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'Careful' Notice

The US National Science Foundation's new rules on sexual harassment may leave room for uncertainty, ScienceInsider reports.

Last month, NSF announced that it would require institutions to report when researchers it funds have been found to have committed sexual harassment and said that such a finding could lead to their removal from the grant or the termination of the grant. The agency said that principal investigators and co-PIs are in "positions of trust" and that they and others must behave "in a responsible and accountable manner."

But ScienceInsider says the notice on the policy in the Federal Register today is "carefully worded" and doesn't say whether being found guilty of sexual harassment would automatically lead to a researcher's removal from a grant. "Our response would be based on what the person has done," Rhonda Davis, head of NSF's Office of Diversity and Inclusion tells ScienceInsider. "Sexual harassment is not okay."

ScienceInsider also notes that the policy addresses how the agency is to be told of harassment findings, but not how universities should handle complaints or conduct such investigations. Davis adds, though, that the new policy is only one aspect of NSF's effort to combat sexual harassment.

Comments are open on the notice through May 4, 2018.

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