Olivier Luminet (UCLouvain)
2019 Presidential Address

                                                                                                                                                                              February 1st, 2019

 

Dear colleagues,

 

With the start of the year 2019, I would like to communicate some important events and new initiatives for the community of researchers in psychological science in Belgium.

 

As you probably know, the priority mission of BAPS is to unite all those interested in the development of the psychological sciences and in its applications in Belgium. The best way to achieve this goal is participating to the annual meeting that will happen in Liège on May 14 AND 15. We will again have the chance to hear a first class scholar. This year the topic of memory will be honored with the keynote address of Andy Yoleninas from UC Davis. Following a recent tradition, we will also have a second keynote lecture dedicated to an issue that interests all psychologists working in Belgium. This year we found that being updated about the new legislation and status regarding clinical psychology was of primary importance. We are therefore very keen to hear the talk given by a member of the Federal Council of Mental Health Professions, Stijn Vandevelde. The topics covered by the eight invited symposia should also attract you. The annual meeting is also the opportunity for researchers working in different Belgian Universities to propose a symposium in order to make their domain better known but also for strengthening the communication between them. This is the reason we will have a two-days meeting this year, with May 15 dedicated to networking! Our colleagues from Liège will facilitate this opportunity and make the 2019 meeting a unique opportunity for deeper discussions among researchers that can hopefully result in new concrete collaborative plans. Please jump now to https://events.uliege.be/baps2019/ to know more about these two unique days! I would like to thank Steve Majerus and his organizing committee for making the 2019 meeting a great success.

 

Another central mission of BAPS is to provide incentives for researchers in Belgium at different stages in their career. At the 2019 annual meeting, we will announce new winners for the best Master thesis award and for the best PhD thesis award. We again received many submissions of very high quality and the decisions were not easy to take for the shortlists. In both cases, we adopted a two steps procedure. At the first step, no less than 3 reviewers for the Master thesis award and 5 reviewers for the PhD award were involved. We were very strict regarding potential conflicts of interest, with always reviewers from other Universities than the candidate and excluding reviewers who are or have been working with candidates. At the second step, the procedure is slightly different for each prize. For the Master thesis award, the National Committee for Psychological Sciences will select a jury involving specialists in the areas of the shortlisted candidates (https://www.baps.be/copy-of-awards-2018 ). We are very pleased that Arnaud Szmalec accepted to chair this jury, after many years during which Andre Vandierendonck did the job. I would like to thank them both for playing a central role in the coordination of this important competition, which is often  first step in a promising career of the awarded researcher.

 

The best PhD award is now in its second year and is already getting quite popular, although it is probably still necessary to advertise its importance. If you finish your PhD in the next months, you should consider this prize as a wonderful way to make your research known by the Belgian community of researchers in psychological science. The winner receives full attention during the annual meeting by having the opportunity to present his/her work during a plenary session. The jury varies each year, being a mix of experts in the topics of the shortlisted theses (https://www.baps.be/copy-of-awards-2018 ) and (previous) presidents of BAPS. I am particularly happy to observe that for both prizes we received proposals from all domains of psychology and also from all the Universities across Belgium.

 

In the summer 2019, we will launch a new award for early career achievement.  While many scientific associations are proposing awards for scientific excellence in their respective fields, there are few initiatives in Belgium aimed at honoring outstanding scientists, and even fewer in the psychological sciences. This award will recognize the scientific excellence of researchers in the psychological sciences up to 6 years after their PhD. The call will be open in the summer 2019 and the winner will be announced during the 2020 annual meeting. If you are in these conditions, please consider already your application for the first award!

 

What you maybe don’t know is that BAPS is also committed to represent the values and goals of Belgian psychological scientists at the Belgian, European, and World level. At the Belgian level, we are facing many changes at the Belgian Federation of Psychologists (BFP-FBP) and at the Commission of psychologists (Compsy). In both cases, BAPS delegates play a central role. You might have heard that BFP-FBP is under a massive restructuring. While the quality of psychological research and the quality of professionals in the different domains of psychology are always improving, our profession is not always working in an optimal way when defending our profession in negotiations with political instances. After some turbulent meetings of BFP-FBP, BAPS delegates received the delicate mission to coordinate the Quo vadis group, which aims at accompanying the transition towards a new Federation of Belgian associations in psychology. I am happy to fulfill this hard task together with our Past-president Johan Wagemans. You must realize that the role of BFP-FBP is getting smaller than it used to be and that many competencies that they were holding are delegated to the different associations, including BAPS. The new Federation will limit its activities to three central goals: defending the interests of psychologists at the Federal level in Belgium, coordinating the representation of Belgian delegates at the European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations (EFPA) and coordinating communication policies. As you can see, only three goals but very ambitious ones! If everything goes well the new Federation will start in the summer of 2019.

At the European level, BAPS is represented in the board of scientific affairs since last year. I am happy to be our Belgian delegate and represent the perspective of Belgian researchers (http://science.efpa.eu/ ). At the world level, Jan De Houwer represents BAPS at the International Union of Psychological Science (http://www.iupsys.net/ ).

 

A positive outcome of the new light structure of BFP-FBP for BAPS is that our membership fee for 2019 is considerably lower than in the past, 95 € for full membership, only 45€ for reduced membership (PhD students, retired and unemployed members) and still free for master students! (https://www.baps.be/membership-subscription).

 

Don’t forget that BAPS is also providing an outlet for publishing psychological research with Psychologica Belgica. Two good reasons to submit your work there is that the international impact of the journal is getting stronger, and the journal is fully open access. A new important initiative is the new section on PhD Critical Review’ papers. Consider also to submit a paper for the special issue on Research Integrity and Open Science in Psychology Research and don’t miss to read the recently published special issue that is honoring a great scholar in Belgian psychological sciences, Paul Eelen (https://www.psychologicabelgica.com/announcement/ ).

 

I would also like to mention two other new initiatives. Firstly, we are currently collecting information from all Belgian universities regarding research internships in order to facilitate the mobility of psychology researchers across Belgian universities. Thanks to Wim Gevers, we will make available this information in the next months. Secondly, BAPS is sponsoring workshops and meetings that contribute to the development of psychological sciences and their applications in Belgium (https://www.baps.be/sponsorship ).

 

Let me finish by thanking delegates at the Executive committee who left us in September for professional reasons. I would like to thank warmly Kasia Uzieblo, who was delegate for the university colleges in psychology, and who was also responsible for communication issues, and Anja Van den Broeck who was in charge of the best master and PhD awards.

I am also happy to announce the arrival of three new dynamic delegates! Dinska Van Gucht and Tim Vantilborgh will be in charge of communication issues (together with Mandy Rossignol for social media and Jan De Houwer for the website). I can already announce that in addition to Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/BelgianAssociationforPsychologicalSciences/) , BAPS is now also on Twitter (@BAPSciences)! The third one is Gilles Vannuscorps, who immediately took very seriously his role of new coordinator for the best master and PhD awards (https://www.baps.be/executive-committee).

 

I am particularly happy to work in the executive committee with such a group of enthusiastic and dedicated researchers! Although the number of issues to deal with is constantly increasing and some of them are not always easy to solve, going to Brussels once a month to attend the executive committee is always a great pleasure. The reason it is so pleasant is mainly that I can rely on such a group of super dynamic colleagues!

 

Olivier Luminet

President of the Belgian Association for Psychological Sciences