Code of Conduct
Draft (February 2023)This Code of Conduct was last updated on February 25, 2023.
The Open Modeling Foundation (OMF) is an international open science community of diverse scientists and teams from around the world seeking to meet the planetary, social, and environmental challenges we face in our complex and rapidly changing world. As members of the Open Modeling Foundation, we champion collaborative and open science. We strengthen our community and mission through diverse perspectives and exchanging ideas in an inclusive environment.
The OMF Executive Committee and community are committed to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. The Open Modeling Foundation is, first and foremost, a community working together across human and Earth systems sciences and engineering domains to provide an integrated representation of the complex world we live in through open and ethical modeling. This mission can be realized through a common suite of ethics, standards, protocols, and best practices that empower modeling scientists to share knowledge and build on one another’s research.
This Code of Conduct is specific to the OMF online space and online meetings. The OMF leadership committee may adapt versions of this Code of Conduct for in-person events. Importantly, this Code of Conduct helps establish the culture we want for our community and will be reviewed annually. This Code of Conduct aims to support a community where all people feel safe to participate openly, introduce new ideas, and inspire others regardless of background, family status, gender, gender identity or expression, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, language fluency, age, ability, appearance, race and/or ethnicity, national origin, socioeconomic status, academic degree, religion, geographic location, or any other attributes. It aims to provide standards and expectations of community behavior that promote decency and care towards each other and reduce the potential for problematic, oppressive, and harassing behavior.
These guidelines enable OMF members to interact and collaborate to mutual advantage and enhance our understanding of open and ethical modeling systems. We gain strength from diversity and proactively seek participation from those who enhance it. This document outlines both expected and prohibited behaviors. This Code of Conduct aims to provide procedural guidance for members whose expected behaviors and standards have not been upheld.
When and How to Use These Guidelines
These guidelines outline the behaviors expected from the members of the OMF community. Your participation in OMF is contingent upon following these guidelines in all OMF activities, including but not limited to participating on the OMF website or in meetings and webinars hosted on the OMF platform or by OMF.
Appreciate and Accommodate Our Similarities and Differences
OMF members come from many cultures and backgrounds. Be respectful of people with different cultural practices and beliefs. Work to acknowledge your own biases, prejudices, and discriminatory practices. Think of others’ needs and learn to appreciate their point of view. Use preferred titles (including preferred pronouns). Respect people’s right to privacy and confidentiality. Be open to both learning from and educating others.
Being inclusive means the following:
Be curious and manage your assumptions. Seek diverse perspectives: diversity of views and people powers innovation, even if it is not always comfortable. Be proactive and help new perspectives be heard and listen actively. If you find yourself dominating a discussion, it is especially important to step back and encourage other voices to join in. Be aware of how much time is taken up by dominant members of the group. Provide alternative ways to contribute or participate when possible—for example, using the Zoom chat or allowing people to ask anonymous questions. Avoid slang or idioms that might not translate across cultures or be deliberate in explaining them to share our diverse cultures and languages. Speak plainly and avoid or define acronyms and jargon that not everyone may understand. Be an ally to others when you see a need.
Be inclusive of everyone in an interaction, respecting and facilitating people’s participation, whether they are:
- Remote (on video or phone only)
- Not a native English speaker
- Coming from a different culture
- Using pronouns other than he or she
- Living in a different time zone
- Facing other challenges to participation
Think about how you might facilitate alternative ways to contribute or participate. Make way for other voices and listen actively to them.
Value each other’s ideas, styles, and viewpoints. Agree to disagree - we may not always agree, but disagreement is no excuse for poor manners. Be open to different and new possibilities and to being wrong. Be respectful in all interactions and communications, especially when debating the merits of different options. Be aware of your impact and how you may be affecting people. Be clear, constructive, and positive. Bear in mind that tone can be hard to decipher online.
Take responsibility for your impact and your mistakes—if someone believes they have been harmed through your words or actions, listen carefully, apologize sincerely, and correct the behavior going forward. If both (or more) parties believe they have been wronged, connect with a Committee member to assist with any mediation that might be required. All members have the right to be heard.
Commit to Self-Improvement
If you are approached as having (consciously or otherwise) acted in a way that might make others feel unwelcome, listen with an open mind and try to avoid becoming defensive. Remember that if someone offers you feedback, it likely took great courage for them to do so and that it indicates an optimistic desire for improvement in a continued working relationship. The best way to respect that courage is to acknowledge their feedback, apologize, and seek to understand where the relationship broke down. Communication is essential for all parties to learn. A renewed commitment to improving communication and understanding may prevent other Code of Conduct scenarios.
Give Professional Feedback
Feedback is a natural and important part of work in the OMF space. Good feedback is kind, respectful, transparent, constructive, and focused on goals and values rather than personal preferences. Be honest, authentic, respectful, empathetic, and compassionate.
Respect Intellectual Property and Indigenous Data Sovereignty
The Open Modeling Foundation is a space to share research. Obtain consent from other OMF members before sharing their information, presentation content, or data outside the membership space.
Respect the intellectual property of Indigenous Peoples. Do not expect Indigenous Peoples to share their observations or information outside their community. Always give Indigenous Peoples credit for data and observations, and whenever possible, compensate collaborators for their time and contributions, including for participation in presentations and webinars or other contributions. When working with Indigenous Peoples, guidelines should be agreed to prior to data collection to establish data sovereignty—see the CARE Principles of Indigenous Data Governance as an example.
Behavior That Will Not Be Tolerated
The following behaviors are considered unacceptable under these guidelines.
Hurtful or harmful language related to background, family status, gender, gender identity or expression, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, language fluency, age, ability, appearance, race and/or ethnicity, national origin, socioeconomic status, academic degree, religion, geographic location, or any other attributes is not acceptable. This includes deliberately referring to someone by a gender that they do not identify with, and/or questioning the legitimacy of an individual’s gender identity. If you are unsure if a word is derogatory, do not use it. If you are unsure if a statement could be considered an unwelcome personal remark, do not make it. This also includes repeated subtle and/or indirect discrimination; when asked to stop, stop the behavior in question.
Conflicts will inevitably arise, but frustration should never turn into a personal attack. It is not okay to insult, demean, or belittle others. Attacking someone for their opinions, beliefs, and ideas is not acceptable. It is important to speak directly when we disagree and think we need to improve. Still, such discussions must be conducted respectfully and professionally, remaining focused on the issue at hand.
Unacceptable or Unlawful Use of Intellectual Property
Sharing or using others’ intellectual property as your own or without the creator’s consent is not acceptable. When in doubt, ask for permission to share. This includes data, presentation content, Indigenous knowledge, and other forms of intellectual property.
Unwelcome Sexual Attention
Unwelcome sexual attention is not acceptable. This includes sexualized comments, jokes, or imagery in interactions, communication, or presentation materials, as well as inappropriate sexual advances. Simulated physical contact (such as emojis like “kiss”) without affirmative consent is not acceptable. This includes sharing or distribution of sexualized images or text.
Violence or Threats of Violence
Violence and threats of violence are not acceptable—online or offline. This includes incitement of violence toward any individual, including encouraging a person to commit self-harm. This also includes posting or threatening to post other people’s personally identifying information (“doxing”) online. This also includes bullying, including threats of professional discrediting, data hoarding, and exclusion from authorship.
Reporting Process and Consequences
Code of Conduct Violations During Open Modeling Foundation Meetings
If there is a clear violation of the Code of Conduct during an OMF meeting—for example, a meeting is Zoom bombed or an OMF member is verbally abusing another participant—an OMF Executive Committee member may choose to expel the violator from the meeting or close the meeting early. If they do so, they will follow up with the Code of Conduct Committee to determine if further action is needed.
The following outlines the process for community members to report a Code of Conduct violation after it has occurred.
Making a Report
If you believe you’re experiencing unacceptable behavior that is counter to this Code of Conduct, please contact a member of the OMF Code of Conduct Committee:
The committee member will work with you to find a time to take an incident report, which includes a concise description of the situation. If a conflict of interest is present between you and the committee member, or the committee member and the person/people being reported, they will recommend another committee member to take your report.
If you would prefer to make a report via email rather than discussing it with a committee member, please include:
- Your contact information (so we can get in touch with you if we need to follow up).
- Date and time of the incident.
- Location/context of the incident (e.g., at a working group meeting).
- Whether the incident is ongoing.
- Description of the incident.
- Name of the reported person(s).
- Any additional circumstances surrounding the incident.
- Any additional circumstances surrounding your relationship with the people involved in the incident (e.g., whether the person is a coworker, a boss, etc.— see the Conflicts of Interest section below).
- Other people involved or witnesses to the incident and their contact information (if applicable).
The reporting party does not need to be directly involved in a Code of Conduct violation incident. Please make a bystander report if you observe a potentially dangerous situation, someone in distress, or violations of these guidelines, even if the situation is not happening to you.
The OMF and the Code of Conduct Committee will keep reports as confidential as possible. When we discuss incidents with people who are reported, we will anonymize details as much as possible to protect reporter privacy. In some cases, even if the details are anonymized, the reported person may be able to guess who made the report. If you have concerns about retaliation or your personal safety, please note that in your report. We still encourage you to report, so that we can support you while keeping OMF members safe. In some cases, we can compile several anonymized reports into a pattern of behavior and take action on that pattern.
What Happens After a Report Is Filed
After a member of the Code of Conduct Committee takes your report, they will consult with the committee within two business days to determine an appropriate response. The Code of Conduct Committee makes decisions by consensus.
During the committee meeting, members will:
- Review the report documentation to determine what happened.
- Consult any documentation of past incidents for patterns of behavior, if there are any.
- Discuss appropriate response(s) to the incident.
- Assign a committee member to make those response(s).
- Determine follow-up actions for impacted people and/or the reporter.
- Assign a person to follow up with the impacted people.
After the meeting, a committee member may communicate with the reported person to:
- Explain what happened and the impact of their behavior.
- Offer concrete examples of how to improve their behavior.
- Explain the consequences of their behavior, or future consequences if the behavior is repeated.
Possible Consequences of Code of Conduct Violations
What follows are examples of possible responses to an incident report. This list is not inclusive, and the OMF reserves the right to take any action it deems necessary. The strongest response the OMF may take is to completely ban a user from the OMF platform and, as is required, to report a person to their home institution. If the committee feels that law enforcement should be involved, they will recommend that the reporter make that contact.
- A verbal discussion in person or via phone/Zoom followed by documentation of the conversation via email.
- Not publishing the video or slides of a talk that violated the Code of Conduct.
- Not allowing a speaker who violated the Code of Conduct to give (further) talks at the OMF.
- Immediately ending any team leadership or other responsibilities and privileges that a person holds.
- Temporarily banning a person from the OMF.
- Permanently banning a person from the OMF.
- Nothing, if the behavior is determined to not be a Code of Conduct violation.
Appealing a Decision
Appeals to a Code of Conduct violation decision can be made by contacting a member of the Code of Conduct Committee. An appeal must include additional information for the committee to review.
Following Up With the Reporting Party/Parties
Within one week of an incident report, a Code of Conduct Committee member will follow up with the person who made the report. The follow-up may include:
- Acknowledgement that the committee discussed the situation.
- A determination of whether the incident was a violation of the Code of Conduct.
- What actions (if any) were taken to correct the reported behavior.
In some cases, it may take longer to resolve a Code of Conduct violation. In this case, a Code of Conduct Committee member will follow up with the person who made the report weekly to keep them informed.
Conflicts of Interest
If a committee member has a conflict of interest for a report, they will recuse themselves from the discussion and handling of the incident. The incident documentation will not be available to them, and they will excuse themselves from any conversations involving handling the incident. Examples of conflict of interest include:
- The reporter or reported person is their advisor and/or committee member, student, professor, or manager.
- They have a romantic or platonic relationship with either the reporter or the reported person (Committee members may participate if they are an acquaintance).
- The reporter or reported person is their family member.
- The reporter or reported person is their direct client or grantee.
- The reporter or reported person is someone they work closely with—e.g., works on their team or on the same project.
Committee members do not need to state why they have a conflict of interest, only that one exists. Other committee members should not ask why the person has a conflict of interest.
Addressing Behavior Directly
For incidents that might be settled with a brief conversation, the reporter can choose to contact the person in question or set up a video chat to discuss how the person’s behavior or words affected them. Please use this approach only if you feel comfortable; you do not have to carry the weight of addressing these issues yourself. If you’re interested in this option but unsure how to go about it, try discussing it with the OMF Director first—they will have advice on how to make the conversation happen and can also join you in a conversation if requested.
Any participants who abuse the reporting process will be considered in violation of these guidelines and subject to the same consequences. False reporting, especially to retaliate or exclude, will not be accepted or tolerated.
License and Attribution
These guidelines are adapted from the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC) Collaborations Code of Conduct and Mozilla Community Participation Guidelines. They are distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license, as is this Code of Conduct.