Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union

Cover image for Vol. 95 Issue 51

Online ISSN: 2324-9250

AGU Policy on Misconduct in Science


Insuring the integrity of the research process, including the conduct and reporting of research, is essential to the advancement of knowledge. AGU's primary purpose is to advance the geophysical sciences, and therefore the Union has an obligation to help define and promulgate standards of behavior that support and protect the integrity of the research process.

In developing this policy, AGU has borrowed heavily from Responsible Science: Ensuring the Integrity of the Research Process published by the National Academy of Science, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine, 1992.

The development of guidelines is an evolutionary process. We are certain that the members of AGU will help to improve their definition over time.

Misconduct in Science

Engaging in actions of misconduct in science as defined below directly damages the integrity of the research process. Because damage to the process of advancing the geophysical sciences is harmful to all who are engaged in this pursuit and therefore is harmful to the primary purposes of AGU, the Union will undertake investigation and appropriate action when an allegation of such misconduct is directly connected to an AGU activity. There are other actions that are inappropriate in the conduct of science. Their omission from this policy does not in anyway suggest that AGU condones such inappropriate actions; rather they simply are not the subject of this policy


Misconduct in scientific research involves fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism, in proposing, performing, or reporting research. Misconduct in science does not include errors of judgment; errors in the recording, selection, or analysis of data; or differences in opinions involving the interpretation of data.

  • Fabrication is making up data or results.
  • Falsification is changing data and results.
  • Plagiarism is using the ideas, words or data of another person without giving appropriate credit.

In AGU activities, misconduct in science also extends to the following actions:

  • Cover-ups of misconduct in science, reprisals against those who report misconduct in science, malicious allegations of misconduct in science, and violations of due process protections in handling allegations of misconduct in science.

AGU also considers the following behavior with respect to AGU activities to be so serious that violations must be investigated and corrected if brought to the attention of AGU officers.

  • Misrepresenting oneself as an official of the Union or as having authorities conferred by the Union beyond those one actually possesses.
  • Falsifying information about the use of AGU resources, such as might be involved in applying for or accepting an AGU grant or contract.

— [Adopted by Council May 26, 1994]


Adapted with permission from Responsible Science Volume I: Ensuring the Integrity of the Research Process. Copyright 1992 by the National Academy of Sciences. Courtesy of the National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.