SfN Issues Statement on the Accurate and Ethical Pursuit and Reporting of Scientific Research
Scientific societies exist for many purposes, one of which is to establish policies and guidelines for responsible conduct within the field they represent. The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) has established several such policies. They spring from a conviction that the success of the scientific enterprise demands high standards in ethical conduct, scientific rigor, and data reliability. We further believe that those standards must be applied consistently, and that serious concerns must be brought to the attention of the community. This is because SfN believes that progress in understanding the nervous system beneficially influences human welfare and that this progress depends on the accurate and ethical pursuit and reporting of scientific research.
The integrity of the scientific mission is a collective responsibility, and SfN has a special obligation with respect to those activities for which it is directly responsible, including its annual meeting and its journals. The professional conduct statements of the Society include its Ethics Policy, Guidelines for Responsible Conduct Regarding Scientific Communication, and Procedures for Dealing with Allegations of Unethical Scientific Conduct. Taken together, these statements cover a broad range of scientific communication and ethical issues. At their core, these policies seek to ensure the reliability of reported observations and findings. They include an explanation of the process by which SfN evaluates instances of possible error or misconduct in its scientific forums, as well as potential sanctions. They also address the ethical responsibility of principal investigators, among all authors; highlight that violations may or may not involve any intent to mislead; and encourage the practice of proactive and prompt correction or retraction by authors when an issue becomes evident. All of this helps to ensure the scientific literature is correct and enduring, even as it is debated and advanced through further research.
SfN policies also note the Society’s commitment to confidentiality regarding individual investigations and details of any resulting actions. For that reason, SfN and its publications do not comment on specific ethics cases or retractions.