About the Journal

The Journal of Systems Thinking (JoST) (ISSN 2767-3847) is a rolling, online-only, open-access, free-to-publish, double-blind peer-reviewed journal dedicated to basic scientific research, innovation, and public understanding in the areas of Systems Thinking (cognitive complexity), Systems Mapping (visual complexity), Systems Leadership (organizational complexity), and Systems Science (ontological complexity). 

"A rolling, online-only, open-access, free-to-publish, double-blind peer-reviewed journal?" Now that is a mouthful. But each one of those descriptors is an important part of what makes JoST special in an age where academic publishing is in real need of an innovation reboot.

  • rolling: This means papers are published as they are accepted, thereby increasing the speed of academic publication
  • online-only: This means that there's no print version, decreasing costs and reducing waste.
  • open-access: This means it will be open to ALL people, not behind expensive firewalls and libraries. Any person in the entire world can read it.
  • free-to-publish: This is a big one. It costs authors nothing to publish, in an age where journals are charging upwards of $6k-$10k to publish a single paper!
  • double-blind: means that the author and the reviewer are blind to each other's identity 
  • peer-reviewed: this means that the author's research is scrutinized by peer experts in the same field.

This list shows JoST is at the cutting-edge of scientific publishing. But, JoST also sets a vision to be at the cutting-edge of science. Science is the best thing we humans have going for us, but it is not absent of problems. JoST attempts to address some of these problems by being hybrid style publication that balances: 

  1. A hybrid of quality and speed: JoST will not sacrifice the validity, fidelity, and veracity of scientific pursuit but it will focus on developing systems and policies that increase the speed of publication. We do this through a combination of: rolling, online publication, utilizing preprints, and streamlining processes.
  2. A hybrid of quality and accessibility: JoST balances the accessibility of authors and readers by being open-access (articles are available free to the general public) and free-to-publish (authors are not charged for publication), but it also sets a high-bar for quality and academic integrity. We are committed to removing all access-barriers to scientific publication, including those that have to do with readability and relevance. 
  3. A hybrid of heuristic-value and public understanding: JoST explicitly recognizes the deep ecological cycle between basic scientific research, innovation and invention, and public understanding. JoST believes that the general public can and must understand science in order to support it (financially and in other ways) and that this requires public engagement, involvement, and accessibility in science. JoST calls, reviews, edits, and publishes with both scientists and the widest possible general public audience in mind. Authors are asked to limit jargon, explain technical terms, utilize multiple modalities of explanation (written word, data, images, metaphor, storytelling, structure, summaries, etc.). JoST requires an abstract, practical implications statement, and public understanding statement for each of its published articles. 
  4. A hybrid of theory with practice: JoST does not accept the division between “theory or practice” and is fond of the adage, “there’s nothing more practical than a good theory.” JoST does not divide theory and practice in theory or in practice. We accept deeply theoretical papers that bring together research from many realms (e.g., literature reviews, type 1 and 2 meta analyses, etc.) as well as practitioner-style papers (e.g., cases studies, etc.) and experimental designs.  In all cases, the editors and reviewers of JoST will look for papers that are grounded both theoretically and in practice.
  5. A hybrid of method-choice with condition of knowledge (aka, 'science'): JoST is singly committed to publishing defensible scientific work product. At the same time, it defines scientific work in a scientific way—according to how science actually occurs in real life. By today’s publishing standards that focus near-solely on quantitative experimental designs, neither Darwin, Einstein, nor Goodall, would be published. Thus, JoST uses a framework that considers appropriate match between chosen methodology and the current condition of knowledge (see K-MMM paper and K-MMM Model). This means, for example, that when knowledge is extremely low about a phenomena, the method of choice is usually not an controlled, randomized, experiment (if nothing else because one would scarcely know what to control for). This means JoST is not a pre-biased ‘quant’ or ‘qual’ or ‘mixed’ journal but instead a scientific journal that seeks submissions that are not only scientifically valid but methodologically appropriate to the condition of knowledge about a given phenomena. Thus, we publish papers with the following methodologies: literature reviews, observation, theory building, case studies, survey methods, quasi-experimental and experimental methods, randomized controlled methods, and type 1 and 2 meta analyses. 

In other words, JoST holds true to the original ideals of science, without all the pomp and circumstance of academia. To be published in JoST, you need to write well, do good research, show evidence for what you claim, and make it accessible to a common reader.

Below are a few of JoST's topical areas, types of articles we accept for publication, and types of special issues.

Types of JoST Special Issues

In an effort to increase the speed of academic publishing, JoST publishes peer-reviewed articles on a rolling basis based on the year and month of the publication. From time to time, JoST sponsors both invited and open-response Special Issues which may take several forms:

  • Special interest or topical focus issues: These types of special issues allow us to zoom into and penetrate in detail a partcular area or topic.
  • Special issues that tackle the big questions and heated debates in the field: The field needs more focused, incremental dialogue on the big challenges. 
  • Read and respond issues (usu. based on a seminal work): We are especially fond of read-response issues because they provide a focused snapshot of important issues with evidence-based dialogue and decrease the degree to which systems thinking becomes a 'network of a thousand isolated nodes.'
  • Special issues focused on a 'Systems X': Systems thinking is being applied to many fields both as a lens and an integrating force. These types of special issues allow us to focus on what's taking place in a particular field (X) in which systems thinking is being applied (e.g., systems engineering, systems evaluation, systems education, systems leadership, etc.)

A Partial List of JoST Topics

  • Systems Thinking (cognitive complexity)
    • problem solving
    • critical thinking
    • scientific thinking
    • interdisciplinary thinking
    • creative thinking
    • strategic thinking
    • emotional intelligence
    • prosocial thinking
    • cognition
    • Metacognition
    • cognitive case studies (for teaching purposes)
    • thinking types
  • Systems Mapping  (visual complexity)
  • Systems Leadership (organizational complexity)
    • organizational learning
    • organizational culture
    • Leadership
    • VMCL
  • Structural patterns in mind and nature
  • Cognitive Bias
  • Theoretical papers on DSRP and its implications
  • Papers delving into the theoretical or practical details of
    • identity-other distinctions
    • part-whole organization
    • action-reaction relations
    • point-view perspectives
  • Papers criticizing DSRP or providing an alternative universal theory
  • Systems Science (ontological complexity)
    • Complexity
    • Complex adaptive systems
    • Swarm behavior
    • systemic behavior
  • Systems Change
  • Universality and diversity
  • Jigs, sliders, and frameworks
    • DIY Personal Development with Sliders
    • Approval and publication of new Jigs
    • Approval and publication of new Sliders
    • Any application of universality to a "systems" framework
  • Any application of universality to a "systems x" discipline. For example,
    • systems education
    • systems engineering
    • systems neuroscience
    • systems evaluation
    • systems policy
    • and many more...
  • Domain specific applications of systems thinking, mapping, leadership, science. For example,
    • military
    • public policy
    • private-sector
    • etc.

Types of JoST Articles

JoST accepts many different types of submissions. Each submission will be classified using the following and a classification will appear on the final publication:

  • An opinion/editorial piece
  • A book review (or movie, software, or other artifact)
  • A response paper to another published paper/book
  • A research study:
    • A quasi-experimental design (no control)
    • An experimental design (control)
    • A randomized experimental design (random and control)
    • A randomized control trial (set/longitudinal)
    • Type 1 (data integrating)
    • Type 2 (literature-based, theorizing)
    • A literature review
    • An observational study
    • A case study
    • An interview design
    • A survey design
    • An experimental design
    • A meta-analyses
  • Various innovations that are useful to readers such as:
    • Innovations and inventions such as tactile tools, software, hardware, etc.
    • Well-designed infographics or posters
    • Glossaries, lists, catalogues of frameworks, models, etc.
    • Objects designed for public understanding of science