APA 2015 Convention

As promised, here are some highlights from this year’s APA convention in Toronto. I’ve decided to condense it into one post since it’s already September and (related to that) the school year has become very busy, very fast!

Peer Review Process

I attended several talks on the publication process and wanted to convey some tips and info about participating in the peer review process. Peer review is such an important part of the scientific process but, as presenter Jennifer Doran mentioned, it is one that we receive little guidance and training on as graduate students. If you volunteer on a student review board or work as an ad hoc reviewer, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s not only the article that’s being reviewed – you are also building a reputation as a reviewer. Be prompt, say yes any time you can, and remember to be professional. Many hopes and dreams have been crushed due to a nastily-worded review. Try to re-phrase (instead of, “this should never see the light of day” perhaps “I am unsure if this study makes a novel contribution” would be more appropriate) and remember to be constructive (e.g., “I’m not sure this article is suitable for publication in it’s present form. Here are my concerns…”). Other suggestions regarding the process were to make notes on the strengths and weaknesses of the manuscript, read it over several times, and look things up/consult when needed. Some questions to keep in mind when reading: is the lit review sufficient? Are the hypotheses clear and supported? Is the method appropriate to the research question? Does it make a novel contribution? Is it appropriate for the journal? Provide your feedback to the author(s) but not your recommendation about whether it should be published or not.

When you find yourself on the other side of the process – responding to reviewers – many of the same goals (to disseminate high quality scientific work) and principles (respect!) apply. Be prompt and professional, and remember, you can’t thank the reviewers enough! Take the time to provide detailed responses to each comment, such as directing the editor to the changes you’ve or to explain why you can’t make a particular change.

Women in Psychology

For those of you who are familiar with my work or keep up with me on social media, it won’t come as a surprise that I attended several symposiums and workshops related to women in psychological practice, business and academia. Across these programs, the role of mentors in helping women gain entry and succeed in the profession was emphasized. Women who are mentored tend to be more satisfied, more committed to their careers, and more successful. Women who are already established in an organization have considerable power to either help or hinder other women. I firmly believe that the way to create workspaces that are safe and productive for everybody is through mentorship and advocacy.

In the same presentation on women in leadership, Dr. Turner-Mesa discussed the importance of having African-American women leaders as “leading ladies” on prime-time TV. She is interested in the relationship between media images and how African-American women pursue leadership roles. She analyzed the “leading ladies” of Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder and determined that the leadership styles of these women were more stereotypical of male leaders (counter-stereotypical images). Counter-stereotypical images appear to have positive effects for young African-American women and relate to belief in leadership potential. She stressed that more research is needed in this area, but the connection seems apparent to me. Once again, I’m reminded of “you can’t be what you can’t see” and the importance of having diverse and responsible representation in media.

Related to this, I attended a presentation on the Key Moments for Women in Psychology on Three Continents. Dr. Maria Ines Winkler talked about the 1940s and 1970s in Argentina and Chile, and the women (that we know of) who were present for the birth of psychology in those countries. What struck me throughout this presentation was how easy it is to overlook the contributions of women to the history of psychology and how hidden these individuals continue to be. If we cannot be what we cannot see, then bringing women back into the historical narrative of psychology, and introducing more non-Western histories is crucial. I asked the presenters for advice on how to locate these hidden women, and how to legitimize their work within the academy, especially since many would have published in alternative or non-English sources. The presenters agreed that this is a challenge but suggested that google books is a good place to start and to look for oral history projects as well. I would also add to this list an excellent project that documents the history and work of feminist psychologists: Psychology’s Feminist Voices. I’ll also add the link to my Favourite Things pages – all 3, since it’s relevant to us as students, researchers and teachers.

Originally I was going to cover another topic or two, but this seems like a good place to conclude (and this post is getting long!). That’s all for now, folks!