Thanks, Rob.  I’m not in the least fussed whether it is my draft or someone else’s – so long as we adopt some professional standards (and defend our people from untoward pressures, as the media code and others do).


To take a random example the Australian (RACI) chemists’ code states “a member shall endeavour to advance the honour, integrity and dignity of the profession of chemistry. However, notwithstanding this or any other By-law, the responsibility for the welfare, health and safety of the community shall at all times take precedence.” If Aussie chemists are prepared to put the community and nation first, why not we?


Draft a few points, workshop them on skype, circulate to all - and put to debate and a vote at the conference.  How hard can that be?




Julian Cribb FTSE

Julian Cribb & Associates

ph +61 (0)2 6242 8770 or 0418 639 245



Skype: julian.cribb


From: ASC-list [] On Behalf Of Rob Morrison
Sent: Friday, 15 November 2013 2:57 PM
To: Susan Kirk;
Subject: Re: [ASC-list] Where's ASC headed? Was science or persuasion


The thread of this topic is getting pretty long so I have cut some earlier stuff off, Easily found if you do a search and want to read it.



Julian is quite correct in his references to his work on a code of ethics. The executive has (or, rather, several executives have), over the years, produced or nearly produced this code, as well as other guidelines and similar things. I once (2008?)prepared some guidelines for young science communicators about how to put stuff on line, and a protocol for email distribution.  Both of these were on the ASC website for years, but would by now have been overtaken by technology and other changes. 

Julian was not so fortunate. His was a good list, but in the nature of these things discussion was protracted and when that extends over a year, there is always the chance that a new executive comes in and loses track of what the past one has done. Things then get overtaken by new issues. From memory, this happened to Julian's suggestions. I know that it happened to a lot of work I had done on ASC approval and endorsement for short training programs, and it may have happened to others as well.

It is perhaps in the nature of an association like ASC that this happens, especially with volunteers all pressed for time, but it can mean that those who are prepared to put in a lot of work on something feel that they have wasted their time, and we are then less likely to have them prepared to act again, and ASC is the loser if that occurs.

I suggest Julian be invited to put his suggestions forward again (He mentined them in his earlier email on this matter)  and we decide to deal with them one way or another within a stated time frame. It will be too close to the AGM to deal with them this year, but they could be placed as an AGM item that we ask the incoming Committee to deal in one definitive way or another  within 6 months.

The Exec list is always too long to get through in meetings, but this would give this issue a high priority which, in fairness to Julian, it should by now have.


Dr Rob Morrison
Phone: (08) 8339 3790
Fax: (08)8339 6272


From: ASC-list <> on behalf of Susan Kirk <>
Sent: Friday, 15 November 2013 12:44 PM

On Fri, Nov 15, 2013 at 11:29 AM, Susan Kirk <> wrote:

Firstly, I'm sorry that you (Jesse) feel I'm bagging the organisation and
that you need to 'bite'.  I don't think that's a fair comment at all. I also
feel this is counterintuitive to this discussion and to other members
feeling comfortable commenting. On the other hand I admire your passion for
the group and to some extent I second it.  Otherwise I wouldn't bother.

As for your comments about volunteers I put my hand up for the code of
ethics last year at the AGM and went to a great deal of work to collate
information, including that draft by Julian, which, he, went to some trouble
to produce.  I expected some sort of discussion at the meeting but it was
taken out of general discussion and given to the executive to work on.  I've
not heard one word since.  Maybe I missed the initial discussions Rod is
talking about?  But wasn't it common knowledge that I had indicated my
interest?  Why not contact me directly?  I also wonder if it was all so hard
why not introduce what Julian put together?

I also volunteered to be the Queensland web editor where I was told that I
would be provided updates for posting.  I received one or two initially and
since then nutter.  I try to post regular things, but the website is such a
mess with no real direction in terms of plan or comms strategy, its
difficult. I also have concerns about the look of the website and the adhoc
manner of posting and formatting.  I know this is probably another way for
us to gain input, but I don't think it works.

if we keep using the 'we are only a volunteer association banner' how can we
strive for professionalism. It also raises the question of how well our $s
are being spent.  I'm not sure I can afford another rise, especially if
nothing changes.  Having said that I would rather see an increase in fees
for a better organisation, than paying a minimal fee for what? Especially if
I unsubscribe to the Scope and ASC list as Jesse suggests.

There has been a lot of talk about membership drives?  What is happening
there?  Also what is happening to the GM position?

I just think that some of the things that are lacking are really basic
things like communication in which we should be excelling.


> There are at least 2 main reasons the pursuit of a code of ethics (and
> related) for the ASC has stalled recently that I can see.
> (1) The ASC is run by one part timer and a tiny band of volunteers.
> When I became Prez last year, one of my key ?platforms' was to push for a full
> and frank conversation for such a code, and link it directly to an ASC-wide
> conversation about professionalisation. This began well early this year,
> driven by one of the 2 new VPs (my colleague, Will Grant). While some people
> did offer interesting and useful thoughts early on in the process, responses
> were a little underwhelming.
> The impression could be drawn that in fact not too many members were genuinely
> that interested.
> But the bigger issue that stalled the conversation about ethics etc was my
> being struck down in April by nasty medical matters and having to step down
> not just as President, but from the any useful role in the executive. Losing
> even a single person from the executive has a significant effect on workloads.
> Claire was brave and very generous to step up from VP to act as President, and
> all the exec began working from that point with one less person - a
> significant drop in human resources.
> I think everyone needs to remember that while it?s easy (and not unreasonable)
> to suggest ?the ASC' should do things (as I have done myself in the past),
> it?s very easy to forget that the only permanent and paid ASC person is Kali,
> and she is officially very much a part timer (though she works above and
> beyond, without pay, all the time). Everyone else is a volunteer, with the
> roles often changing hands year-to-year. It certainly can make it difficult to
> get coherent and sustained action going.
> (2) Improvements and (some surprise) changes to the internal workings of the
> ASC in 2013.
> This year has seen the introduction of a new and vastly more functionally rich
> IT back-end to the ASC?s workings, as well as a new-look shiny version of
> Scope (with a new editor). It took all of Kali?s official time (and then some)
> just to work with the IT stuff, better yet continue to handle the day-to-day.
> When you add in the organising of the conference for 2014, time disappears
> fast!
> There were also a few things about the way in which the ASC was set up that
> needed tweaking, and thus required a lot of research and investigation (thanks
> to Kali, Pete W, Claire and Jesse). On top of this, Claire (with the comm?s
> team) was already working hard to massage and improve internal communication
> before she stepped into my role. Her old responsibilities didn?t disappear,
> she just added a bunch more!
> The bottom line, I believe, is that there would be a lot of good to be had in
> moving the ASC towards having a recognisable code of ethics for the reasons
> Julian, others (and I) have argued before.
> However, what needs to be considered as an Association is (a) how much we
> really want it, and (b) if we do want it, how much people prepared to do to
> get us there.
> In short - if you want new and good things out of the ASC, it?s going to take
> people raising their hands to help get them done. That, or pay a significantly
> higher membership fee to have an employed exec/ secretariat.
> Hope this helps add useful background folks,
> Rod
> On 15 Nov 2013, at 9:51 am, JCribb <> wrote:
>> I second Susan?s remarks, especially (at the risk of repetition) about the
>> need for a professional ethics code for science communicators. I have been
>> pushing this for 5 years or more now, but it seems to have stalled
>> completely. Don?t you guys believe in having ethical standards?
>> An ethics code is not just there to provide guidance to science communicators
>> ? it is also intended to protect you from unethical requirements imposed by
>> your employer, eg when they ask you to write something which you know in your
>> heart is just marketing hype or even misinformation, not fact-based science.
>> Far too many communicators are treated by their organisations and managers as
>> spin merchants, rather than as knowledge sharers, and we need to defend the
>> ideal of sharing human knowledge in an objective, unbiased way.
>> As universities, especially, become more commercial their behaviour comes to
>> resemble that of corporations: the communications function is subsumed into
>> marketing, promotion, advertising and PR. It is directed at making money for
>> the institution rather than educating society. Ditto for a great many
>> government comms functions nowadays ? what used to be public information has
>> been translated into political propaganda by the grubby realpolitik of today.
>> Science agencies, too, are driven more by the need to appease political and
>> commercial paymasters rather than inform, educate, enlighten and account to
>> the Australian people for how they invested our tax science dollars.
>> Those are valid professions ? but they are not science communication, and
>> they are not out job. We need to make clear the distinction, and have a
>> written code that explains it not only to ourselves, but to anyone who tries
>> to misuse us. Or else we will end up being a despised subset of the
>> advertising industry.
>> Attached is the draft I originally submitted to ASC in 2008.
>> Over to you!
>> Julian Cribb FTSE
>> Julian Cribb & Associates
>> ph +61 (0)2 6242 8770 <tel:%2B61%20%280%292%206242%208770>  or 0418 639 245
>> Email:
>> Web: <>
>> Skype: julian.cribb