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Spotlight on Award Winners: A Brief History of SIOP Fellowship

Garett Howardson, Tuple Work Science, Ltd/Hofstra University & The George Washington University; and Liberty Munson, Microsoft

In this installment of the TIP Awards Spotlight, we focus on the process of becoming a SIOP Fellow. In this first article, we interviewed the current chair of the SIOP Fellow committee Dr. Kenneth P. De Meuse to learn more about the process and his recommendations. In the subsequent articles, we will then interview a series of current SIOP Fellows about their personal experiences with the process. We begin below with a brief history of the SIOP Fellowship.

 

A Brief History of SIOP Fellowship

Although the title SIOP Fellow officially began in 1982 with SIOP’s founding, the Fellowship’s roots extend, at a minimum, 2 decades and 252 Fellows earlier. After the 1946 merger of the American Association of Applied Psychology (AAAP) and the American Psychological Association (APA) into today’s APA, booming membership required organizational restructuring. As such, the APA Membership Committee was formed, charged with balancing the diversity of psychological disciplines represented within the newly formed APA. In support of this charge, the committee distinguished among APA members by creating 19 subdivisions within the Association, the 14th of which—then known as Industrial and Business Psychology—ultimately became today’s SIOP (Koppes, 2017).

Recognizing even further those members making unusual or “outstanding contributions to psychology” (Koppes, 2017), the award of APA Fellow was established. Outstanding psychological contributions by Division 14 members were then recognized with the title of Fellow as a member of APA and, more specifically, Division 14. Between 1946 and SIOP’s founding in 1982, 252 members’ outstanding contributions to psychology were recognized and bestowed the title of APA Fellow as a member of Division 14, by then known as the Division of Industrial and Organizational Psychology (Koppes, 2017). These 252 APA Fellows were then bestowed the title of SIOP Fellow as SIOP became its own distinct entity, chartered with a total membership of 2,219. In other words, just over 10% of original SIOP members were recognized as Fellows.

From 1997 to 2007, roughly 15 SIOP members per year were bestowed the Fellow title, 12 of whom, on average, held full-time academic positions, and 3 to 4 of whom held non-full-time-academic positions, or approximately 80% academic Fellows and 20% non-academic Fellows. Within the past 10 years, the average number of Fellowships bestowed annually increased from 15 to 20 with the academic/nonacademic distribution becoming increasingly balanced. In between 2008 and 2016, specifically, the distribution between academic and nonacademic Fellows, on average, was 15 and 5, or 75% academic and 25% nonacademic. The 2016 cohort mirrored this distribution with a total of 27 Fellows distributed as 74% (20) academic and 26% (7) nonacademic. This most recent cohort of SIOP Fellows, however, saw a near even split of 21 Fellows with 52% (11) academic and 48% (10) non-academic Fellows.

It is with this history in mind that we turn to Kenneth P. De Meuse, the current SIOP Fellowship committee chair, for some more information about the Fellow nomination and selection process.

Who Selects the Fellows?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, those SIOP members previously earning the Fellow title select each year’s new Fellows cohort. In keeping with the balanced distribution of academic and nonacademic Fellows, concerted efforts are made to balance this 10-Fellow committee’s membership evenly with, approximately, half of its members academic and half nonacademic. In addition to professional diversity, concerted efforts are made to balance the committee’s diversity on several other characteristics with, for instance, membership split approximately evenly between men and women. Further, recognizing the global nature of modern work, the SIOP Fellow committee reserves room for one non-U.S.-based current SIOP Fellow.

How Are Fellows Selected?

Given that only 5% to 8% of current SIOP members are Fellows, the selection standards are quite high requiring one’s contribution to extend well beyond that of a “good” or “successful” career. Instead, one’s contribution to I-O psychology must be “unusual and outstanding” (SIOP Bylaws, Article II Section 3). In other words, a good and successful career is a necessary but not sufficient condition for becoming a SIOP Fellow. Lest an unusual or outstanding contribution seem vague and nonspecific, the committee evaluates a candidate’s contribution to the field across five quite specific areas: research, practice, teaching/education, service, and administration. Thus, the Fellowship evaluation criteria are identical for both academic and nonacademic candidates.

How Do I Learn More About the Process of Becoming a Fellow?

First and foremost, colleagues likely make the most valuable information sources, be they academic or nonacademic. One’s first action should therefore be to ask current Fellows about their specific experiences with the process. It is not unlikely that an academic candidate’s immediate colleagues are experienced with the Fellows process. Given the relatively recently balanced distribution between academic and nonacademic Fellows, however, current Fellows within the latter’s immediate network may be relatively less frequent. Such Fellows, nevertheless, do indeed exist and examining the comprehensive list of Fellows found at http://www.siop.org/siop_fellows.aspx may help identify both academic and non-academic colleagues from whom to gather initial information. To supplement such information sources, we describe below specific portions of the Fellowship application process, the full details of which may also be found at http://www.siop.org/Fellows/.

The SIOP Fellowship Nomination Materials

The nomination packet in full requires supporting materials for six areas: nominee self-statement, nominee curriculum vitae, nomination letter, endorser list, and endorser letters. To better understand the overall Fellowship application process, we asked Ken De Meuse, the current Fellowship committee chair, for his perspectives on what constitutes a strong application. We begin by discussing what De Meuse noted as perhaps the most important role in this process, that of the nominator. Indeed, that the nominator manages the submission process on the nominee’s behalf is quite important, particularly with respect to identifying those individuals who will endorse the nominee and write supporting letters as such, which is where we begin.

Choosing Effective Endorsement Letter Writers

Demonstrating an unusual and outstanding contribution to any of the five areas above less likely occurs in a vacuum. In other words, the Fellow process is one of collaboration involving coordinate efforts not only from the nominator and nominee but also, and especially so, from the nominator and endorsement letter writers. The most compelling and informative Fellowship applications, observes De Meuse, are those in which those letter writing endorsers are chosen who can speak intimately to the candidate’s contributions and why, specifically, such contributions are unusual and outstanding. Preferable, in other words, is selecting endorsers based not on overall notoriety in the field but, rather, on the capacity to convey the candidate’s unusual and outstanding contributions in an informative and compelling manner.

Recall from above that, in addition to the endorsement letters, the Fellow application contains five additional sources of information from which to convey the candidate’s qualifications. Important is that each of the application’s information sources complement the others while avoiding redundancies. An effective endorsement letter, that is, would not simply reiterate the candidate’s curriculum vitae (e.g., candidate has published 50 articles). Instead, such letter might, for instance, provide the necessary context for the remaining materials such that this information could have been gleaned only from a colleague intimately familiar with the candidate’s qualifications. This is not to assume, however, that demonstrable candidate qualifications should be self-evident; rather, such qualifications are likely better communicated in application areas beyond the endorsement letters, which brings us to the role of the candidate’s self-statement.

Writing an Effective Self-Statement

Guidelines for writing an effective self-statement may be summarized, tersely, as: Don’t be shy! Promote yourself! The self-statement is a means to communicate those contributions the candidate believes are unusual and outstanding, thereby warranting Fellow membership. These self-identified qualifications, observes De Meuse, are most compelling when communicated unambiguously, often through specific metrics quantifying the candidate’s impact beyond his or her immediate context extending to the field writ-large. A candidate creating and validating a novel psychometric instrument, for instance, might point to the number of languages into which the instrument has been translated or the number of organizations using said instrument beyond the candidate’s own. Similarly, a candidate might note the number of SIOP committees on which the candidate has served, teaching and service awards won, book/journal publications, talks given internationally, or interviews featured in public-facing outlets, such as the New York Times or BusinessWeek. Compelling self-statements demonstrate an impact beyond the candidate to the field in general and do so in a measurable, unambiguous way.

But Wait. There’s More! Don’t Delay. Act Now!

In closing, Dr. De Meuse wishes to remind readers that although the precise dates on which nominations begin and end, late August typically sees the nomination process opening and continuing until early November. Submitting an application beyond the line in time that is this early November due date, however, effectively kills one’s chances at Fellowship nomination (hence the term deadline). As such, candidates and nominators would, ideally, begin the process far in advance of the nomination-opening date. As Dr. De Meuse reminds us, in other words, the SIOP Fellowship is an unusual and outstanding recognition covering, at least, a decade of one’s work and life; communicating achievements as such, not surprisingly, might take more than a few weeks.

References

Koppes, L. L. (2017). A brief history of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Inc.—a division of the APA. Retrieved August 20, 2017 from https://www.siop.org/History/historynew.aspx.

SIOP. (2017). SIOP bylaws. Retrieved from https://www.siop.org/reportsandminutes/bylaws.pdf.

 

Garett Howardson is the Founder and principal work scientist at Tuple Work Science, Limited and adjunct psychology professor at both Hofstra University and at The George Washington University. Most of his work focuses on quantitative, psychometric, and/or computational issues to better understand the psychology of modern, technical work writ-large (e.g., aerospace technicians, computer programmers). 

Garett is also an avid computer geek. In fact, he has a degree in computer science, which he avidly applies to his research and work in pursuit of one deceivingly simple goal: better integrate I-O psychology and the data/computational sciences to understand work. 

Liberty Munson is currently the principal psychometrician and Assessment and Exam Quality lead at Microsoft. She is responsible for ensuring the validity and reliability of Microsoft’s certification and degree programs. Her passion is for finding innovative solutions to business challenges that balance the science of assessment design and development with the realities of budget, time, and schedule constraints.

Liberty loves to bake, hike, backpack, and camp—basically, if the sun is shining you’ll find her enjoying the great outdoors; if not, she’s in her kitchen tweaking some recipe just to see what happens. She has also been actively involved in editing Microsoft’s Cookbook to raise money for a local charity, FareStart, as part of Microsoft’s Give Campaign. And, she just got a new mini schnauzer puppy, Apex!

 

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