APA Releases Draft of “Good Practices Guide” for Comment (reposting)


[Note, added 8/3/2017: I’m moving this post about the APA’s “Good Practices Guide” up on the main page as it did not appear to get much attention when first posted, especially considering the potential importance and influence of the document. Amy Ferrer has continued posting about the guide at the Blog of the APA—with entries on its sections on teaching and supervising, professional development and placement, interviewing, implicit bias, and social events, alcoho, and accessibility—but there hasn’t yet been much discussion there, either. I encourage members of the academic community to look over the various sections of this guide and speak up with support, suggestions, criticisms, and so on, either here or there. This is a chance to have a say in the future of the profession.]

The American Philosophical Association (APA) has published a 77-page document, the “Good Practices Guide.” While some parts of the guide overlap with the recently issued APA Code of Conduct, it is “not intended to play the same role in regulating the conduct of academic life.” Rather, the guide is

a set of recommendations based upon the accumulated experience of faculty, administrators, and students, intended in part to address some of the underlying conditions that can give rise to the problems with which a Code of Conduct deals. More positively, these recommendations are meant to suggest policies and practices that may help

us to realize the sort of academic community we aspire to—a community of mutual respect and fairness, of commitment to scholarship and learning, of open-mindedness and inclusivity, and of concern for nurturing the next generation of philosophers and members of the society at large.

The current version is a draft. In its preface its authors write that

We view this draft Good Practices Guide not as an attempt at a definitive statement, but as a starting point, and as a basis for continuing discussion and development of good practices. Similarly, this draft guide does not purport to be comprehensive. Rather, it focuses upon a number of areas where special challenges arise in the promotion of mutual respect, fairness, and inclusivity, and where experience and research indicate effective ways of meeting these challenges.

The Guide was developed by a special APA task force comprising of Peter Railton (Michigan), who served as chair, Mi-Kyoung “Mitzi” Lee (Colorado), Diane Michelfelder (Macalester), and Robin Zheng (Yale-NUS).

The topics covered in the guide include:

  1. Communication and implementation of these guidelines for good practices
  2. Teaching, supervising, and mentoring students
  3. Professional development and placement for students
  4. Interviews and offers of employment
  5. Countering implicit bias
  6. Social events, alcohol, and accessibility
  7. Professional communication
  8. Mental and emotional health and safety

The authors note that the list of topics is not comprehensive, and write that “it is important in sustaining a living Good Practices Guide over time that others enrich, revise, or extend these guidelines.”

In a post at the Blog of the APA, APA Executive Director Amy Ferrer announces that the task force is seeking feedback on the guide. The idea is to get comments on only some parts of the guide at a time, starting with the Preface, List of Topics, and Section 1 (that is, the first eight pages of the document). Feedback can be shared by email to [email protected] or in the comments section on Ferrer’s post—and of course discussion is welcome here, as well.

In Section 1, which covers how to communicate and implement good practices, the authors write:

We would encourage departments and other academic units to circulate this guide to faculty and students and hold open discussions of the issues herein. The governing idea of such guides is that it is not enough for a department to affirm values or goals—there must be a continuing commitment to developing and implementing policies and procedures that can give these values or goals reality. Since faculty change, new challenges arise, improved research emerges, and policies and practices must be monitored for their effectiveness, meetings to discuss the issues in this and similar guides should be held on a periodic basis. Department chairs should make it clear that participation in such meetings is as much a responsibility as participation in meetings for hiring, promotion, and graduate review—indeed, good practices for the conduct of such meetings and deliberation are among the central concerns of this guide.

If the guide or posts about it have not been shared among the members of your department, I encourage you to send around the relevant links so that we can get a good number of philosophers providing constructive comments and helpful suggestions.

Let me stress constructive and helpful. A document such as this guide is not easy to develop. It takes time, research, and a variety of skills to put together, not to mention a willingness to brave professional controversy. We should be appreciative of the work that went into this, and we can show that appreciation by reading the guide, offering criticisms respectfully, making suggestions thoughtfully, and not neglecting to let the authors know when you think they’ve got something right.

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