INFORMS Ethics Guidelines

Foldable Ethics Card

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Ethical conduct is an important consideration for experts in all fields. The following Guidelines were developed to further the Institute’s purpose to promote high professional standards and integrity (Constitution, Article 1.2.v). The Guidelines are available to all members to encourage pursuit of the highest level of ethical practice.

Members of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) advance the science and practice of quantitative decision-making via operations research and analytics. We recognize a responsibility to uphold high ethical standards on behalf of society, our organizations, and the profession. The following ethical guidelines are intended to be aspirational, something INFORMS members should attempt to follow throughout their career.

1. Society

Whereas operations research and analytics can have a deep impact on society, with applications ranging from medical decisions to national defense, business strategy, public policy, and many other contexts, we aspire to be:

  • Accountable for our professional actions and the impact of our work.

  • Forthcoming about our assumptions, interests, sponsors, motivations, limitations, and potential conflicts of interest.
  • Honest in reporting our results, even when they fail to yield the desired outcome.
  • Objective in our assessments of facts, irrespective of our opinions or beliefs.
  • Respectful of the viewpoints and the values of others. 
  • Responsible for undertaking research and projects that provide positive benefits by advancing our scientific understanding, contributing to organizational improvements, and supporting social good.

2. Our Organizations

Whereas our work influences the success and standing of our organizations (universities, businesses, government and nonprofit agencies) as well as our constituencies (students, clients, customers, and suppliers), we aspire to be:

  • Accurate in our assertions, reports, and presentations.
  • Alert to possible unintended or negative consequences that our results and recommendations may have on others. 
  • Informed of advances and developments in the fields relevant to our work. 
  • Questioning of whether there are more effective and efficient ways to reach a goal. 
  • Realistic in our claims of achievable results, and in acknowledging when the best course of action may be to terminate a project. 
  • Rigorous by adhering to proper professional practices in the development and reporting of our work.

3. The Profession

Whereas we are part of the profession of operations research and analytics and have an obligation to help advance the profession and to uphold high standards on behalf of our colleagues and future generations, we aspire to be:

  • Cooperative by sharing best practices, information, and ideas with colleagues, young professionals, and students. 

  • Impartial in our praise or criticism of others and their accomplishments, setting aside personal interests. 

  • Inclusive of all colleagues, and rejecting discrimination and harassment in any form. 

  • Tolerant of well-conducted research and well-reasoned results, which may differ from 

  • Truthful in providing attribution when our work draws from the ideas of others. 

  • Vigilant by speaking out against actions that are damaging to the profession.