The guidelines below embody the best practices to be used by current faculty, staff, teaching and research assistants. They are intended to provide a guideline to establish effective and productive relationships that start with trust, courtesy, two-way communications, and shared expectations.
Effective research and education programs at CSUN require a clear understanding of best practices in terms of a range of professional interactions among faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, student advisees, and staff. Effective instruction, learning, advising, and research, and professional career growth requires open communication, ethical professional conduct between all individuals, collegial interactions, proactive mentoring, and a responsive administration to ensure a positive and successful setting across all levels of the educational endeavor.
To ensure a productive setting, all staff, faculty, and students are expected to treat one another respectfully and fairly, and the professors, research advisors, and teaching assistants are expected to serve as role models, upholding the highest ethical and professional standards.
- Being courteous in our interactions with everyone.
- Respecting the professional, physical, and personal boundaries of everyone.
- Giving everyone a chance to voice opinions that do not directly discriminate against or harm others and handling disagreements through respectful dialogue.
- Respecting individual differences and unique perspectives of members of the department.
- Being mindful of one’s own authority with respect to other members of the department.
- Working to ensure that everyone has equal access to opportunities.
- Ensuring that, when offered, criticism is constructive and aims to create positive discussion.
- Not tolerating unwelcomed jokes and/or disparaging remarks grounded in prejudice or stereotype.
- Challenging practices that facilitate or allow prejudice and/or discrimination.
- Supporting and protecting those who report violations of departmental or university policies.
Being receptive to discussions of ways to improve the work environment and work relationships.
- Challenging our own assumptions about people and the sources of those assumptions.
- Taking responsibility to eliminate particular challenges or barriers to success that members of the department may face, with particular emphasis on members of under-represented groups.
- Accepting a range of unique cultural practices within the department community and respecting individual religious, spiritual, and secular beliefs and practices.
- Intervening when others are exhibiting conduct unbecoming of a community member.
- Speaking up when someone is disrespectful of an individual or a group or class of people (even when that individual or members of that group or class are not present).
- Identifying and challenging implicit biases, seeking opportunities for education/training on diversity, inclusivity, reporting, and bystander intervention techniques, and encouraging others to do the same.
Faculty, Staff and Peer Interactions should:
- promote an environment that is intellectually stimulating and free of harassment;
- be supportive, equitable, accessible, encouraging, and respectful;
- recognize and respect the cultural backgrounds of all fellow faculty, research scientists and staff;
- be proactive CSUN citizens, keeping track of the full range of responsibilities of all individuals;
- be as flexible as possible concerning tasks associated with the school mission including research, committee service, and teaching;
- be sensitive to the power imbalance in the tenured full professor–junior professor, senior–junior research scientist, faculty/research scientist–staff relationships.
Faculty research supervisor/co-supervisor (in addition to above) should:
- be sensitive to the power imbalance in the student–advisor relationship;
- for teaching assistantship positions, provide clear instruction at the start of the semester for particular tasks that require focused effort during key parts of the semester so that time can be allotted; make sure that time will not exceed 20 hrs/week;
- for research assistantships, generate a list of expectations for the semester and agree upon these, making sure that time will not exceed 20 hrs/week, and with the understanding that the tasks assigned will contribute to the professional training of the student and that the tasks will be meaningful to the student’s educational experience;
- Clearly communicate expectations, time commitment, and funding for summer research. Faculty who expect students to work on research over the summer will provide research support.
- avoid assigning duties or activities that are outside students’ academic/professional responsibilities;
- respect students’ needs to allocate their time among competing demands while maintaining timely progress toward their degree;
- advise graduate students on the selection of an appropriate thesis topic and assist them in selecting a thesis committee;
- advise graduate students on timelines and expectations for submitting thesis proposal and committee selection, so that sufficient time is allowed for input from advisor and student peers;
- set clear expectations and goals for students regarding their academic performance and research progress and meet regularly and often in order to provide feedback on progress;
- read and review journal manuscripts or thesis chapters in a timely manner for both students you supervise and those for which you are a committee member;
- discuss policies and expectations for work hours, vacation time, and health contingencies;
- provide students with training and oversight in all relevant aspects of research, including the design of research projects, the development of oral and written communication, grant preparation as appropriate, and the use of rigorous research techniques;
- avoid placing pressure on students to produce results that support particular hypotheses;
- devise effective ways of providing students with guidance and supervision during any prolonged absence;
- provide and discuss clear criteria for authorship at the beginning of all collaborative projects;
- discuss plagiarism with your students who are involved in research—what plagiarism is and how to properly cite the work of others, including copyright and self-plagiarism;
- encourage participation in professional meetings and try to secure funding for such activities;
- provide career advice, offer help with interview and application preparation, and write letters of recommendation in a timely manner;
- acknowledge that some students will pursue careers outside of academia and/or outside their research discipline and assist them in achieving their chosen career goals;
- schedule meetings to discuss topics other than research, such as professional development, career objectives and opportunities, climate, laboratory personnel relations, etc.;
- make provisions for students to graduate if you are leaving the university for another position or retiring—e.g. assist students in finding another advisor if appropriate and assist the students in secure funding to continue;
- be a role model by acting in an ethical, professional, and courteous manner toward other students, staff, and faculty;
- cooperate with any investigation stemming from a complaint, preserve confidentiality to the extent possible, avoid retaliation against whomever complained or was involved in the investigation, and only file complaints in good faith.
Further Information and Additional Resources
California State University Northridge is committed to creating a welcoming and supportive environment on campus. Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation Against Students, Employees and Third Parties is prohibited by Executive Order 1096 and 1098. Information about CSUN non-discrimination policies can be found here: Nondiscrimination Policy and Complaint Procedures
In case of potential violations to CSUN policies, the Office of Equity & Compliance (E&C) is committed to providing a fair and unbiased review. The Office can be contacted with questions or concerns via phone at 818-677-2077.
CSUN faculty, staff and students recognize and acknowledge the Sesevitam, the first people of this ancestral and unceded territory of Sesevenga — which is now occupied by CSUN. We honor their elders, past and present, and the Sesevitam descendants, who are citizens of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians.
Code of Conduct Acknowledgement
Drafting of the CSUN Department of Geology Code of Conduct was inspired by participation in the 2021 URGE Curriculum which is funded by the National Science Foundation and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Parts of this document were modified from the Jackson School of Geoscience and The University of Oregon.