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CAA Statement on Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality

Adopted by CAA Board of Directors on October 22, 2006; revised on May 1, 2011, and May 6, 2012.

All members of the College Art Association Board of Directors and CAA committees, juries, and editorial boards, nominating committees, and task forces must adhere to the highest ethical standards of professional conduct.

A conflict of interest arises when an individual’s personal interest or bias compromises his or her ability to act in accordance with professional or public obligations. In situations where no public scrutiny or oversight is possible, the risk of a conflict of interest increases; therefore, when performing peer review, reviewing grant applications, vetting manuscripts for publication, reviewing a book or other work of scholarship, evaluating annual-meeting program proposals, selecting prize or award recipients, or other such activities, participants are charged to exercise particular care in avoiding a conflict of interest.

Members of the Board of Directors, committees, editorial boards, juries, and task forces, and authors of reviews and peer reviews, should avoid situations in which they may benefit financially at the expense of their professional obligations. They must disclose all potential conflicts of interest of which they become aware to the appropriate person(s) (e.g., colleagues on a jury, chair of an editorial board, commissioning editor). After such disclosure and discussion, the appropriate action may include recusal from any decisions or other actions in which a conflict of interest arises, or rejection or reassignment of a submitted review that presents a conflict of interest. An individual should normally refuse to participate in the formal review of work by anyone for whom he or she feels a sense of personal obligation, competition, or enmity (adapted from the statement of the American Historical Association).

Persons serving in a position of authority at CAA, such as members of the Board of Directors, should take all appropriate steps in accordance with Article V, Section 6 of the Association By-laws, including proper disclosure of all relevant facts that present a potential conflict of interest, to ensure that no actual conflict of interest arises from the exercise of that authority.

Members of CAA committees, juries, editorial boards, and task forces, and authors of reviews published by CAA, must conduct their personal and professional affairs in such a manner as to avoid any conflict of interest with their CAA duties and responsibilities or their responsibilities to the scholarly community. Each member is obligated to disclose to the committee, jury, editorial board, or commissioning editor any personal, financial, or professional interest in any business coming before the body or any such interest in the material under review.

Members of CAA committees, juries, editorial boards, and task forces, and authors commissioned to write reviews published by CAA, must conduct their personal and professional affairs in such a manner as to avoid any breach of confidentiality. Each individual member of the CAA board, committees, juries, and editorial boards should use reasonable efforts to maintain the confidentiality of information exchanged between or among members, using measures similar to those that he or she would use to protect his or her own similar confidential information.

Persons serving in a CAA capacity should be aware of the following situations that may present a potential conflict of interest or would constitute a breach of confidentiality:

Award and Grant Juries

  • The juror has been involved in the production or review of the written or artistic output of a nominee or applicant
  • The juror is currently a member of an editorial board of a press that is a nominee or applicant for a grant. (It is not a conflict of interest for a juror to have published with such a press)
  • The juror has a personal relationship with the nominee. Personal relationships that may create a conflict of interest include: immediate family member, domestic or professional partner, research collaborator, dissertation (or, in some cases, master’s thesis) advisor/advisee, current teacher or mentor, or current student
  • The juror is being considered for employment at the same institution as the nominee, or the nominee is being considered for employment at the juror’s institution. In either case, it is the juror who should recuse him- or herself
  • The juror could benefit from the decision financially
  • The juror feels a sense of personal obligation, competition, or enmity toward the nominee or the nominee’s work. (It is not a conflict of interest for a juror to work in the same field of specialization or discipline as the nominee)

The following constitute breaches of confidentiality:

  • A juror discloses the names of candidates for awards to individuals outside the jury
  • A juror discloses the votes cast by members to individuals outside the jury

All issues regarding conflict of interest and confidentiality that are not addressed by the above list should be discussed by the juror with the chair. The chair may, in turn, refer the matter to the appropriate vice president (of publications, of committees, of Annual Conference), if necessary.

Journals

At CAA journals, at-large members of editorial boards (those who are not editors or reviews editors) serve in an advisory capacity and do not acquire content. The risk of conflict of interest is therefore higher for editors-in-chief and reviews editors.

Editors and Reviews Editors

The process by which books, exhibitions, and other subjects are chosen for review and reviewers commissioned is confidential to the reviews editor and must remain so. If the titles of books under consideration for review and the names of the reviewers are reported to the editorial board, its members must not disclose this information to anyone else, in particular the authors of books, curators of exhibitions, and other subjects of review.

Editors and reviews editors should review with special care the potential for conflict of interest by them or by authors of reviews in the following cases:

  • The editor is currently a member of an editorial board of another journal or publication that is competitive with the CAA journal
  • The editor has a personal relationship with:
    • The creator of an artwork or the author of a text being submitted for consideration for publication
    • The author of a book being considered for review
    • The curator of an exhibition being considered for review

Personal relationships that may create a conflict of interest include: immediate family member, domestic or professional partner, research collaborator, dissertation (or, in some cases, master’s thesis) advisor/advisee, current teacher or mentor, or current student.

  • The contributor is being considered for employment at the editor’s institution
  • The editor could benefit from the decision financially
  • The editor feels a sense of personal obligation, competition, or enmity toward a prospective contributor or his or her work. (It is not a conflict of interest for an editor to work in the same field of specialization or discipline as the artist, author, or curator, or at the same institution)

If a reviewer has any personal relationship or conflict of interest with a contributor (including creator, author, or curator), then that relationship must be disclosed within the review.

Examples of cases to be avoided by reviews editors:

  • Accepting a prewritten unsolicited or uncommissioned review without confirming that no conflict of interest exists. (An unsolicited or uncommissioned offer to review is not necessarily a conflict of interest. If the editor performs due diligence in checking for potential conflicts, such an offer may legitimately be accepted. Consultation with an editorial-board chair and disclosure of potential conflict are recommended)
  • Commissioning a review of the editor’s own work
  • Assignment of a review by the editor to him- or herself or to a current member of the editorial board
  • Assignment of a review to a current member of the CAA Board of Directors

Editorial-Board Members at Large

  • The member is currently a member of an editorial board of another journal or publication that is competitive with the CAA journal
  • The member could benefit from a decision or activity of the editorial board financially

When a member at large of an editorial board is asked to perform peer review for the journal, the stricter guidelines concerning editors apply.

Any situation that presents a potential conflict of interest, whether or not it is identified above, should be discussed by the editorial-board member with the editorial-board chair. The chair may, in turn, refer the matter to the CAA vice president of publications, if necessary.

Committees

Members of CAA’s nominating committees must hold in strict confidence all information provided to them and all information exchanged among them relating to their service on such committee, including, without limitation, the names of candidates for nomination to the board, interviews, votes taken during committee meetings, and the final results of the committee deliberations (until such final results are made public). Except as approved or requested by the CAA Executive Committee, members of such committees may not discuss or disclose confidential information of the committee to anyone other than the other members of the committee. Any questions related to a committee member’s obligations to maintain the confidentiality of information privy to the committee should be discussed with the CAA vice president for committees, who may, in turn refer the matter to the CAA Executive Committee, if necessary. In certain circumstances a committee member may be asked by the Executive Committee to disclose confidential information to the Executive Committee.

Members of CAA’s Annual Conference Committee act in a capacity similar to that of an award or grant jury when they review applicants for inclusion in conference sessions, events, or exhibitions. In such circumstances they are bound by the guidelines for juries, above.

CAA’s Publications Committee supervises the editorial boards but does not acquire content for CAA journals. It is charged with ensuring that editorial boards adhere to these guidelines.

Other CAA committees, such as Professional Interests, Practices, and Standards Committees and task forces, may from time to time be responsible for enacting or adapting professional and ethics guidelines and should therefore also be alert to the risk of conflict of interest.