In Brief

APA's Board of Scientific Affairs (BSA) and Science Directorate are unveiling Psychological Science for the 21st Century (PSY21), a new initiative to promote the science of psychology and help psychological scientists meet 21st century challenges--such as dealing with increasingly complex regulatory systems, developing multidisciplinary research efforts and supporting the next generation of psychologists.

Slated for launch in January, PSY21 will include workshops, conferences, Web resources, partnerships and other efforts.

"The overall goal," says Steven Breckler, PhD, APA's executive director for science, "is to make APA the place people think of first when they think of the science of psychology."

The $400,000 initiative will benefit all APA members, says Breckler, because a large portion of the APA membership are scientists, and many of the rest rely on the results of scientific research to support their work.

PSY21 will encompass three main themes:

  • Responsible conduct of research, including such issues as research involving human participants or animals, peer review and conflicts of interest.

  • Culture of service to the discipline, such as psychologists' involvement in professional associations, mentoring, advocacy for psychology-related causes, and other such activities.

  • Infrastructure for the science of psychology, including key needs like new technologies and data-sharing methods.

Right now, Breckler says, BSA members and Science Directorate staff are talking to representatives from APA's 41 divisions to identify each division's highest-priority issues within the three categories. An example of one issue that has emerged, he says, is the institutional review board (IRB) process that researchers use to gain approval for research involving human participants.

"It's getting harder to get approval from IRBs, and university administrations are overturning previous IRB approvals," Breckler says. "It's just creating havoc for people who work with human participants."

APA, he says, could offer workshops and materials to provide guidance to researchers and work with other social science organizations and the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Human Research Protections to help shape future policy.

The directorate is also planning a Science Leadership Conference for the fall of 2005--as a companion to APA's Education and State Leadership conferences--where science leaders will discuss what other key topics PSY21 should address.

Under the auspices of PSY21, BSA and the Science Directorate intend over the next several years to--among other activities--develop more workshops and meetings, enhanced Web resources and new ways to recognize service to psychology.