The International Sociological Association's (ISA) Code
of Ethics consists of a Preamble and four sets of specific
Ethical Standards. Membership in the ISA commits members
to adhere to it.
The Code of Ethics
is not exhaustive, all-embracing and rigid. The fact that
a particular conduct is not addressed specifically by
the Code of Ethics does not mean the conduct is necessarily
either ethical or unethical.
Sociologists work to develop a reliable and valid body
of scientific knowledge based on research and, thereby,
to contribute to the improvement of the global human condition.
The primary goals of the Code of Ethics, a symbol of the
identity of the ISA, are (1) to protect the welfare of
groups and individuals with whom and
on whom sociologists work or who are involved in
sociologists' research efforts and (2) to guide the behaviour
and hence the expectations of ISA members, both between
themselves and toward the society at large. Those who
accept its principles are expected to interpret them in
good faith, to respect them, to make sure they are respected
and to make them widely known.
supplements the Code of Ethics in ways based on
her/his own personal values, culture and experience. Each
sociologist supplements, but does not violate, the standards
outlined in this Code of Ethics. It is the individual
responsibility of each sociologist to aspire to the highest
standards of conduct.
The efficacy of a
Code of Ethics relies principally
upon the self-discipline and self-control of those to
whom it applies.
as a field of scientific study and practice
As scientists, sociologists are
expected to cooperate locally and transnationally on the
basis of scientific correctness alone, without discrimination
on the basis of scientifically irrelevant factors such
as age, sex, sexual preference, ethnicity, language, religion
or political affiliation.
1.2. Group work,
cooperation and mutual exchanges among sociologists
are necessary for sociology to achieve its ends. Sociologists
are expected to take part in discussions on their own
work, as well as on the
work of other sociologists.
should be aware of the fact that their assumptions may
have an impact upon society. Hence their duty
is, on the one hand, to
keep an unbiased attitude as far as possible,
while, on the other hand, to acknowledge
the tentative and relative character of the results
of their research and not to conceal
their own ideological position(s). No sociological assumption
should be presented as indisputable
should act with a view to mantaining the image and the
integrity of their own discipline;
this does not imply that they should abandon
a critical approach toward its fundamental assumptions,
its methods and its achievements.
1.5. The principles
of openness, criticism and respect for all scientific
perspectives should be followed by sociologists in their
teaching and professional practices.
are expected to protect the rights of their students
activities in sociology must often
necessarily rely on private or public funding,
and thus depend to a certain extent on sponsorship.
Sponsors, be they private or public, may
be interested in a specific outcome of research. Yet,
sociologists should not accept
research grants or contracts which specify conditions
inconsistent with their scientific judgment of what
are appropriate means of carrying out the research in
question, or which permit the sponsors to veto or delay
academic publication because they dislike the findings.
should be clearly informed in advance of the basic guidelines
of research projects, as well as of the methods which
researchers are willing to adopt. Sponsors also should
be advised of the risk that the result of an inquiry
may not fit with their own expectations.
both private and public, may be particularly interested
in funding sociological research for the sake of their
own political aims. Whether or
not they share such aims, sociologists should
not become subordinate to them. They should also refrain
from cooperating in the fulfillment of undemocratic
aims or discriminatory goals.
2.1.4. The conditions
agreed upon between researchers and sponsors should
preferably be laid down
in written agreements.
2.2. Costs and rewards
2.2.1. Funds provided
for sociological research should be used for the agreed
2.2.2. In a situation
where sociologists are bidding
competitively on projects, they should not agree to
carry on research projects which are not sufficiently
funded or compete with other bidders
by the use of further unfair tactics not consistent
with appropriate scientific standards.
2.3. Data gathering
2.3.1. As scientists,
sociologists should disclose the methods by which they
proceed as well as the general sources of their data.
2.3.2. The security,
anonymity and privacy of research subjects and informants
should be respected rigourously, in both quantitative
and qualitative research. The sources
of personal information obtained by researchers
should be kept confidential, unless the informants have
asked or agreed to be cited. Should informants be easily
identifiable, researchers should remind them explicitly
of the consequences that may follow from the publication
of the research data and outcomes. Payment of informants,
though acceptable in principle, should be discouraged
as far as possible and subject to explicit conditions,
with special regard to the reliability of the information
who are being given access to records are expected to
respect the privacy conditions under which the data
were collected. They can, however,
make use of data gathered in historical archives, both
private and public, under the legal conditions laid
down in the country concerned and usually accepted by
the international scientific community, and subject
to the rules of the archive.
2.3.4. The consent
of research subjects and informants
should be obtained in advance. Covert research should
be avoided in principle, unless it is the only method
by which information can be gathered, and/or when
access to the usual sources of information is
obstructed by those in power.
Publication and communication
3.1. Data gathered
in sociological research activities and research work
constitute the intellectual property of the researchers,
who are in principle also entitled to copyright. Should
copyright be vested in a sponsor or in an employer,
researchers should be entitled to fair compensation.
3.2. In principle,
researchers have a right to submit their work for publication,
or to publish it at their own expense.
have the right to ensure that their results be not manipulated
or taken out of context by sponsors.
3.4. The contribution
of scholars, sponsors, technicians or other collaborators
who have made a substantial contribution in carrying
out a research project should be acknowledged explicitly
in any subsequent publication.
should not be regarded as being in the public domain,
until the researchers who have assembled them have specified
the sources of their data and the methods by which they
were constructed. Information about sources and methods
should be made available within reasonable time. Interim
data sets should be available for inspection of their
accuracy by other scholars.
[Note: Statement already adopted by the ISA Executive
Council in its Colima Meeting, 26-27 November 1996]
3.6. Once published,
information about a research project should be considered
to be part of the common knowledge and background of
the scientific community. Therefore, it is open to comments
and criticism to which researchers should
be allowed to react.
Extra-scientific use of
4.1. The results
of sociological inquiries may be a matter of public
interest. Their diffusion, which is an implication of
the fundamental right of people to be informed, should
not be hindered. Researchers, however, should be aware
of the dangers connected with distortions, simplifications
and manipulations of their own research material, which
may occur in the process of communication through individual
or mass media. Researchers should be able, and are entitled,
to intervene to correct any kind of misinterpretation
or misuse of their work.
Researchers should refrain from claiming expertise in
fields where they do not have the necessary depth of
research knowledge, especially when contributing to
public discussion or policy debate.