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Promising Practices

Whether a remote field site, research facility, ship or conference, all research environments must be harassment free

The National Science Foundation (NSF) does not tolerate sexual harassment, or any kind of harassment, within the agency, at awardee organizations, field sites, or anywhere NSF-funded science and education are conducted. NSF-funded organizations should develop and implement policies and practices which foster a harassment-free environment. The approaches referenced on these pages are not mandatory, but rather examples that NSF considers to be promising at this time.

Feedback and Suggestions

NSF welcomes feedback on this portal as well as suggestions for other promising practices. Our goal is to facilitate sharing of information so that all may benefit. To submit feedback and suggestions regarding promising practices, please visit NSF's Harassment Portal Feedback Form. Submissions will be considered and adopted where appropriate.


Define "Harassment"

In order to take effective measures to promote harassment-free conditions, it is essential to start with a common understanding of what is meant by "harassment." Federal definitions guiding civil rights laws and regulations are presented and discussed on Definitions.

Set Standards for Professional Behavior

Organizations should maintain clear and unambiguous standards of professional behavior, codes of conduct, and/or other related written policies for all NSF-funded research and learning environments. To be effective, it is often important to tailor the implementation of policies or codes of conduct to specific places such as field sites, research centers, ships, or conference settings.

For more information, please see Standards for Behavior.

Take Steps to Prevent Harassment

Organizations should put in place means to ensure that their members are made fully aware and regularly reminded of their policies or codes of conduct with respect to harassment. Burdensome systems for reporting and responding to harassment allegations significantly deter members from reporting. In addition, training can help prevent harassment. Organizations should endeavor to ensure that harassment prevention training is effective and reaches all scientists, students, staff, or other persons who work on or participate in NSF-funded programs or research.

For more information, please see Prevent Harassment.

Establish Effective Means for Reporting

Organizations should provide accessible and effective means for reporting harassment in all settings in which NSF-funded science and education are conducted. The reporting process should be well known by all program participants. It is also important that reporting practices entail protection from retaliation.

For more information, please see Establishing Effecting Means for Reporting.

Respond to Allegations

Organizations should respond promptly to reports of harassment. The protocols for responding to reports of harassment should include ensuring the immediate safety for all involved, due diligence in investigating allegations, and undertaking appropriate sanctions in the event of findings.

For more information, please see Respond to Allegations.

Report Findings of Harassment to NSF

Organizations should promptly notify NSF when there is a finding of harassment by an NSF-funded PI or co-PI. NSF is currently reviewing comments received during the Federal Register comment period to make modifications to award requirements as appropriate.

During the interim, organizations are welcome to voluntarily report when a PI or co-PI is placed on administrative leave during a harassment or discrimination investigation. In addition to an organization, a student, staff, or anyone knowledgeable is welcome to report allegations or findings of harassment to NSF.

To report an allegation or finding of harassment, please email