Office of Science Quality and Integrity

USGS Code of Scientific Conduct

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is dedicated to preserving the integrity of its scientific activities. In accordance with USGS Survey Manual Chapter 500.25 - Scientific Integrity, all those who engage in scientific activities will abide by the following Code of Scientific and Scholarly Conduct:

All USGS Employees, Volunteers, Contractors, Cooperators, Partners, Permittees, Lessees, and Grantees

All USGS employees and volunteers and contractors, cooperators, partners, permittees, lessees, and grantees (also referred to below as outside parties) must abide by the following code of scientific and scholarly conduct to the best of their ability:

  1. I will act in the interest of the advancement of science and scholarship for sound decision making, by contributing or using the most appropriate, best available, high quality scientific data and information to inform the mission of the USGS and the Department.
  2. I will communicate the results of scientific activities clearly, honestly, objectively, thoroughly, accurately, and in a timely manner.
  3. I will be responsible for the resources entrusted to me; including equipment, funds, my time, and the employees I supervise.
  4. I will adhere to the laws and policies related to: (a) the protection of natural and cultural resources and (b) the conduct of research on animals and human subjects.
  5. I will not knowingly participate in a particular matter that causes a conflict of interest for myself or others.
  6. I will not intentionally hinder the scientific activities of others or engage in scientific misconduct.
  7. I will clearly differentiate among facts, personal opinions, assumptions, hypotheses, and professional judgment in reporting the results of scientific activities and characterizing associated definable uncertainties, in using those results for decision making, and in carrying out public information activities.
  8. I will protect, to the fullest extent allowed by law and policy, the confidential and proprietary information provided to the USGS and the Department by individuals, communities, and entities whose interests and resources are studied or affected by scientific activities.
  9. I will be responsible for the quality of the data I use or create and the integrity of the conclusions, interpretations, and applications I make. I will adhere to appropriate quality assurance and quality control standards, and not withhold information because it might not support the conclusions, interpretations, and applications I make.
  10. I will be diligent in creating, using, preserving, documenting, and maintaining scientific collections, records, methodologies, information, and data in accordance with Federal and Departmental law, regulation, policy and procedures.


Individuals Engaged in Scientific Activities

In addition to the above, for all employees, volunteers, and outside parties who engage in scientific activities:

  1. I will place quality and objectivity of scientific activities and reporting of results ahead of personal gain or allegiance to individuals or organizations.
  2. I will maintain scientific integrity and will not engage in fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, reviewing, or reporting scientific activities and products of these activities.
  3. I will fully disclose the scientific methodologies used, all relevant data and information, and the procedures for identifying and excluding faulty data except where protected by law.
  4. I will adhere to appropriate professional and organizational standards for authoring and responsibly publishing the results of scientific activities and will respect the intellectual property rights of others.
  5. I will welcome constructive criticism of my scientific activities and will be responsive to peer review.
  6. I will provide constructive, objective, and professionally valid peer review of the work of others, free of any personal or professional jealousy, disputes, competition, non-scientific disagreement, or conflict of interest resulting from financial interests or personal or business relationships. I will substantiate comments that I make with the same care with which I report my own work.


Decision Makers

In addition, for all decision makers:

  1. I will do my best to support the scientific activities of others and will not engage in dishonesty, fraud, misrepresentation, coercive manipulation, censorship, or other misconduct that alters the content, veracity, or meaning or that may affect the planning, conduct, reporting, or use of scientific activities.
  2. I will offer respectful, constructive, and objective review of scientific activities of employees I supervise and will encourage them to obtain appropriate peer reviews of their work. I will respect the intellectual property rights of others and will substantiate comments that I make about their work with the same care with which I carry out and report the results of my own activities.
  3. I will adhere to appropriate standards for reporting, documenting, and applying results of scientific activities used in decision making and ensure public access to those results in accordance with Departmental policy and established laws.