Scientific Ethics at AGU
AGU’s Scientific Ethics and Integrity Policy
AGU Policy on Scientific Integrity and Professional Ethics
Every member must read and agree to abide by our ethics policy upon renewing their membership or becoming a new member. Download the PDF.VIEW THE POLICY
Roles and process for investigation
We have compiled the policies and practices for scientific ethics at AGU including roles and processes for investigating misconduct allegations [PDF]. They are separated by topic to help you better understand AGU’s Scientific Integrity and Professional Ethics Policy [PDF] and how it may impact you.
Complaints of misconduct that are not directly connected to AGU programs should be reported first to the home institution or workplace where the misconduct took place. AGU does not have the means to investigate activities not directly connected to its programs.
Who can report misconduct?
Can only AGU members bring forth complaints of misconduct?
Anonymous and third-party complaints
Are anonymous or third-party complaints allowed?
Third-party complaints are allowed, however, a third-party complaint must identify the target of the alleged misconduct, if applicable. And, the target should be willing to cooperate as part of the ethics investigation.
To the extent reasonably possible, AGU will protect the identity of the parties involved in an ethics complaint. However, certain disclosures may be necessary in order to conduct an adequate investigation and to the extent required by law.
How do I report misconduct?
How do I report an allegation of misconduct?
Allegations regarding misconduct by AGU members or authors in connection with AGU activities (publications, presentation, and other official duties) must be submitted in writing either directly to the chair of the Ethics Committee or to [email protected]. The chair will consider the allegations and determine if a full investigation by the Ethics Committee is warranted. All parties will be bound to treat all documents and information with the highest degree of confidentiality throughout and after the process. Failure to do so is deemed a serious breach of these guidelines.
Allegations submitted in writing should be sent to:
Chair of the AGU Ethics Committee and
AGU VP of Ethics, Diversity and Inclusion
2000 Florida Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20009-1277, USA
What information should the allegation contain?
Allegations may be returned to the sender if they do not contain the following information:
- The name and affiliation of the person(s) submitting the allegation and the name and identifying information of the person(s) alleged to have committed the scientific misconduct.
- A description of the allegation that includes the date and circumstances of the alleged misconduct.
- Any documents or other relevant items (such as data, scientific papers, memos, etc.) with annotation showing specifically how the item relates to the allegation.
- An explanation of how the allegation relates to scientific misconduct as defined in this policy.
- A statement explaining any conflict(s) of interest the person making the allegation has with the subject(s), entity(ies), or situation(s) named in the allegation. A conflict of interest does not preclude the filing of an allegation.
Who reviews allegations?
The Ethics Committee chair reviews completed complaints to determine whether an investigating ethics committee should be appointed to conduct a full ethics investigation.
What happens in an investigation?
The investigating Ethics Committee conducts an investigation and provides findings and recommendations to the AGU Board. The Board of Directors has the final authority to determine what action(s) will be taken based on the findings of the Ethics Committee.
An opportunity to appeal the Board’s decision is part of the process but, must be based on new evidence or reconsideration of evidence and include a narrative justification for the appeal.
The investigating Ethics Committee has up to 90 days to complete its investigation (and may request an extension of time, if needed). A typical timeline for handling a complaint may take several months, including time for the AGU Board’s involvement in the review and appeals process.
Sanctions, when issued by the Board, may or may not be made public. The complainant and the respondent are notified of the Board’s decision.
Conflict of interest
How does AGU define "Conflict of Interest"?
- Could impair the individual’s objectivity,
- Could create an unfair competitive advantage for any person or organization, or
- Could create the appearance of either item listed above.
What standards are applied to determine scientific misconduct?
- There is a significant departure from accepted practices of the relevant research community; and
- The misconduct be committed intentionally, or knowingly or recklessly; and
- The allegation must be proven by a preponderance of evidence.
Findings of misconduct
What happens when a finding of scientific misconduct has been made?
Responding to scientific misconduct
What can I do if I’m accused of scientific misconduct?
Professional conduct self-disclosure
What self-disclosure does AGU require?
Each candidate or nominee for an AGU honor, and other type of AGU recognition or a governance position, is required to disclose past allegations or institutional proceedings resulting in a finding of professional misconduct, or any current formal complaints related to the candidate’s professional conduct, even if the matter is still pending. Visit the professional conduct self-disclosure page.
Ethics and equity resources
We’ve compiled some helpful AGU resources and external links to help you navigate issues related to scientific integrity and ethics.
AGU Ethics and Equity Resource Center – Learn how to educate yourself and others, promote, and ensure responsible scientific conduct and foster a positive work climate in science.
Professional conduct disclosure for AGU honors and governance candidates – AGU honorees and governance candidates are requested to complete the professional conduct disclosure form.
Annual Ethics Reports – Read our latest ethics reports for overviews of accomplishments in AGU’s scientific integrity and ethics work and prior year complaints.
Roles and process for investigation [PDF] – This document outlines the different roles and processes for investigations of misconduct allegations by AGU Ethics.
Publication ethics – Explore the following topics in publication ethics: ethical obligations of editors, plagiarism, authorship guidelines, conflicts of interest, and dual publication.
Safe AGU – Learn more about the Safe AGU program that promotes safety at AGU meetings and offers support and workshops to participants.
International Association for Promoting Geoethics (IAPG) – AGU has a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with IAPG to develop initiatives and events discussing the ethical, social and cultural implications of geosciences.
Ethical Framework for Climate Intervention — AGU's plan to lead the development of an ethical framework to guide the research and possible deployment of climate change intervention measures.