APA's Electronic Resources Advisory Committee

Meet the group that advises us on developing products in electronic form

Meet APA's Electronic Resources Advisory Committee, our advisors on developing products in electronic form.

Photo of APA's Electronic Resources Advisory Committee
From left to right: Gene Damon, Jeremy Burman, Omar Alhassoon, John Disterhoft, Ellen Beckjord, Robert Frank, and Bradford Hesse

The PsycINFO Electronic Resources Advisory Committee is an advisory subcommittee of the Publications and Communications Board. Its mission is to guide us in activities related to the development and dissemination of communications products in electronic form. The committee proposes policies, engages in long-term planning, and proposes research and development projects for consideration by the Publications and Communications Board.

Committee members provide guidance on policies related to such products as PsycINFO, PsycARTICLES, electronic reference programs, subsets of other electronic databases, and the APA Web sites. Members consider issues related to features, delivery mechanisms, and other user-related factors. Overall, they provide advice on the general quality and utility of the databases and other electronic products.

The council is composed of seven members:

Omar Alhassoon, PhD

University of California, San Diego & California School of Professional Psychology

Omar has been a member of the Electronic Resources Advisory Committee since fall of 2009, though his connection to APA goes much further back. He noted:

I've been involved with PsycINFO since the 1980s, first working directly for the association as an indexer/search analyst, then as a database education specialist, and now as a member of the Electronic Resources Advisory Committee. During my tenure at PsycINFO in the '80s and '90s, I was actively involved in the process of developing a new production system that is the forerunner of our current system. I was also involved in placing some of the earliest PsycINFO educational material on Gopher (the precursor of the World Wide Web) and educating librarians and students on the use of Veronica and Jughead!

My interest in the use of technology in psychology did not diminish after receiving my doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). I'm currently active in integrating electronic resources into graduate and undergraduate online courses in psychology. In addition to being involved in neuroimaging research and neuropsychology, I teach psychology at all university levels (community college through graduate school).

My insights about the role of information technology in relation to psychology education, research, and practice are valuable to PsycINFO. In return, I find being on the cutting-edge of the newest technology exhilarating and appreciate the brainstorming and information exchange process that takes place at Electronic Resources Advisory Committee meetings. The divergent nature of the members' thinking and the collegiality of the group provide me with a model that I often emulate with dissertation students who are struggling with developing their thoughts about a topic. On a more practical level, I often take back to campus and laboratory many of the new and exciting tools that are being developed by APA for integration into my courses and research.

Ellen Beckjord, PhD, MPH

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry University of Pittsburgh Biobehavioral Medicine in Oncology Program
University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute

Ellen has been a member of the Electronic Resources Advisory Committee since fall of 2007, when she was an associate behavioral and social sciences researcher for RAND Corporation. She noted:

We each bring special skills to the group. As a clinical psychologist who studies the role of health information technology in cancer survivorship care, I think a lot about how information technology can enrich people's lives and help them achieve their health-related goals. As a faculty member in academic medicine, PsycINFO is a key piece of information technology that helps me to achieve my professional goals.

It's been great to see the development of PsycTESTS and to watch PsycNET's growing presence in social media. It's always exciting to hear from APA about their continued work to make PsycNET a powerful and meaningful platform for practitioners, researchers, and students.

Looking ahead, I think "mobile" is the key word — whatever game-changing technologies are coming, they'll have to be accessible and usable from a mobile device.

Jeremy T. Burman, MA

Department of Psychology, York University

Jeremy joined the Electronic Resources Advisory Committee in 2007. He was recruited to represent and give voice to the concerns of new and aspiring members of the profession. Jeremy wrote:

I am a doctoral student in the History and Theory Program at York University in Toronto, Canada. I have an honor's bachelor of science from the University of Toronto and a master's of arts from York University. I hope to complete my doctorate in the summer of 2012.

My research interests relate primarily to the history of Jean Piaget's theory and to how historical narratives are constructed. My goal is to combine these two interests to reintroduce Piaget to contemporary developmental psychologists.

Before returning to school, I was a producer for the web and television at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, running the web unit for a news and current affairs television show called "The Hour," targeted at the under-35 set. Before that, I was an entrepreneur and consultant, starting a company when I was 16.

My position allows me to communicate the needs and interests of my two primary communities: graduate students and historians. I usually end up speaking "as a graduate student" or "as an historian," but I think the value of my contribution — if it has value — is supported primarily by my experience in R&D.

Building the new PsycTESTS database has been wonderfully exciting. That's really going to change how graduate students do their work. And the Akron historical archive project was inspired! Partnering with an archive to add historical content to the database was such a good idea.

Gene Damon, MSLS

Director of Library Automation & Learning Resources
Virginia Community College System

Gene is the newest member of the Committee. He has worked in libraries and library service for more than 35 years. Since 1996 he has served as Director of Library Automation and Learning Resources for Virginia's Community Colleges. He is currently chair of the Virtual Library of Virginia's Steering Committee and served as chair of VIVA's Resources for Users Committee for over 10 years.

Over his career he has managed library systems at the University of Waterloo, Northeastern University, and Virginia's Community Colleges, playing an important role in the initial years of library systems automation. For the past 14 years, in his role at the Community Colleges and with VIVA, Gene has helped acquire and ensure access to a vast array of information resources for Virginia's Community College libraries, enabling students and staff to easily access and exchange information.

Gene is also a member of APA's Library Advisory Counsel, and his is the lone librarian voice in a sea of psychologists on Electronic Resources Advisory Committee.

John Disterhoft, PhD

Physiology Department
Northwestern University

John is a Professor of Physiology and Director of the Northwestern University Institute for Neuroscience, Feinberg School of Medicine. A noted author and recognized expert in mechanisms of learning and memory, he has been a member of the committee since spring 2009.

Robert G. Frank, PhD, Chair

Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
Kent State University

Bob has been a member of the Electronic Resources Advisory Committee since fall of 2008. He was previously dean of the College of Public Health and Health Professions at the University of Florida. His first appointment was at the University of Missouri—Columbia School of Medicine, where he established the Division of Clinical Health Psychology and Neuropsychology.

He has been a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow and worked with Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM). He is a diplomate in clinical psychology for the American Board of Professional Psychology and a past president and current fellow of Division 22 (Rehabilitation Psychology) and a fellow of Division 12 (Society of Clinical Psychology) and Division 38 (Health Psychology) of the American Psychological Association.

Bradford W. Hesse, PhD

Chief, Health Communication & Informatics Research Branch
Behavioral Research Program
Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences
National Cancer Institute

Brad has been a member of the Electronic Resources Advisory Committee for the longest, since "the turn of the millennium." He wrote:

I am a social psychologist by training but have spent the past two and a half decades studying the ways in which individuals and groups work together within electronic environments…I was recruited to the National Cancer Institute (part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health) in 2003, where I currently serve as chief of the Institute's Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch. We provide extramural funding to behavioral scientists who are using advances in health information technology to reduce the nation's burden from cancer.

I joined the Electronic Resources Advisory Committee at a point when the "dot com" implosion was looming and professionals were wondering what the fate of the World Wide Web as a platform for knowledge aggregation would truly be. I remember in those early days of the committee the tough choices we had to make in considering the best use of valued resources: do we invest in electronic channels, and if so in what ways, or do we keep our money on traditional channels of knowledge dissemination? APA, we believed, must stay committed to understanding the changing information ecology of the new millennium, not just for its members but for the American public as a whole. It must take a leadership role in making its information assets available to all of those who could benefit from them.

Over the course of the decade, I have indeed seen the Electronic Resources Advisory Committee take a leadership role in brokering easy-to-use access to the scientific literature. APA's development of PsycNET — with interconnected access to powerful search tools, expansive bibliographic references, online articles, online book chapters, the so-called "gray literature," and other resources — stands as a stellar example of pioneering design in a burgeoning information universe.

Similarly, APA's expansion of journal coverage from the standard core of psychological publications to the related pockets of literature now emerging in the fields of medicine, neurobiology, education, law, human factors engineering, and others presciently anticipated the rise in interdisciplinarity that has now become the hallmark of modern professional and educational life. Even the association's attention to detail in crafting an online presence that is understandable to professionals and lay information seekers alike illustrates its commitment to all stakeholders whether they be scientists, practitioners, policy makers, students, educators, or even members of the general public.

These accomplishments are only the beginning, though…Increasingly, mobile devices such as Apple's iPad and smart phone technologies will make the vast information stores of digital libraries available to an even broader set of professionals who find the information they need at the moment the need it.

The publishing industry will continue to reinvent itself as it fits into this new ecology. The stakes will be high as professional associations seek to preserve credibility and viability in an environment awash in blogs, twitter feeds, and a cacophony of amateur content. Success, however, could help usher in a new era of what the National Science Foundation has referred to as "Technology Mediated Social Participation." Such participation could be the scientific fulcrum we need for putting evidence into practice, and for tackling some of the more elusive challenges of a global citizenry. Dealing with this possibility will be the exciting challenge confronting the Electronic Resources Advisory Committee in the next decade.