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As the major federal sources of funds for research and scholarship in academic institutions, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) are committed to the highest standards of integrity in research and scholarship.
The Councils have therefore undertaken to define their policies and expectations with regard to integrity, in a manner consistent with encouraging the highest standards of research and scholarship. The Councils regard any action that is inconsistent with integrity as misconduct.
Integrity in research and scholarship includes the principles listed below, which should be interpreted with the understanding that research can involve honest error, conflicting data or valid differences in experimental design or in interpretation or judgment of information.
These principles of scientific integrity overlap with other areas, such as financial integrity in the use of research funds and the ethical issues involving the use of human or animal subjects in research, in which the Councils have established guidelines and requirements. This document is concerned only with scientific integrity and does not replace any other statements from the Councils on other areas with which this issue may overlap.
The primary responsibility for high standards of conduct in research and scholarship rests with the individuals carrying out these activities. The Councils expect researchers and scholars receiving funds from the Councils to adhere to the principles detailed in the preceding section.
The Councils hold institutions responsible for investigating allegations of misconduct involving researchers, trainees or research staff working with funds from the Councils. Promotion by the institutions of understanding of the issues involved in integrity in research and scholarship offers a valuable means of preventing misconduct.
Integrity in research and scholarship is best encouraged by developing awareness among all involved of the need for the highest standards of integrity, accountability and responsibility. Research institutions should provide an environment conducive to this goal, and actively promote programs for the education of researchers, scholars, trainees and staff.
The Councils encourage institutions that manage the Councils' funds to establish mechanisms to educate all who are involved in the collection, recording, citing, reporting and retention of scientific or scholarly material about their expectations for the highest standards of integrity.
Mechanisms for meeting this objective might include encouraging awareness of the issues involved and establishing policies on specific areas. Awareness might be encouraged by establishing information sessions on the principles and practices of scientific integrity for scientists, scholars, graduate students and other trainees, and research staff when they arrive in the institution and at regular intervals thereafter. Institutions are encouraged to develop policies on such areas as requirements for authorship for publications or applications, on copyrights and patents, and on the responsibilities for retention of data appropriate to the range of disciplines that they offer.
Allegations may arise from anonymous or identified sources within or outside the research institution; the allegations may be well founded, honestly erroneous or mischievous. Whatever their source, motivation or accuracy, such allegations have the potential to cause great harm to the persons accused, to the accuser, to the institution, and to research and scholarship in general. Each Council requires each research institution that administers its funds to demonstrate that appropriate impartial and accountable procedures have been established to:
Allegations of misconduct made to the Councils or to research institutions might involve past or present grantees or awardees of the Councils, or trainees or staff supported from their funds or working in laboratories receiving their funds. Such allegations might also arise from the peer review processes of the Councils. Under provisions of the Privacy Act, the Councils may only transmit allegations of misconduct in research with the permission of the person making the allegations. The Councils will not transmit oral allegations to the institution, or otherwise act upon them, since these cannot be assessed or transferred accurately.
In the event that a Council, or one of its peer review committees, identifies evidence of misconduct as part of the peer review processes, the Council will request that the institution(s) involved carry out an enquiry and inform the Council of the outcome.
The Councils request that institutions which have carried out enquiries of alleged misconduct in research or scholarship involving projects funded by the Councils provide the appropriate Council(s) with the report of their findings. The Council(s) will consider the report and may request clarification or additional information.
In cases where misconduct is concluded to have occurred, the Council(s) will also consider imposing its/their own sanction(s) in relation to grants made to the individual(s) implicated, in accordance with Council policies. These sanctions may include, but are not limited to:
If such actions are being considered, the Council(s) will provide an opportunity for the person(s) involved to present a response.
The Council(s) will then inform the person(s) and the institution(s) involved of any impending sanction.
As agencies of the federal government, the Councils retain the right at any time to bring a case to the attention of the appropriate legal authorities.