Guidelines for Responsible Conduct Regarding Scientific Communication
Scientific societies exist for many purposes, one of which is to establish policies and guidelines for responsible conduct within the field that they represent. The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) has established several such policies. These include an SfN Ethics Policy that covers the broad range of ethical issues related to scientific conduct. There are additional policies on the use of humans and other animals as subjects in neuroscience research. This document focuses on conduct specifically linked to scientific communications. Scientific communications are defined as all communications of a scientific nature; they include research manuscripts, supplemental data, abstracts, posters, oral presentations, and public electronic communications.
SfN believes that progress in understanding the nervous system benefits human welfare. Such progress depends on the honest pursuit of scientific research and the truthful representation of findings. While recognizing that both error and differences among individuals in the interpretation of data are natural parts of the creative process, the Society for Neuroscience affirms that the success of the entire scientific endeavor is jeopardized by misconduct, in the form of plagiarism, fabrication, or falsification of data. By entering the profession, neuroscientists assume an obligation to maintain the highest level of integrity in all scientific activities.
SfN serves neuroscience and society at large in many ways, including publishing JNeurosci, eNeuro, and the annual meeting abstracts, both of which present the results of scientific research. SfN considers it vital to establish and disseminate guidelines and policies regarding responsible professional behavior and to specify the relevant obligations of SfN members to one another and to the public.
Such guidelines and policies derive from a desire to maximize benefits to the profession as a whole, as well as to the general society, and to limit actions that might serve only the narrow self interests of individuals. For example, the advancement of science requires that knowledge be shared, although doing so may sometimes entail foregoing some immediate personal advantage.
These Guidelines are intended for individuals engaged in the communication of research in neuroscience. They spring from a conviction that adherence to high ethical standards is so essential to the scientific enterprise that a definition of those standards should be brought to the attention of all concerned. SfN follows the recommended procedures outlined by COPE when dealing with allegations of misconduct.
It is likely that most aspects of the Guidelines are already understood and subscribed to by the great majority of the members of the Society for Neuroscience and by others engaged in neuroscience research. However, the Guidelines can help those who are relatively new to research and also established.
This document was prepared by the Responsible Conduct Working Group and approved by the Society for Neuroscience Council on July 20, 2010. It is based on previous guidelines developed by the Society for Neuroscience and by other organizations, the committee’s own deliberations, and the comments received from others. Some material has been incorporated from the 2008 revision of the “Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals,” prepared by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (www.ICMJE.org).
The Responsible Conduct Working Group included David Van Essen (Washington University, chair), Christopher Henderson (Columbia University), Nancy Ip (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology), Daniel Johnston (University of Texas, Austin), Sabine Kastner (Princeton University), Peggy Mason (University of Chicago), John Maunsell (Harvard University), Jeffrey Rothstein (Johns Hopkins University), Gordon Shepherd (Yale University), and Michael Zigmond (University of Pittsburgh).
A complete set of SfN policies and guidelines are available on the SfN website and links are included below.
Other relevant policies and guidelines:
Summary of Points
1. Authors of Research Manuscripts
1.19. When communications will not undergo formal editorial review (e.g., abstracts for presentations at professional meetings), authors are encouraged to have these communications reviewed by colleagues.
2. Reviewers of Manuscripts
3. Editors of Scientific Journals
4. Abstracts for Presentations at Scientific Meetings