GUIDELINES FROM THE ETHICS EDUCATION COMMITTEE FOR COLLECTING, DOCUMENTING AND CURATING FOSSILS
The SVP Bylaws (Bylaw 12, Sections 1-6) state clearly the responsibility of vertebrate paleontologists, and specifically SVP members, to uphold professional standards in the collection, documentation, and curation of vertebrate fossils.
Professional standards in collection of fossils include obtaining the proper permits and permissions to conduct fieldwork on public or private lands, whether domestic or foreign. The collection of fossils from field localities includes not only retrieving fossils with care but also documenting their provenance in terms of stratigraphic, geographic, taphonomic and paleoenvironmental information. This approach is important for both professional and amateur paleontologists to follow in collecting scientifically significant fossils, even if the fossils legally remain in private collections for some time. The scientific and educational value of the fossils depends on their contextual information as well as their morphology.
Field data, whether in the form of notebooks, electronic files, or any other format, should accompany the fossils collected from public lands (and from private lands if so stipulated) to their deposition in a qualified, publicly accessible repository. This means that original field data (or a legible copy of it) must become part of the deposited fossil collection. Fossils and their contextual data must be accessioned and curated in an institution, the mission of which is scientific study and education in perpetuity. Fossils should be accessioned in a timely manner.
Curation entails the proper housing and labeling of fossils, as well as maintaining the association between the fossils and field data about their provenance. This information must be made available to the scientific community and the interested public within a reasonable period of time.