Committee on Professional Ethics, Rights, and Freedoms

The responsibility of the committee on professional ethics, rights, and freedoms is to protect the rights of political scientists and ensure that the ethical policies of APSA are followed.

Related Information
Ethics in Political Science

Term expiring August 31, 2015

  • Yvette M. Alex-Assensoh, chair
  • Kenneth Sherrill, CUNY-Hunter College

Term expiring August 31, 2016

  • Scott W. Desposato, University of California, San Diego
  • Roxanne L. Euben, Wellesley College

Term expiring August 31, 2017

  • David Campbell, University of Notre Dame
  • Susanna Wing, Haverford College


Letter of Inquiry to Israeli Council of Higher Education

On October 1, 2012 the Committee on Professional Ethics, Rights and Freedoms sent a letter of inquiry to the Israeli Council of Higher Education regarding the proposed closure of the Department of Politics and Government at Ben Gurion University of the Negev. You can read the letter here.


Proposed Changes to Ethics Guide

At its March 2012 meeting, the APSA Council reviewed a policy statement on Data Access and Research Transparency. The revised text aims to achieve three things. First, it brings the ethics guide up to date with current standards in the discipline. Where earlier language emphasized making data accessible only when findings were challenged, the new guidelines recognize sharing data access and research transparency as a common part of the research endeavor. Second, it recognizes a broader set of reasons for why researchers may not want to provide access to their data, including confidentiality, privacy, and human subjects protections. Finally, the updated language aims to attend to all the empirical research traditions within our discipline, including respecting the integrity of the different kinds of information empirical researchers collect and the analytic steps that they take.




The Ethics Committee is now preparing to incorporate these changes in the Ethics Guide, and invites comment and feedback from the membership before finalizing the changes.


Contact the ethics committee with any comments, questions or concerns.


Proposed revised text to the Guide to Professional Ethics in Political Science, Section III, Principles of Professional Conduct, Section A, Principles for Individual Researchers.


5. With respect to any public scholarly activity including publication of the results of research, the individual researcher:


5.1 Bears sole responsibility for publication;


5.2 Should disclose all relevant sources of financial support;


5.3 Should indicate any condition imposed by financial sponsors or others on research publication, or other scholarly activities; and


5.4 Should conscientiously acknowledge any assistance received in conducting research.


6. Researchers have an ethical obligation to facilitate the evaluation of their evidence-based knowledge claims through data access, production transparency, and analytic transparency so that their work can be tested or replicated.


6.1 Data access: Researchers making evidence-based knowledge claims should reference the data they used to make those claims. If these are data they themselves generated or collected, researchers should provide access to those data or explain why they cannot.


6.2 Production transparency: Researchers providing access to data they themselves generated or collected, should offer a full account of the procedures used to collect or generate the data.


6.3 Analytic Transparency: Researchers making evidence-based knowledge claims should provide a full account of how they draw their analytic conclusions from the data, i.e., clearly explicate the links connecting data to conclusions.


6.4 Scholars may be exempted from Data Access and Production Transparency in order to (A) address well-founded privacy and confidentiality concerns, including abiding by relevant human subjects regulation; and/or (B) comply with relevant and applicable laws, including copyright. Decisions to withhold data and a full account of the procedures used to collect or generate them should be made in good faith and on reasonable grounds. Researchers must, however, exercise appropriate restraint in making claims as to the confidential nature of their sources, and resolve all reasonable doubts in favor of full disclosure.


6.5 Dependent upon how and where data are stored, access may involve additional costs to the requesting researcher.


6.6 Researchers who collect or generate data have the right to use those data first. Hence, scholars may postpone data access and production transparency for one year after publication of evidence-based knowledge claims relying on those data, or such period as may be specified by (1) the journal or press publishing the claims, or (2) the funding agency supporting the research through which the data were generated or collected.


6.7 Nothing in this section shall require researchers to transfer ownership or other proprietary rights they may have.


6.8 As citizens, researchers have an obligation to cooperate with grand juries, other law enforcement agencies, and institutional officials. Conversely, researchers also have a professional duty not to divulge the identity of confidential sources of information or data developed in the course of research, whether to governmental or non-governmental officials or bodies, even though in the present state of American law they run the risk of suffering an applicable penalty.


6.9 Where evidence-based knowledge claims are challenged, those challenges are to be specific rather than generalized or vague. Challengers are themselves in the status of authors in connection with the statements that they make, and therefore bear the same responsibilities regarding data access, production transparency, and analytic transparency as other authors.




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