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Industrial-Organizational Psychology Journals and the Science–Practice Gap

Rob Silzer
HR Assessment and Development Inc.
Baruch College, City University of New York
Chad Parson
Baruch College, City University of New York
A core component of the field of industrial-organizational psychology is the effective communication of both our science and practice within the profession, as well as to related fields, clients, and other consumers of our knowledge and experience. Effective application of the science–practice model in our field requires an ongoing two-way dialogue between I-O scientists and I-O practitioners. Our practice needs to inform our science, which in turn needs to inform our practice. Neither component should, or could, stand alone. As Murphy and Saal (1990) have pointed out, the science–practice model discourages both practice that has no scientific basis and research that has no clear implications for practice.
I-O psychology journals are an important method for communicating within our profession. They should provide a critical mechanism for educating I-O psychologists and graduate students on current scientific findings and effective practices in our field. But the question remains on whether that actually happens.
In order to address that question we looked at the primary I-O psychology journals. There have been some recent changes to the journals, most notably the introduction in 2008 of the SIOP journal—Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice—and the redesigned Personnel Psychology. We wondered how well these journals are serving all of I-O psychology, both our science and our practice. In particular we were curious whether the journals are adequately serving I-O practitioners and communicating I-O practice perspectives. Some academic members have suggested that journal articles are getting narrower and more trivial (Rich Arvey, personal communication, July 27, 2011). This raises the question of whether the whole field of I-O psychology, both our science and our practice, are adequately represented in the I-O journals.
To explore this question we looked at the three primary journals in our field1:
  • Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice (IOP). 
  • Journal of Applied Psychology (JAP)
  • Personnel Psychology (PPsych)
For all three journals we analyzed the primary employment focus of the editorial board members and the first author for each article in selected years. For the IOP journal we reviewed all 4 years of publication: 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011; for JAP and PPsych we sampled 6 years across the last 50 years: 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, 2010, and 2011 (we included 2011 to capture recent changes in PPsych). The editorial board members and first authors of journal articles were sorted into four primary employment focus subgroups (Silzer & Parson, 2011):
  • Academics: in universities and colleges
  • Researchers: in research-focused positions in consulting firms and government
  • Consultants: in practice focused positions
  • Organizational-based professionals: in compnies and government (with a practice focus)
Specifically, we were interested in finding out the representation of these four subgroups among the editorial board members and the first authors across publication years. We thought this would provide some insight into how well both the science and the practice of I-O psychology (represented by academics/researchers and consultants/organizational-based professionals) have been represented in these journals and whether the mix has changed over the years of publication. We were also interested in doing a more in-depth analysis of the IOP journal and reviewed representation among the commentary authors and the range of topics for IOP focal articles.
As a baseline comparison we use the frequency of each primary employment focus subgroup in the 2011 SIOP membership (see Silzer & Parson, 2011 for further definitions):
  • Academics/researchers-48.6%
    • Academics-43.5%
    • Researchers-5.1%
  • Consultants/organization-based-49.3%
    • Consultants-30.3%
    • Organizational-based professionals-19.0%
Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice (IOP Journal)
In 2008 SIOP inaugurated a new journal, Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice (IOP). The focus of the journal was to provide “an exchange of perspectives.” The editor stated that “The typical issue contains two focal articles…and each focal article is followed by a set of commentaries reflecting research, practice and international perspectives” (Sackett, 2008, p. 1). There was a shared expectation that the journal would provide an opportunity for researchers and practitioners to share their perspectives on key issues in our field and serve as an important venue for integrating I-O science and I-O practice.
Editorial Board Members and Focal Article First Authors
In order to evaluate the journal’s success in integrating science and practice, we identified the primary work focus for the members of the Editorial Board and the first authors of focal articles. We included only first authors to avoid letting a single article with a long list of coauthors distort the results.
The results of our analysis, summarized across the 4 years of publication (2008–2011), are presented in Figure 1. It is evident that both the Editorial Board members and focal article first authors are dominated by academics. The academics/researchers represent 72.5% of the IOP Editorial Board membership and 81.5% of the first authors for all focal articles. While disappointing, perhaps it is not a surprise that the first authors are predominantly academics/researchers. Those member subgroups are more likely to have the time and the work opportunity to write journal articles under tight time deadlines.
However, practitioners are also significantly underrepresented on the Editorial Board compared to their proportion in the SIOP membership. The IOP Editorial Board has been very stable over the last 4 years and under two different editors, with only very minor changes. The mix has been:
2008–2009 IOP Editorial Board: Academics/researchers-71%; consultants/organization-based-29%
2010–2011 IOP Editorial Board: Academics/researchers-74%; consultants/organization-based-26%
Compare this to the 50/50 representation in SIOP membership. It raises the question of whether the I-O practice perspective is appropriately and proportionally represented on the Editorial Board, given the stated goals of the journal.
We also reviewed how the mix of focal article first authors has changed over the 4 years of publication (see Figure 2). For 3 of the 4 IOP publication years, academics/researchers dominated the first authors (ranging from 87.5%–100% of first authors). During the second year of publication (2009), under the guidance of Paul Sackett (Editor, 2008–2009), there was a welcomed shift toward a greater balance between academics/researchers and consultants/organization-based professionals as first authors. Perhaps an effort was made to achieve some balance by recruiting more practitioner authors. But in the most recent years (2010, 2011), there has been a shift back to an academic/researcher dominance among the first authors. But as with other decisions in SIOP, the primary work focus of the decision maker has a strong relationship with who gets selected or appointed for various professional opportunities in SIOP (see Silzer & Parson, 2012). Personal networks matter. The two IOP editors so far have been an academic and a researcher, and the current editor is an academic.
Commentary Authors
The IOP journal openly solicits commentaries from all SIOP members for each focal article. The response from different member subgroups is one indication of the interest level of each subgroup in the topic of the article. The editor (with input from others) then decides which commentaries to accept for publication and in some cases proactively solicits commentaries from specific SIOP members. One goal is to include diverse views and perspectives on the topic. Paul Sackett notes that as editor he “valued differing perspectives, which resulted in a very high acceptance rate for commentaries from practitioners” (Paul Sackett, personal communication, February 8, 2012). A summary of the primary work focus of all IOP commentary authors across all four publication years is presented in Figure 3.
Academics/researchers represent the largest group of all commentary authors in every publication year (ranging from 65%–87%), and practitioners represent a much smaller percentage (as low as 12% in 2008, the first year of publication). Possible reasons for this may be that the topics are not relevant to their practice, deadlines for submitting a commentary are too short, or the focal article was written in a structured academic style and was difficult to respond to from a practitioner perspective. For example, given the high demands on practitioners’ time, it is conceivable that practitioners may not be able to write a commentary in a short time window (particularly if they have to do a literature search) but may need more advance notice. The recent 2010–2011 editor did make an effort to try to extend the deadlines for commentaries, but we do not know what impact that had on practitioner responsiveness. It seems likely that academics and researchers who have more control over their own work time are better able to adjust their work priorities on short notice and respond within set deadlines.
One interesting trend is that there is an increase in practitioner commentary authors in the second year of each editor’s tenure (e.g. from 17 commentators in 2008 to 51 in 2009; and from 21 commentators in 2010 to 45 in 2011). Both editors were able to improve practitioner involvement to almost 30% of all the commentary authors. Perhaps this was due to a proactive effort to solicit more practitioner commentaries.
We explored whether the primary work focus of the first author (for focal articles) had an influence on which member subgroups responded with commentaries. It seems feasible that when the primary focal author is an academic, a higher number of the commentaries would be written by academics/ researchers. The results of our analysis are presented in Figure 4.
There does seem to be a relationship between the primary work focus of the focal author first author and the work focus of the commentary authors. Clearly, practitioners responded with more commentaries when the first author was a practitioner than when the first author was an academic or researcher. This effect might be due to focal article topics (written by practitioners) that are more relevant to I-O practice, or perhaps that the style of the focal article (less academic and more informal in style) might make the article more accessible to practitioner readers. This would suggest that one possible way to increase the number of commentaries written by practitioners is to have more focal articles that are first authored by practitioners.
Author Mix
One initial intention of the IOP journal was to encourage more of a mix of scientist and practitioner coauthors on each focal article and commentary. The focal article author mix for all 32 focal articles published (2008–2011) suggests very a limited mixing of coauthors:
  • Academic/researcher authors only: 24 (75%)
    • Single authors: 10 (31%)
    • Multiple authors: 14 (44%)
  • Consultant/organization-based authors only: 5 (16%)
    • Single authors: 2 (6%)
    • Multiple authors: 3 (10%)
  • Mix of both academics/researchers and consultants/organization-based: 3 (9%)
Not only have academics/researchers been the predominant authors/co-authors of the focal articles, but they have a strong tendency to coauthor only with other academics/researchers. However practitioners have more frequently partnered with academics/researchers when they have coauthored a focal article (38% of the time) then academics/researchers partnering with practitioners when they coauthor a focal article (11% of the time). Of course it is difficult to tell which coauthor initiated each focal article. But this may suggest that academics/researchers tend to strongly rely on their network of other academics/researchers when looking for a coauthor.
We also analyzed the mix of commentary authors for each focal article. There were a total of 310 commentaries across all 4 publication years (an average of 78 per year), with an increase to 90 commentaries in 2011. The author mix for all 310 commentaries is:
  • Academic/researcher authors only: 227 (73.2%)
  • Consultant/organization-based professionals only: 54 (17.4%)
  • Mix of both academics/researchers and consultants/organization-based: 29 (9.4%)
The overwhelming majority of commentaries (73%) have been written only by academics/researcher coauthors. Again, practitioners are coauthoring commentaries with researchers/academics more often (36% of all commentaries they write) than academics/researchers are coauthoring with practitioners (19% of all commentaries they write). They also write more commentaries as a single author than practitioners.
The mix of commentary authors also seems related to the primary work focus of the first author of the focal article (See Figure 5). There is a noticeably higher frequency of practitioner-only commentary coauthors (41%) when the first author is a practitioner than when the first author is an academic/researcher (11%, 18%). The opposite is also true. There is also a much higher percentage of academic/researcher-only commentary coauthors when the first focal article author is an academic/researcher (80%, 74%). The frequency of having mixed commentary coauthors does not seem to have been affected by the primary work focus of the focal article first author.
Focal Article Topics
A few years ago Jeff McHenry (personal communication, 2008) suggested that one possible contributing factor to the current science–practice gap in I-O psychology is that I-O scientists and I-O practitioners have different professional interests and focus on different topics and issues. We explored that question by analyzing the commentary responses by academics/researchers and practitioners to different focal article topics.
We first determined the percentage of commentary authors for each focal article that were academics/researchers versus consultants/organization-based professionals. We found some clear differences among the 32 focal articles in the percentage of the commentary authors who are practitioners:
  • 6 focal articles: 40% or more of all commentary authors are practitioners
  • 3 focal articles: 26%–30% of all commentary authors are practitioners 
  • 6 focal articles: 16%–25% of all commentary authors are practitioners 
  • 10 focal articles: 1%–15% of all commentary authors are practitioners 
  • 7 focal articles: 0% of all commentary authors are practitioners
The focal articles with the highest and lowest percentage of practitioner commentary authors are listed in Table 1. The focal articles that had the highest percentage were primarily written by practitioners and address topics that many I-O practitioners regularly deal with in their practice activities. It seems evident that topics such as employee surveys, individual assessment, proctored testing, executive selection. and high potential talent are front and center issues for many I-O practitioners. Although these topics may be of interest to some academics/researchers, most of them get very little research attention.
Some of the IOP focal articles with the lowest percentage of practitioners among the commentary authors (see Table 1) are either research reviews or do not seem directly related to I-O practice. Other articles in this group are either very theoretical, underscore the significant gap with I-O practice, are advocacy articles, or are overtly critical of I-O practice. Because most practitioners have limited available time, it seems unlikely that they will respond to articles that are not central to their current practice activities and interests. One member has noted that when practitioners want to learn about a topic they read about it, but when academics want to learn about a topic they write about it (Rich Arvey, personal communication, July 27, 2011). This may help to explain some of the differences in response rate.
Other topics may be of casual interest but unfamiliar to practitioners. Responding to a focal article written by an academic who focuses on a very narrow area of knowledge can be very challenging and intimidating for practitioners who may not be fully up-to-date on the literature in that area. Given the limited time practitioners have to write, it is not surprising that they do not comment on tangential topics.
This analysis provides some support for McHenry’s view that the topics of interest to academics/researchers and practitioners may in fact be very different. The resulting sort is really not a surprise. These topic differences might also account for the difficulty of getting a mixed set of coauthors on a specific topic and why it continues to be challenging to get a mixed group of presenters together for SIOP conference sessions. They may just have very different professional interests.
The IOP journal has made some progress in engaging practitioners to write focal articles and commentaries (at least compared to other journals), but there still is a long way to go to bridge the science–practice divide. Although the original goals were to integrate science and practice, academics/ researchers have far outnumbered practitioners in all categories (Editorial Board members, first authors, commentary authors). However, when the focal article topics are more relevant to practice, practitioners respond accordingly. It is a concern that the original goal of including “a set of commentaries reflecting research, practice, and international perspectives” has been dropped from editorial aspirations; but the journal still encourages “participation by a full range of SIOP members” (McCauley, 2011a, pg 1).
When the IOP journal was first discussed in SIOP, a few academic members pushed hard for starting a rigorous scientific journal. At the same time, a group of well known I-O practitioners developed a proposal for a journal “devoted to the effective practice of I-O psychology and the application to work and organization problems” (Pulakos, Camara, Jeanneret, Kehoe, & Silzer, 2005). The objective was to introduce a practice-oriented journal that would provide balance in the field to the existing rigorous I-O science journals. The proposal outlined specific ideas for ensuring practitioner involvement and support and encouraged a journal format that would require both a science response as well as a separate practice response for each central article. Unfortunately, that proposal was quickly dismissed.
The IOP journal turned out to be neither an exclusively rigorous science journal nor a practice-oriented journal. But it still is worth considering some new ways to address practice issues and present practice perspectives. One way might be to require a science response and a practice response to every focal article. That might force more integrative discussion.
Journal of Applied Psychology (JAP)
Next, we were interested in finding out if there has been a shift in the editorial board makeup of JAP over the last 50 years and how that compares to the primary work focus of its published first authors. JAP is considered to be a top journal for a broad spectrum of applied psychology fields and a major resource for academics, researchers, and practitioners, including both contributors and consumers of applied psychological research. To examine this, we sampled editorial boards and first authors from specific years across the last 50 years.
Editorial Board Members and First Authors
Figure 6 presents a summary of the primary work focus for both editorial boards and first authors for 6 sampled years (1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, 2010, and the most recent full year of publication, 2011).
The editorial board members and first authors are overwhelmingly academics/researchers across these sampled publication years (98% of board members and 93.5% of first authors). The shift in the makeup of the Editorial Board over the last 50 years is presented in Figure 7. Clearly the percentage of practitioners among board members has steadily diminished from 18.5% in 1970 to roughly 1% in 2011.
A similar pattern is found when looking at the first authors across the same 6 sampled years (see Figure 8). In fact, the pattern here is nearly identical to the Editorial Board declining mix, with practitioners declining from 19% of first authors in 1970, to only 2% in 2011. It is likely that these two trends are related.
The vast majority of articles published in JAP are generated by academics (as first author), and the editorial board now almost entirely consists of academics. Much of what gets published seems either to be trivial, narrow, or irrelevant to I-O psychology practice (see Cascio, 2008 for a review of their findings for JAP). Because JAP is generally considered to be an academic journal, it was not surprising to see this consistent pattern of academic dominance across both the editorial boards and first authors. Publication in JAP is often a paramount career goal for academics in our field, so it makes sense that most of the published research would come from academics. We would argue, however, that a broader spectrum of both author membership, editorial board membership, and topic representation would far better serve the field and all I-O psychologists.
Personnel Psychology
Similar analyses were done on editorial board membership and first authors for the Personnel Psychology journal.
Editorial Board Members and First Authors
Figure 9 presents an overall summary of the primary work focus for PPsych editorial board members and first authors for 6 years across 50 years of publication (1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, 2010, and 2011).
Academics dominate both board membership and first authors at about the same rate (85% & 86%) across the selected years. The actual editorial board membership for each of the sampled years is presented in Figure 10. Clearly the mix on the board has changed over the years. In both 1970 and 1980 there was a 50/50 balance between academics/researchers and practitioners, including a large number I-O psychologists based in organizations. But over time academics were progressively added to the editorial board. In 2011 academics constituted 98% of the board, as the new editor expanded the board to “84 accomplished scholars” (Morgeson, 2011, pg. 3), with no mention or apparent interest in including any practitioners on the board. The current editor (a business school professor) appointed four associate editors, all of whom are also business school professors and “each is an accomplished scholar who previously published in P-Psych” (Morgeson, 2011, p. 3). This seems like a clear case of selection bias in our profession that we have seen before (Silzer & Parson, 2011).
Similarly the percentage of first authors who are practitioners has steadily decreased over the decades (see Figure 11). In both of the last 2 years, 100% of the first authors for all articles are academics/researchers and they now completely dominate that group. Of course this could be due to a variety of reasons, such as a change in editorial policy, a bias for academic authors, a screening out of articles that are not up to journal research standards, or the lack of journal relevance for I-O practitioners. The trend is very clear and no doubt contributes to the widening science–practice gap in I-O psychology. Instead of bridging our field, PPsych seems to be increasing the divide by heavily focusing on I-O science and on academics and researchers as the audience.
Innovations in Research-Based Practice and SciencePractice Forum
In late 1994 Personnel Psychology inaugurated a new section in the journal titled “Innovations in Research-Based Practice” under the editorship of Richard Campbell and with a separate editorial board of 34 members. The objective was “to better accommodate the needs of practitioners so that the communication between researchers and practitioners might be advanced” (Hakel, 1993). The editor simplified the article format and emphasized three criteria: innovativeness, practical importance and weight of the evidence (Campbell, 1993).
The primary work focus mix of the editorial board members and first authors for articles in this section (1994–1998) is presented in Figure 12. It is worth noting that the board was 65% practitioners and the section editor was a well known practitioner. The first authors across all years are 67% academics and 33% practitioners. This mix was encouraging in that practitioners were submitting journal articles, perhaps influenced by a supportive editor and editorial board.
This section lasted only 3 years and both the section and the separate board disappeared in early 1998 upon the death of the editor. The section was deemed “successful in helping this journal focus greater attention on issues that concern practitioners” (Hollenbeck & Smither, 1998).
In 1998 a new journal section was initiated, titled the “Scientist–Practitioner Forum.” The focus was to be “on contemporary issues in practice” and the goal was to offer solutions, insights, lessons learned, guidelines, tools, and methods for addressing problems and issues that confront practitioners” (Hollenbeck & Smithers, 1998). A new section editor (an academic) was appointed, and six practitioners were added to the main PPsych editorial board (bringing the board mix to 40 academics/researchers and 6 practitioners). Three editors served over the life of the section (1998–2010): an academic (6 years), a practitioner (3 years), and then a researcher (3 years).
The mix of first authors for this section (1998–2010) is presented in Figure 13. The frequency of practitioners as first authors in this section declines (down to 20%) compared to the previous “Innovations” section (at 33%). Perhaps installing an academic editor and an editorial board that is made up of 87% academics might be related to this decline. Although the original stated intent was admirable, this section did not seem to live up to those expectations. In fact it seemed that it moved away from I-O practice.
Although there was a temporary effort at Personnel Psychology to bridge the science and practice of I-O psychology, that objective now seems to have fully disappeared for the journal. In both 1970 and 1980 the editors at the time stated that “Personnel Psychology serves a dual audience: the operating personnel official and the personnel technician.” Although there has always been a preference for publishing research, the emphasis used to be on research that had direct relevance to practice. Then a concerted but temporary effort was made to improve the communication between researchers and practitioners. However, the current PPsych editor now seems focused on making it a “top journal” for science and increasing “journal citations.” He has installed an editorial board that is made up of 98% academics/ researchers. He clearly states that “our goal is to publish impactful articles that meaningfully advance science” (Morgeson, 2011, p. 2) and seems unambiguously and exclusively focused on I-O science. This new editorial position is a significant switch from the original intentions of Personnel Psychology. PPsych was originally meant to be an applied journal and not solely an academic journal.
There is a clear and consistent trend for the editorial boards and first authors on journal articles to be primarily, and sometimes overwhelmingly, academics/researchers. For both JAP and PPsych the trend is increasing to the point that there is almost no practitioner representation on the editorial boards or among first authors. Fewer and fewer practitioners are appointed to these editorial boards. This trend ignores the need for balance based on our underlying science–practice model and is actually increasing the divide in our profession.
It is not absolutely clear what may be driving this trend. In one case it appears that the editor wants to upgrade the scientific reputation of the journal. But as others have pointed out, there may be other ecosystem pressures at work, such as the shift of I-O academics to business schools and the pressure on them to publish in top journals, and the need by publishing companies to gain more sales to institutions in order to drive up revenues and to build a stronger market reputation among scientific journals (Jeff McHenry, personal communication, February 7, 2012). However, at what point do the I-O journals completely remove themselves from I-O practice? Do the journals and the journal editors have a responsibility back to the profession to support and enhance the scientist-practitioner model?
Some academics have argued that practitioners just do not submit articles to these journals. Although this may be somewhat true, there may be some underlying reasons why: for example, short time deadlines, highly structured writing format and style, and a journal preference for narrow articles. There seems to be a lack of appreciation for I-O practice and demands placed on
I-O practitioners.
2 It should also be mentioned that the reward structures are different for these two groups. Academics (and probably many researchers) are rewarded for publishing in rigorous peer-reviewed scientific journals, whereas practitioners are not (and in some cases are actually discouraged from writing journal articles). However, practitioners have demonstrated that they are committed and engaged in their profession. For example:
  • Practitioners contribute IOP journal articles and commentaries when the topic is relevant to their work and when there is sufficient time to write. 
  • The Professional Practice book series in SIOP (primarily written by practitioners) has, over the last full year, outsold the Frontiers Scientific book series by 2 to 1. And over the last full 5 years, the two series have sold equally well (Dave Nershi, personal communications, February 7, 2012). This suggests that practitioners do write professional chapters and are paying attention to writings on topics that are relevant to their work. 
  • The SIOP conference workshops have been a success and bring in significant revenue primarily because of practitioner participation.
  • Practitioners respond when they are given an opportunity to volunteer (see Silzer & Parson, 2012)
  • The Leading Edge Consortium at an early point was a clear success when practitioners were the key conference decision makers and the topics were the most relevant to their work.
  • Practitioners respond to journal writing tasks when the editor is a practitioner, when practitioners are well represented on the editorial board and when asked by the editor.
  • A recent SIOP member survey indicated that many members believe that I-O practice is ahead of I-O research (in knowledge and expertise) in fourteen of the twenty-six professional areas of I-O psychology (Cober, et al., 2009). This suggests that practitioners are the leading thinkers in some areas of the field.
It should be noted that scientists and practitioners do seem to have different professional interests and needs that have not been adequately met by SIOP or the current journals (Cascio & Aguinis, 2008; Silzer et al., 2008; Silzer & Parson, 2011, 2012). This lack of shared interests may also serve to divide our field. As a consequence, the journal publications (and article topics) may not be representative of the entire field of I-O psychology but may primarily reflect an academic’s/researcher’s perspective and interests. It seems clear that the gatekeepers are not sufficiently including practitioners on journal editorial boards or even in SIOP awards or SIOP appointments (Silzer & Parson, 2012). In our view these key decision makers have a responsibility for making key decisions that consider all perspectives and groups, including both scientists and practitioners.
Are these all signs of a coming professional division in I-O psychology (Ryan & Ford, 2010; Silzer & Cober, 2010)? Maybe there are steps that can be taken to bridge the divide.
What are reasonable next steps?
Perhaps a good place to start is for the profession, for SIOP, for the journals, and for each of us to fully commit to the science–practice model. By that we mean a full two-way partnership and not one just one group communicating one way to the other group without also listening to them. We think there are some steps that can be taken to work toward that goal:
  • First and foremost we should build into everything that we do a bridge between our science and our practice. Both perspectives should always be represented in some form.
  • All three I-O journals need to make a deliberate effort to significantly increase the representation of I-O practitioners and practice perspectives on their editorial boards.
  • Each of the three journals needs to actively solicit more practitioner written journal articles on practitioner topics. This might mean revising the publishing practices to allow “more case studies, more contextualization, more qualitative research, more emphasis on interesting writing and more editorial forums” to broaden our acceptance of types of acceptable research (Sara Rynes, personal communications, April 26, 2009).
  • Practitioners should commit to writing more about I-O practice for the rest of the field.
  • All journal authors in every journal should be required to include in every article a section that discusses the issue from a practice perspective, including the relevance and implications for I-O practice.
  • All journals should require that at least one reviewer for every journal article needs to be a practitioner.
  • SIOP should require that there is at least one practice commentary and one science commentary for every IOP focal article that gets published.
  • SIOP needs to conduct a membership survey that identifies the topics of professional interest for academics/researchers and practitioners and encourage the journals to solicit journal articles that address issues on both lists.
  • SIOP should consider inaugurating a professional I-O practice publication or journal that is written on practice topics and that provide practice perspectives, as well as corresponding research reviews and commentaries, written by academics/researchers. This can help bring some balance to the key I-O journals. We need to dispense with the academic/business school view that the most relevant practitioner journals in our field are HR Magazine and Human Resource Management (Cascio & Aguinis, 2008).
  • The Leading Edge Consortium in the fall could be organized to alternatively focus on research topics and practice topics and be alternatively run and organized by academics/researchers and then practitioners. The research conference for example could focus on research methodology one year while the practice conference could focus on individual psychological assessment the next year. However every LEC should include a mix of several speakers who reflect both a science perspective and a practice perspective on the topic.
Closing Comments
In order to have impact and relevance in the world, the field of I-O psychology needs to be an ongoing two-way dialogue between our science and our practice. One learns from and informs the other. We cannot be effective as an applied field with just one-way communications. Unfortunately several of our current journals and other communications are becoming just one way.
This one way communication approach sometimes seems pervasive. For example the recent interest in evidence-based practice is tainted by the view of some that the only “evidence” worth considering is from academic research and that practitioner experience and knowledge should be completely rejected (see IOP, March 2011, 4(1) on evidence-based I-O psychology).
Closing the “science–practice gap” is everyone’s responsibility. Some have defined the science–practice gap in I-O psychology (as) practices that are somewhat adrift from science and research-based knowledge not put into practice” (McCauley, 2011b). This seems to put the entire burden on the practitioners. Both academics/researchers and practitioners need to take ownership for “closing the gap.” Or perhaps a better approach is “building a bridge between science and practice.”
I-O psychology is both a science and a practice. Our field needs to be more inclusive, open and interactive in our professional communications if we really believe in the science–practice model.
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