About AAS

Policy on Professional Ethics

Approved by the Council, July 1, 2003

The American Antiquarian Society is both a learned society and an independent research library specializing in American history and culture through 1876. Scholars and other academic professionals in the humanities disciplines use its library collections.

The American Antiquarian Society (AAS), its staff, and the scholars who use its collections identify themselves as citizens committed to upholding universal standards of scholarly conduct, in service to society through free inquiry, whether innovative or traditional, and through interpretive study of the past. AAS expects, and provides the conditions to ensure, that its employees and the academic community of library users meet the highest standards of intellectual honesty.

Recognizing that every act of misconduct in scholarship undermines the credibility of the scholarly community and jeopardizes free academic inquiry, the American Antiquarian Society presents this statement as a reminder of the responsibilities inherent in research. The American Antiquarian Society defines research misconduct as intentional, knowing, or reckless fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing published research, or in reporting research results. Research misconduct does not include differences of opinion or honest error.

The American Antiquarian Society assumes responsibility for an initial inquiry into allegations of research misconduct involving its staff or charges of research misconduct made against its research fellows. Allegations against a fellow, regardless of the source of fellowship funds, will initially be reviewed by a committee (hereafter known as the Committee) made up of the President of the Society, the Vice President for Collections and Programs, and at least one department head. If this review discloses sufficient evidence of research misconduct to warrant a full investigation, the procedures to be followed will depend on the primary source of financial support for the research and the scholar/fellow under review.

In the case of allegations made against a scholar whose research is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities ("NEH") or other Federal agency, such as a long-term American Antiquarian Society-National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow, the allegation will be reported to the NEH or other Federal agency, pursuant to Section V.2 of the NEH Research Misconduct Policy, promulgated electronically on September 1, 2002. Because of its relatively small size and limited financial and staff resources, AAS anticipates that it will not itself be able to conduct the extensive investigation required by the NEH. Under these circumstances AAS will refer the allegations and the record and results of its initial review back to the Inspector General of the NEH (or other relevant Federal agency) to permit the NEH to proceed with its own investigation. AAS will cooperate with the NEH (or other Federal agency) to the extent its resources permit, and reserves the right to take such interim or further action with regard to the scholar/fellow under investigation as it deems necessary to protect the intellectual integrity and reputation of the American Antiquarian Society.

In the case of allegations made against a fellow whose research is supported solely by non-Federal funds, the Committee will initially investigate the allegations. Should such initial review find cause to do so, AAS will report the allegations and the preliminary and any subsequent findings of the Committee to that scholars home institution, and defer to that institution for further investigation. AAS will cooperate with the home institution to the extent its resources permit, and reserves the right to take such interim or further action with regard to the fellow under investigation as it deems necessary to protect the intellectual integrity and reputation of the American Antiquarian Society.

If the individual against whom a charge of scholarly misconduct has been brought is an employee of the American Antiquarian Society, the Committee (with an appropriate substitution made if the person so charged would normally sit on the Committee) will initially investigate the allegations. Should such initial review find cause to do so, the Committee will report the allegations and the preliminary and any subsequent findings to the AAS Council (trustees) for further action, which might include, but is not limited to, the Councils appointing a special committee or engaging outside legal counsel to conduct the investigation.

In all cases, the American Antiquarian Society reserves the right to impose any or all of the administrative remedies outlined in Section VII.3 of the NEH Research Misconduct Policy, as appropriate, and without limiting its rights to take such other measures as it deems appropriate to protect its intellectual integrity and reputation. In the case of a staff member, such measures might include termination of employment.

The American Antiquarian Society is committed to fairness in investigating allegations of misconduct. This includes a commitment to confidentiality. AAS will make the best effort possible to preserve the confidentiality of any investigation of misconduct. It also includes, in cases where the Committee decides that the individual in question might have committed scholarly misconduct, an obligation to inform the individual in writing of its findings in a timely way, so as to give the scholar an opportunity to respond before deciding to proceed to the next step.

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