Code of Ethics for Certified Analytics Professionals
Prepared by the INFORMS Certification Task Force
INFORMS has developed the code of ethics/conduct for all Certified Analytics Professionals (see below). All candidates and certificants participating in the certification process are required to agree to comply with the current and future provisions of this code.
Applicability. This Code of Ethics applies specifically to those seeking (re)-certification as a Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) but may be useful to other practitioners who use analytics. Clients, employers, researchers, policymakers, journalists, students and the public should expect analytical practice by CAP certified individuals to be conducted in accordance with these guidelines. Application of these or any other ethical guidelines generally requires good judgment and common sense.
Purpose. This Code exists to clarify the ethical requirements that are important; inform the individual regarding rules and standards; hold the profession accountable; aid analytics professionals in making and communicating ethical decisions; help deter unethical behavior and promote self-regulation; and list possible violations, sanctions, and enforcement procedures.
General. Analytics professionals participate in analysis that aids decision makers in business, industry, academia, government, military, i.e. all facets of society; therefore, it is imperative to establish and project an ethical basis to perform their work responsibly. Furthermore, practitioners are encouraged to exercise “good professional citizenship” in order to improve the public climate for, understanding of, and respect for the use of analytics across its range of applications. In general, analytics professionals are obliged to conduct their professional activities responsibly, with particular attention to the values of consistency, respect for individuals, autonomy for all, integrity, justice, utility, and competence.
Responsibilities. This Code recognizes that analytics professionals have obligations to a variety of groups, including: society, employers and clients, colleagues, research subjects, INFORMS, and the profession in general. Responsibilities regarding each of these groups are further described below.
Society. All professionals have societal obligations to perform their work in a professional, competent, and ethical manner. Professionals should adhere to all applicable laws, regulations, and international covenants.
Employers and Clients. In general, it is the practitioner’s responsibility to assure employers and clients that an analytical approach is suitable to their needs and resources, and include presenting the capabilities and limitations of analytical methods in addressing their problem. Analytics professionals should clearly state their qualifications and relevant experience. It is imperative to fulfill all commitments to employers and clients, guard any privileged information they provide unless required to disclose, and accept full responsibility for your performance. Where appropriate, present a client or employer with choices among valid alternative approaches that may vary in scope, cost, or precision. Apply analytical methods and procedures scientifically, without predetermining the outcome. Resist any pressure from employers and clients to produce a particular “result,” regardless of its validity.
Colleagues. Analytics professionals have a responsibility to promote the effective and efficient use of analytical methods by all members of research teams and to respect the ethical obligations of members of other disciplines. When possible, professionals share nonproprietary data and methods with others; participate in peer review, focusing on the assessment of methods not individuals. Respect differing professional opinions while acknowledging the contributions and intellectual property of others. Those professionals involved in teaching or training students or junior analysts have a responsibility to instill in them an appreciation for the practical value of the concepts and methods they are learning. Those in leadership and decision-making roles should use professional qualifications with regard to analytic professionals’ hiring, firing, promotion, work assignments, and other professional matters. Avoid harassment or discrimination based on professionally irrelevant bases such as race, color, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, age, religion, nationality, or disability.
Research Subjects. If a project involves research subjects, including census or survey respondents, an analytics professional will know and adhere to the appropriate rules for the protection of those human subjects. Be particularly aware of situations involving vulnerable populations that may be subject to special risks and may not be able to protect their own interests. This responsibility includes protecting the privacy and confidentiality of research subjects and data concerning them.
INFORMS and Profession. Analytics professionals will strive for relevance in all analyses. Each study or project should be based on a competent understanding of the subject-matter issues, appropriate analytical methods, and technical criteria to justify both the practical relevance of the study and the data to be used. Guard against the possibility that a predisposition by investigators or data providers might predetermine the analytic result. Remain current in constantly changing analytical methodology, as preferred methods from yesterday may be may be barely acceptable today and totally obsolete tomorrow. Disclose conflicts of interest, financial and otherwise, and resolve them. Provide only such expert testimony as you would be willing to have peer reviewed. Maintain personal responsibility for all work bearing your name; avoid undertaking work or coauthoring publications for which you would not want to acknowledge responsibility.
Alleged Misconduct. Certified Analytics Professionals will strive to avoid condoning or appearing to condone careless, incompetent, or unethical practices. Misconduct broadly includes all professional dishonesty, by commission or omission, and, within the realm of professional activities and expression, all harmful disrespect for people, unauthorized or illegal use of their intellectual and physical property, and unjustified detraction from the reputation of others. Recognize that differences of opinion and honest error do not constitute misconduct; they warrant discussion, but not accusation. Questionable scientific practices may or may not constitute misconduct, depending on their nature and the definition of misconduct used. Do not condone retaliation against or damage to the employability of those who responsibly call attention to possible scientific error or misconduct.
- Saul I. Gass, Ethical guidelines and codes in operations research, Omega 37(2009), 1044-1050.
- American Statistical Association, Ethical Guidelines for Statistical Practice, August 7, 1999.
- U.S. federal regulations regarding human subjects protection are contained in Title 45 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Chapter 46 (45 CFR 46).