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RCR Framework Interpretations

Definition of Breach

What is a breach of the Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research (the RCR Framework)?
A breach of the Framework is the failure to comply with any Agency policy throughout the life cycle of a research project – from application for funding, to the conduct of the research, to the dissemination of research results. It includes all activities related to the research, including the management of Agency funds.

Examples of breaches of the Framework include, but are not limited to:

  • Breaches of the Tri-Agency Research Integrity Policy;
  • Breaches of the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans, 2nd edition (TCPS 2)
  • Misrepresentation in an Agency application or related document (e.g., false information contained in an applicant’s CV);
  • Mismanagement of grant or award funds (e.g., inaccurate or false information about grant or award account expenses);
  • Breaches of Agency policies or requirements for certain types of research (e.g., failure to obtain appropriate ethics approval for research involving animals).

Contravention of Agency policy is the sole determinant for breach of an Agency policy. The intention of the person in breach is not relevant to this determination. However, intent is a consideration in deciding on the severity of the recourse that may be imposed. Another consideration in determining the appropriate recourse is the impact of the breach. Breaches that are committed knowingly, and which have a significant impact on the public or the research community will attract the most serious recourses. For example, even though each of the following would be considered a breach, a researcher who fails to cite one reference in his/her grant application would not receive the same level of recourse as a researcher who intentionally falsifies or fabricates research data, or recruits human participants without disclosing the risks to which they will be exposed.

Like applicants, and grant and award holders, institutions are also required to comply with Agency policies, and may be found in breach. As noted in Section 5 of the Framework, the Agencies can exercise recourse against an institution, commensurate with the severity of the breach. The process for determining an institutional breach and for taking recourse against an institution is outlined in the Agreement on the Administration of Agency Grants and Awards by Research Institutions.