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Report from the Board of Scientific Affairs

Review of BSA Board meeting in Leesburg, VA in March 2005

By Ronald T. Brown, PhD

I am a newly elected member of the Board of Scientific Affairs (BSA) and attended my first board meeting in March 2005. BSA meets twice a year in the spring and the fall in the Washington, DC area. This March meeting took place in Leesburg, Virginia, far from downtown Washington, and afforded us the opportunity to really focus on our meeting agenda and to meet with other APA boards and committees who were meeting at the same time and same place.

BSA focused on issues within the Science Directorate and related to our scientific constituency in general. We reviewed the establishment of an ad-hoc committee on research issues that would include specific topics relevant to the responsible conduct of research. The group was formally named the Ad Hoc Committee to Advance Research (AHCAR). Board members nominated individuals for this important task force which will serve to advance research by navigating some of the difficult issues related to conducting research including protection of human participants in behavioral research, management, sharing and ownership of data, publication practices and research misconduct and responsible authorship.

Dr. Steven Breckler, Executive Director for Science, provided an update to BSA on the PSY21 initiative that includes the AHCAR, the Science Leadership Conference, and the Culture of Service initiative. BSA members are looking forward to the first Science Leadership Conference, later this year, which will provide a forum for scientists to communicate and collaborate in developing a common science agenda. Potential conference themes were discussed as well as other important components of the conference including media and advocacy training for participants, mentoring, and breakout or workshop groups.

A large part of our agenda consisted of issues that needed science advice, consultation and comment. BSA reviewed the Policy and Planning Board's 5-Year Report; commented on the proposed Mechanism for Renewal of Expiration of Guidelines and Standards and the Presidential Initiative of Promoting Health Care of the Whole Person. Other reports we reviewed at the meeting included the APA Presidential Task Force on Enhancing Diversity within the Association, Revisions to the APA National Standards for the Teaching of High School Psychology, Development of a Strategic Plan for a Workforce Analysis of Psychology as a Discipline, Resolution on Drug Abuse Treatment to Prevent HIV Among Injecting Drug Users, and Resolution of the 2005 White House Conference on Aging.

BSA members provided input to the Policy Recommendation and Position Paper of the 2005 Presidential Task Force on Evidenced-Based Practice. We were pleased to see the creation of the Task Force related to empirically validated treatments and more importantly that there was considerable agreement among task force members on several important points. Clearly, a policy statement that underscores the importance of research evidence in prescribing clinical practice is critical in providing care for clients. BSA recommended some important suggested changes that included specific mechanisms for constructing empirically supported treatments, issues pertaining to public outreach, sharing of information between researchers and practitioners, and completing the developmental age spectrum that includes evidence associated with child and adolescent treatment effects.

I can't forget to point out the science policy update that we received from the staff in the Science Public Policy Office. They are very busy working on Capitol Hill and in the many federal agencies that are relevant to our research.

Some other important agenda items that BSA considered included nominations for the 2006 Distinguished Scientist Lecturer Program and the Master Lecturer Program, nominations for the Committee on Animal Research and Ethics (CARE), the Committee on Psychological Tests and Assessment (CPTA), and most importantly nominations for the 2006 BSA vacancies.

BSA had a very productive meeting and looks forward to its next meeting in the fall.