Send comments to: George Boziwick, Chair, Ad Hoc Ethics Committee


In 1998 the Board of Directors of the Society for American Music, henceforth SAM (formerly the Sonneck Society for American Music), authorized an ad hoc committee, chaired by Carol K. Baron, and continued by George Boziwick to formulate a set of guidelines for ethical conduct. This committee decided that an adaptation of the Guidelines for Ethical Conduct hitherto formulated by the American Musicological Society was the most desirable route to achieving its goal. Permission from the AMS was requested and gratefully received in 1999. Several emendations, additions, and/or deletions were made to more closely reflect the activities and needs of SAM; wherever such exist, they are clearly indicated by italics and other such symbols denoting a departure from the original text, thereby meeting the only condition stipulated by the AMS for its use. Gratitude is also due the Music Library Association for permission to adopt their "Guide to Copyright" for use in relevant sections.


The Guidelines for Ethical Conduct are presented to members of the Society for American Music (hereafter SAM) as a set of recommendations. Although the document has no legal authority, it suggests appropriate standards of behavior for members as they interact within SAM, with colleagues, supervisors and administrators, and with others in the public and private sector. It addresses relevant contemporary issues ( e.g., job searches, employment, library access, library etiquette, publication, copyright) and serves as a helpful source for women, minorities, the gay community-indeed all students, faculty, and administrators.


NOTE: Text in italics is newly written. Ellipses denote material cut from the AMS or MLA statements used in these guidelines


As a diverse intellectual community, the Society for American Music supports the efforts of its membership to promote the study, performance, and dissemination of American Music. Participation in these activities should be held by the society to the highest standards of professionalism and ethical conduct. In this light, members of SAM recognize an obligation to uphold and promote the following basic principles of ethical conduct in our profession: (1) freedom of inquiry and the widest allowable access to information of use to scholars; (2) honesty and integrity in scholarly investigation and in the evaluation and transmission of the results of scholarship; (3) respect for diverse points of view on any aspect of music or any subject related to American music; (4) recognition of the intellectual property rights of other scholars, institutions and publishers, and of composers, performers, and informants; (5) fairness and honesty in evaluations of colleagues and students; (6) avoidance of any appearance of a conflict of interest in processes of evaluating the work of colleagues and students, and (7) commitment to extend to colleagues and students equal opportunities for full participation in their respective professional communities.
Since the behavior of members of SAM, in whatever . . . capacities they serve, affects the well-being and reputation of the professions in which they participate, members of the Society are expected to uphold these principles not only in their artistic and scholarly work but also in all their professional capacities. They are expected to conduct themselves ethically and responsibly toward colleagues, students, support staff, employing institutions, other professional institutions and organizations, and individuals or organizations that provide them with scholarly materials and information. Like individual professionals, these institutions and their representatives are responsible for the promotion of free inquiry and the widest possible access to information, for promoting integrity in the process of scholarly investigation and the evaluation and transmission of the results of that investigation, for acceptance of the potential worth of scholarship on any aspect of American music or any subject related to American music, and for recognition of the intellectual property rights of other scholars, institutions and publishers, and composers, performers, and informants. In their professional lives, SAM members should participate in the decision-making processes that govern their respective institutions and accept responsibility for fostering the behavior promoted by the Society's Guidelines for Ethical Conduct. Finally, members of SAM should see to it that their own Society's activities live up to the high standards set forth in these Guidelines.

I. Ethical Conduct in Research and Scholarship
SAM declares freedom of inquiry to be fundamental to the pursuit of its enterprises and affirms that its members should have ample latitude in accomplishing individual…and collaborative objectives. Free inquiry… assumes a sincere commitment to reasoned discourse, intellectual honesty, professional integrity, diversity of…interests and approaches; openness to constructive, respectful debate and to alternate interpretations; and, withal, adherence to accepted standards of civility. Members of SAM should defend scholarly practices and the right to free inquiry against unfounded attacks, whether from inside or outside the scholarly community.
SAM repudiates any attempt to impede or to compromise free inquiry on the basis of race, religion, nationality or national origin, age, physical abilities handicap, marital status, sexual orientation, political beliefs or affiliation, chosen research or performance area, or employment status. SAM recognizes and embraces the concept of diversity in…interests and approaches, and it endorses the "Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure (1982). (See footnote 1)

SAM advocates open, equal, and nondiscriminatory access to all types of research materials and facilities in the possession of institutions dedicated to scholarship. Open access is understood to entail reciprocal obligations to research materials on the part of scholars: SAM members should avoid actions that might imperil such materials or prejudice access by others, cooperate with fellow scholars in making the results of individual research available in a timely fashion, and facilitate the access of others to research materials under their control. While scholars should seek appropriate avenues to challenge unwarranted censorship or infringements of intellectual freedom, they must also respect legitimate and appropriate restrictions as defined by law (such as restrictions on access due to policies involving copyright and interpretations of fair use) and as set by libraries, archives, and other institutions holding and preserving documents and other materials. (See also I:D/2 and III:B/5).

Since musicological scholarship is an ongoing, cumulative process with inestimable possibilities for significant discoveries and meaningful interpretations, previous accomplishments and newly-introduced ideas must be recognized appropriately. While debate is an integral and desirable part of scholarly exchange, it should take place in an atmosphere of mutual regard and civility.
SAM members should welcome and foster opportunities to work together with other scholars, inside and outside of the field, sharing in the scholarly enterprise in an atmosphere of trust and honesty. Our integrity as scholars and teachers implies a commitment to use evidence and to develop arguments responsibly, and to give a fair hearing to, or reading of, the arguments of both colleagues and students. Relevant evidence should be presented in a well-reasoned manner, free of misrepresentation and distortion; evidence that contravenes one's operating hypothesis should not be suppressed.

1. Acknowledgment of Sources
SAM regards plagiarism and other misappropriations of the work of others as… reprehensible. We must acknowledge in an appropriate manner our reliance on the work of others, whether they are students or … scholars, whether our sources are published or unpublished, oral or written. We accept the description of plagiarism in the Statement of Professional Ethics of the Modern Language Association (rev. 6/91; p. 2):
Plagiarism is the use of another person's ideas or expressions without acknowledging the source…. The most blatant form of plagiarism is reproducing someone else's sentences, more or less verbatim, and presenting them as your own. Other forms include repeating another's particularly apt phrase without appropriate acknowledgment, paraphrasing someone else's ideas, and failing to cite the source for a borrowed thesis or approach.
Members of SAM should be equally scrupulous when translating the words and ideas of others from foreign languages into their own.

2. Copyright and Fair Use (This section is from the "Statement on the Copyright Law and Fair Use in Music" of the Music Library Association)
Section 107 of the Copyright Law allows for the "fair use" of a copyrighted work for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research. Additional guidelines (H.R. Rep. No. 94-1476, and The United States Copyright Law: A Guide for Music Educators) permit multiple copies for classroom use under certain circumstances.
The following four factors, taken together, determine what constitutes fair use. The first three factors are usually important in determining the fourth.
(a) The purpose and character of the use, including whether it is intended for commercial or non-profit educational use. This provision permits certain duplication of library materials for the purposes of scholarship, research, and teaching in all areas of music study. Students and faculty members may make copies of protected materials for such uses, and librarians are permitted to make one copy of protected materials for a user upon the submission of a signed request with the adjoining copyright disclaimer statement. Section 107 applies to all copyrighted works. Certain specific uses not in the non-profit educational domain can also qualify under this provision, for example when a paid reviewer quotes briefly from a copyrighted literary or musical work in a review.
(b) The nature of the copyrighted work. In evaluating this factor, case history has taken into account whether a work is published or unpublished, factual or creative. In general, unpublished and creative works have been given more protection by the courts than published and factual ones. SAM takes the position that most tools of music learning are creative works in themselves and therefore cannot by their very nature be appropriately evaluated on the factual or creative criterion. In addition, an evaluation of fair use should acknowledge that reasonable use of unpublished sources is critical to the advancement of music research. Conversely, fair use does not apply if a copyrighted work is intended to be consumed in the course of a class assignment (such as in the case of workbooks, text books, musical exercises, etc.).
(c) The amount and substantiality of the portion to be copied as it relates to the work as a whole. This factor is related to the use (no. 1 above), and is usually relevant in determining the degree of harm to the copyright owner (no. 4 below).
(d) The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of the copyrighted work. Criteria used to determine adverse market effect include (1) accessibility of the work, (2) date of its, creation or publication, (3) economic life of the work, (4) price, and (5) evidence of abandonment…

3. Permission to Use Unpublished Materials (AMS "Guidelines," continued)
SAM members should obtain the permission of an author before citing or otherwise using his or her unpublished work, ideas, and words and before citing or reproducing unpublished words, ideas, music, and musical performances of those serving as subjects and informants of their scholarship. They should also afford those authors, subjects, and informants the opportunity to check any such citation or reproduction for accuracy before publishing it. In cases of musical performances, performers should be appropriately credited and compensated.

4. Collaborative Projects
When SAM members undertake collaborative projects, they should specify from the outset the responsibilities, conditions of compensation, rights of authorship, and other relevant rights involved in such a project. When such agreements need to be modified as the project evolves, all modifications should be agreed upon jointly. Teachers who undertake collaborative projects with students or include students' work in their own projects should be especially vigilant in seeing to it that rights of authorship are protected. The same vigilance should extend to collaborative projects involving senior and junior faculty.

5. Issues Arising from New Technological Developments (This paragraph is from the Music Library Association's "Statement on the Copyright Law and Fair Use in Music").
With respect to electronic media, the intention and end result, not the means of conveyance, should be the determining factors in deciding whether a specific use of an electronic copy is fair, assuming that use has satisfied all the other four factors.
(AMS "Guidelines."continued) Because of the vast number of uses to which computers and other forms of technology are now put, and because of the versatility of such technologies, new issues arise, including: the accessibility of unpublished material; the accessibility of material that may be disseminated purely for the purpose of spreading information and not necessarily with the expectation of credit for authorship; the accessibility of ideas expressed in what is intended to be personal communication; the ability to appropriate, easily and anonymously, large amounts of work done by others; nontraditional format and presentation, as well as content, of the work produced….
In acknowledgment of the difficulty of safeguarding intellectual property in the computer age, a general warning about users' responsibilities should be posted wherever such property is open to transfer. The following provision from the Stanford University policy regarding copying of software can serve as a model for libraries and other institutions and individuals making on-line scholarship, as well as software, available to others:
University software lending libraries shall undertake appropriate measures to ensure that patrons are advised that copying of the loaned software is prohibited (unless the software is in the public domain or the owner has consented to copying). Such steps shall include all or some of the following: signed statements by the borrowers, posted signs, labels on software and documentation, and warnings displayed on the computer screen…

II. Ethical Conduct in Publication and Other Presentations of Scholarly Work
Members of SAM, in submitting their work for publication, public presentation, funding, prizes, or professional advancement, should be certain that the work they submit is their own and that the sources from which they have …knowingly…drawn and the role that others may have played in preparing that work have been properly acknowledged. In submitting work for publication, they must advise the appropriate parties if the work has previously been published or accepted for publication, in any language. Submission of an article manuscript to a journal grants first rights of publication. When submitting a book manuscript to a publisher, an author should inform the editor if other publishers are also considering that manuscript. When an editor or publisher has failed to contact the author, accepting or rejecting a submitted manuscript within a reasonable time, the author may submit it elsewhere after giving written notification to that editor or publisher. It is normally the responsibility of the author, when required by copyright laws or by archives, libraries and other owners of materials, to secure permission for quoted material, musical examples, sound recordings, facsimiles, pictures and other illustrations.

Musicological periodicals should publish clear statements of their scope and editorial practice, and provide clear guidelines for submission. Publishers of musicological works should likewise make clear what steps they expect authors to follow in submitting their work and what procedures they themselves follow in deciding on publication.
Editors of musicological periodicals and books are responsible for securing qualified and appropriate referees and for seeing to it that evaluations of submitted manuscripts are completed in a timely fashion. They should solicit additional evaluations if they suspect that any review stems from narrow-mindedness, self-interest, or hasty and unsubstantiated judgment. In reporting their decisions, editors should convey the substance of the referees' evaluations to the authors.
Any statement of acceptance for publication should specify the terms of acceptance and the approximate date of intended publication, as well as provide clear instructions for any revisions that may be required. Acceptance of a manuscript obliges the editor and publisher to publish the work and to observe, as closely as possible, the stated terms and date of publication. If the intended publication date is exceeded by an unusual period of time without written explanation from the publisher, the author may submit elsewhere, after giving written notification to the publisher or editor. Editors and authors should cooperate in the atmosphere of mutual respect in arriving at a final text that meets the scholarly and literary standards of both author and publisher.

Members of SAM, when acting on behalf of the Society, or when asked by editors, professional organizations, granting agencies, or employing institutions to judge the work of other scholars, whether for publication, public presentation, funding, prizes, or professional advancement, are responsible for declaring any personal or professional relationship they have with the scholar whose work is being evaluated that could compromise the impartiality of their judgment. They should decline to participate in any evaluation to which they would come with conflicting interests and decline to judge any work that they cannot evaluate honestly,… competently, and in a timely manner. In agreeing to serve as referees, whether for prizes, grants, publications, or professional positions, members of SAM should never misrepresent the nature of their relationship to the candidate. In judging abstracts for SAM programs, whether regional or national, members of program committees should evaluate submissions on merit alone, refraining from discussing or voting on abstracts that present a conflict of interest.
In reviewing the work of other scholars, members of SAM should be thorough and conscientious, upholding high standards of scholarship and perspectives and methods different from their own. When supplying written reports, evaluators should make their standards and process of judgment clear, for the benefit of both the authors of the work and those who commission the evaluation. It should be understood that an editor or granting agency may go back to an impartial reviewer who submitted a negative review to inquire if a new draft or revised proposal has been improved to the reviewers' satisfaction. If, in evaluating a particular case, a referee has sought the advice of others, the referee should report these facts to other committee members or judges to avoid a hidden conflict of interest.

III. Ethical Conduct in Professional Employment and Service

1. Academic Employment and Affirmative Action
In all matters relating to employment, SAM strongly endorses the 1976 AAUP "Statement on Discrimination." SAM supports the principles of affirmative action and equal employment opportunities for all scholars, and urges departments and schools of music to pursue programs and policies that promote diversity as well as excellence in the composition of their faculty.
In applying for jobs and professional positions as well as grants and prizes, and in describing themselves in publications and public presentation, SAM members must state their credentials honestly and accurately.
When resigning a position, SAM members should give timely written notice in accordance with institutional regulations. They should not accept another appointment involving concurrent obligations for the duration of the existing appointment without the permission of the appropriate administrator.
2. Professional Conduct and Issues of Harassment
Ethical professional conduct requires recognition of the inequalities of power inherent in professional relationships. Abuse of power within any professional relationship is defined here as harassment. SAM condemns harassment in any form.
Harassment, whether verbal or physical, consists of discriminatory behavior that may be based on, but is not exclusive to, the victim's race, gender, religion, nationality or national origin, age, marital status, sexual orientation, political beliefs or affiliation, physical abilities handicap, chosen research or performance area, or employment status. It may involve members of SAM in their relationships not only with students and colleagues, but also with professional associates and support staff in all educational, research, and employment settings.
Harassment creates an intimidating or offensive atmosphere that compromises the professional freedoms, development, and performance of its victims and undermines the atmosphere of trust essential to the academic and musicological enterprise. Members of SAM are therefore obliged not to abuse the power with which they are entrusted, but rather to create professional settings that foster respect for the rights of others. Furthermore, members of SAM should neither condone harassment in any form nor disregard complaints of harassment or inequitable treatment from any person or group involved with SAM and its activities.
The specific term "sexual harassment" describes a wide range of behaviors within the more general category of harassment. "Sexual harassment" refers here to behavior that, by emphasizing another person's sexual identity, undermines equality of opportunity for his or her professional and educational development. Sexual harassment may take the form of sexually demeaning remarks or behaviors, in public or in private; sexual advances, whether linked to reward, accompanied by threat of retaliation, or sanction-free; requests for sexual favors; and sexual assaults.
In addition, consensual sexual relations that might be appropriate in other circumstances may be inappropriate in a professional setting between members of the profession and any individual for whom he or she has any direct professional responsibility. Such relationships may have the effect of compromising professional judgment and undermining the atmosphere of trust upon which professional conduct is predicated.
SAM encourages those of its members who serve as Deans and Directors of music schools, chairs of departments of music, and as administrators of non-academic institutions, to pass on these guidelines on harassment to their colleagues and employees. It suggests, moreover, that administrators and department chairs urge their respective institutions to enforce existing federal regulations prohibiting all forms of harassment and to take whatever measures are necessary to publicize grievance procedures available to all members of their community who have been subjected to harassment.
Institutions themselves should insure that proper grievance procedures are available to those accused as well as to their accusers, respecting the privacy of all involved and protecting the confidentiality of materials under review

3. Professional Service in the Community at Large
Music scholars are often called upon to inform the public about matters of musical interest, whether through public lectures, panel discussions, television and radio appearances, or newspaper articles. As these are all vehicles for disseminating scholarship, the ethical codes governing scholarship apply. SAM members should be vigilant about giving due credit to the work of others, finding appropriate means to do so even in media that do not readily lend themselves to such acknowledgment.
In the public arena, SAM members should take care to distinguish between their own personal opinions, beliefs, and activities and those of their employing institutions. When appearing before the public as private individuals, they should avoid the appearance of speaking for their institutions.

4. Scholars Working Abroad
Research in music scholarship often depends upon the expertise and generosity of specialists, other scholars, archives, and libraries in foreign countries. SAM members should be particularly vigilant in the proper use of research materials and in acknowledging contributions of colleagues abroad.
SAM members working abroad have an obligation to respect the laws and regulations of foreign governments and institutions and to honor any conditions of permission granted. At the same time, however, in pursuing their objective of advancing knowledge about music, scholars should challenge unnecessary restrictions on research and publication. Members of the profession should abide by the 1970 UNESCO convention on the means of prohibiting and preventing the illicit import, export, and transfer of ownership of cultural property (including manuscripts, books, music prints, rare instruments, and other artifacts) and should not cooperate with individuals or institutions that do not respect this agreement.

5. Responsibilities to Co-Workers
Members of SAM should respect their co-workers, non-professional staff, and students and should not exploit others by requiring them to do inappropriate, unrealistic, unhealthy, or hazardous work.

6. Responsibilities of Teachers to Students
Teaching, whether in a classroom setting or one-on-one, is one of several avenues of disseminating scholarship, and thus the ethical codes governing scholarship apply to teaching as well. In their roles as teachers, SAM members should maintain a strictly professional relationship with students while in a position of power over them, judging each student on merit alone. They should promote an atmosphere of respect for the personal difference and dignity of each student, and protect students' rights to confidentiality and privacy. The conditions for free exchange of ideas can be created only when such rights are observed.
Those who teach have a special responsibility to their students to be models of ethical behavior in their own scholarship and to educate students concerning the ethical use of sources. When engaged in collaborative projects with their students, or when using students' work in their own projects, teachers should appropriately acknowledge the contributions of their students and recognize their rights of authorship.
SAM endorses the AAUP statement of Academic Freedom (see above I. A.). Teachers must have the academic freedom to introduce ideas and use materials in the manner they think is most effective for instruction, recognizing that the general content and function of courses may be determined by an appropriate administrator or group of faculty. While teachers have the right to express their personal, political, social, and religious beliefs to students, they should express these beliefs outside the classroom unless they are directly relevant to the subject material of the course being taught.
Teachers have an obligation to pass on their knowledge honestly and without favoritism, to keep abreast of recent scholarship, and to present different interpretations of subject material in a fair and balanced way. They should clearly present their course objectives and their expectations of students, and provide timely, candid, and constructive evaluations of student work. Grading should be fair, impartial, and based solely on course content. Written evaluations of students should be timely and candid. While it is appropriate, as part of the educational process for faculty to discuss and evaluate student performance, teachers participating in such group evaluations should avoid using language intended to bias other teachers against individual students or groups of students.
Teachers have an obligation to serve as conscientious and frank advisors and advocates for students in their career preparations. They should provide not only honest assessments of a student's progress over the course of his or her education, but also well-informed judgments as to an individual's possible employment opportunities in the various kinds of work for which music scholars are qualified.

Even as individual scholars and employees, SAM members help to define the institutions they serve and represent, and they should work to promote high standards of ethical conduct in those institutions. In accordance with principles of fairness and equity, members of the Society should take part in articulating clear guidelines for scholarly integrity and due process, for fair and equitable conditions in the workplace, for fairness and equity in evaluations of professional competency and productivity, and for treatment of independent scholars.
1. Scholarly Integrity and Due Process
Institutions and their representatives are responsible for upholding accepted standards of scholarly integrity and for disciplining scholars who violate such standards. All employees, including part-time employees, should be afforded the protection of due process through clear and fair grievance procedures. It is the responsibility of institutions to protect equally the rights of those initiating complaints and those accused.
2. Working Conditions
While SAM cannot legislate the activities of individual institutions, schools, or music departments, its members subscribe to the view that the general interests of the discipline will be best served when all members…enjoy favorable working conditions….

3. Recruitment, Hiring, and Termination….
Applications should be promptly acknowledged and candidates informed about the status of their applications. Individuals not under consideration should be notified promptly. During the interview process, an applicant's rights to privacy and confidentiality should be respected and protected within the spirit of federal, state, and local anti-discriminatory laws. Interviewers and administrators should recuse themselves from the selection process if there are conflicts of interest. Offers and acceptances of employment should be made in writing….
Employees must not be subjected to arbitrary or capricious cancellations of positions or terminations of appointment, nor to changes in the criteria for employment without a fair opportunity to adapt to the changes required….

4. Responsibilities to Graduate Students and Teaching Assistants
Departments and schools of music should recruit graduate students in realistic numbers and quality, bearing in mind the future employment prospects of these students. They should make clear to both prospective and continuing graduate students that completion of the PhD, even at a prestigious university, will not guarantee eventual employment, whether in an academic or a non-academic setting. Departments and schools of music should inform applicants of the number of doctorates awarded by their institution and the record of employment of those graduates in recent years. Departments and schools of music should provide graduate students with explicit policies and criteria for financial assistance, assistantships, evaluation of progress, and cause for dismissal. They should also ensure the equal and fair treatment of all students and exercise restraint in disclosing information concerning students where such information is not directly relevant to issues of professional competence…

5. Independent and Visiting Scholars
Institutional policies should extend courtesies and specified privileges to independent…and visiting scholars from other institutions. In particular, access to libraries and archives is vital to scholars, and institutions should grant reasonable and considerate access to individuals. Those using libraries, archives, and other repositories should make their research needs known in a timely manner so that reasonable accommodations can be made for access and research at the host institution. The host institution should provide the researcher with specific guidelines regarding preservation and access, while employing what should be considered a reasonable effort to meet the needs of the scholar or student in gaining access to materials vital to their research. In the event that access to certain information must be obtained through the inter-library loaning of materials, all researchers should be advised to initiate such requests through their home institutions. Further, when requesting materials from other institutions scholars should follow their own library's procedures for the loaning of such materials.

NOTE: The section above was suggested by Jim Farrington and written by George Boziwick

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