Code of Conduct

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute

The following Code of Conduct was adapted with permission from the 2017 American Geophysical Union (AGU) Scientific Integrity and Professional Ethics policy document.


All SSA members are expected to aspire and adhere to the following standards of behavior:

A. Principles

Excellence, integrity, and honesty in all aspects of research

Personal accountability in the conduct of research and the dissemination of the results

Professional courtesy, equity, and fairness in working with other

Freedom to responsibly pursue science without interference or coercion

Unselfish cooperation in research

Good stewardship of research and data on behalf of others

Legal compliance in all aspects of research, including intellectual property

Humane approach in evaluating the implications of research on humans and animals

B. Responsibilities

C. Student–Advisor Relationship

The relationship between a student and the student advisor is a unique one in the research environment. This relationship carries extra demands for ethical behavior.  Key principles include areas of sensitivity and concern such as these recommendations for student advisors:

Students and student advisors are encouraged to be aware of responsibilities of the advisor, the student, and the institution in these special circumstances.

D. Harassment, Bullying, and Discrimination

SSA members work to maintain an environment that allows science and scientific careers to flourish through respectful, inclusive, and equitable treatment of others. As a statement of principle, SSA rejects discrimination and harassment by any means, based on factors such as ethnic or national origin, race, religion, citizenship, language, political or other opinion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, age, or economic class. In addition, SSA opposes all forms of bullying including threatening, humiliating, coercive, or intimidating conduct that causes harm to, interferes with, or sabotages scientific activity and careers. Discrimination, harassment (in any form), and bullying create a hostile environment that reduces the quality, integrity, and pace of the advancement of science by marginalizing individuals and communities. It also damages productivity and career advancement, and prevents the healthy exchange of ideas.

We affirm that discrimination, harassment (including sexual harassment), or bullying in any scientific or learning environment is unacceptable, and constitutes scientific misconduct. Such behavior should be reported and addressed with consequences for the offender.

E. Definitions

Discrimination means unequal or unfair treatment in professional opportunities, education, benefits, evaluation, and employment (such as hiring, termination, promotion, compensation) as well as retaliation and various types of harass- ment. Discriminatory practices can be explicit or implicit, intentional, or unconscious.

Harassment is a type of discrimination that consists of a single intense and severe act, or of multiple persistent or pervasive acts, which are unwanted, unwelcome, demeaning, abusive, or offensive. Offensive conduct constitutes harassment when 1) it becomes a condition of an opportunity, education, benefit, evaluation, or employment or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work or educational environment that most people would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive. These acts may include epithets, slurs, or negative stereotyping based on gender, race, sexual identity, or other categories, as protected by U.S. federal law. Also included are threatening, intimidating, or hostile acts; denigrating jokes and displays; or circulation of written or graphic material that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or a group.

Sexual harassment includes any unwanted and/or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.

Bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others in the professional environment that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. These actions can include abusive criticism, humiliation, the spreading of rumors, physical and verbal attacks, isolation, undermining, and professional exclusion of individuals through any means.* 

* Microaggression is another term sometimes used in describing unwelcomed behavior against underrepresented groups. Psychologists have defined microaggression as brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to certain individuals because of their group membership.