New kids on the block

Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry (four times a year) - Childhood
February 21, 1997

An enormous number of articles are published each year in a wide collection of different journals. It is claimed that only six people ever read any individual article. Whether this is an academic urban myth or not, it is certainly borne out by the unimpressive impact ratings of all but the most exalted of the journals on offer. So, when you see a new journal come onto the market, such as Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, or a journal repackaged in a new photocopy- friendly format, such as Childhood: A Global Journal of Child Research, the first question that rapidly springs to mind is: do we need them?

Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry suggests that it is a journal for practising clinicians who are concerned with the mental health of children and their families. The journal aims to publish studies which enhance clinical skills and inform clinicians how to help in clinically challenging situations. The editor, Bryan Lask, states that therefore the journal is more interested in publishing qualitative rather than quantitative research. Now, before I continue, I must confess two things. First, that though I do much of my research in clinical settings, I am not a practising clinician. Second, my research is quantitative not qualitative. Thus, the editor's statement did not reassure me.

However, despite the strident tone and strong attack on the usefulness of quantitative research, Lask clearly takes an intelligently pragmatic approach to the journal. Clearly, if you are interested in discovering risk factors for dropping out of treatment or the efficacy of a treatment programme for depression, you want quantitative research investigating the influence of critical factors not qualitative investigations of what patients think works (though this might prove useful also). Alan Kazdin and Panos Vostanis provide quantitative articles on these issues. Alternatively, if you are interested in young single white mothers with black children or war-zone child psychiatry you want to hear about the sorts of problems the individuals concerned think they face. N. Banks and Bradley Stein provide two interesting papers on these issues.

But do we need Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry? Does it provide us with information we could not have found elsewhere? Does it "reach the parts other journals cannot reach"? I think "yes" can be said in answer to each of these questions. There are other journals dealing with child psychology and psychiatry, Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Development and Psychopathology to name just two, but these deal with scientific investigations into childhood disorders. They do not inform clinicians about how to help in clinically challenging situations. Guinevere Tufnell's article providing "good practice" guidelines for expert witnesses and Tony Jaffa's single case report which details issues faced when dealing with the trauma of a teenage refugee are prime examples of the sorts of articles that are not readily available elsewhere. They, and others, appear to be valuable contributions to the knowledge of a practising clinician.

Childhood: A Global Journal of Child Research, like Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry and so many other new journals, claims to be multidisciplinary. The journal is aimed at being a "forum where disciplines can meet, where findings can be presented and where new understandings and new perspectives can be generated". However, while Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry does have articles from a wide range of practitioners, for example, psychologists, psychiatrists, anthropologists and nurses in one issue alone, the contributors to Childhood appear to be mostly sociologists. But Childhood does live up to the second of its claims. The editor, Karin Ekberg, proposes that the journal will "actively seek a global perspective, and contributions from different countries and regions". While some editions are clearly US- and Eurocentric, others are definitely multicultural. Indeed, the special edition on street children in 1996 was massively aided by input from researchers in a considerable number of countries.

So, to answer the crucial questions once more, do we need Childhood: A Global Journal of Child Research? Is it likely to prove a useful primary source? Would the academic world notice its absence? It is considerably more difficult to answer unequivocally "yes" to these questions. The journal contains articles that seem to be important. However, there appears to be less within them to bind them to this particular journal. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry contains papers that would be of interest to a wide range of clinical practitioners even if the particular clinician is not actually working with that particular client group at that moment. A journal like Child Development, for example, contains articles which would be of interest to a wide range of researchers into child psychology but perhaps of less interest to those in adult psychology. However, Childhood: A Global Journal of Child Research appears to contain articles which could quite easily be contained in other, more adult-orientated journals. These could just as well contain special editions on street children. Many of the issues raised in the articles in this journal do not appear to be specific to children.

Both of these journals attempt to address issues concerning children. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry succeeds admirably and provides a unique location of insight for the clinician working with children. This journal undoubtedly fills a gap in the market which has remained open for a surprising length of time. Childhood: A Global Journal of Child Research, while useful and interesting, is less obviously a must-have for any library looking for a new acquisition.

James Blair is lecturer in psychology, University College London.

Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry (four times a year)

Editor - Bryan Lask
ISBN - ISSN 1359 1045
Publisher - Sage
Price - £45.00 (indiv.) £145.00 (inst.)
Pages - -

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