Canada’s three federal research agencies (the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada) are committed to supporting and promoting the responsible conduct of research. To this end, they have developed the Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research (“RCR Framework”), which sets out the responsibilities and corresponding policies for researchers, institutions, and the Agencies. Together they help support and promote a positive research environment.
The Agencies have tasked the Panel on Responsible Conduct of Research (“the Panel”) with considering allegations of breaches of the Framework by reviewing institutional inquiry and investigation reports. The Panel is an independent volunteer body of researchers and institutional administrators affiliated with various academic institutions or organizations across Canada. The Panel recommends recourse, if appropriate, to the President of the Agency whose funds are involved. The President is the final decision making authority. To reduce the risk of bias in decision-making, both the Panel and the Presidents make their determinations based on anonymized documents.
In accordance with the Agencies’ Consent to Disclosure of Personal Information, researchers and applicants are required, at the time of application for Agency funds, to consent to the disclosure of personal information in the event they are found to have engaged in a serious breach of Agency policy. For more information on the Consent to Disclosure of Personal Information, please visit the Agencies’ Frequently Asked Questions.
The Agencies may also publicly disclose information related to a serious breach without consent, if “in the opinion of the head of the institution, the public interest in disclosure clearly outweighs any invasion of privacy that could result from the disclosure” (Privacy Act, 8(2)(m)(i)).
Canada is one of only a few jurisdictions in the world that discloses personal information related to a breach of responsible conduct of research. The Agencies have implemented this process to strengthen the responsible conduct of research in Canada and to increase transparency.