Introductory statement

The Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct (hereafter known as “Code of Conduct”) is prepared by the International Society for Biocuration’s (ISB) Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) committee and is applicable to all members of the ISB, including its committees and working groups, and attendees of all events organized by the ISB. The Code of Conduct will be prominently displayed on ISB’s EDI webpage, with a provision for comments and suggestions for improvement.


Agreeing to this Code of Conduct is mandatory for all ISB members. New members will be presented with this document at the time of registration and will need to indicate their agreement as a part of the membership process. Existing members will be emailed the document to indicate their agreement. Agreement to the Code of Conduct will also be a mandatory step to register for all events and meetings organized by the ISB.

Code of ethics and professional conduct

  1. The ISB is committed to the inclusion and recognition of all community members regardless of sex, race, color, ethnicity or nationality, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, religion or belief, sexual orientation, culture, political or other opinion, socioeconomic status, or physical appearance, hereafter termed “protected characteristics”.
  2. The ISB is committed to the prevention of any kind of discrimination based on any of the protected characteristics stated in point 1.
  3. The ISB will strive to the best of its ability for an equal balance of gender on the Executive Committee (EC), Nominating Committee, Conference Organization Committees and any other committees or working groups that may be created for ISB duties.
  4. A standard declaration about ISB’s commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion will be included in all official communications (website, letterheads, emails).
  5. The ISB is committed to respecting the rights of differently abled persons and making the utmost effort to provide reasonable accommodations to them in meetings and events organized by the ISB.
  6. The ISB will make a conscious effort, as a scientific society, to enroll members of diverse backgrounds and enable the attendance of people from diverse backgrounds in events organized by the ISB, e.g. by ensuring an unbiased review of ISB Travel Fellowship applications, submitted talks, etc. For full transparency the ISB will publish the composition of its membership and post-meeting statistics on the gender and diverse backgrounds of the attendees.
  7. The ISB will receive and address any concerns and complaints of discrimination or harassment based on any of the protected characteristics stated in point 1. 
  8. The ISB is committed to uphold the principles of EDI in this Code of Conduct in all its activities and its communications among ISB members, and with members of the scientific community and the general public.

Expected behavior at events organized by the ISB

All attendees, speakers, organizers and exhibitors/sponsors at ISB events (hereafter known as “attendees”) are expected to abide by this Code of Conduct. The aim is to ensure that the collaborative and community ethos of the event is followed and that no individual or group feels harassed or uncomfortable in participating in the event or social activities. Stated below is the expected behavior of all attendees at ISB events, and what is expected of the ISB Executive Committee and of the conference organizers who are working on behalf of the ISB EC.


1. Respectful behavior towards all attendees. We will not tolerate harassment or intimidation of any person, whether verbal, physical, or written (including on social media or by email). 

This includes, but is not limited to: 

  • Offensive or unwanted comments on any protected characteristic, or any other personal attribute
  • Unjustified use of sexual images
  • Sustained interruption of speakers or of those asking questions
  • Unwanted photography or filming. Please respect the wishes of speakers who do not want their slides photographed or shared on social media
  • Violence, threats of violence or violent language aimed at another individual
  • Bullying 
  • Inappropriate physical contact or invasion of personal space
  • Unwelcome sexual attention, including inappropriate verbal and physical attention
  • Encouraging any of the above behavior

2. Be aware that certain language and images can offend groups and cultures different from your own. If you have any doubt about whether specific content in your presentations could be misinterpreted, we recommend removing it.

3. Where workshops are proposed and organized by attendees, the organizers should ensure a good balance of male and female speakers and panelists. We are aware that it may not be possible to have equal numbers, but single-gender panels and speaker line-ups will not be accepted. Where this has not been considered, the ISB reserve the right to decline or withdraw the workshop proposal or to request that the organizers reconsider their choices.

Organizers – additional points

  1. Shall provide equal opportunities to members of all protected characteristic categories in leadership positions, panel discussions, invited and contributed talks and question and answer sessions. 
  2. Put in place a plan to address the needs of differently abled persons at ISB meetings from all stages of planning, including deciding the venue, transportation to the venue, restroom availability, accessibility to the stage/podium, accessibility to microphones and availability of alternate technology. Once a plan is in place, it should be made available early on in the registration process to encourage the participation of differently abled persons in events and meetings conducted by the ISB. The EDI committee and the Executive Committee are available to help the local organizers establish and implement such a plan, as needed.
  3. Put in place a plan to encourage attendees who have young children to attend events organized by the ISB. This would include likely availability of childcare, suitable lodging for the attendee, the child/children and other caregivers, lactation/breastfeeding rooms, activities for children and alternate caregivers, diaper-changing stations, elevators and stroller-friendly access to meeting spaces. Adequate break time for attendees to tend to young children should be factored into the agenda, and contact information of pediatricians, emergency rooms and hospitals near the meeting venue should be made available on the meeting website.
  4. Shall meet the needs of attendees with a range of food preferences, as far as possible. This should include non-alcoholic beverages, at occasions when alcoholic beverages are served at the meeting.
  5. Shall identify and accommodate the needs of attendees with medical conditions such as allergies (e.g. avoiding common factors that trigger allergies) or other declared conditions.
  6. Shall respect the wishes of attendees who do not wish to be photographed or filmed for ISB promotional uses, if those individuals make the organizers aware of this prior to the event.
  7. Will include a question in the post-meeting survey to gauge the attendee’s experience on equality, diversity and inclusion at the meeting.

Consequences of unacceptable behavior

Any person behaving inappropriately will be requested to stop, and is expected to comply immediately. The ISB Executive Committee reserve the right to ask any individual that doesn’t comply with this request to leave an ISB event without refund of any fees. Depending on the severity of the violation, the ISB Executive Committee may exclude the individual from participating in any future ISB event.

Reporting an issue

If you are affected by the inappropriate behavior of another person(s) or concerned that another individual may be affected, please contact our EDI representative, or at an event, speak to one of the conference organizers or any member of the ISB executive committee or EDI committee.

All reports will be treated in confidence, taken seriously and acted upon promptly in the necessary manner. In your report please include:

  • Your contact information.
  • Names (real, nicknames, or pseudonyms) of any individuals involved. If there are additional witnesses, please include them as well. Your account of what occurred, and if you believe the incident is ongoing. If there is a publicly available record (e.g. a mailing list archive or a public IRC logger), please include a link.
  • Any additional information that may be helpful.

If you file a report, our EDI representative at the conference will contact you personally, review the incident, follow up with any additional questions, and make a decision as to how to respond. If the person who is harassing you is the person designated to receive these reports, please contact the conference organizers instead. We will respect confidentiality requests for the purpose of protecting victims of abuse. You will be kept informed of any course of action taken.

This Code of Conduct was drafted by the International Society for Biocuration’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committee, July 2019, and approved by the Executive Committee in October 2019.

The ISB EDI committee reserve the right to update the Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct if and when new circumstances arise, with the agreement of the EC and ISB members.


The following resources were used as a source of inspiration for this document. Thank you to all the authors.