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Geological Society Code of Conduct

The Code of Conduct applies to all Fellows of the Society. Some other professional bodies refer instead to a Code of Ethics or a Code of Professional Ethics.

Fellows of the Geological Society found to be in breach of the Code of Publishing Ethics will also be in breach of the Society’s Code of Conduct.

Code of Conduct

1. Preamble

Geology is the science that deals with the composition, structure, resources, history and evolution of the Earth and extra-terrestrial systems. In pursuing and applying the science, the practice of geology requires the highest standards of integrity, responsibility and professional knowledge. The Society has drawn up a Code of Conduct to which all Fellows of the Society must adhere.

In addition, the Society is a member of the American Geosciences Institute and consequently all Fellows must also observe their Guidelines for Ethical Professional Conduct. Those Fellows who are European Geologists must also adhere to the Code of Ethics of the European Federation of Geologists. Those Fellows who are Chartered Scientists must also adhere to the Science Council’s Model Rules of Conduct for Registrants. These additional Codes of Conduct are set out below.

2. Relationships

  1. Fellows must be honest about themselves, recognising and acknowledging the limitations to their knowledge and professional competence, and be honest in documents (including websites and electronic media) that describe their achievements and capabilities (such as statements of competencies, curriculum vitae, job applications, professional memberships, etc).
  2. Fellows must exercise their professional skill and judgement to the best of their ability and must act in all matters towards their clients, employers and all others with whom their work is connected in an honourable and ethical way in keeping with the highest professional standards.
  3. Fellows must treat their colleagues and clients fairly and honestly. They must not injure or discredit the professional reputation, personal standing, or business prospects of any others, through harassment, malice, negligence, carelessness or other activities that might in any way cause harm.
  4. Fellows are obliged to raise a concern about a danger, risk, malpractice or wrongdoing which affects others (‘blow the whistle’), and support a colleague or any other person to whom they have a duty of care and who, in good faith, raises any such concern.
  5. Fellows must not knowingly compete unfairly with any others. They must refer, or advise reference to, other specialists if the employer’s or client’s interests would be better served by others.
  6. Fellows must not claim credit for the work of others, through plagiarism or other practices.

3. Behaviour

  1. A Fellow who is not Chartered must, if called upon to act in an expert professional capacity, ensure that a client or employer is aware of their status and that their professed competence has not been independently verified.
  2. Fellows must express opinions without bias, without vested interest and in accordance with the established rules of behaviour appropriate for the circumstances (eg, those that govern work as an expert witness). All possible conflicts of interest must be declared in advance.
  3. Fellows must not presume to be experts in fields other than their own, or accept professional obligations that they are not competent to discharge.
  4. When advice is sought or proffered, Fellows should provide reliable and objective opinions consonant with their knowledge and ability, and make clear to the recipient any possible dangers or serious consequences inherent in the neglect of advice.
  5. Fellows must not be negligent in the practice of geology, and must take all reasonable precautions to avoid any act of commission or omission which might endanger life, adversely affect the health and safety of others, result in needless financial loss, or endanger or damage the natural and/or built environment.
  6. Fellows must act on the basis of knowledge and honest conviction. They must never alter or deny the existence of evidence in order to strengthen an argument. Advice must be based on the scientific or technical evidence with the limitations clearly explained.
  7. Fellows must at all times strive to uphold the reputation and good name of the Society. They must not make abusive, discriminatory or defamatory comments, the outcome of which could bring the Society into disrepute.

4. Public Interest

  1. Fellows must consider the implications of their conduct in the context of the public good.
  2. Fellows must prevent avoidable risk to both physical and cyber security.
  3. All Fellows are expected to maintain and develop their competencies through Continuing Professional Development at all stages in their career. CPD is mandatory for all Chartered Fellows and those aspiring to be so, and is very strongly recommended for all other Fellows who remain professionally active.

5. Scope (Outside the United Kingdom)

  1. Fellows working outside the UK must abide by the Code of Conduct. If a recognised code exists locally, Fellows should adhere to it provided that its scope and standards are in addition to those of this Code.

Guidance on the Code of Conduct

Applicants to all grades of Fellowship commit to the Code of Conduct when they sign their application form and are elected. Thus, the Code of Conduct applies to all Fellows of the Society irrespective of their Fellowship grade or whether they are acting in a professional or personal capacity, and includes, inter alia, the Guidelines for Ethical Professional Conduct of the American Geosciences Institute and, in the case of Chartered Scientist Fellows, the Science Council Guidelines for Chartered Scientists.

This guidance applies to Fellows working in all fields of geoscience. It is aimed to complement and not conflict with regulations that apply locally and internationally. It supports the Code of Conduct, and may be cited in a disciplinary enquiry if a Fellow criticises or is criticised in an adverse manner in the public domain. The Society expects and requires all Fellows to uphold the reputation of the Geological Society of London and our Royal Charter as well as the reputation of the profession.

Positive behaviours should always govern the way Fellows act both within and outside of the workplace. Acting professionally and ethically is the bare minimum requirement of anyone working within the sciences, as outlined by the Universal Ethical Code for Scientists. Actions by Fellows, including posts on social, business or other media in the public domain, that are abusive, discriminatory or defamatory, may be perceived as bringing the Society into disrepute and will not be tolerated. There are disciplinary regulations and procedures in place to maintain the Society’s high professional standards.

Fellows who provide advice to others, whether to clients and employers in a professional capacity, through membership of committees or to the general public directly or via the media, are required, under the Code of Conduct, to restrict such advice to their own areas of expertise. For guidance, the Society considers that a Fellow’s areas of expertise are likely to be categorised by some or all of the following:

  1. a recognised degree, or degrees, or equivalent qualification in the specialist area;
  2. a period of relevant experience in the specialist area;
  3. competence in a specific field of geological science that has been recognised by Council through validation of the Fellow as a Chartered Geologist or Chartered Scientist;
  4. ongoing participation in Continuing Professional Development (CPD) with specific activities related to the development of the Fellow’s professed areas of expertise.

If evidence becomes available to the Society that a Fellow is in breach of under the Code of Conduct, the evidence will be examined in accordance with the procedures defined by Regulation R/FP/6: Investigation of Complaints and Disciplinary Procedures. Council may remove a Fellow from the Society for a serious breach of the Code of Conduct.

Other Codes of Conduct

The Geological Society, European Federation of Geologists, Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining and the Institute of Geologists of Ireland jointly developed the Mineral Reporting Code for the UK, Ireland and Europe, the precursor to the current Pan-European Reserves & Resources Reporting Committee (PERC) Standard, (see also our Mineral Reporting Codes page). Adherence to the reporting requirements, professional standards and correct use of definitions in the PERC Standard are binding on Fellows of the Geological Society, whether or not they have the qualifications and experience required to be a ‘Competent Person’ as defined in the Standard.

The Society is a member of the American Geosciences Institute and consequently all Fellows must also observe their Guidelines for Ethical Professional Conduct.

In addition: