The AAS Ethics Statement

A discussion on the new Ethics Statement drafted by the council at the 2009 Summer meeting in Pasadena. We are looking for comments and input from the AAS Membership on this new statement.

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The AAS Ethics Statement

Post by lwillson » Fri Jun 26, 2009 1:58 pm

From the moderator, Lee Anne Willson, also VP of the AAS:

The Council of the AAS has developed and endorsed the following draft ethics statement, pending input from our members. It is intended to represent a consensus, and thus necessarily may not include every issue that is important to each member of the AAS. It is our hope that it will be a useful starting point for discussion of professional ethics with students moving into a professional career. It may also prove useful as a reference to standard practice in US astronomy in some cases where there is an issue that arises, perhaps in the context of cultural differences between areas of science or parts of the world.

While the text of the ethics statement remains the responsibility of the AAS Council, we are interested in hearing from members before we make a final version public.

Other professional societies with similar statements include:

American Physical Society Guidelines for Professional Conduct
Other related APS Statements

American Chemical Society ethics and professional conduct guidelines

Federal Policy On Research Misconduct (from OSTP)

AAAS Research Integrity Site

DHHS ORI Guide An Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research (2004)

We invite you to post comments concerning the document. All comments posted on this site must be signed. The moderator will verify that the undersigned submitted the comment and may suggest modifications before posting comments. Once they are posted, you will still have access to your comments to modify them. At the end of the discussion period, the comments will be compiled and considered before the final version of the ethics statement is prepared and posted.


Draft adopted June 7, 2009

The mission of the American Astronomical Society is to enhance and share humanity's scientific understanding of the Universe. We believe the advancement of astronomy requires that we provide ethical guidelines for AAS members and, for that matter, anyone involved in professional astronomical activities.

Every astronomer is a citizen of the community of science. Each shares responsibility for the welfare of this community. We endorse the statement of the American Physical Society that ``Science is best advanced when there is mutual trust, based upon honest behavior, throughout the community." All scientists should act ethically in the conduct of their research, in teaching and education, and in relations with both members of the public and other members of the scientific community. We have a special responsibility to students and postdocs to train them in ethical conduct.

The American Astronomical Society believes that the following are the minimal standards of ethical behavior relating to the profession.


All people encountered in one's professional life should be treated with respect. Discourse should be civil. Scientists should work to provide an environment that encourages the free expression and exchange of scientific ideas. They should promote equality of opportunity and treatment for all their colleagues, regardless of gender, race, ethnic origin, religion, age, marital status, sexual orientation, disabilities, or any other reason not related to scientific merit. This principle is clearly stated in our By-Laws.

More senior members of the society, especially research supervisors, have a special responsibility to facilitate the research, educational, and professional development of students and subordinates. This includes providing safe, supportive working environments, fair compensation and appropriate acknowledgment of their contributions to any research results. In addition, supervisors should encourage the timely advance of graduate students and young professionals in their career aspirations.

It is also incumbent on senior members of our society to inform more junior members of these ethical issues and of institutional and government guidelines, policies and procedures related to the oversight and maintenance of ethical standards for research and conduct. It is the responsibility of all members of our society to familiarize themselves with such guidelines, policies and procedures.


It is an ethical responsibility that research results be recorded and maintained in a form that allows review, analysis, and reproduction by others. It is incumbent on researchers involved in large, publicly-supported studies to make results available in a timely manner.

Fabrication of data or selective reporting of data with the intent to mislead or deceive is unethical and unacceptable, as is the appropriation of data or research results from others without permission and attribution.

It should be recognized that honest error is an integral part of the scientific enterprise. It is not unethical to be wrong, provided that errors are promptly acknowledged and corrected when they are detected.


All persons who have made significant contributions to a work intended for publication should be offered the opportunity to be listed as authors. This includes all those who have contributed intellectually to the inception, design, execution, or interpretation of the research. Other individuals who have contributed to a study should be appropriately acknowledged. The sources of financial support for any project should be acknowledged/disclosed. All collaborators share responsibility for any paper they coauthor, and every coauthor should have the opportunity to review a manuscript before its submission.

Proper acknowledgement of the work of others must always be given, and complete referencing is an essential part of any astronomical research publication. Authors have an obligation to their colleagues and the scientific community to include a set of references that communicates the precedents, sources, and context of the reported work. Deliberate omission of a pertinent author or reference is unacceptable. Data provided by others must be cited appropriately, even if obtained from a public database.

All authors are responsible for providing prompt corrections or retractions if errors are found in published works.

Plagiarism is the presentation of others' words, ideas or scientific results as if they were one's own. Citations to others' work must be clear, complete, and correct. Plagiarism is unethical behavior and is never acceptable.

Authors, editors and referees should also be aware of the professional and ethical standards that have been adopted for the AAS journals (


Peer review is an essential component of many aspects of the scientific process such as evaluating research proposals, publishing research results, and evaluating colleagues for career advancement.

Peer review can serve its intended function only if the members of the scientific community are prepared to provide thorough, fair, and objective evaluations based on requisite expertise. Although peer review can be difficult and time-consuming, scientists have an obligation to participate in the process.

Reviewers should disclose conflicts of interest resulting from direct competitive, collaborative, or other relationships with those they are reviewing and recuse themselves from cases where such conflicts preclude an objective evaluation. It is unethical to seek to gain an advantage by means of reviewing the work of others.

Privileged information or ideas that are obtained through peer review must be kept confidential and not used for competitive gain.


Many activities of scientists and educators have the potential for a conflict of interest. Any professional relationship or action that may either be or be perceived as a conflict of interest should be fully disclosed. Most organizations or activities have mechanisms for managing conflicts, for example, through recusal. If a conflict of interest cannot be properly managed, the activity should be avoided or discontinued.

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Re: The AAS Ethics Statement

Post by pdnoerd » Thu Jul 02, 2009 1:20 pm

The statement is OK but the problems that confront me repeatedly lie with the U.S. government, not with individual scientists. A couple of years ago a colleague and I tried to add as co-author a person who worked at NOAA but he/she said "no way - I can't be an author on the paper because NOAA would not approve or would take years to process the request." So I think we put in an acknowledgment.

Next case: (much more serious from my viewpoint): I had noticed that there seems to be no governmental activity to inform the public what to do in case of nuclear explosion in the air (i.e. fallout). After many (perhaps 25) attempts to get something moving on that, I contacted the head of the Sigma Xi society to see if they might put together an article. I would have helped find some authors. She said that she could not be involved in any way because she was a government employee.

So it seems to me that many scientists are hamstrung by government regulations. Our government needs to face the fact that official government pronouncements are anyway buried 6 feet deep in the junk now out on the Web and in instant messages and, I gather, "Tweets". I would suppose that the policies could be changed to allow a government employee to sponsor or author something but use a disclaimer such as "this paper (or bulletin or blog etc) does not represent U.S. Government policy or official information."

See you next century :wink: on that one. Meantime if somebody sets off a nuke in the atmosphere, we will see a public panic as people hear by word of mouth or blog that they should get a few weeks' Iodine supplement supply (against 131 I) - grocery and health food stores will have riots. At the same time, if a "dirty bomb" goes off the same thing will happen even though virtually no radioactive Iodine issues.

Sorry to harp on my own interest in public safety, but the over-all issue is governmental paralysis and scientists ought, in my opinion, to exert what influence they may have to cause the U.S. Government to shed its muzzle.

Peter Noerdlinger

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Re: The AAS Ethics Statement

Post by woody43 » Thu Jul 02, 2009 1:40 pm

Reviewers should allow acceptance of papers with innovative new ideas on old theories. For instance questioning Special Relativity is almost treated as sacrilege. This kills innovation and exchange of ideas among the science community.

Robert A Woodruff

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Re: The AAS Ethics Statement

Post by JohnCM12 » Thu Jul 02, 2009 2:06 pm

Thanks for preparing the statement!

I think it's important to note that press releases, articles, podcasts, tv shows, web sites, popular books, and interviews with reporters are forms of publication. The ethics statement should apply to them too. Experience shows that reporters and the general public seldom go to original sources to confirm the accuracy of statements made. That means that it may take only one instance of a mis-attribution of credit or a false statement to propagate worldwide and become accepted as fact.

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Re: The AAS Ethics Statement

Post by » Thu Jul 02, 2009 2:25 pm

The Ethics Statement reads well. However, I have read articles in both Physics today and the AAS Newsletter (as well as having experienced this myself) regarding Peer Review where it is sometimes apparent that an article has been partly judged on the reputation or the association of an author rather than its "anonymous content". Should this issue be addressed in the Ethics Statement ?

Harry I. Ringermacher

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Post by jlpipher » Thu Jul 02, 2009 2:30 pm

While I generally agree with the statement on plagiarism in this document, I believe it is missing "self-plagiarism". Copying your own words in one paper to another paper is also considered plagiarism.

Judy Pipher

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Re: The AAS Ethics Statement

Post by steviewonder » Thu Jul 02, 2009 2:48 pm

First, some comments on the paragraph in the Ethics Statement that reads, "All people encountered in one's professional life should be treated with respect. Discourse should be civil. Scientists should work to provide an environment that encourages the free expression and exchange of scientific ideas. They should promote equality of opportunity and treatment for all their colleagues, regardless of gender, race, ethnic origin, religion, age, marital status, sexual orientation, disabilities, or any other reason not related to scientific merit. This principle is clearly stated in our By-Laws."

The following should certainly be added to the list that begins with "regardless of"- national origin. National origin is not necessarily the same as ethnic origin.

In addition, AAS should consider adding the following two items to the same list, if they have not already been considered and rejected: citizenship, political affiliation. Citizenship is not always the same, of course, as national origin. Political affiliation was allegedly used as a discriminatory criterion in ostensibly nonpolitical appointments to science panels in the past by the US government, for example.

I believe that the statement that refusal to admit one's error constitutes unethical behavior is too strong and needs to be qualified. If a scientist remains unconvinced that he/she is in error, it would be wrong, and in fact, unethical, to accept criticism for the purported error. What should be described as unethical, and added to the Ethics Statement, is retaliation in any form, including ad hominem attacks, against those colleagues who allege errors in your work.

Steve Maran

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Re: The AAS Ethics Statement

Post by pauljgreen » Thu Jul 02, 2009 3:08 pm

This is a good generic ethics statement for astronomy.

One rather glaring omission seems to be any mention of proposal ethics. Proposals are as important as publications for many astronomers, since a successful proposal means observing time and/or funding. However, while the stakes are high and the competition for these resources may be ferocious, the review of claims made is much more limited than it is for publications (usually just to a review panel, rather than to say the ApJ readership), so that on occasion, scientists may overhype their results or abilities, inadequately reference others' work, or even claim to be in collaborations that do not exist. There are grey areas galore here, as in most regimes of ethics, but I suspect that many senior scientists have seen examples of more than one of the above.

So I believe the ethics statement needs a short separate section on proposals.

Paul Green

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Re: The AAS Ethics Statement

Post by bgandersson » Thu Jul 02, 2009 3:50 pm

The first paragraph of the "Publication and Authorship Practices" section needs to be tightened up and also address inappropriate co-authorships.

How long after a given technique/instrument/project was first initiated/built does "contributed intellectually" apply at a level where a co-authorship is warranted? Does being the PI of a mission/project/group really always warrant being a co-author? By the wording of the current paragraph, anyone doing uvby-beta photometry ought to have Bengt Stromgren as a co-author since he certainly "contributed intellectually to the inception" of such research.

There are way too many instances in the current astrophysics literature where people are included for reasons of "brown nosing" or "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" or simple sloppiness in copying the teams "standard authorship list" from paper to paper. Astronomy, in contrast to the biological sciences, does not have as an accepted practice that the last author of a paper is the lab director.

I would argue that the formulation:
"...all those who have contributed intellectually to the inception, design, execution, or interpretation of the research."
needs at least to be changed to (something like)
"...all those who have significantly contributed intellectually to the inception, design, execution, or interpretation of the research being reported."

B-G Andersson

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Re: The AAS Ethics Statement

Post by Osborn » Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:06 pm

In response to the call for input, I have several comments on the draft text of the proposed ethics statement. I hope they will be of use in improving the final version.

Wayne Osborn

Paragraph 1 - why the word professional in "... involved in professional astronomical activities"? These are guidelines, and can apply to all involved in astronomical activities.

Paragraph 2 - I prefer the more formal "post-doctoral fellow" to "postdocs" in a statement such as this.

Conduct towards others, paragraph 2: If used, shouldn't "society" be capitalized? (This applies to subsequent paragraphs as well). In this case, I would prefer the word "profession" to read "More senior members of the profession, ..."

Research, paragraph 1: The paragraph speaks to research results, but what about the basic data? Preserving the data is essential if the work is to be reproduced.

Research, paragraph 3: Perhaps modify to ... acknowledged, publicly reported and when possible corrected when ..." First, there are types of errors that can be detected but are impossible to correct (e.g., errors in timing or other measure when the observation cannot be repeated). Second, what is important is that the error is made known if things based on it have been circulated (e.g., seeking support for this new finding)

Publication, paragraph 2: I am a bit uneasy with the paragraph as there is some things that are so well known that citations are probably not warranted (e.g., Einstein's general relativity or the HST). Some modifier to account for these cases may be needed (but I can't think of one).

Peer review, paragraph 2: Perhaps add at the end "when requested."

Conflict of interest, paragraph 1: Perhaps " ... may either be, or be perceived to be, ... To me the commas make the intent clearer. Also, if possible I'd prefer there be a statement as to whom the conflict "should be fully disclosed." For example, is is acceptable to formally disclose a potential conflict on some form with the attitude that "I've followed the rules; if someone worries about this, they'll tell me" and then continue with the activity?

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Re: The AAS Ethics Statement

Post by jmoody » Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:37 pm

Kudos to John and the AAS for this statement on ethics. The statement - and the debate surrounding it - can only benefit our profession.

I agree with B-G's comment on extraneous authorship. Adding undeserving authors is as much of an ethics lapse as omitting the deserving. There is a true story of a student passing a paper around the faculty for comment and having it returned to him with one professor adding himself as an author on the flimsiest of reasons! The students knew the real reason was tenure review. Following the sentence B-G modifies it might be wise to add something like this: "Any person not meeting these standards should not be included as an author."

Secondly, the attribution of responsibility to all authors for a paper's content is laudible. But where everyone is in charge, no-one is in charge. Somewhere it should be affirmed that the first author bears the most responsibility for the paper and for seeing that needed corrections are made. Indeed I am not sure it is professionally wise or ethical for errata to be submitted without the first author's approval. Unless it is felt that this point is best handled by journals more than in a broad ethics statement, I suggest we consider changing the third paragraph in the Publication and Authorship section to read "All authors are responsible for providing prompt corrections or retractions if errors are found in published works with the first author bearing primary responsibility."

J. Ward Moody

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Re: The AAS Ethics Statement

Post by kslong » Sat Jul 04, 2009 11:26 am

I believe it is important that the AAS have a clear ethics policy. The proposed draft seems "right on target" in most areas.

However, I also agree that with some of the earlier writers that the tricky questions of ethics concerning authorship need to be made more explicit in order to suggest a minimum contribution to a specific publication and some guideline between the boundary between being acknowledged and being a coauthor. The guidelines are particular unclear for large multifaceted projects which will generate multiple publications. As written the ethics statement is clear on who should be offered authorship. It is less clear on when one should decline the offer.

I would also favor a statement to the effect that every author has the responsibility to "stand behind" what is written in a paper to the extent he or she has expertise. The ethics statement does include a sentence concerning what one is required to do when one discovers something is in error, but I believe there might have been a statement that preceded this that described what the responsibility of every author was before the paper was published.

Knox Long

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Re: The AAS Ethics Statement

Post by hbhammel » Sun Jul 05, 2009 9:14 am

Nice job, and some good comments here.

One sentence that puzzled me was "Data provided by others must be cited appropriately, even if obtained from a public database." The trouble is the conjunctive phrase "even if." I appreciate the intent, but as worded this sentence implies that if I use something from the Hubble Archive (for example), I must go back and find out who actually took those data initially and cite them (their proposal?). Is that really what was meant? If not, then perhaps a better structure might be: "All data sources must be cited appropriately, including public databases."

Heidi Hammel

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Re: The AAS Ethics Statement

Post by erin_r » Sun Jul 05, 2009 6:31 pm

Oy as a grad student I have some quibbles here.
In addition, supervisors should encourage the timely advance of graduate students and young professionals in their career aspirations.
What is timely? In term of graduate students, 4 years? 5 years? Less than 10 years so grad students don't have to worry about the grad college tossing them out? It strikes me everyone has a different definition of timely depending upon how long it took them, took their students or if god forbid university/institution politics are involved. Yes there are and can be significant factors which can drag out someone thesis (weather, PhD/postdoc depending on a mission launching only to have it delayed or blow up) and I understand that, but this timely advance line of thought is more a question of general mentorship. And I think mentorship should be addressed somewhere else because it is such a broad topic and is one that I think would need to lay down some basic guidelines for all stages of our training. Given the significant discussion on this topic at the grad student town hall at the Pasadena summer meeting, I think should perhaps be a major topic of concentration for the astro education committee and/or the professional development committee.

Another issue that I don't see explicitly called out here is gaining illicit access to proprietary data. This statement addresses fabrication, selective reporting, and plagiarism in this document but nothing about the going poking around on a computer to gain access to another person's dataset. Whilst we'd all like to pretend we all behave and no one does this sort of thing, we also know it can happen given the competitive nature of some sections of the field. Though it may happen less often that disputes re: authorship, it is still an issue that needs to be addressed.

And my last issue is that this ethics statement exists/is a work in progress, there is no clearly defined process in which to deal with ethical issues (either violations or questions). Yes, every university should have a research ethics office, however when it comes to potential multi-institution conflicts, we should probably have a ethics committee within the AAS itself.

Erin Ryan

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Re: The AAS Ethics Statement

Post by elliottdb » Sun Jul 05, 2009 9:57 pm

I believe that the list of "classes" of people who will need to be included as not being discriminated against may grow substantially in the future. Why have this littany of types of people that we need to protect in our ethics statement? A much simpler and more general statement seems to protect all of us:
"They should promote equality of opportunity and treatment for all their colleagues based only on scientific merit."

Elliott Bloom

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Re: The AAS Ethics Statement

Post by jlazio » Mon Jul 06, 2009 11:37 am

The idea of an ethics statement is a good idea, and many of the existing posts make good points. A few additional thoughts.

In "Conduct Towards Others," is a non-exhaustive listing of possible ways to classify people needed? What is not covered by the following statement: "They should promote equality of opportunity and treatment for all their colleagues. This principle is clearly stated in our By-Laws." I took out even the part about "scientific merit because shouldn't even crackpots be treated with a modicum of respect? Just because somebody is arguing for an idea that appears to be scientifically unfounded does not mean that he or she should not be treated with respect.

In "Publication and Authorship Practices," what does it mean that, "Data provided by others must be cited appropriately, even if obtained from a public database." Is it sufficient to cite simply the database? At what point is it no longer required to cite some original source?

Joseph Lazio

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Re: The AAS Ethics Statement

Post by bwargelin » Mon Jul 06, 2009 4:00 pm

Should guidelines regarding peer review anonymity be included? E.g.,
never ask about, confirm, deny, or discuss participation in any
review, in perpetuity? Some journals allow reviewers to reveal their
identity if the author inquires; should this and other breaches of
anonymity be discouraged? If there is no absolute moratorium, should
anonymity be considered more important for reviews of proposals than
for publications? Is there a commonly accepted "statute of limitations"?

Brad Wargelin

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Re: The AAS Ethics Statement

Post by lwillson » Wed Jul 08, 2009 6:36 am

Submitted via email to the moderator:

(1) The statement "It is the responsibility of all members of our society to familiarize themselves with such guidelines, policies and procedures." should be near the start of the whole thing, not in the middle.

(2) Conflicts of interest Section: There needs to be some discussion as to what a "conflict of interest" is, with a couple of typical examples for astronomers, and ideally a reference to an online good, relevant discussion. (In fact references to online good, relevant discussions woulod be valuable at several points in the statement.)

Woody Sullivan

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Re: The AAS Ethics Statement

Post by lwillson » Wed Jul 08, 2009 9:14 am

Submitted via email to the moderator:

This ethics statement makes the valid point that research should be published. a) However, this costs money, which is not available in many countries. b) Also the high speed internet access, that is presumed standard to avail yourself of all possibilities, is also only barely standard in many countries. c) In some countries people are not used to the scientific lingua franca, English today, and have published in other languages. As the US science community is not an isolated island in this world, I think this ethics statement should allow for such limitations.

The statement should also include a call that we should all try to modify existing government rules to allow free scientific exchange, in person and in the material they bring along. Both is not currently guaranteed. To miss at a meeting 1/3 of the participants is not helpful to scientific exchange.

Peter L. Biermann

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Re: The AAS Ethics Statement

Post by jillknapp » Thu Jul 16, 2009 12:18 pm

Congratulations to all on producing this useful statement. I have two comments:

1. Peer Review: I don't think you need to include this. All the concerns expressed herein could be taken care of by removing reviewer anonymity.

2. This is not directly an ethical matter but is somewhat related: it's time the AAS moved to drop page charges for its journals. The AAS should work towards a direct-funding model, like A&A and MNRAS.


Jill Knapp

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Community enforcement necessary; Participation needs protect

Post by astrostuart » Fri Jul 17, 2009 12:48 pm

The statement must call for appropriate ENFORCEMENT by the community. Having the journals provide recourse for publications is the best place to start. We cannot take it for granted that every institution will provide recourse for its employees. Ethical violations can easily cross institutions. It has happened that an individual with enough money to set up his own organization that by using "at-will employment" he arranged to not commit to any ethical principles. The very name of "at will" employment carries the meaning to not be committed to doing anything a person in power does not want to do. I claim the real test of ethics is to be required to do something not because we want to but because it is right. The community must provide recourse for actions by organizations that do not provide means of enforcement.

The statement must also include a protection for continued PARTICIPATION. I claim that the right to continue one's scientific efforts to be the one thing even more important than being credited as an author. It is more unethical to keep a scientist from developing his or her skills than only keeping a scientist from being listed. Deliberately preventing the use of a scientist's contributions is as unethical as improper use. Deliberately impeding communication with collaborators by use of personal allegations and fabricated stories is profoundly unethical. When a scientist has contributed even non-intellectual effort and sacrifice, denying that scientist promised opportunity to complete the project is perhaps the most egregious form of unethical behavior. Take away a man's fish and you starve him for a day, but take away his chance to learn to fish and you starve him for life. Scientist must respect another's efforts to develop SKILLS. What can be worse than harming a scientists experience and skills?

Stuart Taylor
First Staff Astronomer from Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope

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Re: The AAS Ethics Statement

Post by msoey » Mon Jul 20, 2009 1:54 pm

A standard reference that I think should be included is the National Academies' classic, On Being a Scientist: (you can read on-line or download a free PDF) It's a wonderful
booklet with examples of gray area and good fodder for discussion -- a must-read.

[An alternative form of the link to] the Federal Policy on Research Misconduct: ... ber_6_2000
My understanding is that the Federal Policy governs our federally-supported work. Thus, this Policy should be
referenced and linked in the AAS statement (and maybe should the APS one, too?).

Many thanks to all who worked on this excellent draft. Some detailed comments/edits:

-- "Discourse should be civil": This document is an ethics statement. Does this imply that mere rudeness is unethical?
How about being more specific: "In no instance is abusive behavior acceptable."

-- Research: "...make results AND/OR DATA available in a timely manner."

-- Research: "...intent to mislead or deceive is FRAUDULENT, as is the appropriation of UNPUBLISHED data..."

-- "It should be recognized that honest error is..." This bit seems to over-emphasize error-prone-ness over what to do.
How about simply: "Honest errors do happen, but they must be promptly acknowledged and corrected..."

-- Publication: I agree with others that we need guidelines on minimal contributions for authorship. This is also
addressed in the National Academies' pub referenced above, which discusses and discourages "honorary authors".

-- I also agree that we need something more explicit about when citing original sources from databases is needed.

-- "Proper acknowledgment of the work of others SHOULD always be given..." "Must" is unenforceable, and never happens.

-- "Citations OF others' work must be clear... Plagiarism is FRAUDULENT behavior..."

-- I agree with others that proposals should be included, either under Publications or Peer review. The same standards
apply to published work and to proposals. The Federal Policy's opening sentence defines Research Misconduct as:
" fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results"

-- Someone mentioned enforcement -- it might be possible to include a statement that any actions that qualify as
misconduct by the definition of a governing institution and/or agency is subject to the relevant enforcement process.

Thanks again to all for this very important document.

Sally Oey

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Re: The AAS Ethics Statement

Post by kalas » Thu Aug 13, 2009 8:02 am

This is an important effort by the AAS, but I think the deadline to comment by August 15th is too soon. So far there are only ~20 responses, yet there are ~7000 AAS members. At least a second draft should be presented for comment through September 2009.

I would recommend a more specific link between the Ethics Statement and the AAS ByLaws ( For example, Article I says that "Membership in the Society may be suspended or terminated by vote of the Council for conduct adjudged to be detrimental to the interests of the Society." One should add: "...adjudged to be detrimental to the interests of the Society, such as violating the principles set forth in the AAS Ethics Statement".

The Ethics Statement could also refer to the conditions of membership. For example, though plagiarism is "unethical behavior", a finding of plagiarism should lead to termination of membership. Perhaps at the top of the ethics statement one could compose more of an umbrella statement, such as: "Membership in the AAS is conditional on the following minimal standards of ethical behavior relating to the profession."

Paul Kalas


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