The Executive Committee would like to make clear that the decision to review the allegations brought by Martz, Parker, Wedel, and Taylor was made solely in response to their letters addressed to the SVP President, as per our stated procedures. Our decision to review the case was made before the Nature article was published or the correspondence had been posted to the internet; we did not review the case because of "blogs" or other forms of written or verbal communication. We would not have investigated the matter if we had not received a written request asking us to do so.
We encourage all SVP members to discuss ethical concerns amongst themselves. In this particular case, however, private correspondence was made public without the permission of either sender or recipient, which put the ethics education committee in a difficult position. As public discussion increased and involved more people, so did the chance that members of the Ethics Education or Executive Committees would be placed in an inadvertent (and avoidable) conflict of interest and be forced to limit their involvement in the case. Care must be taken to ensure that "open communication" does not derail efforts to remain comprehensive and impartial.
If students or others continue to have concerns over our statements and their intent, we recommend that that they organize a faculty-student discussion seminar that focuses on our posted statements and the National Academy document (On Being a Scientist). Face-to-face discussion is often the best way to resolve misunderstandings and ambiguities.
To read a free copy of, On Being a Scientist, through the National Academies Press, click here.