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New framework outlines rules for research

Consent to disclosure policy aims to increase transparency
January 18, 2012
By Tom Peacock

Canada’s three federal research granting agencies recently issued a new framework setting out the responsibilities and corresponding policies for researchers and institutions who benefit from their support.

The new Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research builds on previous research integrity policies and procedures issued by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

With the new framework, the three granting agencies are aiming to ensure their funding decisions are the right ones, and that public funding is used responsibly. They also want to “promote and protect the quality, accuracy and reliability of research,” and address breaches to policy.

In keeping with current trends, the new framework calls for an increased level of disclosure in the event of a breach of the models of compliance for ethical research. Although the agencies acknowledge that serious incidents of research misconduct are extremely rare, the new disclosure process aims “to strengthen the responsible conduct of research in Canada and to increase Transparency.”

Effective December 5, 2011, all applicants, grantees and award holders are required to comply with the framework and all of its policies.  As a result, applicants for research grants will now be required to provide consent for the disclosure of personal information.

In the case of a substantiated serious breach of the responsible conduct of research guidelines or policies, the agencies may publicly disclose the name of the researcher, the name of his or her institution, and the nature of the misconduct.

The funding bodies insist that both members of the research community, and the Canadian taxpayers who support them “have a right to know that research is conducted responsibly,” and that effective measures are in place to address and expose breaches of agency policy.

Justin Powlowski, Concordia’s Interim Associate Vice-President, Strategy and Operations, and Interim Director of the Office of Research, says that it’s important that researchers be aware of, and follow, the new framework and its policies, including the changes with regard to the release of personal information.

“Researchers are going to see these changes from now on when they’re applying for and administering grants, and we want our researchers at Concordia to be aware of what they mean,” he says.

Powlowski added that because the framework creates new institutional responsibilities some Concordia policies and documents, such as the Code of Ethics and Safe Disclosure Policy, will be modified to conform to the new tri-agency framework.

Related Links:

•  Tri-Agency Press Release
•  Tri-Agency Framework
•  New Panel on Responsible Conduct of Research
•  Consent to Disclosure of Personal Information Press Release
•  Consent to Disclosure of Personal Information
•  Office of Research
•  Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies


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