Draft for Comment: RDA Code of Conduct

NOTE: Original source and credit: http://2012.jsconf.us/#/about & The Ada Initiative. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License by Amy Nurnberger and Andrew Treloar.

Preamble

To answer the first question, this Code of Conduct is not in response to any incident of which the RDA global organization has been made aware. 

Rather, as RDA has matured as an organisation it is time that we accept some of those responsibilities that go along with that maturity. One of those responsibilities is creating publicly available statements of expectations for the conduct of members. As recently noted in Bell and Koenig's editorial in Science, harassment is real, and it is the responsibility of scholarly societies to set standards that make clear what is expected and acceptable behavior. 

We realize that RDA as a global organisation is host to a variety of cultural standards and understandings. While we have attempted to consider that diversity, we know that are things we have undoubtedly overlooked or not considered. This is why we are asking you now, as an invested member in RDA, to take this opportunity to correct those oversights and expand our understanding. 

Thank you for your contributions to making RDA a stronger organisation which welcomes the diversity of the global data community.

Background

A number of organisations in the technology space have recognised the need for a code of conduct. Such a code can be used both to clearly signal community norms, and also to provide support for possible action taken when a breach of the code is alleged.

An excellent set of Frequently Asked Questions relating to codes of conduct is available.

TL;DR

The intent of this document can be summed-up simply as:

  1. Respect others and their contributions
  2. Don’t make people feel uncomfortable
  3. No means no

RDA Context

RDA is a rapidly growing global organisation. As such it benefits from the mixing of cultures, but is vulnerable to the dangers that can arise from cross-cultural misunderstandings. This document assumes that the overwhelming majority of people wish to contribute to RDA from a place of respect for the organisation and its members. The intent of the document is to be explicit about inappropriate behaviours and their consequences.

This document should be seen as just one stepping stone towards a more welcoming and inclusive RDA.

Coverage

Because RDA works at Plenaries and via a range of online fora, the code below covers behaviour in both of these.

Professional Behaviour

All members of RDA are expected to abide by the core principles initially agreed to upon joining RDA. In addition, RDA expects members to behave professionally and to refrain from production or posting in an RDA context of any of the following:

  1. Material that infringes the copyright of another person, including insufficient copyright attribution.
  2. Material that threatens others, in the view of the person feeling threatened.
  3. Statements that are bigoted, hateful or racially offensive.
  4. Material that advocates illegal activity or discusses illegal activities with the intent to commit them.
  5. Material that contains vulgar, obscene or indecent language or images.
  6. Unauthorized posting of personal information (names, address, phone number, email, etc.) of other users.
  7. Advertising or other commercial solicitations.
  8. Opinions of fictitious or third parties.

We expect participants to follow these rules at conference and workshop venues, conference-related social events, on official RDA online platforms, or when using associated social media identifiers of RDA, e.g. #RDAPlenary, @resdatall. Your contributions to RDA, regardless of venue, make RDA stronger and are valued by the RDA community. We ask that as part of the RDA community you help others feel equally valued and welcomed by treating others with the respect and professionalism with which you would like to be treated.

NOTE: Items 1-8 above are drawn from https://www.americanbar.org/utility/codeofconduct.html, used with permission.

Harassment

Harassment includes, but is not limited to, offensive verbal or written comments related to gender, gender identity and expression, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, ethnicity, religion, technology choices. RDA recognises that what is offensive will vary across cultures; in the case of divergent views, Council will be the ultimate arbiter.

Harassment can also include activities related to display of sexual images in public spaces, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention.

Participants in the RDA organization or RDA-sponsored event asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately.

If an RDA member or event attendee engages in harassing behavior, the organisation may take action they deem appropriate, including warning the offender, expulsion from the conference with no refund, or expulsion from the organisation.

If you are being harassed, notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact a member of RDA Council or Secretariat immediately. You may also email harassment@rd-alliance.org.

At conferences, conference staff can be identified as they will be wearing branded clothing and/or badges. Conference staff may be able to assist in a variety of ways:

  • provide escorts, or otherwise assist those experiencing harassment to feel safe until other assistance arrives

  • contact the appropriate members of the RDA organisation, should escalation be desired

  • help participants contact hotel/venue security or local law enforcement, as necessary

In the case of someone who feels they have been accused of harassing behaviour in error, they can seek redress through Council.

 

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  • Andrew Treloar's picture

    Author: Andrew Treloar

    Date: 15 Dec, 2017

    From Ross Wilkinson, Council co-chair:

    Thanks Andrew and Amy for this. I broadly support it, and its thrust.

    Unfortunately, as we have seen, the worst form of harassment is often from positions of power. Taking an issue of harassment to the secretariat or Council may be problematic if that is the locus of the harassment. Could we ensure that we cover this situation as well?

  • Leif Laaksonen's picture

    Author: Leif Laaksonen

    Date: 15 Dec, 2017

    Dear Amy & Andrew,

    Thank you very much for the mail and the very important task. There are a few things that come into my mind but I don’t have clear suggestions how to include them, if you find them important.

    1) Why not make the RDA Code of Conduct already a part of the RDA core principles initially agreed to upon joining RDA?

    2) Some of the things mentioned in the Harassment section might already be against the law in the country so it is not about raising the problem to the Council but to contact the authorities.

    3) I think it is too weak to say "have recognised the need for a code of conduct”. There could also be the text saying that the RDA Code of Conduct is updated on a yearly(?) base based on the experiences from the RDA membership.

    Thanks,

    /leif

  • Natalie Harrower's picture

    Author: Natalie Harrower

    Date: 19 Jan, 2018

    Dear Andrew and Amy - thanks for your excellent work on this. The development of such a code signals, to me, the maturity of an organisation, in that it can stand back from its immediate work to consider the context for that work. I think you have covered all important areas.

    A minor question re the Preamble - are you intending to keep it in its current form, or edit, or remove from the final statement? Right now it reads to me as an address to those reading the draft during the commenting phase, which is a different tone than the rest of the document.

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