SVP Ethics Code

Alligatoroid skull,  Naturkundemuseum Karlsruhe, photo credit: C. A. Brochu

SVP Ethics Code

This code includes the Annual Meeting Code of Conduct, but does not supercede the By-law regarding the sale of fossils [SVP By-laws Section 6]

Persons to whom this code applies

All members of SVP, those who publish in Society publications, and those who participate in Society events.

Sections of this Code include both aspirational and mandatory standards of conduct with respect to our work with fossils and in research settings. The sections that concern professional interpersonal relationships and the Annual Meeting should all be regarded as mandatory. The aspirational standards embody the values of the SVP, and while we recognize that they are not enforceable, they emphasize the conduct that we strive to uphold.

The mandatory standards are firm requirements. Any Member found to have violated the mandatory standards will be in violation of this Code and may be subject to disciplinary or remedial action pursuant to [Section 7.17.6 of the SVP Handbook] in accordance with SVP’s Bylaws and Code of Conduct Reporting and Ethics Investigation Procedures.

In addition to the aspirational and mandatory standards included in this Code, we all have a duty to comply with the law and avoid any behavior that would be prejudicial to the Society’s interests. We also have a responsibility to adhere to all policies, rules, and permitting requirements that apply to our professional activities.

While SVP may describe a particular standard as “aspirational,” a Member may be required to comply with such standard by a third party, such as a Member’s employer, university, or other institution.

Policies related to SVP events and publications

This Code is the umbrella policy for ethics at SVP, and is supplemented with detailed SVP policies related to dissemination of scientific research:

Ethics information specific to the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, Memoirs, and other Society publications can be found in the Guide for Authors.

Scientific misconduct

SVP is committed to promoting a culture of research and publication integrity. We will not engage in or tolerate scientific misconduct.

Scientific misconduct includes, but is not exclusive to:

  1. Fabrication of data or results and recording or reporting them.
  2. Falsification of results by manipulation of research materials, equipment or processes, changing or omitting data or results, and reporting such that the research is not accurately represented.
  3. Plagiarism by appropriating another’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.

Harassment, discrimination, bullying, or coercive manipulation.

Fossil Collection

Mandatory standards

  • We will conduct our field collection with all necessary permissions and permits, and abide by all relevant local, national and international laws and ordinances, rules, and regulations.
  • When undertaking fieldwork, we will strive to ensure the personal health, safety, and well-being of all participants, while upholding the highest standards of interpersonal conduct and scientific rigor.
  • We will remember that, intentionally or unintentionally, we act as ambassadors for our profession, and will conduct ourselves accordingly at all times.

Aspirational standards

  • When we conduct sampling activities, we will preserve the Earth’s paleontological, geological and biological heritage.
  • We will work in concert with landowners, land managers, local communities when appropriate, and repositories to ensure that they are fully informed of our plans.
  • We will record and preserve accurate and complete field notes.

Collections Management

Mandatory standards

  • Specimens and accompanying field data will be reposited in collections where they will be stored in perpetuity as soon as is practical.

Aspirational standards

  • We will document our collection, preparation, and conservation methods to the greatest extent practical, including any materials applied to specimens and their surrounding matrix.
  • Fossil preparation should be completed by appropriately trained individuals or under the supervision of such individuals.
  • Those members responsible for setting museum policy should work to advocate for policies that are consistent with a spirit of access, reproducibility, and research dissemination.

Working with specimens

Mandatory standards

  • When working with specimens, we will treat all collections with respect, and will follow all relevant institutional policies for their preservation and use.

Aspirational standards

  • Any alteration to specimens (including preparation) will only be made when necessary and with appropriate permissions.
  • Imaging or molding and casting will only be done with permission from the repository.

Palaeontological research

Mandatory standards

  • We will obey all local, national and international laws pertaining to the specimens on which we work.
  • We will not knowingly carry out research work on specimens that have been illegally exported from their country of origin.
  • We will only carry out research work and publish on fossil vertebrate specimens that are deposited in or immediately destined for collections which are committed to storing the specimens and associated data where they will be stored in perpetuity.
  • We will make specimens and our raw data that underlie our publications freely available to other researchers within legal and institutional policies.
  • We will uphold relevant laws around access to locality data.

Aspirational standards

  • We will work to educate ourselves on the relevant legal and human rights issues related to the fossils on which we work and the countries in which we work.
  • We will not knowingly work on specimens where there is reason to suspect that their sale or collection funds ongoing conflict or human rights abuses.
  • Research embargoes will be used sparingly and have specific provisions to ensure timely access to fossil material by other researchers.
  • We will allow access, by qualified researchers, to specimens in our care and will not prevent access to specimens by other researchers once we have had a reasonable amount of time to work on them ourselves, publishing our research in a timely manner.

Research dissemination and public engagement

Mandatory standards

  • When engaging with the press, we will represent our research accurately.
  • We will not intentionally reveal the results of embargoed research to other researchers or to the general public while an embargo is active.
  • We will not reveal the results of the unpublished work of others to colleagues or the general public unless we have the explicit permission of the relevant author(s)/principal investigator(s).

Aspirational standards

  • We will strive for the highest standards of intellectual honesty. [add section on plagiarism #61]
  • We will strive to conduct research that is replicable and reproducible, producing research records that are clear, transparent, and free from bias.
  • We will strive for the highest quality research, and we will strive to avoid shortcuts in the research process.
  • We will make every effort to give full credit to those who have made scientific contributions to our work, while not requesting or expecting authorship for minimal intellectual contributions.
  • We will strive to provide research results, when requested, to the institutions that care for the specimens we research, landowners, local communities and other stakeholders in our research in a timely manner.
  • When asked to comment on scientific matters for news media, we will be transparent about our areas of expertise.
  • We will strive to ensure diverse voices are represented in media coverage of our work.
  • We will peer-review and edit each other’s research (including manuscripts, grants, and other outputs) work in an objective, fair, timely, and thorough way. When peer reviewing, we will be transparent about the limitations of our knowledge as a reviewer, to the best of our ability. We will disclose any real or perceived conflicts of interest.
  • We will strive to correctly acknowledge all funders and access providers for our work.

Interpersonal conduct with other individuals

The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology does not and shall not discriminate on the bases of race, color, gender, national origin, age, religion, creed, disability, economic status, veteran’s status, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression in any of its activities or operations. These activities include, but are not limited to, approval of membership, hiring and firing of staff, selection of volunteers and vendors, and provision of services.

We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members, during the Annual Meeting and beyond. We will uphold the society’s value of non-discrimination in conference spaces, outside of conferences spaces, and in online discourse. We will treat other members equally and respectfully, regardless of age or seniority. Respectful conduct is expected of all members towards others, even from laboratories or research groups in direct competition.

We will treat every member of the community respectfully and acknowledge others for work contributed; this includes not only professional scientists but also technicians, volunteers, collaborators external to its own lab or institution. We will not tolerate harassment, discrimination, bullying or coercive manipulation in any form, and we will consider such behavior to constitute scientific misconduct.

Violations of this code of ethics should be reported as outlined in Section 7.17.4 of the society handbook.

Annual Meeting

Expected Behavior
Treat one another with respect, consideration, and dignity regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, marital or parental status, age, immigration status, disability, neurodiverse status, physical appearance, body size, race, ethnicity, nationality, religious affiliation, socioeconomic background, educational background, career stage, or military service.

  • Questions and discussions should be respectful and constructive and focus on ideas rather than individuals.
  • Comments or behaviors that may reasonably be assumed to have the effect of creating, contributing to, or maintaining an environment that is hostile toward or damaging to a person or group are prohibited, no matter whether they are made directly (e.g., in person or directly online) or indirectly (e.g., via social media).
  • Do not use legal intoxicants to the extent that your ability to act professionally and follow this Code of Conduct is compromised.
  • Do not take or disseminate photographs, recordings, or reproductions of materials presented as part of the Annual Meeting without express permission of the author(s).

Obey the rules and policies of any SVP-contracted facilities or services utilized during the meeting or anywhere your SVP badge/affiliation is on display.

Unacceptable behavior:

  • Harassment, intimidation, or discrimination in any form will not be tolerated.
  • Physical or verbal abuse of any meeting participant.
  • Examples of unacceptable behavior include, but are not limited to disparaging verbal comments or gestures related to gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, age, physical appearance, body size, race, religion, national origin.
  • Epithets, slurs, or negative stereotyping; threatening, intimidating, or hostile acts; denigrating jokes; display or circulation of written graphic material that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion towards an individual or group. Harassment intended in a joking manner still constitutes unacceptable behavior.
  • Inappropriate use of nudity and/or sexual images in public spaces or in presentations.
  • Threatening or stalking any meeting participant.
  • Inappropriate physical contact.
  • Unwelcome sexual attention, including sexual advances or propositions; verbal comments or physical actions of a sexual nature; sexually degrading words used to describe an individual; a display of sexually suggestive objects or pictures; sexually explicit jokes.
  • Disruption of talks at oral or poster sessions, in the exhibit hall, or at other events organized by SVP at the meeting venue, hotels, or other SVP-contracted facilities.
  • Invasive photography or recording, including no photographs or recordings of minors (under 18 years of age) without explicit permission from guardians.
  • Recording or photography of talks or posters without express permission from the authors.

Anyone requested to stop unacceptable behavior is expected to comply immediately. Retaliation against any individual who reports harassment or assists in an investigation will not be tolerated and is also subject to disciplinary action.