History of SSSR: Reflections

Reflections on SSSR by Dick Olson

I remember getting a letter from Ron Carver inviting me to become a charter member in his new Society for the Scientific Study of Reading (SSSR) in the early 90s. My initial reaction was that I hardly needed another conference to attend. The American Educational Research Association (AERA), the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD), Psychonomics, and the Orton Dyslexia Society (later to become the International Dyslexia Society) and some European conferences were really quite enough. I did not attend the first one or two meetings of SSSR. My first meeting was in San Francisco, and I really enjoyed my interactions with the members. On further reflection, I realized that the scientific study of reading, particularly of individual differences and genetics, did not seem to be of much interest to most members of AERA, SRCD, or Psychonomics, so SSSR became my main professional organization.
Many thanks to Ron Carver and the other charter members for this great idea. It was an honor and a pleasure to serve as the SSSR president 2002-2004, to host the first European meeting in Stockholm in 2000, and then to host the meeting on my home turf in Boulder in 2001. It has been gratifying to see how SSSR has grown over the past ten years to become a truly international organization.


Reflections on SSSR by Rebecca Treiman

I was skeptical about the organization at first. I didn’t know Ron Carver and didn’t know much about him. He was sending out letters (paper letters) asking people to join this new organization he was founding. I saw, however, that some good people were signing on to become founding members. I recall being convinced to do so when I saw that Usha Goswami had joined. Also, I knew that Marilyn Adams had joined and I had a lot of respect for her.

There was discussion in  the early years about starting a journal. I wasn’t sure that was going to work because I didn’t think it would get enough high quality submissions. I turned out to be wrong on that! There is a negative side to the success of the SSR journal, though. At the time SSR started, research on reading was often published in broader journals covering cognitive and developmental psychology. Now, those journals will often say that a submission on reading is better suited to a more specialized journal. So there is a danger of research on reading getting separated from developments in related fields and losing something in this way. It’s the same with the SSR conference. There is less research on reading at Psychonomics or SRCD than there used to be, and there is a negative side to that.

Overall, though, the positives of the SSSR conference and the SSR journal much outweigh the negatives. I’m glad I signed on when I did.