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RCR Framework Interpretations

External member on an Investigation Committee

1. Why is an external member required on an institutional investigation committee?
The RCR Framework requires that institutional investigation committees have at least one external member who has no current affiliation with the institution investigating the allegation. By being free of institutional bias, the external member adds a measure of objectivity and fairness to the investigation process.

Every RCR matter is unique. Depending on the nature of the allegation to be investigated, institutions are encouraged to consider what types of expertise or experience the investigation requires. This will help to determine who to seek as an external member.

2. Who would be an appropriate external member?
Anyone who has no current affiliation with the institution responsible for investigating an allegation may be an appropriate external member. Examples of appropriate external members are:
  • a faculty member or senior administrator from another non-affiliated university, college, institute or hospital
  • a professional with relevant expertise who are not affiliated with the university, college, institute or hospital
  • an educator from another non-affiliated university, college, institute or hospital
  • a professor who has not been affiliated with the institution for at least 6 years

3. Who would not be an appropriate external member?
To ensure the independence of an institutional investigation committee, an external member must not have a perceived bias with respect to the institution. Examples of inappropriate external members are:

  • a professor who has been affiliated with the institution within the last six years
  • an industry partner involved in research activities with the institution or with researchers affiliated with the institution
  • a sponsor or funding partner associated with the institution

4. How can institutions identify an external member to serve on an investigation committee?
There are many avenues that institutions can consider when trying to identify an external member. These may include: approaching individuals within institutions that are eligible to administer Agency funds who are familiar with the Framework and the RCR process; communicating with universities or colleges that are within close proximity to the institution to facilitate in-person meetings; or looking to institutions further afield.