This methodology webpage aims to provide information about how we created the Counseling Psychology Faculty Research Interests List and answer some frequently asked questions that arose during pilot testing.
Q: What process did you use to create the List?
Before talking about our process, I’d like to provide some important context.
Counseling psychologists who conduct and publish research may do so while working for a non-profit agency, government organization, NGO, business, as an independent scholar, or in academia (i.e., as a student or faculty member at a college or university), among other settings.
Most counseling psychology research is published by university faculty members. These counseling psychologist faculty members are employed in universities of all kinds, from small liberal arts colleges to large state universities. Many counseling psychology faculty members are affiliated with academic departments that have counseling psychology graduate programs (though plenty are not–they may exclusively teach other kinds of students at the undergraduate or graduate level). These counseling psychology graduate programs are most often master’s degree programs (e.g., MA, MS) or doctoral degree programs (e.g., PhD/EdD, PsyD).
The American Psychological Association accredits counseling psychology doctoral programs and provides the general public and prospective counseling psychology doctoral applicants with a handy directory of APA-accredited counseling psychology doctoral programs. This directory offered us a way to identify a large number of counseling psychology faculty members who were likely to provide accessible and concise descriptions of their research interests on their academic department’s website. Thus, we added counseling psychology faculty to the List who were affiliated with APA-accredited counseling psychology doctoral programs.
Like any project that seeks to balance utility with feasibility, there are limitations to our approach. Among others, the List does not include:
- Counseling psychologists who publish outside of academia
- Counseling psychology faculty who are not affiliated with an APA-accredited counseling psychology doctoral program
- Counseling psychology students
- Students or faculty members affiliated with other psychological specialties (e.g., clinical psychology, community psychology, social psychology) or professions (e.g., counseling, social work, marriage and family therapy, psychiatry, public health, sociology, gender and women’s studies) that study some of the same topics that counseling psychologists do
Thus, it’s important to bear in mind that there are many counseling psychologists and other professionals doing important research related to counseling psychology that will not appear in the List. Because the List is meant to be a sample (rather than a complete census) of what counseling psychology faculty study, we felt this tradeoff between utility and feasibility was acceptable. We are not aware of an efficient way to locate, en masse, the research interest descriptions for other counseling psychology faculty that did not fit our inclusion criteria; we’re open to suggestions, as we intend to periodically update this List and would have the opportunity to revise our approach for future versions of the List.
With that context in place, let’s talk more about our process for creating the List.
Over time, various student members of the HAMMER Lab have helped add and update faculty research interest information within the List. During its initial creation in Fall of 2019, there were about 84 accredited programs. It took 42 hours of work to create the initial list. Every few years, we invest additional time in updating the list, given that the information captured in the List is subject to frequent change. Because familiarity with, and experience in, academia varied across these team members, we realized that the quality of the data coding for the List would vary across coders and that mistakes in coding were bound to make their way undetected into the List. We therefore ask for your compassion if and when you identify errors in the List (see below for how to report List errors). Once the List was complete, we created the Word Cloud based on the List contents.
Q: Why did you include faculty from PsyD Programs?
There are plenty of counseling psychologists affiliated with PsyD programs that do research. Many of them do research with their PsyD doctoral students as well.
Q: Why did you include faculty from “combined” programs that don’t have counseling psychology as the sole focus of the program?
As long as counseling psychology was one of the specialties (alongside clinical and/or school psychology), we wanted to include faculty at those programs. Some of the faculty affiliated with these programs are graduates of counseling psychology doctoral programs and do counseling psychology research. Some are trained as school psychologists and do traditional school psychology research, but our team was not in a position to make fine-grained distinctions between which faculty from these programs should be included and which should not be, so we erred on the side of inclusion. You can clearly see in the List which faculty are associated with combined programs, in case that is important to you.
Q: Why did you not include Emeritus Faculty?
Pilot testing indicated that Emeritus Faculty were not always listed on the website and their research interests were often not provided; it varied program to program significantly. We would like to keep things consistent across programs. For these reasons, and because research interests in counseling psychology evolve over time and we wanted to give a sample of what counseling psychologists are currently researching, we felt that it would appropriate to keep things simple and not list Emeritus Faculty by default. Certainly, if a given Emeritus Faculty member wishes to have their info added to this List, we’d love to do so upon request (see below).
Q: What were the other inclusion/exclusion criteria used?
We sought to include faculty members who were clearly associated with the counseling psychology doctoral program at a given institution (this was not always clear from reviewing the website), provided they were not Emeritus Faculty or adjunct/clinical faculty that did not describe their research interests on the program website (we sought to include adjunct/clinical faculty who did describe their research interests on the program website). If the person was listed as an assistant/associate/full professor but did not provide research interests on the program website, the team members were instructed to indicate “Not listed” in the row for that professor.
Q: Is this List designed to be a “program finder” that helps students identify counseling psychology doctoral programs to apply to?
No, this is not a program finder. It’s meant to be a sample of the issues, populations, and topics that counseling psychology faculty members affiliated with APA-accredited counseling psychology doctoral programs study. We cannot prevent prospective applicants from using the resource in this manner, but we wish to emphasize to such applicants that “research fit with a faculty adviser” is only one piece of what may influence an applicant’s “fit” with a prospective doctoral program. In fact, this piece can be unimportant when applying to certain programs that are not focused on training scientists (e.g., certain PsyD programs) or programs that do not use an apprentice model of training (and thus research interest fit with program faculty is not of primary importance when making admissions decisions).
Q: Why is (name of professor) missing from the List?
As noted above, we have team members of all developmental levels (including undergraduate RA’s) pulling research interest descriptions from the program webpages. Also, department/program websites are not always user-friendly. For these two reasons, it is possible that the team member missed the name of a qualifying professor. We are interested in correcting all errors brought to our attention (see below).
Q: The research description text listed for a given faculty member seems inaccurate. Is there a reason?
Information about faculty member’s research interests can be ascertained from numerous sources on the internet (e.g., program website, professional webpages, research lab webpages, PsychINFO, Google Scholar, published journal articles, LinkedIn, ResearchGate). Each of these sources has pro’s and con’s as an information source. We deliberately chose to restrict data collection to program website descriptions because:
- For feasibility and consistency, we chose to use only one information source. Once you start consulting multiple sources, feasibility and consistency become problems fast (we learned this from pilot testing).
- It is standard practice for programs to list their faculty on their website (though there are some programs that do not update their websites as regularly as others). Because we wished to avoid (as much as possible) leaving people out, consulting these webpages appeared to be a sensible approach. Other publicly available information sources do not provide a centralized list of affiliated counseling psychology faculty, so we were bound to have bigger gaps by relying on those other information sources. We do realize that several faculty members did not have research interests listed on their program’s website and usually indicated this in the List (it is possible that a few faculty members got dropped from the List entirely if they had no research interests listed; we’d be happy to fix those errors when brought to our attention).
- Sources like PsychINFO and Google Scholar are more helpful for identifying published work. People’s interests and their published work align but not always. For example, faculty who have a new research interest but have not yet published in that interest would be misrepresented by these sources. We prefer that the faculty speak for themselves, using their own words to describe their research interests (we assume that program website faculty research interest descriptions reflect the will of the faculty members) and program websites generally provider this window.
- Sources like professional webpages (like DrJosephHammer.com), LinkedIn, and ResearchGate are only used by a fraction of faculty members, so they would be significantly incomplete sources of information.
For feasibility and to increase consistency across faculty members, we chose to limit the number of sentences-worth of research interest text to about 4 or 5 sentences max. This could account for discrepancies.
If a faculty member’s research interests were named in multiple places on the program website (e.g., on the “Meet the Faculty” webpage but also the “Program Research Interests webpage”), the team member was instructed to copy and paste from the first relevant research interest information source they found. This also could account for discrepancies.
As noted above, we had team members of all developmental levels (including undergraduate RA’s) pulling research interest descriptions from the program webpages. It is always possible that a given team member made an inaccurate judgment call for a particular faculty member and left out relevant research interest descriptions when copying and pasting content from the program website to the List. This also could account for discrepancies.
Lastly, the List is periodically updated with data copied and pasted straight from program websites. If those program websites have been updated since our last List update, leading to a change in (a) which faculty are affiliated with which program or (b) the faculty member’s research interest description, then naturally the info in the List will have become obsolete. This also could account for discrepancies.
Regardless of what may account for the discrepancy, if you want to see something updated, see below for how to request an error fix.
Q: I found an error in the List that I want to see fixed. What’s the next step?
We plan to periodically (every 1-2 years) update this List so that it continues to be a useful “sample of the issues, populations, and topics that counseling psychology faculty members affiliated with APA-accredited counseling psychology doctoral programs study”.
That being said, if you have found an error and wish to see it fixed immediately, please submit a request via the CPFRI List Update Request Form. He is very happy to fix any errors or omissions and apologizes that the team did not catch this sooner!