Ethics and Authorship in the AAS Journals

7 June 2021

AAS President’s Message

I’d like to thank the astronomical community for its ongoing commitment to upholding ethical standards for research and conduct. In light of recent inquiries regarding the permanent denial of authorship privileges in AAS-sponsored journals for those found in violation of the Code of Ethics (the Code) or the Anti-Harassment Policy, the AAS Code of Ethics Committee (CoEC) met to review the general AAS ethics policies. We note that it is AAS policy to not comment on individual ethics or harassment cases either within our organization or at other institutions.

While the Code and the Anti-Harassment Policy both allow for the denial of authorship privileges, that sanction has never been applied by the Society. The Code also states that “All persons who have made significant contributions to a work intended for publication should be offered the opportunity to be listed as authors.” The denial of authorship versus the contribution of an author could be construed as being in potential conflict. Therefore, we recognize the need for a clear and transparent policy regarding the use and implementation of this sanction that best honors our commitment to ethical standards and to the individuals impacted by ethics violations. Going forward, the CoEC will be working closely with the AAS Publications Committee to establish such a policy.

AAS Journals
Finally, as our community continues to evolve through our efforts to provide a safe and supportive research environment for all, we envision the guidelines and best practices for responsible conduct and accountability provided in the Code to be subject to ongoing discussion and revision. We will be engaging with the larger astronomical community in these discussions in order to continually mold our policies and guidelines to best uphold our values and ethical commitments.

Paula Szkody
University of Washington, Seattle

More information can be found on the AAS Professional Ethics web page.

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