After a decade of being Editor-in-Chief of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, the
time has come for me to step down. I would like to take this opportunity to tell you
about the conception and development of DCN and to thank the many people involved
in making this a hugely enjoyable endeavour and a successful journal.
In 2008, Tom Merriweather, a Publisher from Elsevier, visited me in my office in London,
UK, and we discussed the potential demand for a new journal in the area of developmental
cognitive neuroscience. There were, at the time, multiple developmental psychology
journals, and Development Science was a young journal publishing developmental neuroscience
studies and was already well respected. The field – in particular, neuroimaging studies
with children and adolescents – had rapidly expanded in recent years. A few weeks
later, Tom came back with statistics on papers published in this area over the preceding
decade. The line on the graph showed a steep upward incline and demonstrated clearly
that there was room for a new journal in this area. Below is a figure showing the
same graph up to the present day (Fig. 1).
Graph showing number of publications between 1996 and 2018 in the area of developmental
We were convinced by the data and Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience was conceived.
We were tremendously lucky and thankful that our dream editorial team accepted our
invitations to become editors: Danny Pine, Ron Dahl and Uta Frith. Together, we nurtured
and shaped the journal through its early years. Through frequent international phone
conferences (spanning a 9 h time difference when Uta was in Aarhus, Denmark and Ron
was in California, USA), we discussed many issues, including the remit of the journal.
Developmental cognitive neuroscience is a large field and our journal needed a unique
scope that did not duplicate that of existing journals. We decided that DCN would
publish papers with a neural component, focusing on development in infancy, childhood
and adolescence. Then followed a year of designing the cover, selecting an advisory
board, creating the website, refining the scope, and in 2010 DCN was born.
During the early years, our infant journal grew and thrived. We published excellent
and high quality special issues on a range of topics, including Motivation (https://www.sciencedirect.com/journal/developmental-cognitive-neuroscience/vol/1/issue/4)
edited by Ron Dahl and Louk Vanderschuren, Neuroscience & Education (https://www.sciencedirect.com/journal/developmental-cognitive-neuroscience/vol/2/suppl/S1)
edited by Silvia Bunge and myself, and Neural Plasticity, Behavior, and Cognitive
Training: Developmental Neuroscience Perspectives (https://www.sciencedirect.com/journal/developmental-cognitive-neuroscience/vol/4/suppl/C)
edited by Yair Bar-Haim and Daniel Pine. Uta Frith was Reviews Editor and, during
Uta’s tenure, DCN published many authoritative reviews (https://www.sciencedirect.com/search?pub=Developmental%20Cognitive%20Neuroscience&cid=280279&show=25&sortBy=relevance&articleTypes=REV&lastSelectedFacet=articleTypes),
which are still highly cited. We were especially delighted when Mark Johnson (who,
at the time, was Editor-in-Chief of Developmental Science) agreed to write a review
of the field for DCN’s inaugural issue (this remains the most highly cited review
published in DCN with around 250 citations to date: Johnson, 2011). This I think is
indicative of an international field that has always been remarkably collaborative
and collegiate. Other highly cited reviews were published in the following years (including
Gervain et al., 2011; Spear, 2011; Gladwin et al., 2011; Decety and Svetlova, 2012;
Eberl et al., 2013). Regular papers of a very high standard quickly started to be
submitted to DCN and we were off to a strong start.
Over the ensuing years, DCN has gone from strength to strength, thanks to many people’s
dedication and commitment. The Publisher, Tom Merriweather, was replaced by Toby Charkin,
who was recently replaced by Rachael Engels. I learned a great deal about the publishing
process from them. Editors’ terms came to an end, and new editors joined: Faraneh
Vargha-Khadem, Torsten Baldeweg, Jennifer Pfeifer, Victoria Southgate and Bita Moghaddam.
Many people have provided invaluable, behind-the-scenes support in the publication
of papers, both in regular and special issues. I have enjoyed and learned a great
deal from working with these people, who have all played a critical role in making
DCN a success. There have also been challenges, including the ‘teething problems’
of the then new online submission system. Over the years, the journal has become well
known and respected, with over 350 papers being submitted in 2018. In 2013 DCN became
fully open access and papers are usually published online within a day or two of being
accepted. The impact factor has gradually increased to 4.815 in 2018.
Danny Pine has been an editor of DCN since the very start, and is also now stepping
down. The journal would not have been such a success without Danny. I have lost count
of the times I called Danny in his NIMH lab at 9.30am London time (which you will
have worked out is the middle of the night in Bethesda) to ask him endless questions,
from the more trivial (isn’t the girl on the front cover probably too young to wear
earrings?) to the more substantive about when and how to reject papers, what happens
if reviewers disagree, what are the pros and cons of going fully open access, and
so on. Danny coached me in how to make (sometimes difficult) decisions about papers;
his decision letters are well known for their in-depth and thoughtful reasoning behind
the decision. I also greatly appreciate the committed work of Torsten Baldeweg, who
has also stepped down this month. I’m very pleased that Katie McLaughlin and Eveline
Crone have joined the editorial team, and so the journal will continue to be in excellent
The time has come for someone else to take the reins of Editor-in-Chief and to shape
the journal with their vision. I could not be more pleased that this person is Bea
Luna. Bea is world-renowned for her research on brain development in adolescence,
and she is also well known for founding Flux, the society for developmental cognitive
neuroscience. Flux and DCN have always been linked, and, with Bea as Editor-in-Chief
of DCN and President of Flux, the relationship will grow stronger. There are exciting
plans afoot for new directions for DCN, including making it a beacon of open science.
It is poignant to step down from a project I have been involved with from the very
start, but the journal couldn’t be in better hands with Bea and her editorial team,
and I’m looking forward to watching the journal continue to grow and thrive throughout
its second decade.