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Code of Conduct for Palaeontological Association Members

The Palaeontological Association aims to create an inclusive and diverse environment within palaeontology and to protect members from harassment and discrimination.  The Members’ Code of Conduct applies to all Palaeontological Association members carrying out their professional activities, including students and retired members.  The Code of Conduct for Palaeontological Association meetings applies to both members and non-members. Allegations of improper behaviour involving the Association’s publications are dealt with via a separate process*.

The Palaeontological Association (‘The Association’) will not discriminate on the basis of race, colour, ethnic origins, immigration status, religion, age, marital status, parental status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, socioeconomic background, educational background, or disability. All members should promote a culture of scientific and research integrity, respect, fairness, and inclusivity and avoid conflicts of interest. Any behaviour that affects or causes damage to a person or a group on the basis of the aforementioned categories will be considered unacceptable and is prohibited by the Code of Conduct. Association members are expected to report any sort of prohibited or unacceptable behaviour while acting in good faith. This code of conduct must be respected by members in any professional workplace. 

Inappropriate behaviours include harassment of any form; physical, verbal, and written abuse; photographing, and recording others without their consent; displaying or distributing inappropriate images and recordings; emotional, professional, and financial threats.

All members and recipients of grants and awards are expected to meet all expectations outlined in the code of conduct, and to agree to the following text, as a self-reporting procedure:

“I hereby declare that I have read the Palaeontological Association Code of Conduct and that I meet all its expectations.”

For award nominations by a third party, the nominating party should comply with to the following text:

“I hereby declare that I have read the Palaeontological Association Code of Conduct and that I meet all its expectations. I declare as well, as far as I know, that the suggested nominee meets all code of conduct expectations.”

Reporting procedure

Anyone subject to or witnessing behaviour that constitutes an immediate or serious threat to public or individual safety or a criminal act should contact local law enforcement. Those witnessing a potential criminal act should also take the actions necessary to maintain their own personal safety.
If you have been subject to or witnessed prohibited behaviour, it should be reported via the form Report member code of conduct violation.

The following procedure then applies: 

  1. Reports will be received by The Association’s Executive and Diversity officers and receipt will be automatically acknowledged. The Association will convene a committee comprising the President, one council member (a Vice President, the Executive Officer, or the Diversity Officer), and an appropriate independent member who is not a member of the Palaeontological Association (e.g., a senior officer in a learned society). If any of these individuals is one of, or has a personal or professional relation to any of, the parties involved, they should recuse themselves and the President or the Vice President will identify a replacement from among Council members. 
  2. The Committee will meet no later than 21 days after receiving the report to discuss it and decide if any further action should be taken. 
  3. If further action is favoured a second meeting is held, to which the Subject of the enquiry is invited to attend in order that they have the opportunity to give answers to the issues raised. The Subject may have one person attend  this meeting with them.
  4. After this meeting a summary report detailing the situation and the Committee’s recommendations is prepared and shared with Council for comment, any clarification necessary, and a final decision.  Ideally, each investigation should be concluded no later than 60 days from receiving the breach of conduct report. All investigations will be conducted under strict confidentiality.  
  5. The final report, prepared by the chair, will be then shared with all relevant parties and others, including any witnesses, notified that a decision has been reached.  
  6. The options for censure by the Association include written reprimand or warning, removal from Association positions, suspension from presenting at Association meetings, suspension from attending future Association activities (including events, field trips, short courses and meetings), suspension from submission of manuscripts to Palaeontology and Papers in Palaeontology, suspension of Association membership, expulsion from the Association, and/or denial or revocation of grants and awards. These sanctions may be for a predetermined duration or permanent. If a member is deemed to have violated the Association’s Code of Conduct and it has been determined that sanctions are necessary, the Association reserves the right to contact affiliated societies, funding agencies, and the sanctioned member's home institution(s) regarding member misconduct as part of the Association's due-diligence in reporting prohibited behaviour that may breach the non-discrimination and/or harassment policies of our associates. 
  7. Any party named in an allegation (either accuser or accused) has leave to appeal on the basis that new facts have come to light after the enquiry has been completed or that a mistake was made in conducting the enquiry. The appeal must be sent to both the Executive and Diversity Officers. 

Individuals involved in a reported incident of alleged misconduct, including victims, witnesses, and those alleged to have engaged in prohibited behaviour(s), will not engage in retaliatory behaviour during or after the reporting process. Engaging in retaliatory behaviour will be deemed a breach of the Code of Conduct. 

If allegations pertain to criminal activity or pose a risk to public safety, the allegation(s) will be reported to the appropriate authorities.

The Code of Conduct becomes effective upon membership renewal in 2022. Going forward, there is no absolute statute of limitation for considering violations to the Member’s Code of Conduct.

A hard copy of all documentation relating to upheld allegations will be collated by the Chair and archived by the Association.

The Code of Conduct will be reviewed annually.

*Expectations of authors publishing in the Association’s journals are outlined in the “For Authors” section of the Association’s website. Allegations of misconduct in research published in Palaeontology and Papers in Palaeontology should be made to the Editor-inChief Board. Palaeontology and Papers in Palaeontology are, through the Association’s publishers Wiley, members of COPE (the Committee on Publication Ethics). The Association will treat any alleged research or publication misconduct, including plagiarism or fabrication or falsification of results in accordance with the principles and recommendations of COPE. Where necessary retractions, corrections or expressions of concern will be issued in order to maintain the integrity of the publication record.

The Diversity Group with input from the Palaeontological Association Council 
May 2022

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