Monitor on Psychology - October 2011 - (Page 71)
Psychological science in the digital age
BY DR. STEVEN J. BRECKLER • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR SCIENCE
This month’s launch of the Monitor’s digital edition provides a good opportunity to take stock of how recent technological advances affect psychological science. Technologies such as email, mass storage, electronic publication, Internet surveys and social networking websites are ubiquitous these days, though none of these technologies were widely available just 30
years ago. In many ways, this sea change has revolutionized the way we conduct and disseminate research. Internet surveys Online surveys and questionnaires have almost completely replaced the paper-and-pencil measures on which we relied for most of the past century. It’s easier than ever to reach large numbers of potential respondents, with professional-looking surveys. This method of collecting data carries many advantages. It is fast, inexpensive and allows access to diverse populations. It is accompanied by new tools for structuring surveys and managing large datasets. In many ways, Internet survey technology has improved research in psychology. Along with the advantages come significant disadvantages. Many potential participants receive a glut of survey requests. Some of those surveys are important, others are silly. Some are well-structured and polished, others are poorly assembled and confusing. As a result, people have become less responsive. It can be a struggle to achieve a response rate over 10 percent. Internet survey methodology is surely here to stay, and psychology must take some responsibility to address the new challenges it creates. Digital publishing Over the past century, we have relied on printed journals and books to communicate and archive research and scholarly activity. Through this system, institutional and individual subscriptions and advertising underwrote the costs of managing the review process and copyediting, typesetting, printing and mailing journals. These days, many people prefer to read studies online or via email, where they are inexpensively and rapidly distributed. Scholarly publishing seems easier, cheaper and
OCTOBER 2011 • MONITOR ON PSYCHOLOGY
more accessible than ever before. As a result, many people are quick to dismiss the old economic model in favor of free access to studies online. Yet few are taking a critical look at how online publishing may change a system that has been enormously productive for scientific scholarship. The value of scholarly publishing has not been its format, but rather the submission and review process. We depend on that process to make judgments of scientific merit and to engage the scholarly community in collectively advancing a discipline. Supporting change and evolution in that process can be good, but it should be done thoughtfully and in a way that enhances science. Data sharing As I noted in the April Monitor, data are also caught up in digital evolution. Our ability to generate data in vast quantities carries with it significant challenges in managing and archiving those data. Additionally, digital technology has made data sharing easier than ever, yet psychologists are among the most reluctant of scientists to share their data with others. We often have good reason to be cautious in this regard, especially when it comes to protecting research participants. Excessive caution, however, may impede scientific progress. This is an issue that clearly demands greater scrutiny. As I peruse the Monitor’s digital edition, I’m reminded of the many advantages digital technology offers. We can access these pages from desktop computers and mobile devices. Embedded links get us quickly to related content, and it’s easy to share that content with our far-flung colleagues. In many ways, digital technology offers a vastly improved platform for publications such as the Monitor. The potential for advancing science, however, is still a work in progress. n
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Monitor on Psychology - October 2011
Monitor on Psychology - October 2011
Subtle and stunning slights
From the CEO
Live science on the showroom floor
Zimbardo re-examines his landmark study
Ready, set, mentor
Attention students and ECPs: Self-care is an ‘ethical imperative’
Suicide risk is high among war veterans in college, study finds
Psychotherapy is effective and here’s why
From toilet to tap: getting people to drink recycled water
What’s ahead for psychology practice?
A push for more accountability is changing the accreditation process
Peer, parental support prove key to fighting childhood obesity
Popular media’s message to girls
Bullying may contribute to lower test scores
A consequence of cuckoldry: More (and better) sex?
Manatees’ exquisite sense of touch may lead them into dangerous waters
Building a better tomato
How will China’s only children care for their aging parents?
‘Spice’ and ‘K2’: New drugs of abuse now on the market
Many suspects don’t understand their right to remain silent
Boosting minority achievement
Where’s the progress?
And social justice for all
Helping new Americans find their way
Segregation’s ongoing legacy
A new way to combat prejudice
Retraining the biased brain
Suppressing the ‘white bears’
How to eat better — mindlessly
Protect your aging brain
Must babies always breed marital discontent?
The danger of stimulants
Keys to making integrated care work
Is technology ruining our kids?
Facebook: Friend or foe?
The promise of Web 3.0
NIMH invests in IT enhanced interventions
PsycAdvocates work to safeguard key programs
The psychology of spending cuts
APA’s strategic plan goes live
Vote on bylaws amendments
Monitor on Psychology - October 2011