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How to Submit a Grievance

Individual Grievances

Political scientists acting in their professional capacities who face challenges to professional ethics, academic freedom, or human rights. The Committee on Professional Ethics, Rights and Freedoms stands ready to be of assistance, and will respond to all grievances that fall within its jurisdiction. The Committee attempts to give wide latitude to persons and issues coming before it.

The Committee cannot help until it receives a formal request. Political scientists who feel they have been mistreated must take the first step and inform the Committee of the nature of the problem. After the initial contact is made the aggrieved political scientist should be ready to provide the Committee with as much detail and documentation of the alleged abuse as possible.

The Committee encourages political scientists to approach it as soon as they begin to feel that they are the victims of mistreatment, discrimination, lack of due process, or other violations of the ethical standards of the discipline. The Committee is prepared to be of help in what might be termed "anticipatory situations." If mediation and resolution of a problem can be achieved at its inception, so much the better for all concerned.

Submit a Grievance

The Committee always acknowledges and responds to serious allegations of unethical action.

The Committee will not consider disputes in litigation or disputes being reviewed by another professional review body such as the American Association of University Professors. Parties to a dispute are free to bring their allegations to the Ethics Committee after a dispute has been litigated or after a professional review body has rendered its decision.

Political scientists and departments of political science are obliged to respond to the informational needs of the Ethics Committee and its representatives. During its fact-finding, the Ethics Committee does not publicize its involvement, and the information it receives is treated with complete discretion. In turn, it is the professional obligation of all parties to a dispute to keep the Committee's involvement in strict confidence.

When the occasion warrants, the Committee, after completing its preliminary investigation, will appoint a Special Representative having the judgment and sensitivity necessary to win the confidence of those involved to conduct a comprehensive inquiry into the case.

A Special Representative's first duty is to try to resolve the complaint. A Special Representative always approaches a dispute as a fact-finder and mediator, not as an advocate for either side. Special Representatives compile a thorough report of their investigation for the use of the Committee.

At the completion of the fact-finding done by the Committee and its representatives, the Ethics Committee will take any actions it can to support those individuals it concludes have been treated unfairly by other persons or institutions.

The Committee does not have the power to censure individuals, departments or institutions.It does make every effort to use persuasion and vigorous protest to rectify situations that violate ethical principles.

Inasmuch as the Committee aims for mediation, situations may arise when the Committee will advise the complainant that the best course is to pursue the matter through the American Association of University Professors or to adopt another course of action.

A simple and basic part of the process should not be over- looked: the Committee cannot help until it receives a formal request. Political scientists who feel they have been mistreated must take the first step and inform the Committee of the nature of the problem. After the initial contact is made the aggrieved political scientist should be ready to provide the Committee with as much detail and documentation of the alleged abuse as is possible.

The Committee on Professional Ethics, Rights and Freedoms encourages political scientists to approach it as soon as they begin to feel that they are the victims of discriminatory or arbitrary actions. The Committee is prepared to be of help in what might be termed "anticipatory situations." If mediation and the resolution of a problem can be achieved at its inception, so much the better for all concerned.

Political scientists who wish to get in touch with the Committee on Professional Ethics, Rights and Freedoms should write or phone its chairperson or the APSA at its Washington D.C headquarters.

Procedures Involving Human Rights of Scholars in Other Countries

According to guidelines established in 1982, the Committee will become involved in cases involving the human rights of scholars in other countries brought to its attention by reputable sources. All requests for action are first cross-checked through the Clearinghouse on Science and Human Rights of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The Committee will respond to cases of human rights violations involving scholars whose fields correspond to those subsumed under the phrase "political science" in the United States. It will also take up cases that do not directly involve political scientists but have broad implications for all social scientists.

Given the limited time and resources of the Committee, it will consider only what appear to be the most egregious cases of human rights violations (the Committee will take up no more than six cases at a time). The standard to be used in making this choice is the International Declaration of Human Rights and the two accompanying covenants.

The procedure the Committee follows in human rights cases is to write a letter of inquiry to the appropriate authorities and to follow up this letter with subsequent letters, if necessary. Other activities such as visits to embassies and site visits may also be considered by the Committee.

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American Political Science Association
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