NOAA issues scientific integrity policy

December 7, 2011

Scientists conducting research in Alaska.

Scientists conducting research in Alaska.

Download here. (Credit: Dave Partee/Alaska Sea Grant)

NOAA’s commitment to science was further solidified today with the release of a scientific integrity policy by Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.

“This policy strengthens the high standards we work to achieve every day to advance the science that underpins the services and stewardship NOAA provides to the American public,” said Lubchenco. “The scientific integrity policy expresses our commitment to produce and use science without distortion, to be transparent and accountable in production and use of our science, and to strengthen our commitment to excellence.”

Lubchenco made the announcement today at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

“Scientific integrity is at the core of producing and using good science,” Lubchenco added. “Now, for the first time, we have a comprehensive policy in place that firmly supports our scientists and their scientific activities, protects the use of scientific findings, and thus advances the public trust in NOAA science.”

Developed from a deliberative and inclusive process that included employee and public input, this new policy reflects the commitment of NOAA and the Obama Administration to protect scientific findings from being suppressed, distorted or altered and to strengthen science and encourage a culture of transparency. The policy amplifies the President’s Memorandum to Department and Agency Heads on Scientific Integrity issued March 9, 2009, and it specifies how NOAA will address key issues.

The scientific integrity policy applies to all NOAA employees — career, political, and contractor — who conduct, supervise, assess or interpret scientific information on behalf of NOAA. Scientists, their managers, and policy makers are all governed by the policy, and each group commits to upholding the integrity of science at NOAA.

To support a culture of openness, one of the policy’s key provisions affirms unequivocally that NOAA scientists may speak freely with the media and public about scientific and technical matters based on their official work without approval from the public affairs office or their supervisors.

The policy also protects those who report scientific and research misconduct. It also protects the anonymity of those who are accused but exonerated of research and scientific misconduct.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebook, Twitter and our other social media channels.