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The Editor’s Out-Box: On Accountability

Morrie Mullins

This is going to be one of my shorter (probably the shortest) editorial columns.  I’ll most likely make up for it with the one in April, though, so please don’t feel cheated!  The truth is, what I have to say this month doesn’t require as much in the way of word-count.

One of the criticisms of digital TIP that I most fervently wish I could have addressed is that despite publishing in a purely digital format, we still function a lot like a print publication.  There are a lot of things digital publishing brings with it, but to me, one of the most important is interactivity.  With interactivity, you get community-building, as the conversation that begins in one issue can continue in the three months before the next issue is published.

I believe that TIP can be a source for community-building.  That’s why the very first Feature article I solicited and ran as editor was Anita Blanchard’s “Virtual Communities in I-O Psychology” (Blanchard, 2013).

Turns out, though, that building a virtual community is hard!  I’ve tried a few approaches through the SIOP web space, and both the Electronic Communications Committee and SIOP’s Administrative Office have been nothing short of wonderful in providing insights and tools.

But the internet is not a Field of Dreams, where if you build it, they will come.  It’s more a “Field of a Million Things I Need to Work On, Thanks,” where if you make interaction too difficult, it won’t happen.  It needs to be easy.  It needs to be seamless.  And, if I’m reading the signs correctly, it’s something that will hopefully become reality within the next few issues.

We are not, however, there just yet.

The limitations of our publishing model really came home to me with our last issue.  In it, we saw the final installment of Rob Silzer and Chad Parson’s “Practice Perspectives” columns, in which they wrapped up with a summary of the work reported in that column over the past seven years.  It’s an impressive and important body of work.

What we did not see in the October issue was a letter to the editor from Rob Silzer and Allan Church (it appears in this issue instead).  I was queried about the possibility of submitting a letter after the issue’s deadlines and agreed to allow the letter to be submitted.  When I received it and saw that the content might be considered “controversial,” I did what I typically do in such a situation.  I provided a copy to the SIOP EB.

I soon received an indication that the EB thought a response would be needed.  Given that we were well past the deadline for new submissions, I, as editor, was faced with a choice.

Do I run the letter in October and allow something that SIOP’s leadership felt warranted a response to be the sole perspective readily available to members, for three months?  Or do I hold the letter, despite its exhortation that candidates for SIOP office address issues of practitioner satisfaction in the upcoming election, until I can run the letter and a response side-by-side?

I chose the latter.  This conversation is too important to have the two perspectives presented three months apart, and that would have been the net result, given our publication model.   

Did I recognize that this could have an effect on the election?  I did.  But as I’ve read, and re-read, and re-re-read the original letter, I don’t see any way that the proposed requirement could have been implemented for this election cycle.  There was also no way to keep candidates who wanted to include discussions of practitioner satisfaction with SIOP in their platform from doing so – nor should there have been.  I was not at all surprised to see that issue highlighted, by several candidates.

I was surprised, however, to learn that a copy of the letter had been circulated claiming that the EB had delayed the letter’s publication.

This is categorically not true.  The decision was mine, as editor, and I believe it was the right one.  We hear the phrase “fair and balanced” a lot, when people talk about news, and to be honest it’s not always used in a way that makes those words particularly meaningful.  To me, being fair and balanced means presenting both sides of a story in a fashion that allows the viewer/reader to make an informed decision based on the totality of information.

So I delayed the letter, and in this issue, it runs just before a guest editorial that addresses not only the letter’s contents, but also the contents of the final Silzer and Parson columns.

It’s an important conversation, and as I’ve indicated before, perhaps the most important conversation for SIOP to be having.  SIOP needs a vibrant practitioner community.  To be “scientist-practitioners,” we need science, and we need practice.  If a large proportion of our practitioner community is dissatisfied, SIOP needs to respond.  

I believe it is.  But you can read both perspectives, in this issue, and decide for yourself.

Short.  I said this was going to be “short.”  Ah, well.  On to the content!

We begin with the President’s Column, from Steve Kozlowski, which touches on a number of important topics.  Then we have not one but three letters to the editor.  The first, from Camille Drake-Brassfield, encourages us to think about lessons I-O can learn from the 2011 Penn State scandal.  The second comes from Kay Muchinsky, and the third is the aforementioned letter from Rob Silzer and Allan Church.

The letters are followed by a guest editorial from Alex Alonso, Cris Banks, and Mark Poteet, which examines the work SIOP has done, and is continuing to do, to support the practitioner community.

Moving to our regular editorial columns, in the Practitioners’ Forum, Robert Bloom, Laura Freeman, Valentina Bruk-Lee, Jerilyn Hayward, and Donna Roland share exciting new opportunities for SIOP’s practitioners to be recognized as experts in workplace health and well-being.  M.K. Ward and Bill Becker return with the second half of their interview with Dr. Vivienne Ming.  If you missed the first half in our prior issue, it’s well worth the read!  Steve Discont, Craig Russell, and Katina Sawyer then offer a synthesis of interviews with a group of seasoned members of SIOP with first-hand knowledge of what it’s like to be a member of both the LGBTQ and I-O communities.

On the academic side of things, Loren Naidoo flies solo in “Max. Classroom Capacity” for the first time, and gives us more information about his background and what we can expect from the column.  Allie Gabriel provides interesting insights about lessons she has learned, teaching a class of over 200 undergraduates.  I remember very well walking into my first class of that size and realizing that I needed to add another skill-set to my repertoire!

Also thematically-linked are this issue’s “I-Opener” (with Eleni Lobene joining Steven Toaddy) and TIP-TOPics (courtesy of Thomas Sasso, Jessica Sorenson, and Grace Ewles).  Both deal, from different perspectives, with a  topic that’s on a lot of our minds – the upcoming Anaheim conference!  (Note to self:  Check flights…)

Ashley Hoffman’s “Spotlight on Humanitarian Work Psychology” this issue provides a fascinating interview with Dora Ward Curry.  Meanwhile, Richard Vosburgh ponders issues of strategy and measurement, and Cris Banks and Chester Hanvey step in for an issue to guest-write the “Legal Front” column and bring us up to date on developments and trends as relate to wage and hour litigation.

Seth Kaplan and Laura Uttley offer more updates on how to expand I-O’s impact across the federal government, and I am again reminded at just how much more visible work like theirs has made all of our work.  Lynda Zugec welcomes Stewart Forsyth, who describes I-O in New Zealand.  Tiffany Poeppelman and Nikki Blacksmith’s Modern App this issue focuses on the use of performance management technologies for coaching, and Milt Hakel returns with the Foundation Spotlight.  Finally, Jeff Cucina and Nathan Bowling provide a fascinating look at the many contributions of John C. Flanagan.

This issue brings with it five feature articles; in the first, Meredith Ferro, Ben Porr, Ted Axton, and Somer Dumani provide the second in a series of articles highlighting results from the 2015 Practitioner Needs Survey.  In this issue, they focus their attention on practitioner professional development.

Thomas Stetz and Todd Chmielewski then provide a set of six (why not ten?  Read and find out…) career lessons they have gleaned over the course of their completely-adequate careers.  I have to say, I did not see their last lesson coming.  Well-played, Tom and Todd.  Well-played indeed.

Logan Michels, Courtney Gear, Dan Sachau, and Dick Olson then return to wrap up their series of short features.  In prior issues, they have focused on mergers and acquisitions as relate to major consulting firms.  In this issue, they offer a timeline of the origins of various companies involved in the I-O landscape.  For anyone interested in the history of major players in our field, Logan, Courtney, Dan, and Dick have done wonderful work synthesizing a lot of information into very readable and digestable formats.  

Terri Shapiro, Anna Erickson, and Bill Farmer then offer up a look at one of the oldest – no, I’m sorry, the oldest and largest local applied psychology group in the country, New York’s METRO.  (And if those aren’t accurate descriptors, I’m sure I’ll mention something in the April issue!)

In their “Unleashing Human Potential Through the Science of Work,” Lori Foster, John Scott, Deborah Rupp, Lise Saari, Mathian Osicki, Kristin Charles, Drew Mallory, and Dan Maday provide yet another important and timely article from SIOP’s UN team.

We begin our reports with an update from the APA Council of Representatives.  In this report, Lori Foster, Deirdre Knapp, Rodney Lowman, and Deborah Whetzel offer their observations on this summer’s APA Council of Representatives meeting.  If you’re an APA member, or are concerned about the recently-published Hoffman Report, you have to read this article.  It’s that important.

Returning to the topic of conferences, Eden King provides a “welcome!” message, Scott Tonidandel offers insights into the 2016 program, and Silvia Bonaccio, Margaret Beier, Angela Grotto, and Christopher Wiese remind us that there is, in fact, more than just SIOP that we can attend, and update us on the submission deadline for the APS convention in Chicago.

Mark Poteet provides a number of updates from the Professional Practice Committee, SIOP’s Electronic Communications Committee encourages us all to “Take the Challenge!”, and we wrap up with IOTAs from Alyssa LaCava and Members in the News courtesy of Clif Boutelle, and a fairly comprehensive list of conferences and meetings from Marianna Horn.

…checking word counts now… 

A thousand words less than last issue.  Maybe – just maybe – I can do this “brevity” thing after all.



Blanchard, A. (2013, July). Virtual communities in I-O psychology. The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist, 51(1), 13-17.

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