The COASST Code of Conduct is broken into three parts to reflect different aspects of our community: COASST, COASST Indigenous partnerships, and COASST data users.


Version 1.0

COASST is a community, including coastal residents from California to Alaska; students, staff and faculty at the University of Washington; and academic, agency and NGO partners. As a community, we believe that public engagement in science makes it more meaningful and relevant.

The following statements reflect the core values of COASST faculty, staff and students at the University of Washington. We pledge to use this code of conduct to guide our interactions within the COASST office, and with all other members of our COASST community.

COASST values the diversity of its members. Creativity thrives when we:

  • elevate differences of opinion and experience
  • acknowledge that an idea can come from anywhere, and everyone has a different sphere of expertise and experience
  • agree that a discussion is not a disagreement

Our respect for one another extends to the contributions made by each team member. Every member of the COASST community has a stake in the success and sustainability of our organization, and no one can be a silent bystander.  We support each other and COASST by:

  • taking ownership of and responsibility for our work
  • recognizing and rewarding the contributions of our team members
  • looking out for one another, stepping up and stepping in as needed
  • listening, learning, and teaching
  • starting from a place of empathy
  • cultivating a question and answer culture that encourages collaboration
  • assuming positive intent when responding to difficult situations
  • ensuring that everyone has the tools to do their jobs well

COASST began with only 12 coastal residents and 2 staff members collecting data about beached birds. Twenty years later we are a community of thousands of participants, students, practitioners and partners.  We will continue to change, adapt, and thrive by:

  • engaging the community in top-level decision-making, and reflecting before deciding
  • working to expand our participant base through an openness to new forms of engagement, especially with groups not adequately represented in our community
  • engaging with practitioners from disciplines beyond marine ecology
  • facilitating a learning environment by reaching out to our student, staff, and faculty partners, fostering connections within the University of Washington
  • inviting everyone who holds these values (and loves dead birds and trash data stories) to join us
  • adding to this living document as new practices and priorities emerge

COASST Indigenous partnerships

Version 1.1

The following statements reflect both the core values of COASST and the documented best practices for productive, respectful relationships between researchers and community members described by the Arctic Research Consortium of the United States.

COASST staff will use these statements to guide interactions with Indigenous communities and their members, and will add new elements as the program gains experience and receives feedback. We post these statements publicly to demonstrate our willingness be held accountable to these standards of respectful interaction, research practices, and community access to results.

Respectful interaction
We acknowledge:

  • past mistakes of the scientific community
  • the value of Indigenous knowledge and expertise
  • that the marine environment provides essential resources for many coastal peoples
  • that subsistence harvest is part of the Indigenous way of life
  • Indigenous sovereignty. And thus we will seek out the locally appropriate governing bodies and pathways for communication and permission to engage within communities

We will strive to:

  • listen
  • adapt our interaction and communications to reflect the cultural needs and priorities of the community
  • obtain permission before we act

We are committed to long-term, place-based, personal relationships.

Research practices

  • We recognize that the opportunity to engage with and understand Indigenous knowledge does not convey the right to share it.
  • When considering research projects that are centered within the geography of a community, and/or may be of interest to specific communities, we will seek to co-create.
  • When working on projects that are geographically much larger than any single place, we will invite the leadership in the involved communities to provide feedback at the beginning (project construction), middle (emerging results) and end (interpretation, conclusions, communication to others about the results and conclusions).
  • In advance of conducting any research or other form of engagement, we will seek to develop written agreements (ex. Memorandums of Understanding – MOUs).
  • We will seek to include in any MOU language describing the data collection, ownership, attribution and use preferences of the community.
  • We will follow the lead and preferences of Indigenous communities with respect to data sharing – what resolution of information, in what form, and for what audiences and purposes.

Community access to results

  • We will provide data back to the community on a schedule and in a form mutually agreed upon by all parties.
  • When presenting results to the community, we will consult with community partners to ensure that research findings are contextualized in a culturally appropriate manner.
  • We will share results with the community in a format and language (technical and linguistic) understandable to the community.
  • Public data collated by COASST are available on our website.

Sources referenced in the creation of this document

COASST data users

Version 1.0

COASST data are intended to be useful in both theory and practice.  Because COASST has limited resources and a responsibility to make sure that data are not misrepresented, we request a conversation before delivering any piece of our dataset.  Data requesters should be aware of the following guidelines for interactions with COASST regarding the use of data.

COASST will:

  • engage with the requester(s) to fully understand needs and intended uses
  • provide data in the form requested (raw, analyzed, summarized, visualized, photographic), to the best of our abilities as limited by time and available funding
  • include descriptive metadata to enable an accurate understanding of the represented information and any calculations used
  • ensure compliance with all MOUs with tribes and other governmental organizations prior to sharing data
  • maintain anonymity for any personally identifiable information unless explicit permission is obtained from the affected individuals

COASST expects that recipients of COASST data will:

  • explore summarized COASST datasets to develop an understanding of the available data and format prior to any data request
  • work with COASST to determine the precise information required to accomplish a proposed project
  • sign and abide by a data use agreement, laying out explicitly approved uses of the data
  • request written authorization for any changes to proposed use of data
  • agree to the COASST need for attribution, including acknowledgment of original funding sources, data ownership, and authorship
  • respect the labor of data production and data management
  • understand that COASST needs resources, including funding, to sustain data use requests