At their best, scientific academies are where discovery and learning occur through a combination of diligent work and collaboration. However, the highly competitive and hierarchical structures of academia also create susceptibilities for abuse of power and bullying. The traditional graduate student model of working in a research specialty under the close supervision of a graduate advisor depends on good faith. Qualifications, such as seniority and supervisory capacity, endow certain individuals with greater authority to affect the career outcomes of their colleagues and students. The mission of the Institute requires that senior employees be invested in the learning and development of early career scientists and students. This requires diligence to avoid actions that may be perceived as bribery, coercion, malice, or indifference. Personal favors should never be proposed in exchange for advice, collaboration, or recommendation. Institute employees should act to prevent abuse of power with regards to:
- Letters of support and recommendation. The contents of letters of recommendation are often subjective and subject to bias. For example, one analysis of letters of recommendation for postdoctoral researchers showed that female scientists were significantly less likely to receive an excellent letter than a good letter compared to their male colleagues. Letter writers must be diligent to prevent biases in their letters.
- Graduate student and postdoctoral advising. Practices such as co-advising may help limit the potential for abusive advising relationships.
- Performance review committees, including doctoral defenses and promotion reviews.
- Scientific collaborations.