When should you contact an AOM Ombuds?

Imagine . . .

A co-author on a paper submitted to an Academy of Management Conference is telling others that you didn’t really contribute much to the paper, and that your name was included as a “courtesy.” You are upset, and don’t know why she would do this, but you want it to stop.

You have just learned that a person you believe to have been a reviewer on a paper you submitted to an Academy journal has published a paper that draws largely on ideas you first put forth in your paper, and has claimed those ideas as his own. The journal editor doesn’t seem especially interested in taking action.

You have just discovered instances of what you believe to be unauthorized/unattributed plagiarism of your previous work in a paper submitted to an Academy journal. You are angry, and want the other person to withdraw his paper and to promise to never submit it to any other journal or conference.

You have been accused of plagiarism, and have no idea where the other person is coming from…to you, it seems that you simply (and legitimately) built on past work. As a doctoral candidate, you are very worried about the impact this might have on your job prospects, and you don’t know where to begin to resolve the issue.

If you’ve experienced anything similar to these incidences, you’d probably like some assistance. Perhaps an Ombuds can help! It’s a good time to contact an AOM Ombudsperson when:

  • You do not know how to begin the process of resolving your conflict.
  • You experience an issue or concern that you are not able to resolve through direct communication with the other person.
  • You are confused or at your wits end about options for dealing with the issue.
  • When you believe you have been treated unfairly or unethically by another person while engaged in work with, through, or for an Academy journal or conference.
  • When you think it might help to get the perspective of a neutral third party, have a neutral sounding board, or work with someone to identify options or ideas you may not have considered.

Ombuds are independent, impartial and provide a free service for AOM members involved in conflicts or with ethics complaints regarding work involving AOM journals or conferences. We adhere to the standards of the International Ombudsman Association, whose principles are informality, confidentiality, neutrality/impartiality, and independence (future blogs will expand on each of these principles). Ombuds provide a listening ear, assist with options generation, and offer advice regarding how to handle your dispute. They will work to help you clarify what you can do or how you can act to resolve the conflict, or to improve relationships. An Ombuds can help you understand your own rights and options with regards to complaints you might have that involve AOM research outlets or other functions and activities.

To help AOM members, the Ombuds may draw upon the following approaches, as needed:

  • Mediating disputes among AOM members concerning alleged ethics violations
  • Providing informal counseling (“active listening”) and referrals to individuals on ethics issues
  • Educating individuals about the AOM Code of Ethics, Ethical Standards and the Policies and Procedures
  • Receiving and processing requests for interpretations of the Code
  • Forwarding anonymous complaints requiring investigation to the Past President for possible action (see Operating Procedures & Anonymity)

The Ombuds makes no decisions for the parties nor judgments on the merits of a complaint. We will work to assist the parties in resolving their disputes informally, but if necessary may recommend further formal action by the Ethics Adjudication Committee (EAC). If that proves necessary, the Ombuds will explain the AOM process for filing complaints and provide forms and policy information that may be helpful in moving forward should the individual choose to file a formal complaint. With regard to inquiries and complaints involving non-members, the Ombuds guides the non-member and is available for counseling if needed.

The AOM’s Code of Ethics require AOM members hold themselves accountable to a high ethical standard. Unfortunately, occasionally issues arise that would benefit from further conversation. Using the AOM Ombud serves as an initial and informal attempt to resolve such issues. Using Ombuds services does not take away the option of moving to a formal disciplinary or dispute resolution process. For more information about AOM Ombuds services, please see the AOM Policies and Procedures for Handling Ethical Complaints.

Please contact us (Ombuds@aom.org) if you believe we can help.

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