• Jean Lau Chin - in memory

Did you miss PsychologistsLEAD: Let’s Talk Meeting on June 5, 2019? Summary of Using our Science

Updated: Aug 13, 2019

Our psychological science unveils new and better ways for people to exist and thrive in a complex world; it creates knowledge. We need to use that knowledge for action and cultivate our research toward creative solutions to the challenges we face today. We need to be open to all of our diverse perspectives and eliminate the silos that separate us among ourselves. What can I as APA president do to build that bridge? How can I support and advocate for science and its contributions to advancing psychology? Here are highlights of issues raised during our meeting.

Advocacy for Science

Many may not be aware of what APA’s Science Directorate already does to support science and of its advocacy to promote robust federal funding for psychology research. APA’s “Psychology: Science in Action” public education campaign promotes the breadth and depth of how we apply our science to the workplace and in our everyday lives. It promotes the diverse careers of our scientists and the application of our science for policy and legislative advocacy, and in its “Did you know?” series. So what is the relevance of the new Advocacy structure within APA for science? Many express concerns that there may be a decrease in advocacy for science or that APA has ignored the needs of our science members. Going forward, we must create an agenda for how the new Advocacy structure will address the needs of science and our scientist members.

Supporting translational research

We already apply our science to many areas of everyday life. We must expand how we are use our science to address real world problems, e.g., immigration, violence, peace, terrorism, racism, sexism, climate change, social justice, and human rights. To use our knowledge for action and our research for solutions, we need a clear plan and strategies. Translational Issues in Psychological Science, a new journal begun in 2014 representing multiple viewpoints on psychological science, concentrates on important, timely, and/or potentially controversial themes in translational science that is of broad interest to scientists, practitioners, and the general public. Each article covers a body of basic scientific research and concludes with an application section. A major impetus for this evolved from the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) major priority to devote more resources to translating basic research into tools and interventions for diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. This emphasis on translational research caused concern among psychologists that resources might be directed away from basic research to grow translational research. However, we need to realize that psychology already applies its knowledge to practical applications in health-related areas, human factors, education, organizational behavior, decision-making, environmental design and social influence, even if that was not the intent of conducting pure science research. Under APA’s new strategic plan, we need to develop a plan to address translational research and balancing our support for pure and applied science.

Addressing the growth of open access journals

The growth of open access journals has been exponential with universities beginning to moving away from their reliance on and subscriptions to print based journals. This is raising concerns over criteria for judging scientific merit, peer review, tenure and promotion impact factors. There is a growing global debate regarding the ideology, ethics and article processing charges that are often passed on to authors. Where APA draws significant income from its publishing of print-based journals, this becomes an issue as we also consider how to maintain traditional peer review standards of quality amidst the changing landscape. It also challenges traditional notions of copyright to academic publications if they free. An obvious advantage of open access journals is the free access of scientific papers to professionals, students, the general public, and especially in developing countries. Many believe open access journals also address issues of social inequality where access to academic research favors large and wealthy institutions with the financial means to purchase access to many print based subscription journals. Obviously, there are opponents to the growth of open access journals claiming that traditional pay-for-access models play a "gatekeeper" role in maintaining a scholarly reputation through peer review, and other means of organizing, editing and indexing articles. As participants in the forum pointed out, we have no choice. It’s time to take some leadership in how we deal with the growth of open access journals—time for us to have that discussion and develop a framework for approaching the issue.

Integrative Leadership Forums

These concerns raised from scientists are real and legitimate. How do we deal with potential polarizing issues and arrive at reasoned and creative solutions? Having served in APA governance and council, I have seen us all too often mired in polarizing discussions, or making decisions that privilege or favor narrow perspectives. We often spend our time looking inward when we should be looking outward and addressing important professional and social issues that lead to real solutions. I propose convening Integrative Leadership Forums for us to find our way forward—a process to bring together diverse perspectives to examine important issues. We could use technology to get broad input. We must be inclusive of minority perspectives and criticism, and use that input to work toward creative solutions. For science, these forums might include:

  • Addressing the growth of open access journals

  • Creating an agenda for science Advocacy

PsychologistsLEAD: Let’s LEAD together to Empower, Advocate, and make a Difference

Jean Lau Chin for APA President

Experienced Leader—Practitioner-Consultant-Researcher-Academic-APA governance


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Dr. Jean Lau Chin - we remember