Code of Ethics

This policy was approved by the GS Board of Directors on December 17, 2018.

1) Statement of intent and inclusiveness

The Geochemical Society (GS) welcomes as members all who are interested in the geochemistry of the Earth and extraterrestrial bodies. As a professional society, the GS is committed to providing an open, diverse, and supportive environment and expects the highest standards of ethical conduct among its members and participants at its activities to encourage the free expression and exchange of scientific ideas.

The Geochemical Society is committed to the philosophy of equality of opportunity and treatment. This extends to members and participants of GS activities, regardless of age, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, race, color, ethnicity, country of origin, religious belief, political identity, marital status, employment status, and personal characteristics including, but not limited to, disability, pregnancy status, and physical appearance.

The Geochemical Society considers the rich diversity of the Society's membership and of the wider geochemical community a resource that should be drawn upon when selecting organizing committees, invited speakers, and nominees for office and for special prizes.

In pursuit of these goals, GS is committed to these principles:

  • International cooperation and collaboration;
  • Personal and professional integrity;
  • Equal opportunity;
  • Mutual trust and respect;
  • Freedom of enquiry;
  • Freedom of expression; and
  • Freedom from intimidation, harassment, and abuse.

Members and participants at GS activities have the responsibility to act with integrity in all aspects of professional conduct, ensuring honesty in their scientific research and its dissemination. Members have the responsibility to treat others with courtesy, equity, respect and fairness in all professional, educational, and informal geoscience settings. Members have the responsibility to be aware of and adhere to laws and regulations related to: the professional ethics in the conduct of research; publications, peer review, scientific integrity; and to the laws and policies related to discrimination, harassment, bullying and abuse. The Geochemical Society is incorporated as a United States entity and uses for reference US policy and laws.
Members of the Geochemical Society, as a condition of membership, will abide by this scientific code of conduct and professional ethics in the conduct of all their professional affairs in all locations and situations where GS business is conducted, including publications, and at all GS-sponsored activities and events. This Policy also applies to any non-member who participates in a GS program or activity.

The Geochemical Society does not attempt here to duplicate the efforts of many other professional societies by setting out a detailed Code of Conduct. Instead, where GS ethics guidelines are not set forth explicitly in this policy, members shall follow the guiding principles of responsibilities and conduct within the geoscience community. GS members are therefore expected to adhere to the guidelines laid down by fellow societies, national funding agencies, and the accepted government employment policies on appropriate workplace behavior for ethical comportment in research, publication, and personal conduct in interactions among its members. Activities that do not adhere to these principles may be subject to investigation, censure, and expulsion from the GS.

2) Harassment, Discrimination, and Bullying

The Geochemical Society opposes and prohibits harassment, discrimination, and bullying of any kind, to include abuse by any means that causes harm to, interferes with, or sabotages scientific activity and careers among both members and non-members. Harassment is defined as behavior that is not welcome, is personally offensive, debilitates morale, and therefore, interferes with work effectiveness, and can be exhibited through both an isolated act or a continuing pattern of behavior, that includes but is not limited to micro-aggressions, abuse of power structures, intimidation or coercion through interpersonal relationships. Harassment can occur in a variety of ways including, but not limited to: verbal communication (in person or remotely); written communication; physical behaviors (e.g., physical contact, body language, intimidating physical attitudes); and the creation, communication, or display of images or recordings. Consequently, members are expected to use discretion to ensure that their words and actions communicate respect for others. This is particularly true for an international society like GS, which is composed of members having different education, cultures and habits. GS highlights these expectations for those members in positions of authority in GS due to the enormous influence they can potentially wield over both members and non-members.

To provide guidelines for appropriate interpersonal behavior the GS has chosen these definitions of inappropriate behavior.

Harassment and Bullying
Harassment on the basis of any characteristic outlined above is strictly prohibited. Bullying is the use of a real or perceived power imbalance to aggressively dominate or intimidate others in the professional environment. Harassment and bullying conduct includes, but is not limited to: humiliation, coercion, threats, intimidation, hostile acts, epithets, slurs, negative stereotyping; physical force, denigrating jokes and display or circulation of written or graphic material that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group. Excessive and extreme acts of harassment can be considered abuse.

Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment refers specifically to unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. The following are examples of behavior that, when unwelcome, may constitute sexual harassment: sexual flirtations, advances, or propositions; verbal comments or physical actions of a sexual nature; sexually degrading words used to describe an individual; a display of sexually suggestive objects or pictures; sexually explicit jokes; unnecessary touching.

Abuse
Abuse refers to serious, and potentially criminal behavior toward others that is cruel or violent. Abuse is a misuse of power which uses the bonds of intimacy, trust, and dependency to make a victim vulnerable. Any misuse, manipulation, or exploitation of power or trust to intimidate, threaten, and injure or, control the behaviors, actions, thoughts, or feelings of another person is abuse. Abuse can include, but is not limited to, emotional, psychological, financial, sexual, or physical actions.

This GS ethics policy outlines expected behavior for all members but also recognizes that an allegation of harassment is not proof of harassment. The GS will observe strict confidentiality when an allegation of harassment by a member is reported, to the extent reasonable and appropriate.

3) Professional ethics (integrity in research and publication)

Scientific integrity
Scientific integrity is one of the most important aspects of any research project, and it is the responsibility of all researchers to ensure that their work is carried out to the utmost of standards of professional ethics.  In all aspects of research members will not engage in fraud, dishonest misrepresentation, coercive manipulation, censorship, or other misconduct that alters the meaning, content, veracity, validity, or attribution of research findings. The Geochemical Society expects its membership, in addition to the guidelines set out here, to follow the principles of similar guidelines laid down by fellow professional geochemical societies and national funding agencies for ethical behavior in research and publication. This applies to all GS-sponsored activities, events, and publications.

Scientific integrity in the conduct of research
The value and benefits of research are dependent on the integrity of the research and researcher.  Accordingly, GS members have the responsibility to act in the best interest of the advancement of science.

Members are expected to take responsibility for credibility in all aspects in the conduct of research, publication, and science communication.  This includes: the trustworthiness of research methods and data, critical analysis of the evidence, reporting of findings and interpretations fully and objectively, the representation of contributions to all publications, funding applications, reports, and other representations of their research.

The GS reserves the right to undertake investigation and appropriate action when an allegation of scientific misconduct is directly connected to a GS activity or publication and may impact the GS’s reputation or integrity.

To provide guidelines for appropriate conduct the GS has chosen this definition of scientific misconduct:
Scientific misconduct includes violations of the scientific codes of conduct and professional ethics as provided in the formal definition of research misconduct from the US Federal Policy on Research Misconduct. These include: Fabricationis making up data or results and recording or reporting them. Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment, processes, changing or omitting data, or results such that the research undertaken is not accurately represented in the research record. Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.

Scientific integrity in the publication and reporting of research
The Executive and Associate Editors of GCA are expected to act in accordance to GS policies when conducting their editorial duties as members of the GS in recognition of the special relationship between GCA and the GS. Editors of GS affiliated journals have the responsibility to establish and maintain guidelines for selecting and accepting papers submitted to that journal.

Every submitting author, coauthor, and reviewer has the responsibility to be aware of and adhere to laws and regulations as members of the profession and to maintain the highest ethical standards in the conduct of scientific research and publication including personal integrity.

The GS policy is that the peer review process must be objective, fair, respectful, and thorough; impartial, prompt, rigorous and confidential. The ethical basis for this is trust and honesty among editors, authors, researchers, reviewers, and funding agencies.

This process also supports the authority of the editors and the meetings committees who have the primary responsibility to ensure that the publication record reflects appropriate standards and best practices in scientific scholarship and integrity in the geosciences. Lastly, the GS Board has responsibility to ensure the independence of the editors and provide agreed-upon support so that the quality of publications is not compromised.

Conflicts of Interest
Many activities of scientists and educators have the potential for a conflict of interest. Any professional relationship or action that may be, or perceived to be, a conflict of interest should be fully disclosed. Conflict of interest includes, but is not limited to, situations where the outcome of a decision will influence the financial status of one of the participants, or affect the status of a person who is close to one of the participants. 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.

The GS recognizes that an allegation of scientific misconduct is not proof of scientific misconduct. As with any other allegation of misconduct, the GS will observe confidentiality to the extent reasonable and appropriate when an allegation of scientific misconduct by a member is reported.

4) Society interactions with corporations

As a professional society, the GS is committed to professional ethics, the scientific code of conduct, and providing an environment in all Society sponsored events and publications that encourages the free expression and exchange of scientific ideas. These standards extend to the Society's interactions with other organizations, societies, corporations and the like. The GS is committed to interacting with organizations and entities whose ethical values are consistent with those of the GS. Pertinent examples are: selection of corporate sponsorship and meeting location.

In the case of a breach, violation, or potential violation of the code of ethics, by an individual corporation, or other entity, the Geochemical Society's Ethics Committee will meet to discuss the steps forward and if action should be taken to investigate the alleged violation further.

5) Procedures for reporting and addressing incidents of harassment and scientific misconduct

The GS will initiate investigations of harassment and scientific misconduct promptly, in a manner and method that are reasonable and appropriate. The GS will observe a policy of confidentiality, to the extent reasonable and appropriate, when an allegation of harassment or scientific misconduct by a member is reported.

Reporting an incident of harassment:
Any GS Member who believes that they are the subject of harassment, or believes that they have witnessed harassment of another GS member or non-member, may inform the alleged harasser that the behavior is unwelcome and should cease immediately. However, if the GS member is uncomfortable with such confrontation, or if the member confronts the alleged harasser and the harassment continues, the GS member must contact an appropriate GS officer (these include members of the Ethics Committee, the President, Past President or Vice President, and members of the GS Board). In either event, it is important that all incidents of harassment be acted upon and/or reported to an appropriate GS officer immediately so that such issues can be resolved as soon as possible. If the GS is not made aware of the issue, it cannot take action to protect its members or non-members. Moreover, there may be some instances where the alleged harasser is unaware that their conduct is offensive and when so advised can correct the conduct so that it does not reoccur.

All reports of harassment or sexual harassment will be treated seriously and be investigated promptly. Confidentiality will be honored to the extent permitted as long as the rights of others are not compromised. The GS investigation of any complaint of harassment or sexual harassment, may require limited disclosure of pertinent information to certain parties, including the alleged harasser, such that absolute confidentiality cannot be promised nor can it be assured.

No retaliation will be taken against any employee, member, volunteer, exhibitor, or supplier because they report an act of harassment. Employees, members, volunteers, exhibitors, or suppliers can raise concerns and make reports without fear of reprisal, and the GS strictly prohibits those individuals from taking any retaliatory action against any individual who reports harassment of any kind, or who provides information or participates in an investigation of harassment. Any employee, member, volunteer, exhibitor, or supplier, who is found to engage in retaliatory conduct may be subject to disciplinary action, as defined below.

Reporting an incident of scientific or other ethical misconduct
Allegations of scientific misconduct may be submitted to the GS when the alleged action is directly connected to publications, presentations, and meetings operated under the direction of the Society. Members of the Geochemical Society are expected to behave according to professional scientific and personal ethics standards. Any individual covered by this policy who believes that a violation of the code of professional ethics occurred, by an individual or group of individuals, should contact a GS Ethics Committee member, GS officer or journal editor. All reports of scientific misconduct will be investigated promptly.

Investigative procedures for harassment and misconduct
All reports of harassment and scientific misconduct will be handled seriously. Once a complaint is received, the GS will begin a prompt and thorough investigation. Confidentiality will be honored to the extent permitted as long as the rights of others are not compromised.

  • The Ethics Committee has primary responsibility for reviewing formal complaints. In cases where the chair of the committee deems the allegations to be credible, the committee will investigate the complaint and gather other relevant facts in order to make a recommendation to the Board of Directors.
  • Members of the Ethics Committee will respond to the complainant and review the complaint. If no written complaint exists, one may be requested. A written complaint, however, is not required.
  • In certain cases, members of the Ethics Committee may speak to the parties involved directly. However, for any complaint, the committee may request assistance from an outside investigator or attorney to interview the parties, interview witnesses, and gather facts on behalf of the Ethics Committee. In such cases, this investigator or attorney shall present their report to the Ethics Committee, which will then make its recommendations to the Board based on the report. Both the complainant and alleged offender will have the opportunity to respond to the report before the Committee makes its recommendation.
  • In all cases, the alleged offender will be given the opportunity to address the complaint in a timely fashion. They will also have sufficient time to respond to evidence gathered in the course of an investigation and submit their own evidence. The alleged offender has the right to retain, and be represented by, their own counsel.
  • The Ethics Committee will report its findings to the Board. If the Ethics Committee finds misconduct, the Board, in its sole discretion, will review the Ethics Committee's recommendation. If the Board agrees with the Ethics Committee's findings of misconduct, the Board will determine the appropriate disciplinary action to be taken.
  • Within fifteen (15) business days of the completion of the investigation, the Board will notify the subject of the investigation of the Board's decision and any disciplinary actions to be taken.
  • The decision of the Board is final.

Disciplinary actions
Individuals engaging in behavior prohibited by this policy, as well as those making allegations of misconduct in bad faith, may be subject to disciplinary action. Such actions range from a verbal warning to revocation of membership, ejection from the meeting or activity in question without refund of membership or registration fees, correction of the publication record, recommendations for education or training. Repeat offenders may be subject to further disciplinary action, such as being banned from participating in future GS meetings or GS-sponsored activities or publishing in the society journal.

6) Sources and resources

The GS Ethics Committee acknowledges that sections of this ethics statement were adapted from the policies on misconduct from the following scientific societies: AGU (American Geophysical Union), the Biophysical Society, the Meteoritical Society, the American Astronomical Society, and the American Geosciences Institute.

There are numerous national and international web-sites where codes of conduct for scientists are published, particularly for researchers using public funds. A few are listed below that were active as of July, 2018.

Europe: http://www.scienceeurope.org/uploads/PublicDocumentsAndSpeeches/SCsPublicDocs/Science%20_Europe_Integrity_Survey_Report_July_2016_FINAL.pdf

Japan: http://www.scj.go.jp/en/report/code.html

UK: http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/funding/researchintegrity/

USA: https://www.doi.gov/scientificintegrity

Fellow Geochemical Societies:
AGU: https://fallmeeting.agu.org/2017/agu-meetings-code-of-conduct/
AGI: https://www.americangeosciences.org/content/agi-statement-harassment-geosciences

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