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Keep Them in the Know

The US National Science Foundation's new policy on sexual harassment is to go into effect next month, Nature News reports.

Back in February, the agency proposed a rule change to require institutions to report when agency-funded researchers are found to have committed sexual harassment. At the time, NSF said principal investigators and co-PIs are in "positions of trust" and they and others "must comport themselves in a responsible and accountable manner."

Nature News adds that new rule, going into effect October 21, will apply to new grants and extensions to exiting grants.

"We are not interested in allegations, obviously, because due process is very important," Peggy Hoyle, NSF's deputy general counsel, tells ScienceInsider. "So in that sense, we need to know the finding or determination" prior to acting.

Still, institutions must also tell NSF of any actions they take against an NSF-funded scientist after an allegation has been made but before an investigation has finished, such as limiting the researcher's interactions with students or barring the researcher from campus, ScienceInsider adds.

Nature News notes that the NSF policy is the strictest in place by a US agency. It says that while the US National Institutes of Health announced it would be implementing a new system for reporting harassment, it hasn't implemented any policy changes.