The Council, at its October 12, 2000 business meeting, unanimously adopted a conflict of interest policy for the American Studies Association.
The conflict of interest policy is intended to protect the association’s interest when it is contemplating entering into a transaction or arrangement that might benefit the private interest of an officer or director of the association. The policy supplements but does not replace any applicable state laws governing conflicts of interest applicable to nonprofit and charitable organizations.
Any director, principal officer, or member of a committee with board delegated powers who has a direct or indirect financial interest, as defined below, is an interested person. If a person is an interested person with respect to any part of the association, he or she is an interested party with respect to all entities in the association.
A person has a financial interest if the person has, directly or indirectly, through business, investment or family:
- An ownership or investment interest in any entity with which the association has a transaction or arrangement, or
- A compensation arrangement with the association or with any entity of individual with which the Association has a transaction or arrangement, or
- A potential ownership or investment interest in, or compensation arrangement with, any entity or individual with which the Association is negotiating a transaction or arrangement
The Council unanimously adopted the following conflict of interest statement:
Each member of the American Studies Association Council (or any decision-making sub-unit) must place the interests of the association foremost in dealing with or on behalf of the association and has a continuing responsibility to comply with the requirements of this policy. Members shall not use their position, or the knowledge gained therefrom, in such a manner that a conflict might arise between the interests of the association and any opportunity for professional or financial gain. Whenever a conflict of interest might exist, members must fully disclose any potentially conflicting interest prior to any discussion or vote on the matter. In such circumstances, members may, and at the request of the president will, excuse themselves from any participation in the association’s decision on the matter.
It is the policy of the American Studies Association and its various boards and committees to insure that members in all of its activities avoid conflicts of interest or the appearance of conflicts of interest resulting from their activities as members of committees or boards of the association. In particular, no persons should obtain or appear to obtain special advantages for themselves, their relatives, or their close associates as a result of their services on a board or committee. The implications in practice for this policy vary from activity to activity and this general policy should not limit the cooperation and mutual assistance that is necessary for the effective functioning of a community of scholars like the American Studies Association.”
Guidelines for Awards Committees
The American Studies Association grants a number of awards and it is important that conflicts of interest and the appearance of conflicts of interest be avoided in the process of determining who should receive the awards.
Committee members individually and collectively should use their best judgment to determine whether or not a personal or prior working relationship with an author whose work is under consideration requires recusal from consideration of the work in question. In such cases, the committee may consider asking for the judgment of someone from outside the committee.
In addition, for the dissertation and student convention paper award committees, the following guidelines should be adhered to:
- Persons who have served as a dissertation advisor or dissertation committee member should withdraw from the awards committee.
- If they are a relative of, spouse of, or have a significant personal relationship with the author of the dissertation or paper, persons should withdraw from the awards committee
For the book and article award committees, the following guidelines should be adhered to:
- Persons knowing that a book or article of which they are the authors will be submitted for consideration should withdraw from the award committee.
- Persons who have served as the primary advisor or a dissertation committee member for a dissertation which is being submitted, either in original or revised form, as a book or article for the competition should recuse themselves from consideration of the dissertation.
- If they are the relative of, a spouse of, or have a significant personal relationship with the author, persons should recuse themselves from consideration of the submitted book or article.
- It is not necessary for persons to withdraw from the committee or abstain from evaluating a book or article if they have undertaken a manuscript review for a publisher or have reviewed the book or article elsewhere.
It is not appropriate for members of an award committee, for their own personal purposes, to make specific use of or publicize any confidential information, which may have been learned through service on the committee.
It is also not appropriate for members of an award committee to utilize or present the results of scholarly research, which they may have learned through service on the committee without the necessary attributions and permissions.
This is, however, to be distinguished from the entirely appropriate benefit obtained by committee members who become better acquainted with the state of current scholarship in American studies.