Editor's note: Harassment policy

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Science  12 Oct 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6411, pp. 165
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav6183

We have heard from readers with concerns about the publication of the Letter “Harassment charges: Injustice done?” (A. Moya et al., 17 August, p. 655). At Science, we take harassment issues very seriously. We are working to develop policies that adhere to our editorial principle of airing a wide range of perspectives and that also prevent causing further harm to the targets of harassment.

Publication of a Letter does not represent an endorsement by the editorial staff at Science. Past practice has been based on the understanding that reader-submitted Letters are intended to reflect conversations taking place in the scientific community. The published Letter in question did that by raising concerns about the transparency of the investigatory process. This point touched on the challenges institutions face when determining how the processes and outcomes of harassment investigations should be shared, decisions that must weigh the benefits of transparency against important privacy concerns. However, the Letter also discussed the personal conduct and scientific accomplishments of the individual found guilty of harassment.

In the future, we will not publish Letters in which authors argue that an individual accused or found guilty of harassment is likely innocent because others have interacted with that person without incident; this argument is logically flawed. In addition, although some information about a person's scientific achievements is at times necessary to establish context, we will not publish Letters in which authors argue that professional achievements have any bearing at all on the likelihood that the individual engaged in harassment. Such arguments not only lack relevance to harassment behavior but also may result in further harm to the targets of harassment and exacerbate the already daunting process that targets face in coming forward publicly.

We are striving to increase our understanding of all facets of the issue of harassment and to review and modify our editorial processes accordingly.

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