Revocations Procedures

Membership & Awards Revocation Procedures[1]

SSA members and awardees are expected to meet commonly held standards of professional ethics and scientific integrity.  In the rare cases in which SSA members or awardees no longer meet this expectation by engaging in conduct that is prejudicial to SSA’s corporate purposes and interests, SSA will consider revoking their status as members and/or awardees using the procedures listed below.  Generally, any violation of the Prohibited Conduct standards listed above in Section E of SSA’s Professional Ethics Policy will be grounds for revocation.

  1. Written Revocation Request and Requirements. A Revocation Request must be made in writing using the Revocation Request Form which is submitted to SSA’s Executive Director via email at  SSA does not allow anonymous requests.  However, in all steps of these procedures, SSA will not share the requestor’s identity with the person reported to have engaged in misconduct (the “Respondent”).  All members submitting Revocation Requests must agree in writing to maintain the confidentiality of the matter until its conclusion at SSA.

A Revocation Request must include an investigative report and/or public announcement of findings or actions taken (or links thereto) from a credible body such as the Federal Government’s Office of Research Integrity, other Federal or state agencies, a professional organization or society, an academic institution, a court of law, or admission(s) of conduct by the individual in question.  (If SSA has found that a member or awardee violated SSA’s Meetings Code of Conduct or Publishing Ethics Guidelines, such a finding may be used to support a Revocation Request).

Revocation Requests may only be made by SSA members and must include detailed information about the sources used to enable verification of information.  Media and press reports alone may not be sufficient to support a revocation request.  SSA will not consider requests against deceased individuals.

Except as provided below, all Revocation Requests must be filed within four years of the publication of the report or announcement of the finding, sanction, or action.

  1. Confidential Review and Deliberations. During each phase of SSA’s review, deliberations will be based on the evidence provided.  Investigations by SSA of complaints or charges beyond the information presented in the Revocation Request or otherwise available publicly (such as publications or court records) will not occur as part of these revocation procedures.[2]  SSA will strive to maintain the confidentiality of all matters covered by procedures and will use its discretion to limit disclosure on a need-to-know basis.

a. Executive Director Review. SSA’s Executive Director will conduct a preliminary review to determine if the Revocation Request is substantive, has adequate documentation, and complies with these procedures. As a result of this review, the Executive Director either will dismiss the Revocation Request or forward it with all supporting documentation to the Chair of SSA’s Ethics Committee for further consideration and processing.  In either case, the Executive Director will provide a report to SSA’ Ethics Committee so that it can satisfy its record-keeping responsibilities detailed below in numbered paragraph 4.  Prior to sharing such information, the Executive Director will redact the requestor’s name to safeguard their identity.

b. Ethics Committee Review. Upon receipt of a forwarded Revocation Request and supporting documents, the Chair of the Ethics Committee will initiate the Ethics Committee to manage further review of the request and decide whether revocation is appropriate. The Ethics Committee will remain active until a recommendation has been made on the request.  This work may continue past the end of an Ethics Committee member’s term. (See the Ethics Committee Charter for information on the composition, term, and responsibilities of this committee.)

The Ethics Committee will define a timeline for the process and shall be responsible for maintaining appropriate records to facilitate Board oversight (See numbered paragraph 4 below for record-keeping requirements.) While the Ethics Committee is not bound by a specific timeline, the Ethics Committee will make a reasonable effort to review and process Revocation Requests in an expeditious, fair manner.  The Ethics Committee has the discretion to grant time extensions or postponements upon the receipt of timely requests.

The Respondent will be given notice of the Revocation Request in writing along with the supporting documents and names of the Ethics Committee members.  The Respondent will be informed of any deadlines and invited to respond in writing and, if desired, to make an oral presentation to the Ethics Committee, which ordinarily would take place via telephone or video conference.  Such conference will not include any representatives of the Respondent and will be limited in time and scope per the direction of the Ethics Committee.

After the deadline for responses has passed, the Ethics Committee will consider the original Revocation Request, any response, and any oral presentation.  The Ethics Committee may also consider any pertinent information of public or official record.  As part of its deliberations, the Ethics Committee will discuss and consider whether the Respondent’s conduct is prejudicial to SSA’s corporate purposes and interests and ultimately will vote on a motion to recommend revocation of the Respondent’s status as a member and/or awardee.  An affirmative vote of at least three of the five Ethics Committee members is required for this motion to pass.

If a majority of the Ethics Committee members votes in favor of revocation, the Chair of the Ethics Committee will notify the Respondent in writing that the Ethics Committee deems their conduct to be prejudicial to SSA’s interests and therefore will recommend to the Board that their membership status and/or award be revoked pursuant to Section 2.05 of the Bylaws.[3]  The Respondent will be given an opportunity to be heard in writing by submitting a written response within fifteen (15) calendar days.

No sooner than sixteen (16) calendar days after giving the Respondent such notice, the Chair of the Ethics Committee will provide the Board of Directors with a written report and recommendation (“Ethics Committee Report”).  The report will include the original Revocation Request (redacted to conceal the Requestor’s identity); a summary of any response and oral presentation; a recommendation for or against revocation based on the majority vote of the Ethics Committee (the report will not disclose how individual committee members voted); and a succinct explanation of the Ethics Committee’s views as to whether the Respondent’s conduct is prejudicial to SSA’s corporate purposes and interests.  If the Respondent submitted a written statement after being notified of the proposed revocation, this written statement also will be included in the Ethics Committee Report.

c. Board of Directors Final Decision. Upon receipt of the Ethics Committee Report, the Board will meet in Executive Session, in person or online, as soon as practicable to make a final revocation decision.  Generally, the Board will aim to complete this process within thirty (30) calendar days.  While the Board shall only consider the written evidence in the Ethics Committee Report (and any written statement from the Respondent), the Board has the discretion to accept or reject the Ethics Committee’s conclusion as to whether the conduct in question is prejudicial to SSA’s corporate purposes and interests.  The Board’s decision shall be final and there is no appeal.

After the decision is made, the Board will direct SSA’s Executive Director to notify the Requestor and Respondent of the final decision, and to take appropriate steps to implement the decision.  The Board also will notify the Ethics Committee of it decision and the date it was made.

SSA’s Executive Director and President may determine, in their sole and exclusive discretion, whether and where there should be an announcement or publication of the decision to revoke an individual’s status as a member or awardee.

  1. Confidentiality. SSA will strive to maintain the confidentiality of these procedures, which includes taking all appropriate steps to safeguard the identities of individuals involved, including requestors and Respondents.  SSA expects the Ethics Committee and the Board to refrain from doing their own investigations and to make recommendations and decisions based solely on the criteria set forth in these procedures without regard to a Respondent’s identity.  The Ethics Committee has the discretion to redact the Respondent’s name and other identifying information for any records being submitted to the Board.
  2. Record-keeping. The Ethics Committee shall maintain a confidential log of revocation requests to facilitate oversight by the Board.  This log will include the following information: date of revocation request; date revocation request sent to Ethics Committee; date Respondent was notified; date of Respondent’s response and/or presentation; date and outcome of Ethics Committee’s vote; date Ethics Committee’s report submitted to the Board; date and final decision of Board.  The log shall be retained in anonymized form, meaning that all identifying information must be redacted to ensure confidentiality.

[1] These procedures are modeled after the AAAS Fellow Revocation Policy.  SSA expresses gratitude to AAAS for their work.

[2] SSA will not serve as an investigative body unless it becomes aware of alleged misconduct at one of its programs such as SSA meetings or publishing.  In such cases, SSA would follow the procedures detailed in the SSA Meetings Code of Conduct [insert link] and Publishing Ethics Guidelines[insert link].

[3]Section 2.05 of the SSA Bylaws explains SSA’s procedures for termination or suspension of membership.  SSA’s Bylaws do not include procedures for terminating awards.  Nonetheless, for the purpose of this Policy, SSA has chosen to include awards in this revocation process.