Ethics in Political Science
Political scientists share problems in common with practitioners of other scholarly disciplines. They also frequently encounter ethical problems unique to their professional concerns. To assist scholars in working through problems and differences the APSA maintains a standing committee to oversee complaints and offers an authoritative statement of ethical principles for political scientists, particularly for those newly entering the profession.
The following includes links to information regarding the APSA's ethics guidelines ("code of ethics"), more about the APSA committee that oversees, and the procedures for filing a grievance with the ethics committee.
In 1967 the APSA created a committee with a broad mandate to explore matters "relevant to the problems of maintaining a high sense of professional standards and responsibilities." That committee, chaired by Marver H. Bernstein, published its report, "Ethical Problems of Academic Political Scientists," in the summer 1968 issue of APSA's PS: Political Science & Politics. An enduring contribution of this committee was the development of a written code consisting of twenty-one rules of professional conduct. The Bernstein Report, as it came to be called, also recommended the appointment of a Standing Committee on Professional Ethics and such a committee was duly created in 1968. The title, the work, and the jurisdiction of the Standing Committee have been in a process of continuous evolution since that time. Its original jurisdiction, for example, did not include individual cases. The Committee was at first envisaged as an educational body to "protect the rights of political scientists" by the issuance of advisory opinions to guide the professional behavior of political scientists. Twenty-three advisory opinions have been adopted since the Committee was established.
In 1989, after some twenty years of experience, the APSA again created a committee to review the charter of what has come to be called the Committee on Professional Ethics, Rights and Freedoms.
The Charter Review Committee, chaired by Lawrence J. R. Herson, incorporated the advisory opinions into the basic code of the Association, revised and reorganized the statement of ethical principles, and brought other materials up to date. This newly revised Guide remains the charter of the Committee on Professional Ethics, Rights and Freedoms, and provides a statement of ethical principles fundamental to the practice of political scientists.