Principles to Guide Researcher Independence, Integrity, and Conflicts
The Urban Institute strives to meet the highest standards of integrity and quality in its research and analyses and in the evidence-based policy recommendations offered by its researchers and experts. The organization’s reputation for integrity and quality is our most valuable asset, which we seek to protect and enhance.
Building and sharing knowledge in the real world
Urban Institute’s experts aren’t cloistered in an ivory tower. They come from all sectors—academic, public, private, and philanthropic—and they share insights, learn from, and serve as resources for practitioners, policymakers, and business and community leaders working to make change in the world. Their perspectives are informed and enhanced both by real-world experience and by others who are putting policy into practice.
Knowledge-building enriched by diverse affiliations
Urban’s employees are permitted and empowered to work and affiliate with outside organizations, whether serving on boards, volunteering their time, or providing advice and counsel. And Urban welcomes nonresident or affiliated fellows who work for other organizations. These outside affiliations enrich our perspectives and our learning environment. All experts, paid and unpaid, are required to disclose their other affiliations to Urban leadership and to follow rules governing their engagement, ensuring transparency for audiences and independence of experts.
Avoiding conflicts of interest
Scholars may engage in outside activities as long as they do not conflict with Urban’s mission and interests. Outside activities are not allowed when they violate the law, prevent an employee from doing their job or following Urban policies, compete with work performed by Urban, or allow an employee personal financial gain from work they are performing for Urban.
Disclosing experts’ affiliations to our audiences
We believe our audiences should know about a researcher’s affiliations, so we require that our experts disclose them publicly in their bios on urban.org. When those affiliations are particularly relevant to a subject of study, they are noted in publications, too. In some cases, Urban’s senior leadership may decide that based on an outside affiliation, an expert must be recused from a project altogether.
Writing or speaking on Urban’s behalf
When researchers are publishing or speaking about work they have performed at Urban, they should identify themselves as such and take care to ground their insights in evidence. If researchers are publishing or speaking about work they have performed for another organization, they must identify that organization and be explicit that they are not representing Urban.
Sharing knowledge without engaging in political activity
Under no circumstances can Urban resources be used for political activity. When lawmakers or candidates ask for advice, Urban experts may respond to those requests as long as they would provide the same insights to any other lawmaker or candidate in a nonexclusive manner. Urban does not restrict the personal activities of employees on their own time; such activities are considered private.