So why the need for a Science Integrity Charter? What's meant by integrity anyway? Is this just for scientists? Your questions answered in this handy guide to the campaign.
Q. Why do we need a public sector science integrity charter?
A. Science, innovation and research are fundamental to the economic, environmental and social needs and aspirations of the Australian community. The Federal Public Sector is trusted to discover, apply and communicate science in a frank and fearless manner, without political or commercial interference. A Science Integrity Charter will support public sector science to be independent and to be trusted by the public.
Q. What does ‘integrity’ mean in the context of the proposed Charter?
A. Honesty and uprightness are words used to define integrity. Integrity is absolutely consistent with the requirement to provide frank and fearless advice and to conduct research without improper interference.
Q. Some agencies (e.g. CSIRO, ANSTO and AIMS) already have Charters. Why do we need another?
A. Because we need an overarching Charter that encompasses all Federal Public Sector Science that is consistent, clear and focusses on science integrity. We believe science integrity is the fundamental issue that needs to be enforced in order to maximise trust from the public and to protect agencies and their staff from interference.
Q. Is the campaign only relevant to scientists?
A. No. The Charter, if implemented, would apply to all staff in the Federal public sector working in science, research and innovation. It is important that staff supporting science, such as those in administration and finance, are also working to the same integrity principles as scientists and researchers.
Q. Does the Charter need to be consistent with the various Codes of Conduct in Public Sector Science agencies?
A. Yes. We will ensure that any proposed Charter is consistent with all relevant Public Sector codes of conduct and values.
Q. Could a new Charter be used directly to penalise staff?
A. It’s unlikely. The Charter will be a series of principles that will be incorporated into an agencies existing range of policies and procedures. Any penalties for staff would therefore have to be justified in accordance with those existing processes such as Codes of Conduct.
Q. Have we told the Minister and the various Agency heads about the campaign and asked for their support?
A. Yes. The Minister’s office has been initially briefed and we are now formally writing to the Minister as well as all relevant Agency heads to outline the campaign and seek their support.
Q. What other groups do we need to liaise with to help make the campaign a success?
A. Initially, we will enlist the support of groups like Science and Technology Australia and progressively seek support from other groups as the campaign progresses.
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