APA Code of Conduct Interim Report (updated)

The American Philosophical Association’s Code of Conduct Task Force submitted an interim report to the APA’s Board of Officers, and the report was approved by the Board at its recent meeting. The primary agenda item of the task force to date had been the consideration of whether to create a code of conduct, and the task force did conclude that such a code was needed. It will continue to work on the content of the code with the aim of submitting it no later than fall of 2015.

From the report:

After substantial discussion, the Task Force decided by consensus that the reasons favoring a code of conduct are persuasive. Such a code is not meant to police members’ behavior, but rather to clarify and provide general guidelines regarding the wide range of professional responsibilities of philosophers, especially those in which ethical challenges might arise. The Task Force has further determined that certain existing policies of the Association taken together comprise a substantial portion of what such a code should contain. These policies include the APA Statements on
– Academic Freedom and Questionable Employment Practices
– Best Practices in Journal Publishing
– Clarification of Qualifications
– Graduate Student Aid Offers
– Hotel Room Interviews
– Nondiscrimination
– Offers of Employment
– Placement Practices
– Sexual Harassment, including the Statement of Best Practices with Respect to Sexual Harassment
– The Teaching of Philosophy

The code might also draw from the statements on
– Anonymous Review of Manuscripts
– Non-Tenure Track Faculty
– Outcomes Assessment
– Research
– Service
– The Global Character of Philosophy
– Unaffiliated Philosophers

(This is a fairly inclusive list, but further study might show that other statements or parts of statements should be considered as part of a code of conduct.)

The report also called for action from the Committee on Teaching Philosophy:

The Committee on Teaching Philosophy should develop an additional statement on “The Responsibility of Faculty to Students” that would outline the expectations of the professor/student relationship, including mentoring, and its professional nature. This additional statement could refer to other existing statements (such as the Statement on Teaching, the Statement on Harassment, and the Statement on Discrimination) and should be quite frank in its condemnation of abuses of power.

Additionally, the APA Board also approved the Pacific Division policy on professional conduct at meetings (modified so as not to be division-specific) as board policy and requested that the Eastern and Central Division executive committees approve the same policy at their next meetings, at which point it will become the official policy of the APA as a whole. Those interested can find various APA statements and policies here.

(Thanks to Amy Ferrer for this information.)

UPDATE (12/18/14): Interested in discussing the code of conducat? The APA Task Force on a Code of Conduct will hold an information session at the Eastern Division meeting from 8 to 10 p.m. on Monday, December 29th (via task force chair Nancy Holland).

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tentatively optimistic
tentatively optimistic
9 years ago

im glad the apa is working on these many important issues. anonymous refereeing in particular seems a no-brainer thing the apa could have a dramatic and quick impact on. e.g., they could develop specific guidelines for double-blind anonymization and journals that adhere to these guidelines could, on a voluntary basis, advertise that fact. in principle, this might increase the legitimacy of journals and perhaps their number of submissions. right now, many supposedly blind-reviewing journals involve editorial decisions that are not blind, and that’s a huge problem: it maintains the *appearance* of anonymity and hence of a kind of meritocratic process, whereas the decision is actually influenced at multiple stages (particularly the first and the last) by a non-blinded editor-driven process. and there is nothing to keep a reviewer from googling a paper (though I’d hope most do not). finally, authors themselves sometimes fail to adequately blind review, e.g., by including their name in the name of the document file.

relatedly, isn’t there software that would easily ensure anonymization, to guarantee that peeking *can’t* happen until a rejection, an R & R, or an acceptance is actually *sent*? I believe that US law schools and all UK universities all adhere to blind grading, so i would think that this software might already exist. as someone who grades all students’ work blinded, I know too well the temptation to peek when a decision is difficult — or to change a grade after I’ve seen whose work it was. So far, I’ve resisted that temptation, but i have experienced it many times. Software that doesn’t permit you to violate your own blinding policies seems the obvious fix. does anyone know about anything like this? ideally, it would be a platform both editors and referees could easily use and papers would be directly uploaded to this platform without at any stage being in the editor’s hands unblinded.