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AAAS Implements Policy to Revoke Elected Fellows for Misconduct or Ethics Breach

the AAAS headquarters building
AAAS’ enacted policy outlines how any AAAS member can submit a request to review the status of an elected Fellow “in cases of proven scientific misconduct” or “serious breaches of professional ethics.” | Neil Orman/AAAS

The American Association for the Advancement of Science enacted on Monday a recently adopted policy under which an elected AAAS Fellow’s lifetime honor can be revoked for proven scientific misconduct or serious breaches of professional ethics.

The AAAS Council, the organization’s member-elected governing body that includes the AAAS board of directors, adopted and approved the new policy on Sept. 15 and announced the policy would go into effect on Oct. 15.

The policy outlines how any AAAS member can submit a request to review the status of an elected Fellow “in cases of proven scientific misconduct” or “serious breaches of professional ethics.” The procedural steps call for the completion of a required form that can be found on the AAAS Fellows Revocation Process website. Questions about the policy and/or submission of the form should be sent to fellowinquiry@aaas.org.

The policy requires a AAAS member to provide their name and member number in completing the confidential form seeking the revocation of a Fellow’s status. The requestor’s identity will remain confidential.

In detailing the event, a requestor is asked to cite the name and institution of the Fellow, describe the Fellow’s behavior and provide related findings from an investigative report made by a federal or state agency, a court of law, a professional organization, or an academic institution or reference an admission of conduct made by the Fellow.

At the outset, the staff of the AAAS executive office will review any request to ensure all required information has been provided and seek additional material when information is missing.

The Committee on Council Affairs, a panel made up of elected AAAS Council members, will consider submitted requests monthly and determine whether to advance examination of a reported request. If the request advances, a Revocation Panel made up of four AAAS Council members will be convened.

The Revocation Panel will be tasked with further review and making the revocation decision. As part of this process, the named Fellow will be contacted and given the opportunity to respond, as well as the steering group of the Fellow’s disciplinary section. The Fellow will be given the option to resign, and the resignation will be noted on the AAAS elected Fellows website.

At no time, AAAS procedures state, will the identity of a requestor be disclosed to the Fellow. AAAS executive office staff will inform the requestor once a decision by the Revocation Panel is made, and the Fellow also will be informed of the outcome. The AAAS elected Fellows website will also be updated to disclose the revocation of Fellows status.

In announcing the new policy a month ago, Margaret A. Hamburg, AAAS president and chair of the AAAS Council, said the Fellow Revocation Policy “provides a mechanism and procedure for AAAS to consider and act to revoke the status of an elected AAAS Fellow ‘in cases of proven scientific misconduct, serious breaches of professional ethics, or when the Fellow in the view of AAAS no longer merits the status of Fellow.’ ”

[Associated image: Neil Orman/AAAS]

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Anne Q. Hoy