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ERIC Number: EJ947342
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 7
ISSN: ISSN-0738-6729
Translational Behavior Analysis and Practical Benefits
Pilgrim, Carol
Behavior Analyst, v34 n1 p37-40 Spr 2011
In his article, Critchfield ("Translational Contributions of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior," "The Behavior Analyst," v34, p3-17, 2011) summarizes a previous call (Mace & Critchfield, 2010) for basic scientists to reexamine the inspiration for their research and turn increasingly to translational approaches. Interestingly, rather than present an argument for the direct improvements to science that might follow from a translational approach, Critchfield focuses instead on the social context in which basic scientists' work takes place. He suggests that in a "world dominated by practical interests," investments in science are judged in terms of "practical benefits" and "social impact," and that translational research is necessary to "influence society's appreciation of basic science efforts." The call then is for a modified scientific agenda for basic researchers, with the modifications designed to enhance public relations. Critchfield argues winningly that improved funding opportunities and better university support for faculty positions and laboratory infrastructure should follow if basic scientists conduct studies that "bear directly on," are "obviously relevant to," or "directly target" "problems about which laypersons and diverse scientific communities care deeply." These are critical outcomes, to be sure, and a thoughtful analysis of efforts that could lead to their attainment is much more than just an interesting intellectual exercise. Indeed, the very importance of these outcomes should mean that basic scientists take extra care to ensure that the analysis of controlling variables (over funding, hiring, etc.) is complete and not oversimplified. On the face of things, Critchfield's emphasis on the support to accrue from socially relevant research could seem self-evident. On closer consideration, however, it may be prudent to ask whether at least some of the assumptions on which this self-evidence rest are, if not unfounded, at least less than fully examined. To be clear, the author is also a strong advocate of translational programs of study in behavior analysis and is thus in agreement with the basic premise of the article. The point at issue in this commentary involves the extent to which one can realistically expect translational programs of study for basic scientists, such as those espoused by Critchfield, to positively affect public perception and thus, public support. As a corollary, one might consider whether an argument for translational research in terms of public relations will be the most effective route to producing change in basic behavior-analytic science.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A