ASA Code of Ethics
Every astronomer is a citizen of the scientific community. Each shares responsibility for the welfare of this community. They should act ethically in the conduct of their research, in teaching and education, and in relations with both other members of the scientific community and members of the public. They also have a special responsibility to students and young researchers to train them in ethical conduct.
The Astronomical Society of Australia provides the following general code of ethics, which it regards to be the minimum standards of ethical behavior relating to the profession of astronomy.
All people encountered in one's professional life should be treated with respect. Discourse should be civil. Scientists should work to provide an environment that encourages the free expression and exchange of scientific ideas. They should promote equality of opportunity and treatment for all their colleagues, regardless of gender, race, ethnic origin, religion, age, marital status, sexual orientation, disabilities, or any other reason not related to scientific merit.
More senior members of the society, especially research supervisors, have a special responsibility to facilitate the research, educational, and professional development of students and staff. This includes providing safe, supportive working environments, fair compensation and appropriate acknowledgment of their contribution to any research results. In addition, supervisors should encourage the timely advance of graduate students and young professionals in their career aspirations.
It is also incumbent on senior members of our society to inform more junior members of these ethical issues and of institutional and government guidelines, policies and procedures related to the oversight and maintenance of ethical standards for research and its conduct.
It is an ethical responsibility that research results be recorded and maintained in a form that allows review, analysis, and reproduction by others. It is incumbent on researchers involved in large, publicly-supported studies to make results available in a timely manner.
Fabrication of data or selective reporting of data with the intent to mislead or deceive is unethical and unacceptable, as is the appropriation of data or research results from others without permission and attribution.
It should be recognized that honest error is an integral part of the scientific enterprise. It is not unethical to be wrong, provided that errors are promptly acknowledged and corrected when they are detected.
All persons who have made significant contributions to a work intended for publication should be offered the opportunity to be listed as authors. This includes all those who have contributed intellectually to the inception, design, execution, or interpretation of the research. Other individuals who have contributed to a study should be appropriately acknowledged. The sources of financial support for any project should be acknowledged/disclosed. All collaborators share responsibility for any paper they coauthor, and every coauthor should have the opportunity to review a manuscript before its submission.
Proper acknowledgement of the work of others must always be given, and complete referencing is an essential part of any astronomical research publication. Authors have an obligation to their colleagues and the scientific community to include a set of references that communicates the precedents, sources, and context of the reported work. Deliberate omission of a pertinent author or reference is unacceptable. Data provided by others must be cited appropriately, even if obtained from a public database.
All authors are responsible for providing prompt corrections or retractions if errors are found in published works.
Plagiarism is the presentation of others' words, ideas or scientific results as if they were one's own. It is unethical behaviour and is never acceptable. Equally unacceptable is the practice of self plagiarism whereby a person publishes virtually identical papers in more than one refereed journal.
Peer review is an essential component of many aspects of the scientific process such as evaluating research proposals, publishing research results, and evaluating colleagues for career advancement.
Peer review can serve its intended function only if the members of the scientific community are prepared to provide thorough, fair, and objective evaluations based on requisite expertise. Although peer review can be difficult and time-consuming, scientists have an obligation to participate in the process. Research managers have a duty to allow their staff time to participate in the referee process and to recognize such activity in performance assessment.
Reviewers should disclose conflicts of interest resulting from direct competitive, collaborative, or other relationships with those they are reviewing and excuse themselves from cases where such conflicts preclude an objective evaluation. It is unethical to seek to gain an advantage by means of reviewing the work of others.
Privileged information or ideas that are obtained through peer review must be kept confidential and not used for competitive gain.
Many activities of scientists and educators have the potential for a conflict of interest. Any professional relationship or action that may either be or be perceived as a conflict of interest should be fully disclosed. 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. See the ASA general guidelines on Conflict of Interest.
The Council may expel from the Society any member who violates this Code of Ethics only after that member has been given an opportunity to reply to a written statement of the Council's intention and reasons, in accordance with Clause 13 of the Society's Constitution.