28 July 2011
WASHINGTON—Today’s release of a draft scientific integrity policy by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has been applauded by the world’s largest organization of Earth and space scientists – the American Geophysical Union (AGU). The policy, which is open for public comment, is designed to ensure high quality standards in NOAA science and to promote a culture of transparency, integrity, and ethical behavior in the agency’s work.
“Policy makers and the public can’t make informed decisions about the complex environmental, public health, and security challenges the nation faces unless they are able to trust the integrity of our science,” said Michael J. McPhaden, AGU president*. “Not only will this new plan help build and sustain that trust, it will ultimately strengthen the science itself and our ability to use it in making decisions that contribute to the public good.”
The policy, which applies to employees and contractors, identifies eight basic principles of scientific integrity relating to the conducting, publishing, and communicating of research and results, as well as to the ability of scientists to participate in professional organizations and to receive awards. It also establishes a scientific Code of Conduct and a Code of Ethics for Science Supervision and Management, as well as gives whistleblower protection to those who report misconduct. Additionally, NOAA has compiled a draft Procedural Handbook to accompany the policy that outlines the process for addressing allegations of scientific misconduct.
“Developing such a policy is an important step in ensuring that scientific research and discovery can continue to play a major role in the growth and advancement of our society,” said AGU CEO Christine McEntee. “From the scientific community to our nation’s political leaders, this is a ‘win-win’ decision. We encourage other agencies to make the development of similar policies a priority.”
The draft policy was developed in response to guidelines released last year by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). It represents specific, detailed implementation of a directive from President Obama for all agencies to give clear guidance for ensuring scientific integrity at all levels within their operations. NOAA is the second group to release a policy. The first, from the Department of the Interior, was released in February 2011.
*Dr. McPhaden is also a senior scientist with NOAA.
The American Geophysical Union is a not-for-profit, professional, scientific organization with more than 60,000 members representing over 148 countries. AGU advances the Earth and space sciences through its scholarly publications, conferences, and outreach programs. www.agu.org
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