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ARCHIVED – October 2010 - Update on Strengthening Integrity in Research and Scholarship

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Background on the Research Integrity Review

NSERC, CIHR, SSHRC (the agencies), along with the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), remain committed to improving the policy framework for research and scholarly integrity, and financial accountability. The report on the review of the integrity policy framework was prepared by NSERC, SSHRC and AUCC for the Minister of Industry and made public in October 2009. CIHR provided input on the draft report and has been participating in the development and implementation of a related action plan. The report concluded that the overall approach to research integrity was sound and identified four key action areas to strengthen the policy framework:

  1. clarify the Agencies’ role regarding integrity;
  2. update and strengthen the current research and scholarly integrity policy in order to ensure that it reflects the highest standards of integrity and provides increased clarity of terms, roles and responsibilities1;
  3. improve the effectiveness of its implementation and increase transparency; and
  4. update and strengthen the current Financial Policy in order to ensure that it reflects the highest standards of accountability and provides increased clarity of terms, roles and responsibilities1.

This update is the second in a series of periodic updates on work being done to address these key action areas. In this update, the membership of the new Research Integrity Advisory Group (RIAG) is presented (see below).

Actions Taken to Strengthen Research Integrity

1. Clarify the Agencies’ role regarding integrity.

The report to the Minister of Industry on the integrity policy framework, the overview document and the February 2010 update provide detailed clarification of the Agencies’ current role regarding integrity. During the past year, the Agencies have provided clarifications of their roles in presentations on the policy framework made to the Canadian Research Integrity Committee (CRIC), the National Council on Ethics in Human Research (NCEHR), and the Canadian Association of University Research Administrators (CAURA).

As part of the process of revising the integrity policy framework, the Agencies will review their roles to determine if any changes are needed.

2. and 41. Update and strengthen the current research and scholarly integrity policy in order to ensure that it reflects the highest standards of integrity and provides increased clarity of terms, roles and responsibilities. Update and strengthen the current Financial Policy in order to ensure that it reflects the highest standards of accountability and provides increased clarity of terms, roles and responsibilities.

The Agencies are moving ahead with the revision of the Tri-Agency Policy Statement: Integrity in Research and Scholarship (January 1994) and the financial policy.

The Agencies are pleased to announce that the Research Integrity Advisory Group (RIAG) has been established, and are making the membership of the RIAG publicly available. The RIAG's Terms of Reference will be made public in late October. The RIAG will help guide the development of the new policy framework for integrity and financial accountability by providing guidance and advice to the Agencies on recommended improvements. The Agencies would like to thank the RIAG members for agreeing to contribute to this important initiative.

The Agencies have engaged Tijs Creutzberg, Principal, Hickling Arthurs and Low, to support this project.

3. Improve the effectiveness of the implementation of the Policy and increase its transparency, in order to ensure that all relevant cases are dealt with effectively and that relevant stakeholders are effectively informed.

The Tri-Agency Process for Addressing Allegations of Non-Compliance with Tri-Agency Policies was released in February 2010.

New tools have been developed by the Agencies to improve the effectiveness of the implementation of the policy and improve its transparency:

These new tools explain a common approach for receiving and transmitting allegations, the handling of anonymous allegations and time lines for reviewing cases.

Next steps

As explained in the February 2010 update, at the request of the Minister of Industry, the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) convened an This link will take you to another Web site expert panel to assess “the key research integrity principles, procedural mechanisms and practices, appropriate in the Canadian context, that could be applied across research disciplines at institutions receiving funds from the federal granting agencies.” The panel is expected to release its This link will take you to another Web site Report late October 2010. The RIAG will then meet to consider the CCA report and to begin guiding the development of a strengthened Tri-Agency policy framework for integrity and financial accountability.

The Agencies expect a revised Tri-Agency draft policy to be completed and ready for consideration by stakeholders in spring 2011. Comprehensive consultations on the revised draft policy and processes will be undertaken in 2011 with a wide range of stakeholders, with the assistance of the AUCC.

The final revised policy framework is expected to be made public in December 2011. Institutions will be expected to ensure that their institutional research integrity policies adhere to the revised policy within one year of the release date.

Closing

Integrity and accountability in research and scholarship are essential values of universities, colleges and other academic institutions. These values are also important to Canadians, given the significant investments made by the federal government in research and scholarship, and the important contributions these activities make to our society.

The Tri-Agencies are committed to ensuring that the highest standards of integrity and accountability are reflected in their own policies and procedures, and those of the institutions they fund. We look forward to receiving your feedback and input during the consultation process.

1Given that items 2 and 4 are closely related, they will be acted upon as one item.

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