NSF Safe and Inclusive Working Environment Plan for Off-Campus or Off-Site Research
As of January 2023, the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG), Chapter XI.A.1.g., requires proposers to certify that they have a plan for creating and maintaining a project-specific Safe and Inclusive Working Environment for Off-Campus and Off-Site Research (SAI) Plan for proposals with off-campus or off-site work.
For any off-site research or field work on a proposed NSF project, the Principal Investigator (PI)/Project team must establish a plan that addresses various types of unacceptable behavior and identifies steps for nurturing an inclusive off-campus or off-site working environment. The PI is responsible for ensuring that all individuals participating in the off-site or off-campus work have received a copy of the SAI plan prior to departing for the research activity.
Definition: NSF defines “off-campus or off-site research” for the purposes of this requirement as “data/information/ samples being collected off-campus or off-site, such as fieldwork on research vessels and aircraft.”
Instructions for NSF Principal Investigators
- Determine whether any “off-campus or off-site research” will occur on the NSF-funded award. Plans are only required for NSF-funded awards containing research that is conducted off-site or off-campus.
- Complete the SAI Plan for Off-Campus or Off-Site Research.
- Distribute the SAI plan to everyone who will participate in an off-campus or off-site research activity prior to those individuals leaving campus to engage in the off-site or off-campus research.
- Retain documentation of who received the plan (I.e., email or signup sheet) and the plan itself in their personal grant files or in the departmental grant file.
IMPORTANT: The plan should not be submitted to NSF unless requested.
Currently only NSF’s BIO and GEO proposals will be requiring the submission of a Safe and Inclusive Work Environments Plan that will be considered as part of the Broader Impacts criteria during the review process. The plan should not be submitted for any other NSF directorate unless specified in the FOA. The PI must have the plan on file and be ready to provide it to NU or NSF upon request.
The SAI Plan must address the following elements:
- A brief description of the field setting and unique challenges for the team;
- The steps the proposing organization will take to nurture an inclusive off-campus or off-site working environment, including processes to establish shared team definitions of roles, responsibilities, and culture, e.g., codes of conduct, trainings, mentor/mentee mechanisms and field support that might include regular check-ins, and/or developmental events;
- Communication processes within the off-site team and to the organization(s) that minimize singular points within the communication pathway (e.g., there should not be a single person overseeing access to a single satellite phone); and
- The organizational mechanisms that will be used for reporting, responding to, and resolving issues of harassment if they arise.
A template for addressing the supplementary questions to be completed by PIs can be found here
Plans may be re-used and re-distributed for multiple off-campus research activities but must be updated if the specific content needs to change.
Northeastern University Policies and Expectations for Ensuring a Safe and Inclusive Work Environment
Northeastern University is committed to addressing harassment and fostering a safe and healthy work environment. Policies and expectations for proper conduct apply to all staff, faculty and students whether on-campus or working, doing research, or engaging in scholarly activities or study at an off-site location.
In addition, it is NSF policy to “foster safe and harassment-free environments whenever science is conducted.” (NSF 2023 PAPPG Guide II-E.9]. Grantees are required, effective with proposals submitted January 30, 2023 or later, to certify that the University has a plan in place that addresses:
- Abuse of any person, including but not limited to harassment, stalking, bullying or hazing or any kind, whether the behavior is carried out verbally, physically, electronically, or in written form; and
- Conduct that is unwelcome, offensive, indecent, obscene, or disorderly.
The University meets NSF requirements (as well as its own expectations) by using the policies and procedures outlined below, and as further amplified to cover special circumstances as dictated by the PI in the plan. Principal Investigators are responsible for distributing a copy of this plan to each participant in an off-campus or off-site research prior to those individuals leaving campus to participate in the off-campus or off-site activities.
Key Policies and Procedures
All Northeastern University staff, faculty and students are required by university policy to complete the Code of Ethical Conduct at Northeastern course. Compliance with university policies is a condition of employment and enrollment at the university, regardless of physical location. Northeastern also may have adopted policies specific to a campus. In addition to university-wide policies, students and employees must comply with applicable campus-specific policies which are accessible here.
Below is a list of applicable University policies regarding a safe and healthy work environment :
Anonymous Confidential Reporting Hotline
The University strongly encourages all faculty, administrators, staff, and students to report suspected or actual
wrongful conduct through channels that the University establishes for such reporting. While the university expects you
to bring forward any concerns to your direct supervisor, faculty member, chair, or other, the Anonymous &
Confidential Reporting Hotline provides an alternative channel for you to communicate your concerns. This allows any
person to report activities that may involve unethical or otherwise inappropriate activity or behavior in violation of
Northeastern University’s established policies and procedures.
All reports submitted to EthicsPoint are protected under the Whistleblower Policy.
You may file a report to Northeastern University online or telephone.