Principal Objectives

The principal objectives for Merrill-Palmer Quarterly are to maintain the standards of excellence established by previous Editors and continue to advance the scope and quality of scholarship that appears in the journal. This aim has been at the forefront of Merrill-Palmer Quarterly for its more than 50 years of existence (see Ladd, 2004), and as a result the journal’s readership, submission rates, and scholarly reputation have grown substantially. Another objective is to expand the scope of the journal’s content so as to embrace diverse academic disciplines, research contexts and paradigms, and geopolitical perspectives while also refining the journal’s mission by featuring articles in which authors initiate important new areas of inquiry, transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries, and introduce conceptual, methodological, and analytic innovations. Toward this end, the Editors seek to establish a format for the journal that is diverse with respect to contributors’ and readers’ scientific disciplines, professional status (junior versus senior investigators), ethnicity and cultural backgrounds, and geopolitical contexts or locations. Included in this aim is the goal of publishing contributions from a global community of scholars; the Editors encourage submissions from investigators who reside or work in countries other than the United States and Canada.

Substantive Focus

Merrill-Palmer Quarterly’s mission is to serve as a primary source of new research studies in human development, theoretical papers, critical reviews of literature, and scholarly commentaries. The purview of Merrill-Palmer Quarterly encompasses theory and research on all areas of child and adolescent development and incorporates the journal’s historical commitment to the study of development in context (e.g., sociocultural variations, families, schools, neighborhoods, peers, and media). The majority of papers that are considered for Merrill Palmer Quarterly are original reports of empirical research that extend knowledge about child and adolescent development. The Editors are primarily interested in submissions that advance developmental theory and generate novel findings from sound developmental methods and designs. Also preferred are empirical investigations that contain provocative aims, multiple studies, and innovative methods. In contrast, articles that are focused on technical issues (e.g., creation and evaluation of measures, methods, and statistical analyses) are of lesser interest unless they also contain an original substantive (developmental) component and contribution. This same restriction applies to investigations that do not include infants, children, or adolescents as participants. Examples would include investigations conducted on undergraduates or adults that do not also contain child data.

Creation of Special Sections or Special Issues

Devoting journal space to special sections and special issues may at times complement aspects of Merrill-Palmer Quarterly’s mission. Proposals for special sections or issues may be submitted for consideration and, if encouraged, developed in collaboration with the Editors. Those interested in developing a special issue or section should contact the Editor for additional information. As illustrations, special sections or issues might be focused on topics or areas of investigation that (a) bring novel perspectives and findings to bear on existing research traditions or literatures; (b) address emergent and/or controversial issues within and/or across disciplines; (c) are of growing international importance; or (d) are of particular interest to specific cultural, ethnic, or national groups.

Manuscript Review Process

The Editors of Merrill-Palmer Quarterly aspire to provide authors with high-quality peer reviews and decisive, constructive decision letters in a timely manner. Further information about the manuscript review process is provided in the paragraphs that follow.

Blind review. Articles submitted to Merrill-Palmer Quarterly undergo blind peer review. Thus, only manuscripts that have been prepared for blind peer review can be considered for publication.

Role, nature, and number of peer reviews. Peer reviewers play an important advisory role in the evaluation of manuscript submissions, and the Editors will solicit reviews from colleagues who possess expertise in areas that are pertinent to an author’s work. Manuscripts that undergo peer review will typically be sent to two peer reviewers, who will be contacted in advance and asked if they will complete the review within the Editor’s time line. Copies of reviews that are returned on time will be included with the Editor’s decision letter. Reviews that arrive after the decision date will also be forwarded to authors.

Portion of submissions that undergo peer review. The majority of manuscripts that address topics that are relevant to the journal and its readership will undergo peer review. Others, including manuscripts that are judged by the Editors to contain substantial scientific, ethical, or formatting problems, or that fall outside the journal’s mission, will be returned to authors with the Editor’s comments. The Editors are committed to the view that the function of a scientific journal (and the Editors and peer reviewers who staff it) is not only to select and publish high-quality articles but also to improve the quality of investigation within our disciplines through scholarly debate, criticism, and collaboration. New investigators, in particular, are likely to profit from this process.

Length of the review period. Research findings are time sensitive information, and it is of concern that there has been a tendency for lag times to increase at many journals in recent years (see Nelson, 1996). Merrill-Palmer Quarterly will continue the policy of processing manuscripts and communicating initial decisions to authors within approximately three months of the time the manuscript is received at the Editorial Office.


American Psychological Association. (2001). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (5th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Ladd, G. W. (2004). Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Merrill-Palmer Quarterly. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 50, 1–16.

Nelson, K. (1996). Observations of an ex-journal editor on professional responsibilities. SRCD Newsletter, Spring, 1–3.