ann20038 — Announcement

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6 October 2020
IAU Clarification on Commission F3 Statement

Update as of 16 October 2020: The Commission F3 Organising Committee has clarified that their original letter to F3 was not intended as a criticism of the authors of the phosphine study in Nature Astronomy, and has apologised to the authors. The IAU reiterates the value of open discussion of all aspects of the scientific process including the importance of our relationship with the media.

This text of this Announcement was also updated 27 October 2020.

The IAU Executive would like to clarify the recent case of a statement issued by Commission F3 Organising Committee (OC) with regards to the press coverage of the discovery of phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus. 

Firstly, we would like to stress that the statement does not reflect the view of the organisation. The statement did not originate from the IAU Executive, nor the IAU Commission F3 membership. 

The Organising Committee (OC) of Commission F3 has been contacted to retract their statement and to contact the scientific team with an apology. 

To prevent such situations in the future, the IAU will write a procedure for public communication, which will be duly communicated to all members. The IAU values the free exchange of science, information, ideas and comments among its members, but at the same time asks all its members to stand by the IAU Code of Conduct, as well as codes of their own organisations and overall principles of ethics and fair play in science.

Finally, we would like to ensure the community of our full commitment to preventing such situations in the future. The IAU would like to thank those who have spoken up on this issue for always demanding nothing short of the best from our community.


Madeleine Smith-Spanier
IAU Database Manager
Paris, France
Tel: +33 1 43 25 83 58

Lars Lindberg Christensen
IAU Press Officer
Cell: +49 173 38 72 621

Oana Sandu
Vice-president Commission C.2


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