APA Science Board and Committees Consider Important Research Issues


APA's science governance groups held their spring meetings in March to review issues and policies important to behavioral research. The Board of Scientific Affairs (BSA), the Committee on Psychological Tests and Assessment (CPTA), and the Committee on Animal Research and Ethics (CARE) met at the same time as 25 other APA governance groups at the Westfields Conference Center in Chantilly, VA. This consolidated meeting format has proved successful in expediting decision making on issues affecing several boards and committees. A summary of the agenda items reviewed by BSA and its committees follows.

Board of Scientific Affairs (BSA)

BSA reviewed the proposal developed by a subgroup of BSA members regarding the feasibility of establishing a Task Force on Statistical Inference in Psychological Research. BSA members agreed that the purpose of such a task force would be to illuminate some of the controversial issues surrounding applications of statistics, including significance testing and alternatives to it, as well as alternative underlying models and data transformation. The goal would not be to prescribe, but to air controversies and to outline alternative approaches. The Board agreed to form a small working goup that would investigate possible sources of funding, recommend how to select members for the larger group, and develop a specific charge. This small working group will report to BSA in November.

The Board also discussed the issue of archiving scientific data. BSA reviewed the comments received from individuals on the Science Leaders Network and decided to consult with the Publications and Communications Board on this issue. In addition, Board members will continue to communicate with the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research, the Murray Center, and others to learn how these organizations collect data and how researchers can retrieve it.

Some other issues reviewed by the Board included selecting speakers for the 1997 Master Lecture series and the Distinguished Scientist Lecturer Program; reviewing the issues involved with and the possible establishment of a task force on test user qualifications; and levels I, II, and III curricula for psychopharmacology training.

Committee on Psychological Tests and Assessment (CPTA)

In addition, the Committee reviewed the Science Directorate's efforts to influence testing policy. Regarding the testimony of Frank Landy, PhD, against the establishment of mandatory retirement ages for public service personnel (see article, page 6), the Committee decided to issue a statement to the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee supporting Dr. Landy's recommendations.

CPTA also reiterated its support for technical requirements for educational assessments authorized by the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Committee on Animal Research and Ethics (CARE)

CARE members reviewed the progress of several exciting initiatives underway geared toward safeguarding responsible experimentation with animals.

The committee discussed a survey it will conduct this fall of undergraduate and graduate psychology programs to determine who is actually using animals in behavioral research, which species are being used, and the animals' numbers. Results will be compared with a similar survey conducted over 10 years ago.

CARE also reviewed the development of a pilot educational videotape for use in high school psychology classrooms, which will illustrate the kinds of scientific problems that research with animals can help answer. CARE is working with Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (TOPSS) on this project, as well as assisting TOPSS in the development of curricula for classes about comparative psychology.

Additionally, Committee members reported on the status of a book APA will publish as the result of a CARE-sponsored workshop in 1994 on the care and use of animals at smaller colleges and universities. The book, which will provide advice to instructors at these institutions, is currently in review.

Last, CARE members planned the revision of APA's brochures detailing APA's animal-use policies: "Guidelines for Ethical Conduct in Care and Use of Animals," "Guidelines for the Use of Animals in School Science Behavior Projects," and "Behavioral Research With Animals." All of these brochures should be revised and available from the Science Directorate in the fall.

For copies, call (202) 336-6000 or send e-mail to science@apa.org.


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