Interview with an Author – Danilo Garcia

This week, we published “The affective profiles in the USA: happiness, depression, life satisfaction, and happiness-increasing strategies” by Schutz et al. Danilo Garcia is the senior author on the paper and so we wanted to ask him about his research and experiences at PeerJ.


Danilo Garcia is a Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology at the University of Gothenburg. He is currently working as a researcher at the Center of Ethics, Law and Mental Health (CELAM) were he conducts research on the role of temperament and character in neurodevelopment disorders using data from The Child and Adolescent Twin Study in Sweden (CATSS). Other lines of research are free will, responsibility, happiness, well-being and human performance in different settings such as work and school.

PJ: Dr Garcia, tell us a bit about the research you published with us, and why it is interesting?

DG:This research is a further development from my dissertation, in which I used a model of individuals’ affective experience developed by Professor Trevor Archer and his colleagues at the Psychology Department in the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. The model is based in the simple and elegant observation of what we currently know about the two independent dimensions of affect, that is, positive affect and negative affect.

The combination of individuals’ experience of positive and negative affect leads to four different profiles: self-fulfilling (high positive affect and low negative affect), high affective (high positive affect and high negative affect), low affective (low positive affect and low negative affect), and self-destructive (low positive affect and high negative affect). The model was here used to expand earlier findings among Swedes to a relatively large sample of US-residents (1,400 individuals). Moreover, the study is based on the increasing awareness of the therapeutic potential of the positive psychological perspective. Hence, besides being interested in differences in depression, we were also interested in happiness, life satisfaction, and the happiness-increasing strategies that people use. One of the results was that the pursuit of happiness guided by strategies related to agency (i.e., goal-directed and autonomous behavior), communion (i.e., helping and empathic behavior), and transcendental (i.e., spiritual behavior) values was indicative of a self-fulfilling experience.

PJ: Why did you choose to publish this research in PeerJ rather than some other venue, and what are the advantages for you to publish with us?

DG: One of the main reasons was that we wanted our publication to be Open Access. A second reason was Open access at a reasonable price. A third reason was fast publishing. However, the main reason was the innovative peer-review system PeerJ has implemented. To us, the whole idea of peer reviewing is to be “primus inter pares” or first among equals. By encouraging Open Peer-Review, PeerJ is part of the revolution re-inventing the peer-review system to become more transparent, pro-active, helpful, and pro-science.

PJ: Prior to your experience with PeerJ, what was your opinion on the article publication process in general?

DG: In general, the publication process is time-consuming.

PJ: So… now that you have experienced the PeerJ publication process, how happy are you on a 5-point Likert scale–similar to the one used in your study (1 = very slightly, 5 = extremely)?

DG:  🙂 Yes, the quantification of happiness is one of my interests. My response is (5) ! Every expectation we had when we submitted our paper was outclassed in every way.

PJ: Glad to hear you had a good experience with us! Can you share more details about the submission process? And please, feel free to keep using the Likert scale to quantify your happiness!

DG: The actual submission was easy to understand with step-by-step guidance, which made the whole process simple and fast. Thus, it was a (5) ! I also liked the step in which each co-author needs to confirm her/his authorship, which makes the submission more dynamic for the whole research group.

PJ: What was your experience of the review process?

DG: This is definitely a (5) ! As I was saying before, Open Peer-Review was the main reason why we decided to submit our article at the first place. Thus, before even getting any feedback from the Editor or the Reviewers we had already decided that if the paper was accepted we wanted to post the full peer-review history alongside the published article. We truly got the sense of being “primus inter pares” from the review process. The review was constructive and aiming at how our article could be enhanced, independently of it getting accepted or not.

PJ: And what was your experience of the production process?

That’s another (5) ! Professional and service-minded. The communication was fluent and smooth.

PJ: What do you think to the overall speed of the process?

A (5) ! It took less than a month from submission to acceptance. Then it only took 2 weeks for the published version! Our research group was pretty motivated by the speed of the review, which resulted in fast work on the revised version as well.

PJ: We put a lot of thought into the graphic design of the papers. What do you think of the HTML view and the appearance of the single column PDF layout of your article?

DG: Definitely a (5)! The first thing I did when receiving the proof file was to email all my co-authors and tell them how nice and stylish the layout was…I have never done that before.

PJ: PeerJ encourages Authors to make their review comments visible. Why did you choose to reproduce the complete peer-review history of your article?

DG: Because the Open Peer-Review aims to make research transparent and motivates researchers to be pro-science by reviewing the research based only on scientific and methodological soundness. That makes every researcher who submits her/his work in PeerJ first among equals!

PJ: What are your thoughts about the value of Open Access publishing?

DG: I think that if knowledge is power, then Open Access means more empowerment for everyone.

PJ: As anyone, worldwide, can now read your work for free, what is the audience that you actually wish to reach?

DG: The research we have published in PeerJ is about the importance of positive emotions in everyday life. I think that everyone is interested in becoming happier. Moreover, our work at the Centre for Ethics, Law and Mental Health at the University of Gothenburg emphasizes the need of positive measures of global mental health, such as character. Thus, I hope that psychologists and psychiatrists become more interested in our research.

PJ: Was there anything that surprised you with your overall experience with us?

The service-minded approach which every single person I’ve being in contact with has had.

PJ: Did any of your colleagues express anything to you about your publication with us?

People have started asking about my experience with the publication and Open Peer-Review process.

PJ: Would you say to them that publishing in PeerJ is a happiness-increasing strategy?

🙂 Yes! We might need to add that as a strategy among researchers!

PJ: And in your own Pursuit of Happyness, would you submit with us again?

That is a nice movie! We added the quote by Will Smith in the movie to stress the US-population we recruited. And yes, I’m actually already writing an article I plan to submit to PeerJ soon!

PJ: In conclusion, how would you describe PeerJ in three words?

Innovative. Professional. Fast

Or “primus inter pares”!

PJ: Thank you very much for your time!

PeerJ is currently getting first decisions back to authors with a median time of 24 days, and we have hundreds of highly satisfied authors. If you would like to experience the PeerJ process for yourself, then submit your next article to us!


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