Masaryk University Academic and Professional Employee Code of Ethics
(in force as of 14 May 2008)
This Code of Ethics sets out the basic ethical requirements for the conduct of Masaryk University academic and professional employees in connection with their professional and academic activities, especially in the area of education, research and evaluative and expert activities. These requirements are presented as the self-evident outcome of universal and commonly recognized moral and formal principles of conduct of individuals and groups in a civilized society with respect to the nature of higher education and research. They have been formulated with regard to the common features of activities performed by academic and professional employees independent of individual scientific disciplines. This document aims to provide a general guideline for the development of similar documents at faculties and other Masaryk University constituent parts, tailored to the needs of specific fields. This Code of Ethics does not constitute a set of professional standards, nor does it cover issues associated with employment status and the status of academic and professional employees or issues associated with the performance of work and employee obligations. It does not constitute a legally binding regulation. However, it is morally binding for all academic and professional Masaryk University employees while maintaining the academic freedoms it proclaims. Due to the moral and social aspects of the position of an academic employee as a university teacher, scientist or research and development worker or a worker in the area of creative arts, and given the moral and social aspects of the position of a professional employee, arising from his or her performance or participation in the above mentioned activities, the observance of ethical conduct standards in the workplace and beyond as formulated in this document constitutes a legitimately anticipated requirement for the proper performance of the position of an academic or professional employee (hereinafter referred to as "employee"), the merely declarative nature of the document notwithstanding.
If appropriate, provisions formulated specifically with research and development in mind shall also apply to artistic activity.
Individual provisions shall also apply to the activities of other Masaryk University employees which call for their direct involvement in areas whose ethical aspects are subject to this document.
(1) Fundamental academic freedoms include the freedom of Masaryk University as an academic institution to develop and implement a comprehensive development concept and formulate and implement educational, research and development activity objectives. These objectives must be carried out in accordance with general moral principles and a work ethic universally accepted in the area of education, research and development activities.
(2) The academic freedom of employees includes in particular the free will and decision-making in the area of teaching students, self-education and scientific research, including the choice of research material and methodology. These aspects of academic freedom must be exercised
a) in full agreement with the development concept and focus of educational, research and development activities at Masaryk University,
b) in accordance with common moral principles and a work ethic universally accepted in the area of education, research and development activities,
c) in accordance with the principles of ethical conduct expressed in this Code,
d) while respecting constraints imposed by specific research conditions.
(3) Free expression of opinion and freedom of communication constitute significant aspects of the academic freedom of employees.
General Requirements of Ethical Conduct
(1) An employee's conduct in the workplace and beyond shall adhere to commonly accepted moral principles and standards.
(2) Additional general requirements of ethical conduct associated with academic activities also include
a) adherence to field-specific ethical requirements,
b) adherence to a work ethic universally accepted in the area of education, research and development activities,
c) observance of relevant ethical principles codified at institutional, field-specific, national and – in the case of international cooperation – international level,
d) adoption of a negative attitude towards unethical conduct in the area of education, research and development activities,
e) internal honesty in the area of teaching, research and development, including continuous self-education and improvement of one's capabilities as a university teacher and researcher,
f) adoption of positions viewing the pursuit of education, research and development as self-evident components in the life of an advanced society,
g) support of the principle of academic freedom and intolerance of any violation or abuse thereof.
(3) An employee shall not use his or her position, whether academic or pertaining to any level of the organizational structure, for the purpose of personal gain or the gain of other persons or for any type of discrimination. Cases of abuse of authority must be opposed, should any arise.
(4) An employee respects the equal rights of all persons with regard to access to information, education and employment. In accordance with his or her abilities and in view of valid regulations, an employee shall
a) strive to eliminate barriers leading to discrimination and exclusion,
b) contribute to providing equal opportunities for persons with sensory and physical disabilities while respecting their specific communication requirements and contributing to the creation of a suitable technical and organizational environment,
c) promote positive attitudes as espoused by the academic community with respect to disabled persons in order to facilitate their independent and full involvement in academic and public life.
(1) An employee is responsible for the quality of his or her teaching and training carried out for the benefit of students and young scientists, respectively, and for adapting them to the current state of scientific knowledge.
(2) An employee respects the need for self-education as a prerequisite for the achievement of the highest possible teaching and research quality.
(3) An employee selflessly passes both general knowledge and his or her own findings on to students and young scientists while setting a personal example with respect to the fulfilment of moral principles in education, research and development.
(4) While engaged in teaching activity, an employee explicitly expresses attitudes and conduct enabling him or her to form a student-teacher relationship based on mutual respect and trust. A teacher is responsible for conducting teaching activities in such a way as to instil the notion of academic freedom and support the development of independent and critical thought among students.
(5) Teaching as well as the evaluation of study requirements, examinations and any other contact with students on campus requires an objective and unbiased approach on the part of an employee. Conduct with students must be carried out in such a way as to support the desired level of collegiality.
Research and Development
(1) An employee always prefers and promotes the concept of research and development – i.e. its orientation, implementation and application – as a means of elevating the level of public knowledge and as an active self-education resource focusing on the quality of education provided to students and young scientists.
(2) An employee
a) considers the publication of research and development results a standard and self-evident procedure and engages in publication activities in accordance with the standard practices of a given field,
b) assumes responsibility for the quality and authenticity of research and development activity results,
c) sets a personal example with respect to the implementation of ethical principles during research and development activities attended by students.
(3) With regard to his or her own research and development activities and their implementation, an employee accepts personal responsibility for
a) choice of research and development topic in terms of its contribution to scientific knowledge, particularly in case of research into previously tackled topics, choice of topic requiring disproportionate costs in comparison with the anticipated contribution of achievable results, etc.,
b) research objectivity and adequate research methodology choices,
c) reproducibility of research and development results and correctness of procedures associated with their further processing, including adequate data archival methods and the observance of rules or obligations consistent with a higher data archival standard,
d) correct interpretation of one's own research and development results as well as of results reached by other research workers,
e) efficient utilisation of financial and human resources.
(1) An employee is morally obligated to contribute to research results achieved by means of team research while also contributing to the development of all major research and development areas associated with the tasks tackled by his or her team.
(2) As a research team member, an employee acknowledges the mental, material and practical contributions to research team results made by the remaining team members.
(3) An employee considers it self-evident that his or her research activities contribute to achieving a constructive interference effect within the research team, namely by:
a) adopting an objective approach to research and development conducted by team members,
b) adopting an objective and critical attitude to one's own results,
c) expressing a willingness to engage in substantive discussion while respecting the opinions of other team members,
d) adopting a collegial personal and professional attitude,
e) expressing a self-evident willingness to engage in teamwork with students as equal partners.
Planning Educational, Research and Development Projects
(1) In planning educational, research and development projects, an employee is required to:
a) utilise generally accepted procedures in order to obtain external grants and internal financial support,
b) maintain proper relationships with the corporate sector during research and development activities,
c) avoid conflicts of interest when obtaining financial support and prevent such conflicts by providing prior notice of their potential emergence as associated with him- or herself,
d) assume responsibility for expedient financial resource allocation while promoting clear and controllable rules for their utilisation.
Publication of Results
(1) When publishing research results, an employee is obliged to respect – in addition to all legally binding copyright regulations – the rules of publication and disclosure of research and development results in accordance with established industry standard practices and corporate sector relationships.
(2) An employee observes ethical principles associated with respect for intellectual property, namely by:
a) respecting the intellectual property of others,
b) respektování duševního vlastnictví druhých,
c) rejecting plagiarism, falsification and misuse of results or retention of results in the case of publicly funded research and development,
d) respecting the relevant principles of collegiality (section 9),
e) adopting a responsible approach to technology application and transfer.
(3) An employee maintains an objective approach when assessing his or her share of authorship and the shares of others when reporting authorship, especially when assessing creative contributions to the publication of results and evaluating the quality and scope of contributions to the execution of the research itself.
(4) When publishing research results, an employee considers the following to be self-evident:
a) maintaining an objective approach to one's own evaluation of the significance of literary and other information sources utilised in the publication of results including precise source attribution if and when applicable,
b) assuming responsibility for the correctness of data and interpretations submitted within the scope of the publication or application of results,
c) correcting subsequently ascertained erroneous data, results or interpretive conclusions on the same publication level as originally submitted,
d) critically assessing the contribution of the distribution of results – or submission of modified or supplemented research and development results – into several publications.
Evaluative and Expert Activity
(1) hen participating in evaluative and expert activities, an employee strives to maintain an impartial and unbiased approach to the assessment of project applications, article manuscripts, special-purpose works (habilitations, dissertations, Master's theses), reports and other documents in order to provide feedback which:
a) provides a well-grounded expert opinion in a field the evaluator is knowledgeable in,
b) includes a clear and explicit opinion of the assessed work,
c) is personal but unbiased and unaffected by any external pressures.
(2) An employee respects the confidentiality of information associated with evaluative and expert activities he or she participates in as an evaluator.
(3) An employee also
a) responsibly considers whether or not to accept an evaluative assignment, especially in view of the outcome of his or her critical assessment of the ethical aspects of criteria and guidelines set out by the evaluation initiator; in case of acceptance, he or she respects guidelines set out by the initiator,
b) approaches evaluative assignments without any attempt to use the position of evaluator or any information contained in the evaluated material to either personal advantage or benefit or detriment of others,
c) objectively and critically assesses any conflict of interest potentially arising during evaluative and expert activities and declines the offer to participate in case such a conflict should arise.
(4) As a member of employee recruitment committees, an employee advocates openness during committee proceedings.
Principles of Collegial Conduct
(1) When interacting with colleagues and other MU employees, an employee adheres to the principles of collegial conduct, i.e. respecting others, their right to the expression of independent expert opinion and right of independent approach to academic activities, as long as such choices are compatible with standards generally accepted in a given field of study and with this Code.
(2) Ethical principles governing the conduct MU employees include a collegial approach to students, based on respect for
a) individual student personalities,
b) principles of freedom of access to education,
c) students as legitimate and equal members of the academic community,
d) students conducting creative work, especially by recognizing their equal status as authors or co-authors in case of the application or publication of research and development results,
e) students performing the tasks of teaching assistants beyond the scope of their study obligations; corresponding forms of compensation apply, including material compensation.
(3) An employee disapproves of all forms of uncollegial conduct, acts of discrimination and coercive conduct derived from functional status. An employee does not adopt a falsely collegial attitude which tolerates violations of key moral principles and rules set out in this Code.
(4) An employee adopts a collegial approach to teamwork based on
a) mutual trust and awareness in research and development and the subsequent publication of results,
b) respect for intellectual property and an objective assessment of his or her creative contribution and the creative contributions of others, especially when publishing results as a team.
An employee is loyal to the university. In this sense, loyalty refers to acknowledging that the credit for research and educational activities results reached by an employee on campus with the aid of university technical and human resources is not exclusively his or her own. The transmission of such results to third institutions or persons for personal gain is considered unethical.
Relationship with the Public
An employee's self-evident mission is to disseminate educational and scientific knowledge, promote general awareness of research and development results among the professional and general public and inform the public about the potential influence of research on the environment and on the material and social well-being of the general population.
Data Management and Information Technology Utilisation
(1) An employee, especially as project investigator, database manager, etc., respects the need for personal data protection. Personal employee data is only communicated if so required for the purpose of research and development record-keeping; selected personal data is protected, e.g. birth number and permanent residence address.
(2) An employee treats entrusted data – especially data associated with research and development, study-related data and personal data – in such a way as to minimize any possibility of misuse.
(3) An employee is aware of the fact that MU information systems are to be used exclusively in order to improve the quality of academic activities, i.e. not for the private benefit of oneself or others.
Resolving Cases of Unethical Conduct
(1) Cases of unethical conduct are handled in a way which reflects the university organizational structure; individual cases may be referred to the MU Ethics Board for consideration at any stage of the proceedings.
(2) In case a violation of general moral principles or rules set out in this Code is established, the case may be made public in a reasonable manner.
MU Ethics Board
(1) The MU Ethics Board – appointed by the Rector – is tasked with resolving violations of general moral principles or rules set out in this Code which fall outside of the organizational structure of MU or have not been resolved on any such level. The Ethics Board is a standing advisory body to the Rector, who also appoints the board chairperson.
(2) Ethics Board proceedings are governed by rules of procedure proposed by the board chairperson and approved by the Rector.
(3) Ethics Board proceedings may call for the appointment of additional ad hoc members as required by the nature and field-specific aspects of a particular case.
(4) The Ethics Board is required to issue a ruling within two months of the initial submission of a case, indicating whether or not a violation of generally recognized moral principles or the rules set out in this Code has occurred. In especially complicated cases, the Rector may extend the deadline if so requested by the chairperson. In such cases, the deadline established by the Rector is final.