PSY21: Psychological Science for the 21st Century

What Is PSY21?

PSY21 — Psychological Science for the 21st century — is an initiative led by the APA Board of Scientific Affairs (BSA) to help psychology meet the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century. PSY21 creates a solid foundation on which the APA Science Directorate will build an ambitious and effective agenda to support and promote the science of psychology. These activities are important in APA's efforts to advance the science of psychology, to provide value to its membership and to attract new members.

Why Now? And Why PSY21?

Psychology presently enjoys unprecedented opportunities for research, education and outreach. More than ever before, behavior is recognized as a prime contributor to important societal outcomes. Behavioral interventions have gained broad reach in treating individuals, groups and organizations; psychology's expertise is increasingly sought for issues in education, the workplace, safety and security, decision making, risk assessment, rehabilitation and prevention.

Along with new opportunities, psychology also faces new challenges. These include developing skills and mechanisms for transdisciplinary, problem-based research approaches; balancing increasing specialization while maintaining the unity of the discipline; building a pipeline to assure a strong next generation of psychological scientists; and working within increasingly complex regulatory systems.

APA is uniquely positioned to champion and broadcast the opportunities and to provide tools to the discipline to tackle the challenges.

What Will PSY21 Do?

PSY21 is organized around three interlocking areas of emphasis:

1. Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)
The purview of the Responsible Conduct of Research program includes most of the professional activities that are part and parcel of a research career and that are coming under increasing regulatory scrutiny. As the federal agencies define it, RCR encompasses the following nine areas:

  • Research misconduct
  • Human participants
  • Research involving animals
  • Data acquisition, management, sharing, and ownership
  • Mentor/trainee responsibilities
  • Publication practices and responsible authorship
  • Peer review
  • Collaborative science
  • Conflicts of interest and commitment

PSY21 will build on initiatives begun by BSA's Task Force on Research Regulation, funded by the council in 2003-4. Activities will include RCR workshops and development of training and informational materials. PSY21 will broaden the purview of RCR to include responsible translation of research results into a form that is understandable and usable by the general public and policy makers.

2. Culture of Service to the Discipline (COS)
The Culture of Service to the Discipline program will continue a BSA initiative to increase the involvement of psychological scientists in activities to further the discipline through service, including taking part in activities and governance of professional associations, journal editing, journal and grant reviewing, mentoring, and advocating. Activities will include programs to train for, recognize and motivate service.

3. Infrastructure for the Science of Psychology (ISP)
A sign of the growing maturity of psychological science is the emergence of significant infrastructure needs, including technology based applications in cognitive neuroscience, large-scale longitudinal data sets, virtual environment technology, and high capacity computational capability. APA is well-positioned to take the lead in identifying the infrastructure needs of psychological science, advocating for support in federal funding agencies, and providing a forum for developing partnerships.

Psy21 Activities

PSY21 provides a platform for developing science-based initiatives at APA. Some of these initiatives include:

Science Leadership Conference — an annual conference for science leaders, as a companion to APA's Education- and State- Leadership conferences. This conference will serve as a forum for disseminating information about RCR, COS, ISP and science policy issues; for developing new program ideas in service of psychological science; and a venue to discuss future trends and opportunities.

Committee on Human Research (CHR) — a continuing committee that provides expertise and oversight on human research issues, particularly as they pertain to the full range of Responsible Conduct of Research issues. The ad hoc committee will assist in the development of materials and training, provide expert advice to staff who monitor and respond to proposed legislation and regulations that affect the conduct of research, and will position APA and BSA (and its committees) to provide psychological scientists with the advice, information and tools important to sustaining research in the evolving regulatory climate.

Workshops — special focus workshops on RCR topics (e.g., research ethics; animal research, mentoring; conflict of interest; peer review) will be offered at specialty association meetings, regional psychological association meetings and APA convention.

Information Clearinghouse — for materials relating to IRB issues and behavioral research; RCR topics, including animal research.

Advocacy — for RCR regulation/legislation.

Partnerships — for collaborative projects with organizations that have common goals (e.g., Office of Research Integrity [ORI] for RCR projects; Council of Graduate Departments of Psychology [COGDOP] for COS projects).

Awards — to support the culture of service in Departments of Psychology and to recognize individuals for service to psychological science.

Disciplinary development — development of a leadership role in addressing disciplinary needs (for example, standards for data management, sharing and ownership).

PSY21 Complements Other Science-Based Initiatives

PSY21 is a companion to the Academic Enhancement Initiative (AEI). The AEI supports the activities of psychological scientists by providing training in cutting edge research tools (Advanced Training Institutes), by increasing the pipeline through student outreach (Exploring Behavior Week) and intense student educational experiences (Summer Science Institutes). PSY21 will provide different sorts of tools — focused not on the substance of psychological science, but on enhancing the context in which psychological science operates — to do a better job and to do it right!