Do We Need Six Psychology Dictionaries—Or Any?
Seven years ago in PsycCRITIQUES I reviewed the first APA Dictionary of Psychology (Korn, 2007). Since then there have been two shorter editions (concise and college) and three special topic editions, including most recently The APA Dictionary of Statistics and Research Methods. In his review of this volume, Michael Palij provides an interesting history of statistics dictionaries and an analysis of the purpose of a dictionary, and he points out that all this information is available on the Internet. Even the Oxford English Dictionary is available online, for free.
Do we really need any of these APA volumes? I enjoyed searching through my copy of the Big One when I did my review, but concluded that there was “no significant difference” (Korn, 2007, last para.) between searching it or the Internet. And that was a biased judgment from an older person still in love with hard-copy books. I confess that I have not looked in that dictionary in the past seven years. The need for an APA statistics dictionary seems especially questionable. Palij points out that statistics is a tool used by many disciplines other than psychology and is its own discipline with its own dictionary. He also notes several important missing items and the editor’s “argument that ‘space limitations prevent us from providing certain information’” (last para.). There are no space limitations on the Internet.
Perhaps readers could help me understand the need to sacrifice so many trees in publishing these dictionaries. Why would you use a hard-copy book to find the definition of anything?
By Michael Palij
PsycCRITIQUES, 2014 Vol 59(25)