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APA Seeking Congressional and Executive Branch Fellowship Applications

The American Psychological Association (APA), a COSSA governing member, is accepting applications for its 2018-2019 Congressional and Executive Branch Fellowships. The APA Congressional Fellowship Program provides two psychologists each year with the opportunity to spend a year working as special legislative assistants in a Senate or House office. The APA Executive Branch Fellowship Program gives psychologists the opportunity to spend a year working within a federal agency working on issues related to science policy and research administration. More information about both programs is available on the APA website. Applications for both fellowships are due by January 5, 2018.

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Posted in Issue 24 (December 12), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

COSSA Members Join March for Science

Several COSSA member organizations, including the American Anthropological Association, American Association of Geographers, American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, American Sociological Association, Linguistic Society of America, Society for Social Work and Research, and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues have partnered with the March for Science. COSSA had previously announced its partnership with the March in February (a complete list of partner organizations is available here). The March will take place on April 22 in Washington, DC and at more than 300 satellite locations around the world.

Like science more generally, the March for Science is nonpartisan. It is not intended as a protest or demonstration against any one party or politician’s position. Instead, the event will be a celebration of science, promoting positive messages about the ways scientific research serves humankind. Those interested in following COSSA’s activities related to the March can sign up to receive periodic email updates.

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Posted in Issue 6 (March 21), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

COSSA and Members Comment on Proposed Revisions to the Common Rule

COSSA, in conjunction with the American Educational Research Association (AERA) (a COSSA governing association) and the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, submitted comments on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects or the “Common Rule” (click here for context on the NPRM). Overall, the comments are supportive of the proposed changes affecting the social and behavioral sciences and urge that “major and substantial improvements… not be delayed or deferred even if it is determined that some issues require further analysis before some rule changes can be made.” The comments also points out several sections where additional clarification would be useful.

The American Psychological Association (APA), Population Association of America (PAA) (COSSA governing associations), and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) (a COSSA member), also submitted comments on the NPRM, which are available on regulations.gov (docket ID HHS-OPHS-2015-0008).

Now that the window for public comment has closed, the Office of Human Research Protections will review all submitted comments and release a final rule. However, if the pace of the Common Rule revision process thus far is any indication, it will likely be several months, if not longer, before we see a final rule.

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Posted in Issue 1 (January 12), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

APA Briefing Explains the Psychology behind False Confessions

The American Psychological Association (APA), a COSSA governing member, held a Congressional briefing on April 29, in conjunction with the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) Exhibition. The briefing featured Saul Kassin, Distinguished Professor of Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice (also a COSSA member), who spoke about his research on false confessions. Kassin observed that it is often difficult for people to understand why someone would admit to a crime they did not commit. However, in his analysis of a database of convictions overturned by DNA evidence, Kassin found that more than a quarter of the wrongly convicted individuals had made a confession.

Kassin’s talk was divided into two sections: “Why innocent people confess” and “Why confessions trump innocence.” In the first section, he described some of the harrowing experiences of individuals who had been wrongly convicted after confessing and explained some of the factors that put suspects at risk of making a false confession. These include vulnerability of the suspect, interrogation tactics like lying about evidence or prolonging the interview, and suspects’ belief that the fact their innocence will absolve them of charges, regardless of what they do or say during the police interrogation. In the second section of his talk, Kassin noted that for most people, a confession means that a person is guilty. However, few people can differentiate a false confession from a real one, and juries are overwhelmingly swayed by confessions—even in cases where they are told to disregard it. Furthermore, innocent people who have confessed are more likely to take a guilty plea than those who have not, because they know how strongly their confession will count against them in the courtroom.

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Posted in Issue 8 (May 5), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

APA Seeks New Executive Director for Science

The American Psychological Association (APA), a COSSA Governing Member, is looking for its next Executive Director for Science (see here). Former COSSA Executive Committee Chair Steven Breckler vacated the position and left APA in late 2014; Howard Kurtzman, current deputy, is serving as the acting executive director until the new head is named. The position oversees the APA Science Directorate. Applications are sought by March 13.

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Posted in Issue 2 (January 27), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

Steven Breckler, COSSA Chair, to Leave APA

Steven Breckler, Executive Director for Science at the American Psychological Association (APA), will leave APA at the end of the year after 10 years in the position. APA is a COSSA Governing Member and Breckler currently serves as chair of the COSSA Executive Committee. He is praised for his service to APA in the announcement of his departure released last month. Breckler’s service to COSSA as well cannot be overstated; he is a longtime member of the COSSA Board of Directors, served as chair of the Executive Committee for the last two years, and chaired the 2013 search committee for the new COSSA Executive Director, among other contributions. COSSA thanks him for his service – his leadership will be deeply missed.

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Posted in Issue 22 (December 5), Update, Volume 33 (2014)

Events Calendar

Aging with HIV/AIDS: Challenges and Successes of a Lifetime Defined by the Epidemic, American Psychological Association, December 3, 2014

Webinar: Producing Government Data with Statistical Confidentiality Controls, American Statistical Association Privacy and Confidentiality Committee, December 17, 2014

A list of COSSA members’ annual meetings can be found on the COSSA web page.

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Posted in Issue 21 (November 17), Update, Volume 33 (2014)

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