exception—we hope that CRPI will provide a stream of ready answers to the question, “What is behavioral science good for?”

Use-inspired basic research is not the only answer to that question. We need to continually make the case for the value of fundamental, curiosity-inspired research as well.  However, a well-crafted set of abstracts from CRPI should be the kind of answer that will make our case, if placed in the hands of, for example, a congressional staffer. The Open Access status of CRPI will help serve this public-facing role. Moreover, full Open Access will give a Psychonomics outlet to researchers who are required or otherwise committed to publishing in that format.

So, join me in Pasteur’s Quadrant.

Put your best “Bohr’s Quadrant” work in AP&P, M&C, CABN, L&B, and PBR. But make a plan to send your best use-inspired basic research to CRPI. Please drop me an email ( if you have plans for a CRPI submission. Indeed, drop me a note if you have any comments or questions about this project. This is going to be a really good journal. Be part of the founding generation of authors.

Jeremy M. Wolfe

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