On the (Ir)Relevance of Psychological Research: Students versus Scientists and Implications for Teaching

  •  C. Dominik Güss    
  •  Travis Bishop    


Research articles are widely used in the training of undergraduate students. Editors and reviewers of the top scientific psychology journals influence the development in the field by publishing certain articles and rejecting others, probably assuming that the published articles are empirically sound and theoretically highly relevant. The current study investigated if published articles are indeed regarded as relevant by a sample of 393 psychology undergraduate students from a university in the Southeast of the United States. The students’ age ranged between 18 and 57 (M = 23, SD = 6.05) and 84% were female. Students received brief statements about potential research studies and rated them regarding relevance, not knowing that the summaries were from actual research studies published in peer-reviewed journals. Results showed that (1) overall, research articles were regarded as generally irrelevant, (2) applied articles were regarded as more relevant than basic research articles, (3) ratings did not differ based on gender or age, and (4) the more advanced students were in the Psychology program, the higher their relevance ratings were for applied research as compared to basic research. Results are comforting or disturbing; comforting, because students might not have the professional expertise to make such relevance judgments; disturbing, because results might indicate how specialized and insulated journals have become by not addressing topics relevant to a wider population. Results also have implications for teaching research methods and experimental psychology courses.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1927-0526
  • ISSN(Online): 1927-0534
  • Started: 2011
  • Frequency: semiannual

Journal Metrics

(The data was calculated based on Google Scholar Citations)

1. Google-based Impact Factor (2021): 1.11
2. h-index (December 2021): 29
3. i10-index (December 2021): 87
4. h5-index (December 2021): N/A
5. h5-median (December 2021): N/A