Bullying investigations need a code of conduct

University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

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Wellcome Sanger Institute, Hinxton, UK.

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We suggest that there should be an approved code of conduct for the investigation and reporting of complaints related to bullying, harassment and discrimination in the scientific workplace. Currently, the processing of such complaints can vary in objectivity and impartiality (see, for example, Nature 563, 304–305; 2018 and Nature 563, 616–618; 2018).

The system needs to be tightened up and transparency improved. Organizations should not be allowed to protect their image — for instance, by shutting down a complaint too quickly. Investigations need to be genuinely independent, not conducted by single individuals from private employment-law firms in the pay of the institution. And tactics must never be used to silence complainants.

In our view, anti-bullying policies will not work until a clear code of conduct is in place to prevent manipulation of the investigation process and to ensure transparent and unbiased reporting to funding institutions (see also Nature 557, 149; 2018).

Nature 565, 429 (2019)

doi: 10.1038/d41586-019-00228-4

Competing Financial Interests

S.N.-Z. and I. B. filed a whistleblowing complaint regarding bullying, harassment, gender bias, failures of fiduciary duties for personal scientific benefit and misuse of IP for commercial purposes in 2018.

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