Meet APA staff: Center for Workforce Studies

Division Services Office Director Sarah Jordan sat down with staff from the newly reorganized Center for Workforce Studies to find out about its expanded roles and how divisions can benefit

Sarah Jordan spoke with Dr. Peggy Christidis, CWS senior research officer, and Dr. Karen Stamm, CWS research associate.

Peggy Christidis, PhD Karen Stamm, PhD

Left: Dr. Peggy Christidis, CWS senior research officer
Dr. Karen Stamm, CWS research associate
Jordan: Can you tell me a little about your background?

Stamm: My background is in psychology with a focus on quantitative methods and research design. My PhD is from the Behavioral Science Program at the University of Rhode Island. Prior to coming to APA, I held a postdoc in gerontology, also at the University of Rhode Island, where I was responsible for data analysis and data management. I belong to Division 5 and am a self‐professed data diva.

Christidis: My background is in cognitive psychology with a focus on cognitive aging and neuropsychology. My PhD is from the Psychology Program at the Claremont Graduate University. After graduate school, I held a postdoc at Pomona College, where I conducted research on age-related changes in memory, language and attention. Prior to coming to APA, I worked for nine years at the NIH Scientific and Statistical Computing Core, where I provided support for functional neuroimaging research. My duties included advising researchers on data analysis, implementation of fMRI software and formal instruction in the use of these software tools.

Jordan: What is the mission and vision of the reconfigured Center for Workforce Studies?

Christidis: It is a work in progress! The mission remains focused on the psychology workforce and education pipeline. The vision is something we are still shaping. We hope to conduct more in-depth analysis and focus more on need and demand. Currently, the CWS is a staff of two overseen by Science Directorate Executive Director Dr. Steven Breckler. We are in the process of hiring additional staff.

Stamm: Our reorganization will allow us to continue existing survey efforts on the current psychology workforce, such as faculty salary surveys and an employment survey of recent doctorate recipients. We will also be able to address critical questions for the future of the psychology workforce. What is the future demand for psychologists? Are there enough psychologists with the right training in the right geographic areas? There are many questions like this, and we currently do not have good answers. We need to take what we know about the current workforce and education pipeline and integrate it with forecasted demand, changes in population demographics, health care reform and other variables. It will be some time before we will be able to answer these questions. Once we get the right resources and staffing in place, we will be able to do a more complete workforce analysis.

Jordan: I spoke with Dr. Breckler about the anticipated changes. In addition to the reorganization, he mentioned initiatives under the APA strategic plan that focus on collaborative research opportunities, a visiting scholar program and special focus task forces. Can divisions work with CWS on joint projects?

Christidis: Yes, these are all possibilities. For example, we could consider collaborating with one or more divisions on workforce‐related projects. We have data from our survey efforts that a visiting scholar could further analyze. Task forces could assist us in addressing specific workforce questions. 

We see divisions as stakeholders in the CWS and we are interested in pursuing collaborative efforts in line with our mission. Input from divisions can help us to identify and define important workforce questions. For example, I would imagine divisions have ideas about research questions and gaps in existing workforce data. In exchange, the divisions can benefit from the resources and staffing expertise of the center.

Jordan: I would like to clarify APA’s position on requests for contact information for research participation. In the past APA sold mailing labels for research purposes. Will APA sell labels to researchers still?

Stamm: We get many questions about APA policy in this area as well as requests for email/mailing lists so I welcome the opportunity to clarify our policy. We no longer sell mailing labels for research purposes, nor do we make our members’ email addresses available for such purposes. In fact, we do not give out APA members’ email addresses for any reason. However, we very much welcome proposals for collaborative research projects that support the mission of the Center for Workforce Studies. But unless the proposed research project is one that clearly aligns with our goals of understanding the workforce of psychology, the current policy is that requests for research purposes will not be considered.

Jordan: I’ve seen on the APA website that APA no longer endorses or passes along research requests to any APA‐managed email lists. However APA has left it up to the division to decide on whether they will post requests for research on their own email lists. Is this correct?

Christidis: That is my understanding of the current email lists policy. I would urge caution in using division email lists to solicit research participants, even with division email lists that allow solicitations (limits of division email lists). Think carefully about representativeness and sampling. An email list is not an entire population of people with a particular characteristic, and some people who subscribe to a email list are not members of the target population. You may not end up with the sample you want or the sample you think you will get. In other words, the growing trend of soliciting research participants through postings on email lists may actually be encouraging faulty research design.

Stamm: Allowing such requests would also inundate email lists and APA members with research requests. It could detract from APA’s own survey efforts, such as Graduate Study in Psychology, salary surveys or the APA Directory Update form.

Jordan: I think that the divisions will be very interested in working with CWS. How can they contact you?

Christidis: We can be reached by email.