AGU Issues Position Statement on Scientists’ Rights and Responsibilities

American Geophysical Union logo.
American Geophysical Union logo.

Scientists Have Rights and Responsibilities to Conduct and Communicate Scientific Work Freely, Openly and with Integrity

By Caitlyn Camacho and Josh Speiser, agu.org

Scientific research in Earth and space sciences advances our understanding of our world and contributes to strong global economies, security, and public health and safety. The American Geophysical Union (AGU) announced a newly adopted position statement, “The Responsibilities and Rights of Scientists,” acknowledging that scientists have certain “rights and responsibilities that must be followed individually and defended universally.”

The statement charges all scientists with three key responsibilities:

  • demonstrating excellence in research conduct;
  • adhering to the highest professional ethics and integrity; and
  • supporting a diverse, inclusive environment.

In turn, all scientists have the right to conduct science without fear of retaliation; to collaborate with others independent of political opinion or affiliation; and to freely and openly communicate their findings, protect data, and respond to inaccurate portrayals or usage of science. The statement asserts that “the free, open, and responsible practice of science is fundamental to scientific advancement for both human and environmental well-being.”

“The scientific profession makes enormous contributions to human health, economic prosperity, and environmental sustainability,” said Eric Davidson, AGU president. “With that public-interest role comes great responsibility. This position statement acknowledges not only the importance of scientific excellence and integrity, but also the challenges of cultivating inclusivity, diversity, and safety throughout our profession. Finally, it articulates the essential rights of scientists to freely and openly exchange ideas in their pursuits and communications of knowledge.”

The new position statement was adopted by AGU’s Board and Council on April 13, 2017, and was originally proposed in early 2016.  It was developed by a panel of AGU members and was open for comments and review by the entire AGU membership in October 2016.

AGU is also currently in the process of updating its Ethics policy to provide the best guidance for scientists and members. The new position statement supplements both the forthcoming Ethics policy as well as second existing statement, “AGU Supports Free and Open Communication of Scientific Findings.“

As an organization committed to promoting discovery in Earth and space science for the benefit of humanity, AGU develops and maintains position statements to provide scientific expertise on significant policy issues related to the understanding and application of the Earth and space sciences.

The American Geophysical Union is dedicated to advancing the Earth and space sciences for the benefit of humanity through its scholarly publications, conferences, and outreach programs. AGU is a not-for-profit, professional, scientific organization representing 60,000 members in 137 countries. Join the conversation on FacebookTwitter, and YouTube.

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