Point Blue Conservation Science's Scientific Integrity Policy
Purpose and scope
This document establishes Point Blue policy on the integrity of scientific and scholarly activities Point Blue staff, interns, research associates and volunteers conduct, and science and scholarship they use to inform management and public policy decisions. Scientific and scholarly information developed and utilized by Point Blue must be robust, of the highest quality, and the result of as rigorous scientific and scholarly processes as can be achieved. Most importantly, it must be trustworthy.
It is essential that Point Blue maintains integrity in its scientific and scholarly activities because information from such activities is a critical factor that informs decision making on a wide array of public and private policies. In addition, the scientific method is at the heart of Point Blue’s identity as a science-based institution.
This document also establishes scientific and scholarly ethical standards, including codes of conduct, and a process for the initial handling of alleged violations.
This document applies to all Point Blue employees, interns, research associates, contractors, volunteers, graduate students, visiting scholars and any others working under the auspices of Point Blue who conduct or directly supervise scientific and/or scholarly activities (including but not limited to monitoring, research and assessment, or in reporting results of these activities). This also applies to individuals who directly supervise or personally perform work involving the compilation and translation of scientific and scholarly data or information into formats used by decision makers and other non-scientific or non-scholar audiences. This document supplements and does not replace Point Blue’s Personnel Policies and Procedures, and other required policies.
Scientific and Scholarly Activities. Activities involving inventorying, monitoring, experimentation, study, research, modeling, and scientific and scholarly assessments; conducted in a manner specified by documented protocols and procedures.
Scientific and Scholarly Assessment. Scientific and scholarly information constructed to evaluate a body of scientific and scholarly knowledge, typically by analyzing and synthesizing multiple
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factual inputs, data, models, assumptions, and/or by applying best professional judgment to bridge and/or characterize uncertainties in the available information.
Scientific and Scholarly Integrity. Adhering to professional values and practices when conducting and applying the results of science and scholarship that ensures objectivity, clarity, reproducibility, and utility, that provides insulation from bias, that excludes any aspect of fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, outside interference, censorship, and the like, and that ensures adequate procedural and information security.
Point Blue supports a culture of scientific and scholarly integrity. Science and scholarship are at the core of Point Blue’s mission and Point Blue recognizes the importance of scientific and scholarly information and science and scholarship as methods for maintaining and enhancing our effectiveness and establishing and maintaining credibility and value with all sectors of the public, both nationally and internationally.
Point Blue is dedicated to preserving the integrity of the scientific and scholarly activities it conducts, and activities that are conducted on its behalf. Point Blue will not tolerate loss of integrity in the performance of scientific and scholarly activities or in the application of science and scholarship in decision making.
Point Blue staff, interns, volunteers and other working under the auspices of Point Blue will:
A. Use clear and unambiguous codes of conduct for scientific and scholarly activities to define expectations for those covered by this policy.
B. Facilitate the free flow of scientific and scholarly information, consistent with privacy and classification standards, and in keeping with Point Blue’s data sharing and authorship policies.
C. Ensure that the selection and retention of employees in scientific and scholarly positions or in positions that rely on the results of scientific and scholarly activities are based on the candidate’s integrity, knowledge, credentials, and experience relevant to the responsibility of the position.
D. Ensure that public communications policies provide procedures by which scientists and scholars may speak to the media and the public about scientific and scholarly matters based on their official work and areas of expertise. In no circumstance will Point Blue scientists be asked to alter scientific findings and under no circumstances shall Point Blue scientists alter scientific findings.
E. Communicate this policy and all related responsibilities to contractors, cooperators, partners, research associates, and volunteers who assist with developing or applying the results of scientific and scholarly activities on behalf of Point Blue, as appropriate.
F. Encourage the enhancement of scientific and scholarly integrity through appropriate,
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cooperative engagement with the communities of practice represented by professional societies and organizations.
G. Examine, track, and resolve all reasonable allegations of scientific and scholarly misconduct while ensuring the rights and privacy of those covered by this policy and ensuring that unwarranted allegations do not result in slander, libel, or other damage to them.
H. Facilitate the sharing of best administrative and management practices that promote the integrity of Point Blue’s scientific and scholarly activities.
Code of Scientific and Scholarly Conduct
Each Point Blue employee, intern, volunteer, contractor, research associate, graduate student, visiting scholar and any other individual working under the auspices of Point Blue will abide by the following code of scientific and scholarly conduct to the best of her or his ability.
(1) I will act in the interest of the advancement of science and scholarship for sound decision making, by using the most appropriate, best available, high quality scientific and scholarly data and information to support the mission of Point Blue.
(2) I will communicate the results of scientific and scholarly activities clearly, honestly, objectively, thoroughly, accurately, and in a timely manner.
(3) I will be responsible for the resources entrusted to me, including equipment, funds, my time, and the employees I supervise.
(4) I will adhere to the laws and policies related to protection of natural and cultural resources and to research animals and human subjects while conducting science and scholarship activities.
(5) I will not engage in activities that put others or me in an actual or apparent conflict of interest.
(6) I will not intentionally hinder the scientific and scholarly activities of others or engage in scientific and scholarly misconduct.
(7) I will clearly differentiate among facts, personal opinions, assumptions, hypotheses, and professional judgment in reporting the results of scientific and scholarly activities and characterizing associated uncertainties in using those results for decision making, and in representing those results to other scientists, decision makers, and the public.
(8) I will protect, to the fullest extent allowed by law, the confidential and proprietary information provided by individuals, communities, and entities whose interests and resources are studied or affected by scientific and scholarly activities.
(9) I will be responsible for the quality of the data I use or create and the integrity of the
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conclusions, interpretations, and applications I make. I will adhere to appropriate quality assurance and quality control standards, and not withhold information that might not support the conclusions, interpretations, and applications I make.
(10) I will be diligent in creating, using, preserving, documenting, and maintaining scientific and scholarly collections, records, methodologies, information, and data in accordance with Point Blue policy and procedures.
In addition, for scientists, scholars and others as applicable:
(1) I will place quality and objectivity of scientific and scholarly activities and reporting of results ahead of personal gain or allegiance to individuals or organizations.
(2) I will maintain scientific and scholarly integrity and will not engage in fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, reviewing, or reporting scientific and scholarly activities and their products.
(3) I will fully disclose methodologies used, all relevant data, and the procedures for identifying and excluding faulty data.
(4) I will adhere to appropriate professional standards for authoring and responsibly publishing the results of scientific and scholarly activities and will respect the intellectual property rights of others.
(5) I will welcome constructive criticism of my scientific and scholarly activities and will be responsive to their peer review.
(6) I will provide constructive, objective, and professionally valid peer review of the work of others, free of any personal or professional jealousy, competition, non-scientific disagreement, or conflict of interest. I will substantiate comments that I make with the same care with which I report my own work.
In addition, for managers:
(1) I will do my best to support the scientific and scholarly activities of others and will not engage in dishonesty, fraud, misrepresentation, coercive manipulation, censorship, or other misconduct that alters the content, veracity, or meaning or that may affect the planning, conduct, reporting, or application of scientific and scholarly activities.
(2) I will offer respectful, constructive, and objective review of my employees’ scientific and scholarly activities and will encourage their obtaining appropriate peer reviews of their work. I will substantiate comments that I make about their work with the same care with which I carry out and report the results of my own activities.
(3) I will adhere to appropriate standards for reporting, documenting and applying results of scientific and scholarly activities used in decision making and ensure public access to those results in accordance with Point Blue policy.
Procedures for reporting and resolving allegations regarding loss of scientific and scholarly integrity.
Point Blue is dedicated to preserving the integrity of the scientific and scholarly activities it conducts, and are conducted on its behalf. It will not tolerate loss of integrity in the performance of scientific and scholarly activities. This section outlines procedures for reporting and resolving allegations in a timely and fair manner, in addition to those procedures outlined in Point Blue’s Personnel Policies and Procedures.
Allegations of scientific and scholarly misconduct with respect to Point Blue employees, volunteers, research associates, or contractors should be communicated in a timely manner to the relevant Group Director, Scientific Operations Manager, Chief Financial Officer and/or Chief Executive Officer. In the event that the Chief Executive Officer is the subject of an allegation of scientific or scholarly misconduct, the allegation should be communicated to the chairperson of the Point Blue Board of Directors. Point Blue will consider allegations in as timely a manner as possible.
Allegations may be submitted by individuals or entities, internal or external to Point Blue. Misconduct in the context of scientific integrity includes but is not limited to intentional fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism (in addition to other types of misconduct as described in Point Blue’s Personnel Policies and Procedures). Misconduct not the result of honest error or difference of opinion, such as with a scientific and scholarly process or a management decision.
The relevant Group Director, Operations Manager, Chief Financial Officer and/or Chief Executive Officer will meet with the person(s) making the allegation(s) and then conduct a review of the allegations including submitted materials to determine what action (if any) is required.
Submitted materials alleging scientific and scholarly misconduct should contain the name, affiliation, and signature of the person(s) submitting the allegation and the name and organization of the person(s) alleged to have committed the misconduct, a description of the allegation that includes the date, circumstances, and location 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 and scholarly misconduct and demonstrating the impact of the alleged misconduct, 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.
Allegations that have been previously resolved will not be reopened unless substantial new information is submitted.
Participation as an officer or member on the board of directors of professional societies or other non-governmental organizations.
Point Blue encourages the enhancement of scientific and scholarly integrity through engagement with the communities of practice represented by professional societies. Point Blue encourages employees to participate in outside professional organizations in order to enhance their professional development, especially when that participation advances Point Blue’s mission, programs, and operations. Point Blue scientists, scholars, and other professionals should engage in scientific, scholarly, and other activities with these professional networks in accordance with the following guidelines.
An employee’s service as an officer or as a member on the board of directors (or in any position that creates a fiduciary duty under State or other applicable law) of an external organization may create an actual or apparent conflict of interest or may affect the employee’s ability to act impartially. Employees in these positions must avoid any activity that may create the potential for preferential treatment, improper official endorsement, inappropriate use of official time, actual or apparent loss of impartiality, disclosure of non-public information, inappropriate influence on funding or engagement with funders to any Point Blue project, and/or any situation that would adversely affect the public’s confidence in Point Blue.
Any employee wishing to serve in an official capacity in any position that creates a fiduciary duty to an external organization is required to receive advance permission in writing from the relevant Group Director and Science Operations Manager, copied to the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Executive Officer before the position or appointment is accepted and undertaken. A copy of the signed written permission will be kept in the employee’s personnel file. Any employee serving in such an official capacity without written permission must seek written permission immediately and have the approved, signed permission document placed in her/his personnel file.
Original DRAFT: 8/31/2011 Grant Ballard Update and approval: 2/27/12 Ellie Cohen
Adapted from Chapter 3 of the United States Department of the Interior Departmental Manual
Please bring any suggested changes to this policy to Point Blue’s Management Team for consideration.
NOTE: It is not possible to anticipate every situation that may arise regarding scientific integrity or to provide information that answers every possible question. Also, future circumstances may require changes in the policies described above. Accordingly, Point Blue reserves the right, as authorized by the President and Chief Executive Officer and/or Board of Directors, to modify, rescind, supplement or revise any provision in this policy as it deems appropriate, with the exception of any policies (listed or not in this document) as required by law.