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Guiding programmes and publications

Code of Conduct for EMBO Committees

EMBO is committed to ethical and responsible decision-making, responsible conduct of research and the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA). These principles inform the work of our committees. The guidelines below have been prepared to foster good practice and provide guidance to committee members in exercising their duties.


General guidelines
  • As a committee member, you are required to participate in committee activities in a lawful, ethical and justifiable manner
  • All committee-related information and documentation is strictly confidential unless otherwise declared. Confidentiality extends beyond the meeting. As a committee member, please do not speak on behalf of EMBO or the committee about the details or the outcome of selection processes, or comment personally on any decisions made. In particular, please do not divulge any such information to applicants, proposers, or other interested parties.
  • Impartiality and Conflicts of Interest (COI). As a committee member, you must act in an impartial manner and declare any real, potential, or perceived conflicts of interest as soon as you become aware of them. Please refer to the EMBO COI policy, which is provided to you with the committee guidelines. The committee guidelines also give examples of COI that may occur specifically with respect to the work of your committee.
  • Data protection. As a committee member, you will be privy to personal information about candidates and nominees. Please be aware of the sensitive character of the data you receive and ensure that you protect them appropriately. You must destroy any personal data provided to you for the purpose of a selection (application and nomination files, including references etc.) within six months after the conclusion of the respective selection procedure.
  • Decision making. The EMBO Council has delegated decision-making authority to some committees to make decisions on applications or proposals. Any strategic decisions and substantial rule changes remain the prerogative only of the EMBO Council.
  • Familiarise yourself with your committee’s terms of reference. Committee terms of reference are described in the committee guidelines. If you have any questions about these, please contact the committee chair or the responsible officer at EMBO.
  • Read the documentation and prepare for decisions (agenda, minutes from previous meeting, applications etc.) prior to the meeting. Please reserve sufficient time e.g. to score candidates or nominees. If it is your first time on the committee this may take longer than you think. Please ask current or former committee members for advice if in doubt.
  • Submit documentation to the EMBO Office in time. Any preparatory documentation (e.g. candidate scores) must reach EMBO in time for the office to assemble the necessary tables for discussion and decision at the committee meeting.
During the meeting
  • Committee members should ensure their presence at meetings and attend for the entire duration of the meeting. If it is absolutely necessary to leave early or arrive late please advise the committee chair and the EMBO office, so that agenda items that need your particular input can be moved if possible.
  • No social media posts from the committee meeting. Please do not divulge information from the meeting, even if it appears innocuous or non-confidential. It is fine to write that you will be attending or did attend, but not about what is being discussed; this is strictly confidential committee business. The EMBO administration may make recordings for the purpose of documentation (e.g. minutes), with the explicit consent of all attendees.
  • Concentrate on the task at hand. Please do not engage in unrelated work or electronic communication during the meeting, and turn off your mobile phone. Breaks during which you can make phone calls and check emails will be scheduled.
  • Be brief and to the point.
  • Express your opinion. You have been recruited to the committee for your expertise and competence. Your opinion is valued, and, in accordance with good scientific practice, should be reasoned.
  • Vote based on your expertise and conclusions. You are recruited as an individual, not as a representative of a certain group. You may of course bring to the committee the interests or views that you perceive as being held by your community (based on gender, research field, nationality, etc.), but your decisions should be based on the conclusions you have drawn from the information you have been presented with. Please do not take advantage of your membership in the committee for the benefit of a particular group.
  • Consider other committee members’ views, but challenge the consensus if necessary. If you feel that the consensus is based on incomplete or biased views or information, please voice your reservations. Keep in mind that the consensus reached should be in the best interest of the life science community. 
  • Respect the selection guidelines and criteria. Make decisions based on the criteria you are supposed to evaluate, and adhere to the principles outlined in the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), chief among them making assessments based on scientific content rather than publication metrics such as the Journal Impact Factor (JIF). To learn more, visit the DORA website.
  • Recognize (unconscious) biases. We all have them and need to make a conscious effort to overcome them. As a committee member, please be aware that unconscious biases may affect decision-making (including your own) and please work to avoid them.
After the meeting
  • Feel free to suggest improvements to the way the committee meeting is being run or conducted. Address either the chair or the officer or both if appropriate with your suggestions and comments. Your suggestions may become an agenda item if raised in time prior to the meeting.