eLife's Code of Conduct

Guidelines for participation with eLife that express our shared values and expectations, as well as outline how we support behaviours that contribute positively to our communities.

At eLife, we strive to be open and inclusive and show integrity in all that we do; and we promote the same values across our communities. We are committed to providing safe and productive spaces, that are free from bullying, discrimination or harassment, for everyone that we work with – regardless of their background or identity.


Our Code of Conduct applies to all eLife staff, editors and early-career advisors – when acting with or on behalf of eLife. This includes interactions in-person or online, such as emails, phone calls, videoconference meetings, or on social media. Our Social Media Policy provides additional guidance on when the Code applies. The Code also applies during eLife events and to members of eLife programs for the duration of their involvement; this includes events and activities organised by eLife Innovation and eLife Community. All participants or members will be notified of this in advance.

eLife staff are also governed by the terms in their Contract of Employment and in the eLife Staff Handbook. If your report concerns any members of staff or editorial leadership (Editor-in-Chief and Deputy Editors), it can be sent directly to eLife’s Human Resources Manager, Lena Dowdall by email (hr[at]elifesciences[dot]org). This Code does not cover eLife’s authors and reviewers, who are instead governed by the specific policies outlined in our Author and Reviewer Guides.

Our Standards

Examples of behaviour that contribute positively to our communities include:

  • Showing empathy and kindness toward others
  • Being respectful of differing opinions, viewpoints, and experiences
  • Giving and gracefully accepting constructive feedback
  • Taking responsibility for our mistakes and any impact on others, and learning from the experience

Examples of unacceptable behaviour include:

  • Making it difficult for others to speak or participate – for example, through repeated interruptions or disruptions
  • Falsely claiming expertise, authority or ownership
  • Publishing or otherwise sharing sensitive information or confidential communications (including some emails) without explicit permission
  • Trolling, insulting or derogatory comments, profanities and personal attacks
  • Violence or combative behaviour, including shouting or making threats
  • Using sexualized language or imagery, and sexual attention or advances of any kind
  • Any other form of bullying, discrimination or harassment.
  • Encouraging others to do any of the above

Reporting and Safety Team

Unacceptable behaviours reduce the value of our activities for everyone. We would support everyone in our communities in reminding others of our standards when they believe it is needed, but only if they feel safe to do so. If you believe someone has behaved unacceptably, we ask that you report it. You are encouraged to submit your report by completing our Code of Conduct Incident Report Form. The form may be completed anonymously, or you may include your contact information. All reports will be handled with discretion by our Safety Team. If you do not want to use the form, the team can also be contacted via their shared email (elife-safety-team[at]protonmail[dot]com).

If a report concerns anyone in the Safety Team, they will be asked to recuse themselves from ongoing conversations, and they will not have access to reports after the remainder of the Safety Team has reached a decision. If you are uncomfortable reporting to the Safety Team, potential incidents can also be reported to eLife’s Human Resources Manager, Lena Dowdall (hr[at]elifesciences[dot]org).


The Safety Team will respond to reports and decide how to act upon the information to maintain or restore a safe and productive environment as soon as reasonably possible. Any response may include follow-up actions with the person being reported, the reporter (if known) and any other named individuals who may have been affected. The proposed response will be relayed to the reporter and any other affected parties before being enacted. Those named in reports will be given the opportunity to state their view of the incident within a week of being notified. Any feedback will be noted; but the Safety Team is not required to act on this feedback. Actions agreed by the Safety Team will be taken by whoever is appropriate for the situation at the time.


Any individual involved in a Code of Conduct report has the right to appeal within 30 days of being notified of a decision. An appeal can be made directly to: the Safety Team (elife-safety-team[at]protonmail[dot]com); eLife’s Executive Director, Damian Pattinson (d.pattinson[at]elifesciences[dot]org); or eLife Deputy Editor, Detlef Weigel (weigel.elife[at]gmail[dot]com).

Confidentiality and data policy

The contents of the reports will be kept confidential, and are collected and stored solely for the purpose of implementing this Code of Conduct.

The specific details are only shared with the Safety Team (excluding any persons recused), eLife Human Resources and the eLife staff and editor who handle appeals (as described above). All of these individuals have been given guidelines on how to safeguard the data, to use it only for the aforementioned purposes, and not to disclose it to any other parties without explicit consent. Not all individuals are inside of the European Economic Area (EEA).

All data is stored in a private Google Drive folder owned by eLife, with access limited to members of the Safety Team. We retain the data for as long as we need to for the aforementioned purpose and up to three years.

You may request a copy of any personal data that eLife holds about you. To exercise these rights, please contact data[at]elifesciences[dot]org. You may complain about our retention and processing of your personal data to the Information Commissioner’s Office, the supervisory authority for data protection issues in England and Wales.

Get in touch

We are keen to support other efforts to make research more inclusive. This Code of Conduct has been released under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), meaning anyone is free to re-use and adapt the content provided that eLife is acknowledged as the original source. Any publisher, society or similar organisation that is interested in setting up their own Code of Conduct is welcome to get in touch with eLife via community[at]elifesciences[dot]org and to request additional materials. Anonymous feedback on our Code of Conduct may also be shared via this form.


This Code of Conduct is based on multiple community Codes of Conduct, including the example anti-harassment policy from the Geek Feminism wiki, created by the Ada Initiative and other volunteers (CC0), The Carpentries Code of Conduct (CC BY The Carpentries) and the OpenCon 2017 Code of Conduct (CC BY OpenCon organisers, SPARC and Right to Research Coalition).