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President’s Message: Context Matters

Posted By Patricia Moy (U of Washington), Tuesday, December 4, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, December 5, 2018


Fear not, dear reader, this column is not an exposition of truisms.


Rather, it is about our various personal and professional contexts – the intellectual and epistemological milieus in which we reside, the philosophies and moral compasses that guide us, to name but a few – and how they might play out as ICA moves forward. We value the diverse viewpoints that shape you as ICA members, and hope you will share your perspectives with various committees and task forces in the months (and years) to come.


Two years ago, Past-President Paula Gardner (McMaster U) constituted a Task Force on Ethics, whose charge includes crafting an ethics statement, a code of conduct, and a statement of ethical considerations for social media. This task force has made great inroads, and in Prague, presented to the Board of Directors its initial versions of these documents. In the coming year, task-force cochairs Lee Humphreys (Cornell U) and Eve Ng (Ohio U) will be working with subcommittees to consult broadly with members. Deliberating over the feedback they receive, the team will finalize the crafting and wordsmithing of these various documents. How do these documents work for you? Please let us know what you think.


Other task forces and committees are working to address concerns raised by ICA members.


For one, on the heels of ICA’s recent conference-submission deadline, the issue of authorship caps has reemerged. Currently, ICA limits the number of submissions to five per author, a move that has elicited equal parts applause and criticism. While some see the five-paper limit as an effective means of broadening participation in the annual conference, others see it as disadvantaging scholars from large research teams who engage in multiple projects and write multiple submissions simultaneously. Clearly, research context matters. This Task Force on Authorship Limits will deliberate, seek broader input, and make a recommendation before the next full call for papers is issued (save the date: Gold Coast, Australia, 2020!).


Also related to the conference, personal and professional values and contexts will shape the efforts of the newly formed standing committee on sponsorship, chaired by Nick Bowman (West Virginia U). As ICA’s annual conference continues to grow, so too does the set of considerations related to offsetting costs and generating revenue to support new initiatives. Sponsorship comes in many forms, with more common ones including sending promotional items to the conference, subsidizing a reception, and purchasing an exhibit booth. But are all sponsors created equal? The diversity in ICA membership introduces myriad perspectives on defining the organizations from which ICA should accept support. The committee will be tackling various questions in its work – for instance, should ICA establish a set of criteria by which sponsors are evaluated? To what extent should ICA eschew support from political organizations or those with controversial data-privacy practices?


In general, ICA greatly values member input on all fronts. To illustrate, and as returning authors know, ICA moved this year from its longstanding submission system, All Academic, to ScholarOne Abstract. This move took place after years of concerns expressed by authors, reviewers, and program planners regarding user-friendliness and technical capabilities that needed to be implemented or improved. As with the adoption of many new systems, ICA’s first year with ScholarOne identified some issues that need to be addressed. A review will be undertaken, with Division and Interest Group program planners sharing feedback from their respective units and their own experiences. Our goal? To make the next round of submissions smoother for all stakeholders.


Similarly, the Executive Committee has discussed the crafting of a strategic plan that should provide general roadmaps for ICA and keep us thinking conceptually and operationally about big-picture concerns. For instance, thanks to the recent regional conferences that have been held in Africa, ICA has a growing presence there. But how do we sustain that momentum? To what extent do/can we replicate that growth in other underrepresented regions of ICA? To be clear, the crafting of a strategic plan will not occur overnight, as it will certainly involve heated discussions about where ICA should be going. But rest assured, it will also involve solicitation of input from members. So regardless of the specific corners of ICA you inhabit, your academic status, or the professional and sociocultural contexts in which you find yourself, pull up a (virtual or physical) chair and join the discussions to come.

Tags:  December 2018 

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