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Code of Ethics

Preamble

The Code of Ethics adopted by the Office of Institutional Research & Assessment at Sussex County Community College is adapted from the Code of Ethics adopted by the Association for Institutional Research (www.airweb.org)
The Code of Ethics adopted by the Association for Institutional Research was developed to provide members of the Association with some broad ethical statements with which to guide their professional lives and to identify relevant considerations when ethical uncertainties arise.

Section I – Competence

    I (a) Claims of Competence.

    The Office of Institutional Research & Assessment shall not claim or imply a degree of competency it does not possess.

    I (b) Acceptance of Assignments.

    The Office of Institutional Research & Assessment shall not accept assignments requiring competencies it does not have and for which it cannot effectively rely upon the assistance of colleagues, unless the constituencies have been adequately apprised or the necessary competencies are acquired prior to doing the research.

    I (c) Training of Subordinates.

    The Office of Institutional Research & Assessment shall provide subordinates with opportunities for professional growth and development.

    I (d) Professional Continuing Education.

    The Office of Institutional Research & Assessment has the responsibility to develop the professional skills, knowledge, and performance of its employees and to keep abreast of changes in the field.

Section II – Practice

    II (a) Objectivity.

    The Office of Institutional Research & Assessment shall operate in a manner that maintains an unbiased attitude and addresses conflicts of interest.

      i) Unbiased Attitude.
      The Office of Institutional Research & Assessment shall approach all assignments with an unbiased attitude and strive to gather evidence fairly and accurately.



      ii) Conflicts of Interest.

      The Office of Institutional Research & Assessment should be particularly sensitive to avoid personal conflicts of interest when performing services.

    II (b) Use of Accepted Technical Standards.

    The Office of Institutional Research & Assessment shall conduct all tasks in accordance with accepted technical standards.

    II (c) Initial Discussions.

    Before an assignment is begun, the Office of Institutional Research & Assessment shall clarify with the sponsor and/or major users the purposes, expectations, strategies, and limitations of the research.

      i) Special care shall be taken to recommend research techniques and designs that are appropriate to the purposes of the project.


      ii)
      Special care shall be taken to advise the sponsor and/or major users, both at the design phase and, should the occasion arise, at any time during the execution of the project, if there is reason to believe that the strategy under consideration is likely to fail or to yield substantially unreliable results.

    II (d) Identification of Responsibility.

    The Office of Institutional Research & Assessment shall accept responsibility for the competent execution of all assignments which it undertakes, and shall display individual and/or office authorship, as appropriate, on all such reports.

    II (e) Quality of Secondary Data.

    The Office of Institutional Research & Assessment shall exercise reasonable care to ensure the accuracy of data gathered by other individuals, groups, offices, or agencies on which it relies, and shall document the sources and quality of such data.

    II (f) Reports.

    The Office of Institutional Research & Assessment shall ensure that all reports of projects are complete; are clearly written in language understandable to decision-makers; fully distinguish among assumptions, speculations, findings, and judgments; employ appropriate statistics and graphics; adequately describe the limitations of the project, of the analytical method, and of the findings; and follow scholarly norms in the attribution of ideas, methods, and expression and in the sources of data.

    II (g) Documentation.

    The Office of Institutional Research & Assessment shall document the sources of information and the process of analysis in each task in sufficient detail to enable a technically qualified colleague to understand what was done and to verify that the work meets all appropriate standards and expectations.

Section III – Confidentiality

    III (a) Atmosphere of Confidentiality.

    The Office of Institutional Research & Assessment shall establish clear guidelines about confidentiality issues within the institutional research office.

    III (b) Storage and Security.

    The Office of Institutional Research & Assessment shall organize, store, maintain, analyze, transfer and/or dispose of data under it control in such a manner as to reasonably prevent loss, unauthorized access, or divulgence of confidential information.

    III (c) Release of Confidential Information.

    The Office of Institutional Research & Assessment shall permit no release of information about individual persons that has been guaranteed as confidential, to any person inside or outside the institution except in those circumstances in which not to do so would result in clear danger to the subject of the confidential material or to others; or unless directed by competent authority in conformity with a decree of a court of law.

    III (d) Special Standards for Data Collection.

      i) Balancing Privacy Risks Against Benefits.
      The Office of Institutional Research & Assessment shall, at the design stage of any project, thoroughly explore the degree of invasion of privacy and the risks of breach of confidentiality that are involved in the project, weigh them against potential benefits, and make therefrom a recommendation as to whether the project should be executed, and under what conditions.


      ii) Developing Specific Guidelines.

      Where appropriate, the Office of Institutional Research & Assessment shall adopt a written description of any specific steps beyond the regular guidelines within the institutional research office that are necessary during a specific assignment to ensure the protection of aspects of privacy and confidentiality that may be at specific risk.


      iii) Disclosure of Rights.

      The Office of Institutional Research & Assessment shall ensure that all subjects are informed of their right of refusal and of the degree of confidentiality with which the material that they provide will be handled, including where appropriate, the implications of any freedom of information statute. Any limits to confidentiality should be made clear.


      iv) Apprisal of Implications.

      The Office of Institutional Research & Assessment shall apprise institutional authorities of the implications and potentially binding obligations of any promise to respondents regarding confidentiality and shall obtain consent from such authorities where necessary.

Section IV – Relationships to the Community

    IV (a) Equal Treatment.

    The Office of Institutional Research & Assessment shall promote equal access and opportunity regarding employment, services, and other activities of his/her office, without regard to race, creed, gender, national origin, disability or other accidental quality; and in analysis, demeanor, and expression shall be alert to the sensitivities of groups and individuals.

    IV (b) Development of Local Codes of Ethics.

    The Office of Institutional Research & Assessment should develop and promulgate a code of ethics specific to the mission and tasks of the institutional research office and should strive to cooperate with fellow practitioners in the institution in developing an institution-wide code of ethics governing activities in common. The institutional researcher should take reasonable steps to ensure that his/her employers are aware of ethical obligations as set forth in the AIR Code of Ethics and of the implications of those obligations for work practice.

    IV (c) Custody and Archiving.

    The Office of Institutional Research & Assessment shall apply all reasonable means to prevent irrevocable loss of data and documentation during its immediately useful life; and, being aware of the role of data as institutional historic resource, shall act as an advocate for its documentation and systematic permanent archiving.

    IV (d) Assessment of Institutional Research.

    The Office of Institutional Research & Assessment shall develop and implement regular assessment tools for the evaluation of institutional research services.

    IV (e) Institutional Confidentiality.

    The Office of Institutional Research & Assessment shall maintain in strict confidence and security all information in its possession about the institution or any of its constituent parts which by institutional policy is considered to be confidential, and shall pursue from Section III of this Code all processes for that purpose as are appropriate.

    IV (f) Integrity of Reports.

    The Office of Institutional Research & Assessment shall make efforts to anticipate and prevent misunderstandings and misuse of reports within the institution by careful presentation and documentation in original reports, and by diligent follow-up contact with institutional users of those reports. If an institutional research report has been altered, intentionally or inadvertently, to the degree that its meaning has been substantially distorted, the Office of Institutional Research & Assessment shall make reasonable attempts to correct such distortions and/or to insist that institutional research authorship be removed from the product.

    IV (g) External Reporting.

    The Office of Institutional Research & Assessment has an obligation to the broader community to submit and/or report accurate data and professionally responsible interpretive material when requested by legitimate authority, including federal, state, and other governmental agencies and accrediting bodies. With respect to private inquiries, such as those from guidebook editors, journalists, or private individuals, the Office of Institutional Research & Assessment, should they respond, is bound by the same standards of accuracy, confidentiality, and professionally responsible interpretation.

Section V – Relationships to the Craft

    V (a) Research Responsibilities.

      i) Opportunities to Contribute.
      The Office of Institutional Research & Assessment shall seek opportunities to contribute to and participate in research on issues directly related to the craft and in other professional activities, and shall encourage and support other colleagues in such endeavors.


      ii) Acknowledging Credit.

      The Office of Institutional Research & Assessment should take responsibility and credit, including authorship credit, only for work they have actually performed and to which they have contributed. They should honestly acknowledge the work of and the contributions made by others.

    V (b) Integrity of the Profession.

    The Office of Institutional Research & Assessment should work toward the maintenance and promotion of high standards of practice.


      i)
      The Office of Institutional Research & Assessment should uphold and advance the values, ethics, knowledge, and mission of the profession. They should protect, enhance, and improve the integrity of the profession through appropriate study and research, active discussion, and responsible criticism of the profession.


      ii)
      The Office of Institutional Research & Assessment should contribute to the knowledge base and share with colleagues their knowledge related to practice, research, and ethics. They should seek to contribute to the profession’s literature and to share their knowledge at professional meetings and conferences.

    V (c) False Accusations.

    The Office of Institutional Research & Assessment shall take care not to falsely demean the reputation or unjustly or unfairly criticize the work of other colleagues.

    V (d) Incompetence of Colleagues.

    In the event that the Office of Institutional Research & Assessment has direct knowledge of a colleague’s incompetence it should consult with that colleague when feasible and assist the colleague in taking remedial action.

    V (e) Unethical Conduct of Colleagues.

      i) The Office of Institutional Research & Assessment shall take appropriate measures to discourage, prevent, identify, and correct unethical conduct of colleagues when their behavior is unwittingly or deliberately in violation of this code or of good general practice in institutional research.


      ii)
      In the event that the Office of Institutional Research & Assessment believes that a colleague has acted unethically it should seek resolution by discussing their concerns with the colleague when feasible and when such a discussion is likely to be productive.