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Published 9 May 2017

Upholding standards for researchers in the public interest

Encouragement from the New Zealand Association of Scientists for its members to follow the Royal Society Te Apārangi’s Code of Professional Standards and Ethics is welcome, says Professor Richard Bedford, President of the Royal Society Te Apārangi.

“New Zealanders need to be able to trust their experts to be honest and act with integrity,” says Professor Bedford, responding to recent news stories about the behaviour of scientists.

The Royal Society Te Apārangi’s Code of Professional Standards and Ethics sets out expectations on standards of behaviour for researchers.

Drivers for the Code are the public interest and expectations of behaviour. The fundamental principles are:

  1. Integrity and professionalism
  2. Honesty
  3. Compliance with the law and relevant standards
  4. Respect for colleagues
  5. Respect for communities
  6. Protection of the well-being and privacy of individuals
  7. Duty to funders and purchasers of research
  8. Protection of the welfare of animals
  9. Protection of the environment
  10. Continuing education and communication of knowledge
  11. Appropriate use of genetic information.

“The Code also encourages researchers to share their research with the public:

‘A member must endeavour to make the results of their work as widely available to the public as possible and to present those results in an honest, straightforward and unbiased manner.’”

“While the Code provides a set of standards for all researchers, more formal complaints can be made about members of the Society, which the Society will duly process. Complaints can be made by anyone, but are not made public unless they are upheld. This is due to the potential damage to reputations before a ruling is made.”

“The Code is supported by our Public Engagement Guidelines which are a practical guide for researchers on things to consider when engaging with public,” says Bedford.

The Society is in the process of updating this Code and public and stakeholder consultation on it should begin later this year.

View code and public engagement guidelines:

Source: Royal Society Te Apārangi