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WHOI Position on Research Independence and Integrity

WHOI is an independent, nonprofit organization whose mission is to advance knowledge of the ocean and its interactions with the atmosphere, land, seafloor and ice for the benefit of humanity. The results of scientific research help society foster the wise stewardship and use of the ocean and of the planet. Therefore, work conducted at WHOI must always be performed with a commitment to scientific standards that ensure the integrity and excellence of research. All members of the WHOI community and visitors are expected to maintain the highest ethical and professional standards in the conduct of their research. These standards include honesty, fairness, accuracy, objectivity, openness, and respect for the work and opinions of others.

WHOI has a well-established culture of scientific integrity: honest investigation, open discussion, refined understanding and a firm commitment to evidence, free from inappropriate influence or attempts to suppress or alter scientific or technological findings. The quality, objectivity and independence of WHOI research are core values, which cannot be compromised.

WHOI’s fundamental methods and scientific standards do not change based on funding. Researchers are free to propose and pursue investigations guided by their interests and expertise. Projects mutually developed with all sponsors, whether government, philanthropic, or corporate, adhere to the following goals and values:

  • The project should align with WHOI researchers’ scientific interests and have clear intellectual merit;
  • The data collected in the course of the work should normally be open and accessible to the public;
  • With some required exceptions, WHOI investigators must be free to publish the results of their work in peer-reviewed scientific journals and present research findings at professional meetings;
  • Intellectual property (IP) developed in the course of scientific and engineering work by WHOI staff is owned by WHOI, but may be licensed for use by others.
  • Projects are conducted with transparency and the funding sources are fully disclosed.

WHOI expects its individual investigators to exercise good judgment and personal integrity in adhering to these principles. WHOI has established the Advisory Committee on Ethics, Conflicts, and Security (ACECS) as a forum for internal review of sponsored research grants and contracts in cases where resolution of potential issues or concerns is needed before agreements are made. It provides guidance to scientific and technical staff in the assessment and oversight of research ethics, conflicts of interest or commitment, intellectual property, and security.