Also in this Issue

"Who" is BSA?

This triennial review of the aspects of psychology represented by each current BSA seat creates opportunities for BSA members to identify changes in our science that need to be ‘at the table.’ It also creates opportunities for APA Divisions and members to alert BSA to emerging fields or issues that are likely to change our thinking.

By Alice M. Young, PhD

BSA (the Board of Scientific Affairs) is the primary advisory group for the APA Science Directorate. Along with members of its constituent committees and groups, members of BSA “are concerned with all aspects of psychology as a science.”1

As is the case for members of all APA Boards and Committees, members of BSA are elected by APA Council. BSA currently has nine members. Each member represents a range of interests within psychology as a science. My goal in this column is to convince you that the range of interests captured by each ‘seat’ on BSA must change as our science changes, and to invite you into the process.

Our science changes, and our expectations of our science change. Both sorts of changes challenge members of APA to make sure that members of BSA represent the full range of psychology as a science.

How does BSA tackle our need to stay ‘current’ with our science? One strategy is to use current members of BSA. At each Fall BSA meeting, members are asked to review the makeup of BSA, with particular attention to the fields of our science that are represented by the three members who are ‘rotating off’. Each of the nine members of BSA is elected for a three-year term, so each year three members turn over.

This triennial review of the aspects of psychology represented by each current BSA seat creates opportunities for BSA members to identify changes in our science that need to be ‘at the table.’ It also creates opportunities for APA Divisions and members to alert BSA to emerging fields or issues that are likely to change our thinking.

To get us thinking about the makeup of BSA, here are descriptions used for each of the current seats BSA seats:

  • Applied experimental psychology/methodology/statistics

  • Developmental/educational psychology

  • Social/cultural psychology

  • Psychopathology/personality/clinical science

  • Behavioral/developmental neuroscience/comparative psychology

  • Health psychology

  • Cognition/neuroscience/perception/memory/learning

  • Industrial/organizational/occupational health psychology

  • Psychopharmacology/addictions

Some of these areas have a long and distinguished history in our science; others represent new opportunities. Are there emerging areas of science that need to be captured? Write to us via email.

Another strategy BSA and APA can use to stay current in our science is to add a seat to represent a new area of science, or create a new committee to tackle emerging issues. An example of this strategy is the new Ad Hoc Committee to Advance Research, which BSA created to tackle issues related to responsible conduct of research in psychology. These are, I think, more complicated strategies, both because they adds costs for the APA and Science Directorate budgets and because they require incubation.

A final strategy is to emphasize to all members of APA that BSA represents all science of psychology, not just psychologists associated with certain Divisions within APA. Calls for nominations for each BSA seat go to all governance groups in APA and to all members. Members often work individually and in groups to communicate to BSA members what a nominee would contribute. The nomination and election process can create an effective BSA only with full participation from all APA members and Divisions.

As the current chair of BSA, I extend to all members and Divisions a warm invitation to engage with BSA and the Science Directorate to work on our science!

APA Board of Scientific Affairs, Accessed 6 May 2008.