bSci21 Exclusive Interview with Dr. Benjamin Witts: Editor of Behavior Analysis Quarterly

Ben Witts, PhD, BCBA-D

Tell us a little about yourself. What is your background in behavior analysis and could you tell us about your position at St. Cloud?

I actually started in Clinical Psychology. I was earning my master’s degree at a behaviorally-oriented program and I found it odd that most of our readings and texts came from behavior analysts and not clinical psychologists. So I figured if I was primarily learning about behavior analysis from behavior analysts that maybe that’s where I should go! From there I’ve dabbled in just about everything behavior analysis, including bed-wetting, autism, gambling, decision-making, theoretical and conceptual issues, and a whole host of other stuff. That’s what I love about my job—I’m not married to any one interest.

I’m an assistant professor at St. Cloud State University’s ABA master’s program. It’s an unbelievably stressful job with ridiculous (self-imposed) hours… but I love every minute of it! I have a lot of freedom in my position and it has allowed me to support my students’ interests and pursuits in terms of practicum and thesis work. For example, this year alone I am supervising thesis work on nutritional scoring systems in supermarkets, medical checkups for impaired learners, bruxism in young children, music as a type of verbal behavior, and general process work with Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. In other words… I’m never bored!

 
What is the mission of BAQ?
 
Behavior Analysis Quarterly’s mission is simple: To disseminate and educate. Behavior analysis is a wide and wonderful field with more areas of interest and expertise than many of our own members realize. BAQ works to help celebrate everything we do and to help others see the tremendous impact we can have on our world. BAQ is about the success story that is behavior analysis and it’s one I am so proud to have been part of.
 
What is the history of BAQ?
 
BAQ started almost 25 years ago, though it was called Behavior Analysis Digest. Joe Wyatt started the digest and ran it for over two decades. It is really interesting to look back at the archives, which are available at the Dissemination of Behavior Analysis Special Interest Group page, and see many famous names grace its pages. Joe Wyatt eventually had to step down as the editor, and we worked to transition the digest to my editorship.
 
During the next year I worked with a team of professionals to consider where we wanted to take the digest. We soon discovered that we were drifting from the digest model to one that more resembled a magazine. We agreed that we were no longer running a digest, and thus we opted to rebrand the effort as Behavior Analysis Quarterly. We still hold true to Joe Wyatt’s vision, and we continue to run a digest portion in the magazine as many have found great value in that effort. However, we’ve added new layers in reporting on current events, ideas, and emerging trends in the field, and in a format that departs from the often stuffy world of journal article publication
 
Who is involved with BAQ?
 
Anyone who wants to be involved can be involved with BAQ! We have a diverse group of people who have submitted to the digest, and now the magazine, including clinicians, educators, students, and other professionals. I’m very proud of our editorial board in that we have a program director, three professors, and two student members. We all know how difficult it was starting out as a behavior analyst when wanting to publish or voice an opinion, and we hope that BAQ will serve to help newcomers and experienced authors alike in accomplishing these goals. We survive only by our readers and their submissions, so we welcome any contributions.
 
Where do you see BAQ in five years?
 
Right where it is—a completely free, easy to access outlet that serves to celebrate all things behavior analysis!
 
What would you like bSci21.org readers to take away from this interview?
 
The larger conversation about the state of behavior analysis of late has done a lot of finger pointing and complaining about the field’s limited scope and recognition. I’m not one to sit and point out flaws and suggest to others what can be done to fix it. I say, if there’s a problem, let’s do something. So this is what BAQ does. It celebrates the breath and power of behavior analysis. It disseminates. It educates. We already have an amazing field; let’s shine some light on it.
 
How can interested readers get in touch with you and BAQ?
 
 

I hope to hear from you with ideas, suggestions, and anything else you want to throw my way!

Be sure to visit BAQ at baquarterly.com!  

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