, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 75-94

Preventing the need for whistleblowing: Practical advice for university administrators

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A thoughtful and well-designed institutional response to a whistleblower starts long before a problem ever arises. Important elements include efforts by the institution’s leaders to cultivate an ethical environment, provide clear and fair personnel policies, support internal systems for resolving complaints and grievances, and be willing to address problems when they are revealed. While many institutions have well-developed procedures for handling formal grievances, systems for handling complaints at their earliest stages usually receive less attention. This article focuses on systemic elements necessary for cultivating an ethical environment, good practices in responding to complaints, and the role those practices can play in preventing a confrontation with a whistleblower.

Ms. Gunsalus, an attorney, has been responsible for a wide range of compliance issues and academic policy matters at her university including responding to allegations of scientific misconduct and providing institutional support to new administrators and department heads.
An earlier version of this paper was presented at the symposium entitled “Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t: What the Scientific Community Can Do About Whistleblowing” held during the Annual Meeting of the AAAS, Seattle, Washington, 15 February, 1997.