Professional Ethics Policy

The Seismological Society of America (SSA) advances seismology and the understanding of earthquakes for the benefit of society. To further this mission, SSA expects its members to adhere to high standards of scientific integrity, responsibility and ethics in their professional activities. SSA supports freedom and transparency in research and education, which should be conducted in a supportive, inclusive, and respectful environment, free from any discrimination, harassment or bullying. Scientific results should be reported honestly and objectively, avoiding any misrepresentation or exaggerated claims, and giving proper credit to the work of others.

Conduct

SSA members and those who attend SSA meetings should adhere to the following standards:

   • Honesty and integrity in research and professional activities
   • Cooperation in research for the benefit of science and society

These principles include:

   • Respect and fairness in personal and professional interactions
   • Honest and unbiased communication of information about natural hazards to policy makers and the public
   • Support for others to pursue science without interference or coercion
   • No falsified or altered data, misleading statements, plagiarism, or misattribution of credit
   • Good stewardship of research and data on behalf of others, and sharing of those data to the extent possible
   • Disclosure of any conflicts of interests
   • Legal compliance in all aspects of research, including intellectual property
   • Humane approach in evaluating the implications of research on humans and animals

Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying

SSA rejects discrimination or harassment by any means, including that based on ethnic or national origin, race, religion, citizenship, language, political or other opinion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, age or economic class. In addition, SSA opposes all forms of bullying including threatening, humiliating, coercive or intimidating conduct that causes harm to, interferes with, or sabotages scientific activity, people and careers. Discrimination, harassment or bullying in any scientific or learning environment is unacceptable, and constitutes scientific misconduct under the SSA Professional Ethics Policy.

Publication Guidelines

SSA is committed to upholding the integrity of the work published in Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America (BSSA) and Seismological Research Letters (SRL). Allegations of publication misconduct will be investigated in accordance with the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) guidelines and flowcharts when possible. The journal Editors-in-Chief (EiC) will alert the Chair of the SSA Publications Committee to all pre- and post-publication allegations of misconduct, and the Chair may request assistance from the Publications Committee, as appropriate, to evaluate the concern.

Upon submission of manuscripts to BSSA and SRL, authors must warrant to the originality of the submitted manuscript and confirm the manuscript is not under consideration for publication elsewhere. As a standard practice, all authors must confirm authorship prior to acceptance for publication. Authors are required to disclose funding sources as part of the submission process and must disclose any conflicts of interest in the manuscript. All submissions are subject to the iThenticate software to detect plagiarism.

Suspected instances of ethical misconduct, including but not limited to plagiarism, duplicate publication, authorship issues and data fabrication or falsification, are initially reviewed by the journal EiC. The EiC reviews allegations of misconduct, makes a preliminary assessment and sends a letter of inquiry to the corresponding author. Letters of inquiry detail the allegation(s) and request an explanation from the author. If an allegation is raised pre-publication, the manuscript is placed on hold until resolved.

In many instances of suspected misconduct, per the COPE guidelines, the co-authors and authors’ institutions will be notified of the alleged misconduct, requesting an investigation into the allegations. Based on the outcome of the institution’s investigation, if misconduct is confirmed and depending on the severity, the journal may issue an author correction or article retraction.

In instances where the investigation is lengthy, the Chair of the SSA Publications Committee may decide to issue an “expression of concern” indicating allegations of misconduct are under investigation. At the discretion of the Chair of the Publications Committee, SSA may issue sanctions on the author(s) depending on the severity of the misconduct. Sanctions may be in the form of warnings, increased scrutiny of future submissions, and temporary or permanent bans from publication in BSSA and/or SRL.

Honors, Awards and Leadership Positions

Each candidate or nominee for an SSA Honor, and other type of SSA recognition or a leadership position, is required to disclose any past allegations or institutional proceedings resulting in a finding of professional misconduct, or any current formal complaints related to the candidate’s professional conduct, even if the matter is still pending.

The Chair of the Nominating Committee or Executive Director will ask each nominee to complete the disclosure form as part of the request to stand for election. A completed form is necessary to stand for election.

Learn more about the Ethics Committee and the procedures for requesting disclosures.

Meeting Code of Conduct

All people involved with SSA meetings must comply with the Society’s Code of Conduct.

Complaint Process for Misconduct

All SSA members, as a condition of membership, will abide by the codes of conduct and professional ethics set forth in this Policy. Engaging in activities counter to this Policy can directly damage the integrity of the research process and of SSA and affects the public trust in science. The SSA reserves the right to undertake investigation and appropriate action when an allegation of scientific misconduct and violation of this policy: (1) is directly connected to an SSA activity, (2) may harm SSA’s reputation or effectiveness, or (3) may impact the credibility of science. The term “scientific misconduct” includes violation of the codes of conduct as listed above and also encompasses the formal definition of research misconduct from the Federal Policy on Research Misconduct, which includes fabrication, falsification and plagiarism.

Misconduct should be reported to SSA, which may result in an investigation and possible consequences for the offender, including but not limited to SSA sanctions or expulsion as outlined in this Policy and the Society’s Bylaws.


Approved 27 November 2018