Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
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CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC

Consultation Document on the Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why did the Agencies review the current policy?

    In May 2008, the federal Minister of Industry asked NSERC and SSHRC to work collaboratively with the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) to review the existing policy framework for research and financial misconduct.

    Overall, the review of the agencies’ policies and procedures related to research integrity and the management of funds showed that they were sound and flexible enough to address a wide range of possible breaches of Agency policies. However, the final report identified the need to improve certain areas of the existing policies and procedures for addressing allegations of breaches in research integrity and appropriate use of agency funds. While current policies and procedures have not caused significant difficulties in handling cases of misconduct to date, it was agreed that updating, harmonizing and clarifying policies and procedures would reduce the risk of future problems occurring.

    CIHR provided input on the draft report and participated in the development and implementation of an action plan based on the final report.

  2. What policies will this draft Framework replace?

    The draft Framework consolidates, updates and strengthens existing policies, particularly the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Integrity in Research and Scholarship (TCPS-I) (1994) and the Framework for Tri-Council Review of Institutional Policies Dealing with Integrity in Research (1996).

  3. Why are the Agencies consulting the research community on the draft Framework?

    The consultation reaches out to the broader research community, which ensures that the three major stakeholder groups, the Agencies, institutions and researchers, will have had an opportunity to provide input on the Framework.

    AUCC and an external advisory group (the Research Integrity Advisory Group) provided advice to the Agencies on recommended changes to policy documents and operational procedures.

  4. Why a new Framework?

    This draft Framework strengthens the existing integrity policy and clarifies the roles and responsibilities of researchers, institutions and Agencies in responding to alleged breaches of Agency policies. Whereas the previous policy statement (TCPS-I) and related documents were limited to research integrity, this draft Framework, with its broader focus on responsible conduct of research, is relevant to breaches of all applicable Agency research policies (e.g., misuse of funds, unethical conduct of research involving human participants, plagiarism).

  5. What are some of the new elements in this draft Framework?

    The draft Framework introduces new elements, including the following:

    A strengthened Tri-Agency Research Integrity Policy
    The draft Framework includes a strengthened Tri-Agency Research Integrity Policy that clarifies the responsibilities of the researcher.

    ‘Umbrella’ approach to RCR
    The draft Framework provides an overview of all applicable research policies, including those related to the ethical conduct of research involving humans and financial management, as well as research integrity. It also clarifies the roles and responsibilities of researchers, institutions and Agencies in responding to all types of alleged breaches of Agency policies, for example, misuse of funds, unethical conduct of research involving human participants or plagiarism.

    A definition of a policy breach
    The draft Framework clarifies what constitutes a breach of an Agency policy.

    Disclosure
    The draft Framework requires researchers to disclose, at the time of application, whether they have ever been found to have breached any Canadian or other research policies, regardless of the source of funds that supported the research and whether or not the findings originated in Canada or abroad.

    The Agencies are currently seeking advice from privacy experts on the scope of the information to be requested.

    Institutional Investigations
    The Agencies currently specify that institutional investigation committee membership must exclude those in conflict of interest. The draft Framework stipulates also that an investigation committee must include at least one member external to the Institution, and that an Agency may conduct its own review or compliance audit, or require the Institution to conduct an independent review/audit.

    Timeliness of investigation
    Currently, it is up to institutions to set timelines for investigations. The draft Framework states that inquiry and investigation reports are to be submitted to the relevant Agency within two and seven months, respectively, following receipt of the allegation by the institution.

  6. Who is being consulted?

    The Agencies have targeted their consultation to individual researchers, post-secondary institutions and other eligible organizations that apply for and receive Agency funding.

  7. Where do I go if I have questions about the consultation?

    For more information on the consultation, please contact: consultation@nserc-crsng.gc.ca

  8. What are the Agencies doing with my feedback?

    The feedback will be analyzed and incorporated into the final document, where appropriate.

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