Monday, April 11, 2005
The following is a reprint of a post I published in 2003. I thought it was the most fitting post to leave up as the last one on this blog. Thank you to all my regular readers. The game's now over. Nobody won. If you scroll to the very bottom of this page, you can read "a final word."

Code of Conduct
Here's a second (revised) attempt at a code of conduct, with thanks to those folks who provided commentary on the initial version. As usual, comments very welcome and necessary. If you have a long comment to make, you might find it easier to post to the discussion board rather than to the comment boxes, where comment length is limited.

Professors in Teaching or Research: Code of Conduct

In the following draft, "professors" means as anyone conducting research or providing instruction at a post-secondary institution.

1. Professors will establish as their first interest the well-being and human dignity of their students and all people within the scope of their professional authority.

2. Professors will never take credit for work that has not been done by them. All thesis and dissertation work will be considered as performed exclusively by the student, even if that work becomes published. Whenever "first author" status is important in a discipline, students will be listed as first author on all publications arising from their thesis and dissertation research. Co-authorship should not be granted to thesis or dissertation supervisors unless the subsequent publication clearly goes beyond the scope of the students' thesis or dissertation research.

3. Professors will perform teaching and research with social responsibility and in accordance with the laws of the land.

4. Professors will not abuse their power or authority over others for any reason and in any circumstance.

5. Professors will not use deception in their teaching and research, unless specifically authorized to do so by a qualified and recognized university or college ethics board for a particular project and for a limited period of time.

6. Professors will never require or give academic credit for student participation in research studies.

7. Professors will uphold academic freedom as well as freedom of speech for colleagues, contingent faculty, and students at all levels.

8. Professors never will use threats, intimidation, coercion, or any other form of harassment toward a colleague, student, or any other person under the scope of their professional authority.

9. Professors will teach students in a manner that allows for open thought and sharing of ideas in the classroom. Ideological and political biases of a professor should not be used as measuring sticks for the quality of any student's work.

10. Professors will make every effort to do no harm to those more vulnerable to them in an academic setting, including, but not limited to, students, contingent faculty, and non-academic staff.

11. Professors will take all reasonable care to limit danger of death, injury, or ill health to all persons as a result of their work and/or the products/outcomes of their work.

12. Professors will maintain and develop their professional competence as well as encourage people under their supervision to do the same.

13. Professors will not take upon themselves any professional duty, task, or responsibilities that they do not believe themselves competent to perform.

14. Professors will accept personal responsibility for work done by them or under their supervision. They will take all reasonable steps to ensure that people working under their supervision are prepared and competent to carry out the tasks or duties assigned to them.

15. Professors who are asked to give an opinion in their professional capacity will, to the best of their ability, give an opinion that is not tainted by vested interest or personal bias and that is based upon the best available information.

16. Professors will inform their department head, dean, and other affected parties in writing of any actual or potential conflict of interest that might exist or arise between their personal interests and the interests of their students, employer, or others under the scope of the professors' professional authority.

17. Professors will not disclose any confidential information about their students or others within the scope of the professors' professional authority unless authorized to do so in writing by the concerned party or by exigent circumstances under the law.

18. Professors will not, without written employer consent, accept any payment, personal gain, or benefit from any organization or person other than their employer in connection with professional services rendered to the employer or supported by facilities and resources of the employer.

19. Professors convicted of a criminal offence anywhere in the world will inform their employer promptly.

20. Professors will not use designations or post-nominal letters to which they are not entitled and will never misrepresent their professional qualifications or credentials.

21. Professors will refrain from engaging in sexual affairs with their students, colleagues in their particular academic department, or others under the scope of their professional authority.

22. Professors will act transparently regarding the interests of their students and others under the scope of their professional authority, providing rationale for their decisions and actions. This includes rationale and guidelines for student grading and other forms of evaluation, which should be distributed at the same time school work or duties are assigned.

23. Professors will reject all forms of bribery or inappropriate gifting.

24. Professors will be open to honest and genuine criticism of their work.

25. Professors will not engage in personal vendettas of any kind against colleagues, students, or others within the scope of their professional authority.

26. Professors will provide some professional expertise toward the benefit of persons in their local community every year without receiving any form of monetary or other compensation.

27. Professors will avoid injuring others, their property, reputation, or employment by negligent or malicious actions, reports, votes, or statements.

28. Professors will support the principle of "fair wages for equal qualifications and equivalent work" for academic and non-academic employees who work in academic settings. Accordingly, professors will make every effort to not participate in, arrange, vote for, or condone exploitation of academic or non-academic laborers in academic places of employment.

29. Professors will act as role models and mentors for their students at all levels and, whenever possible, will act with integrity and without abusing power, authority, or privilege in arranging or supporting student recommendations, access to resources, scholarships, and merit-based awards.

30. Professors will not allow personal likes and dislikes, political memberships, or religious beliefs to interfere with the fair evaluation of others' work.

Adapted, in part, from the Institution of Electrical Engineers Code of Ethics and Rules of Conduct.

Academia's not the only game in town.