Code of Conduct

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Approved by Council Vote September 19, 2019

The SuperCDMS Collaboration believes that an inclusive and professional environment is a requirement for any scientific community. Collegial interactions are expected at all times, and people must be treated with respect regardless of seniority, sex, sexual orientation and/or gender identity, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, nationality, ethnicity, and religion. Similarly, all members of the collaboration are expected to adhere to the highest ethical standards of scientific conduct by respecting the work of others, using collaboration resources responsibly, and treating scientific data and results in accordance with the policies in the Governance and Approvals Document.

Violations of this code of conduct can be broadly categorized as:

  • Harassment
    • This includes bullying, as well as sexual language and imagery and sexist, racist, or otherwise exclusionary jokes or behavior.
  • Discrimination
    • This includes any inappropriate attempts to limit opportunities for others, including those with different beliefs, orientation or seniority.
  • Unethical behavior
    • This includes breaches of collaboration confidentiality, misrepresentation of data or results, inappropriate use of collaboration hardware/software, or taking credit for the work of others.

This code of conduct applies to all collaboration interactions, including meetings, social events, and one-on-one interactions as well as the use of mailing lists, forums and social media. Collaboration members who are asked to stop any unacceptable behavior are expected to comply immediately. Our tradition is to always be moving towards collegial activities as a collaboration.

However, occasionally serious problems can arise. The remainder of this document describes the role of the Ombudsperson within the Collaboration to facilitate informal and unofficial resolutions, as well as the role of the Collaboration and its mechanisms for official procedures and actions when violations are alleged.

Collaboration Code of Conduct Ombudsperson: The SuperCDMS Ombudsperson1 serves as a confidential point of contact for informal exploration of complaints and possible unofficial resolution of any issues. They foster discussions of whether an allegation is warranted or not, or whether an individual wants to bring forward an allegation. In addition, they provide confidential support for individuals, and help everyone in the collaboration understand the boundaries in difficult situations. They will maintain a website with helpful information and a list of additional individuals who can be contacted confidentially about issues.

The SuperCDMS Ombudsperson shall be appointed by the Spokesperson following the standard Appointment procedure of Section 4 of the Governance Document. The Spokesperson may appoint additional individuals to this role as needed, especially in cases where an Ombudsperson may have a conflict of interest or is involved in Required Reporting when an incident involves somebody at their institution.

Collaboration Actions: The Collaboration becomes involved in an official way in Code of Conduct issues upon the allegation of a violation2 to the Spokesperson or any member of the Executive Committee (EC) acting in an official capacity. The individual receiving the official allegation must follow the Required Reporting procedures if the allegation involves somebody at their institution. In that case, they must first ask whether the accuser wishes for any member to be recused from any collaboration process triggered by the allegation. Any collaboration member is entitled to bring forward an allegation3. They are allowed to withdraw an allegation at any time for any reason to stop the process and any consequences shall immediately be terminated. Any issues raised by such a termination can be dealt with as a separate process.

The procedure is a three step process of Discovery, Findings and Rectification.

Discovery: The Discovery process begins when the EC member receiving the accusation brings it to the remaining EC with the exception of EC members named in the allegation or to prevent Reporting Requirements. The next step is for the remaining EC members to understand whether the allegation is a violation of the SuperCDMS Collaboration Code of Conduct, and where this is a new, re-opened or previously adjudicated issue. If so, they will decide which Collaboration members will carry out this discovery phase and notify any individuals who have been removed from the process. While no collaboration members are required to participate in any part of the process, every attempt shall be made to confidentially gather information from willing individuals. This includes requesting interviews with the person who brought the allegation, any persons who are alleged to have engaged in the conduct, as well as others with information about the situation. Any information gathered, including names, should be held as confidential by any individuals involved in the Discovery process, as well as the remaining EC members, except as specified during Rectification.

Findings: The second step is to determine whether a violation occurred. The allegation and results of the discovery process are brought to the non-recused members of the EC for determination. They shall determine if they believe there was a violation of the code of conduct and the level of severity of the violation, as well as the full set of individuals involved. All information, including names, discussed during Findings should be held as confidential within the EC except as specified during Rectification. If no violation is found to have occurred, the accuser shall be informed and no further action is necessary. If it is found that a problem exists, but it is structural rather than a violation of an individual, a solution will be proposed by the EC.

Rectification: If a violation is determined to occur, the primary goal is to get the Collaboration back to collegial activities. However, sometimes specific actions against individuals are appropriate. All Rectification actions must be consistent with the Collaboration Governance document. The accuser, and any witnesses, have the right to anonymity even during Rectification, if they so choose. Any person found to be in violation no longer has the right to anonymity at this stage. While confidential materials uncovered in Discovery and Findings shall not be revealed, the EC shall provide a short summary record of all violations, the violator(s) and recommendations or actions taken. This record will be available to the collaboration and contain enough information for use in any vote.

A letter of censure may be appropriate for a first offense if it is deemed minor. For more serious, or repeated offenses the EC may recommend expulsion from the Council, Board or Collaboration; expulsion from any group requires a two-thirds majority vote of the Board. The sole basis for the vote shall be on the EC record.

Required Reporting: We note that many institutions require all their employees to report certain types of allegations involving employees and/or students at their institution to the institution's Conduct Office. An allegation of a violation to a SuperCDMS member may require such reporting.


1 Note that the term Ombudsperson is used in many different ways at different institutions. Our usage of the term is defined by this Code of Conduct policy.

2 The SuperCDMS Collaboration is a non-legal entity which brings together individuals from around the world who choose to work together. Neither the Collaboration nor its representatives have any responsibility nor authority to infringe or adjudicate upon the legal rights of any individual member except as noted in Required Reporting. In no case shall the collaboration be involved in enforcing local or national laws.

3 An example is someone bringing an allegation on behalf of another individual, possibly because of fear of retaliation or other coercion. This is allowed even if an original allegation is withdrawn.

The official (internal) SuperCDMS can be found at this link.