PsycINFO Expert Tip: Online First Publications

What is an Online First Publication?

Online First Publication, also called OFP or First Posting, is a publication status that you may see for journal articles in the PsycARTICLES® database. It means that an article has been published online ahead of its journal issue. You can think of it like an artist’s single that premiers ahead of the full album.

How does this early publishing work?

Most scholarly journals release new issues once every month or once every quarter. When an article has been accepted for publication, and the author and publisher have completed any needed edits or corrections to the manuscript, it is assigned to an issue. But it may be months before that issue is published. In order to make the research available sooner, a “First Posting” version of the article is added to PsycARTICLES. It will reach “full publication” status between 1 month and 1 year later, when the issue is published.

What if something changes between the OFP’s release and the full publication?

Any record, OFP or not, can be corrected and have a replacement version released in PsycARTICLES. These corrected records are added twice weekly, at the same time as new records.

Why publish OFPs rather than just wait for the rest of the issue?

Since researchers have worked for years toward their goal of publication, they want to share their content quickly. This helps them avoid being “scooped” by another article getting published first and advances the knowledge of fellow researchers in their field more quickly.

Is the OFP record different?

There are few things to look for to determine if an article is OFP –

  • the Publication Type will say “First Posting” instead of just “Journal Article”;
  • there will be no HTML full text, just the PDF full text;
  • the citation will not have volume, issue, or page numbers.

In addition OFPs have not been fully indexed, and the records are missing fields including:

  • Cited References
  • Index Terms
  • Author Affiliation
  • Methodology
  • Grant/Sponsorship
  • Tests & Measures

Despite these differences, the OFP record includes all the information you need to use it, including the author name(s), journal title, and keywords. When the record reaches full publication status, the missing information is added to the record, but the full-text PDF will not change.

Can I still cite an OFP?

Absolutely! OFPs are some of the newest and most original published research, so it’s great if you can use them in your own work. The 6th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association provides the following citation guidance:

“The article doi should be used in place of volume, issue, and page numbers.

Example: Muldoon, K., Towse, J., Simms, V., Perra, O., & Menzies, V. (2012). A longitudinal analysis of estimation, counting skills, and mathematical ability across the first school year. Developmental Psychology. Advance online publication. doi:10.1037/a0028240 ”

The APA Style Blog has more information about citing OFPs as well as pre-published manuscripts.

If you are creating a reference with the journal article form in APA Style CENTRAL, there is a checkbox and explanation about citing an Advance Online Publication.

Is there a way I can search just for OFPs? How can I make sure they’re included in my search?

To limit your search to OFPs specifically, you can search for the phrase “first posting” in All Fields. Next, you can add fields that are included in OFP records, such as Classification Code, Keyword, Title and Abstract. If your search includes a field that isn’t indexed in OFP records, such as Index Terms or Author Affiliation, you won’t see any OFPs in your results. Keep in mind that OFP records are all published in the last year or two, so older results will all be fully published records.

The easiest way to find OFPs is to browse by journal title. See this Slideshare presentation for how to do this on your platform – APA PsycNET®, EBSCOhost, Ovid, or ProQuest. You can also set up a Table of Contents alert for new articles and issues.

Marta Soto