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Code of Conduct for Scientists Who Engage in Advocacy

July 1, 2012 Filed under Blog, Featured, Potpourri 

The AAAS hosted a workshop sponsored by the National Science Foundation to address the issue of scientists expressing their opinions to influence an action, such as a political process. The results of this workshop can be downloaded from this web page.

The bottom line is the Code of Conduct for Advocacy in Science by Nicholas Steneck of the University of Michigan. It reads:

Code of Conduct for Advocacy in Science

As a scientist:

* Be honest, accountable, fair and a good steward in all of your professional work
* Accept responsibility for the trustworthiness of your science

When acting primarily as a scientist reporting, explaining and interpreting your work:

* Present information clearly, in understandable terms; avoid making exaggerated or unsubstantiated claims
* Be aware of and make your interests transparent when presenting views on particular decisions
* Point out the weaknesses and limitations of your arguments, including data that conflict with your recommendations
* Present opposing scientific views; recognize critiques by others
* Recognize when your activities as a scientist merge into advocacy

When providing advice to others on policies and courses of action (advocating):

* Base your advocacy on your area(s) of expertise, separating formal expertise from experience-based expertise and personal opinions
* Make clear when you are speaking as an individual scientist as opposed to someone formally representing a scientific organization and/or group of scientists
* Be aware of the impact your actions as an advocate can have on science and its uses
* Take steps to become knowledgeable about the complex issues that have a bearing on public decisions

Good advice!

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