Also in this issue

An Update from the Board of Scientific Affairs

One very significant issue with likely impact on the entire scientific community was the proposed NIH open access policy. Open access refers to current initiatives to make scientific, technical, and medical literature freely available on the World Wide Web.

By Sandra A. Graham-Bermann, PhD

The Board of Scientific Affairs (BSA) held its annual fall meeting in Washington, DC November 5-7, 2004. Board members at the meeting included Suzanne Bennett Johnson (Chair), Gwyneth Boodoo, Marilyn Carroll, Sandra Graham, Jo-Ida Hansen, Roberta Klatzky, Hazel Markus, and John Weisz.

In a jam-packed two and a half day meeting, BSA considered a large number of issues. Our BSA agenda book alone was about 200 pages and consisted of close to 40 items that required discussion and action on our part. There were other agenda items that originated from other parts of the Association that needed science review and input. In the sections that follow, I highlight some of the more important issues that we considered.

Open Access
One very significant issue with likely impact on the entire scientific community was the proposed NIH open access policy. Open access refers to current initiatives to make scientific, technical, and medical literature freely available on the World Wide Web. The impetus for these initiatives include new possibilities afforded by electronic publishing, high speed Internet capabilities, patient advocacy groups who believe that federally funded biomedical research should be made available to the public rapidly and at no cost, and the belief that open access will enhance scientific productivity. Encouraged by Director Elias Zerhouni, NIH has proposed a new policy that would require NIH grantees to provide the agency with copies of their research articles when they are accepted for publication in scientific journals. Six months later the articles would be made available to the public on PubMed Central, the NIH free electronic repository of biomedical research results.

BSA members and Science Directorate staff met with the Publications and Communications Board (P&C) and staff from the Publications Office to discuss APA's reaction to the proposed open access policy. We raised a number of areas of concern about the proposed policy, including the possibility that its implementation would bring about a significant change in journal publishing, perhaps including moving to an author-pays model for publication. Several people noted that excessive fees would fall on authors who had not built these costs into their grants, and that such publication costs likely would be incurred after a grant had ended. BSA members were especially uncomfortable with the potential impact of the proposed policy on what research actually gets published, as well as the likelihood that some journals would not survive if the plan was implemented, thus restricting the number of publication outlets available. Many BSA members also expressed concern that ethnic minority scholars (who typically receive fewer NIH grants) might unintentionally be further marginalized in the publication process if publication becomes correlated with funding.

It was also not clear to us whether the goals of the lay public would indeed be well served by an open access policy that made scientific findings available without the benefit of evaluation, interpretation, or discussion of implications for treatment. With BSA and P&C input, APA CEO Norman Anderson, Steven Breckler, Executive Director of the Science Directorate, and Gary Vandenbos, APA's Publisher, drafted a letter to NIH stating APA's concerns about open access. The letter also outlined a number of suggestions for how scientific publications might be made accessible to the lay public (e.g., publishing abstracts rather than full articles on line) while preserving the integrity of the current publication process. For more information, read APA's comments to NIH on this issue.

National Standards for the Teaching of High School Psychology
Addressing the broader constituencies to which APA appeals, BSA reviewed the APA National Standards for the Teaching of High School Psychology. The standards for teaching high school psychology was first developed by the APA Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (TOPSS), and approved for dissemination in 1999 with the stipulation that they would be reviewed every 3-5 years. BSA supported the current revision of the Standards and looked forward to commenting on the next iteration.

PSY21: Psychological Science for the 21st Century
Steven Breckler, Executive Director for Science, updated us on the PSY21: Psychological Science for the 21st Century initiative. BSA and the Science Directorate will sponsor a Science Leadership Conference to be held December 2-4, 2005 in Washington, DC. The Conference will serve as a forum for both disseminating information about science policy issues and for developing new program ideas in the service of psychology as a science. BSA wholeheartedly endorsed the Conference and we discussed possible formats as well as mechanisms for assuring broad participation, including representation from students and junior faculty. In addition, we discussed the formation of the Ad Hoc Committee on Research that will be reporting to BSA.

Other Briefings and Discussions
Despite a full agenda of action items, BSA set aside time to be briefed by staff and to meet with distinguished visitors. APA President-Elect Ronald Levant briefed us on his presidential initiatives, in particular his Task Force on Evidence Based Practice. Another visitor was Craig Calhoun, President of the Social Sciences Research Council (SSRC), who provided an overview of SSRC initiatives and discussed with us some opportunities for collaboration with psychology. We discussed plans for the 2005 APA Convention, recommended new topics for the Advanced Training Institutes (ATIs), and appointed new members to CPTA, CARE, and the Awards Committee.

Thanks to chair and staff: BSA thanked Suzanne Johnson for her service to BSA as chair during the past two years. Both Suzanne and Gwyneth Boodoo rotated off the Board at the end of 2004. We selected Roberta Klatzky to serve as Chair and Marilyn Carroll to serve as Vice-Chair during 2005. We also thanked the staff of the Science Directorate for the timely and detailed information they provided for the November meeting and throughout the year. In March we will return to the Washington DC area for the spring meeting.