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Scientific Integrity at NRCan

Access the Scientific Integrity Policy here: PDF, 598 KB | HTML

Natural Resources Canada is committed to the integrity of the research and science conducted in the Department. We believe that maintaining a culture of integrity is essential to building trust, and ensuring the rigour, relevance and reputation of NRCan and its expertise.

At its core, science is the pursuit and application of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world. Scientific integrity refers to an active adherence to the ethical principle and professional standards essential for the responsible practice of research and science.

NRCan's Science Integrity objectives are to:

  • Foster a culture that promotes integrity in NRCan science activities, for example in the way they are planned, reviewed and communicated;
  • Enhance public trust in NRCan's science results and how they are used; and
  • Increase employees' understanding of the contributions that NRCan scientists make to evidence-informed decisions, and that of others in management, policy and communications roles in the development of government policy and advice.

NRCan's Scientific Integrity Policy Principles at a Glance

The NRCan Scientific Integrity Policy provides the overarching principles that enshrine integrity into the way our employees design, conduct, review, manage, communicate and use research, science and science-related activities. NRCan and its employees are expected to adhere to the following principles:

  • Demonstration of scientific excellence, research ethics and responsible research conduct
  • Protection of science by ensuring science is free from political, commercial, client and stakeholder interference
  • Accountability to the public by ensuring timely release of scientific information to the public
  • Representing and acknowledging the contributions of scientists, researchers, and others accurately and appropriately
  • Avoiding conflict of interest, and recognizing, reporting and managing real, potential or apparent conflict of interest
  • Understanding the scientific process by recognizing and acknowledging that scientific debates are legitimate and necessary parts of research
  • Acknowledging and attributing significant and meaningful contribution of researchers and scientists to government programs, policies, regulations and decision-making processes
  • Protection of scientific integrity by reporting any breach to these principles

In 2017, the Government of Canada made a commitment to scientific integrity through a Memorandum of Agreement that encourages scientists and researchers to speak openly about their scientific work without undue interference. The NRCan Scientific Integrity Policy was adapted from the model Policy developed in coordination with the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) and the Chief Science Advisor's Office, with the aim of promoting scientific integrity within the department and among its clients and collaborators.

Implementation of NRCan's Scientific Integrity Policy

NRCan adopted its Scientific Integrity Policy in December 2018, but acknowledges that successful implementation will require time and resources. The Policy will be implemented in a phased approach targeting actions that are more meaningful and impactful first. NRCan will update the Policy and its implementation as necessary with proper consultations to improve it.

  • Our mission is to build a sustainable Canadian resource advantage through S&T excellence; and
  • Our science objective is to generate first class scientific knowledge that is driven by innovation, engagement and strong networks for collaboration and information sharing both nationally and internationally.

Role of NRCan Science

NRCan is committed to promoting a culture of scientific integrity within the department by inspiring scientific virtues and setting expectations for all elements of science and research. Approximately half of our employees are part of science and technology groups and more than 60% of our departmental spending is science-related.

NRCan research and science contributes to three main areas:

  1. Public Good
    • Supporting innovation in order to improve the economic and social well-being of Canadians.
    • Anticipating and responding to national priorities.
  2. Policy and Regulatory Frameworks
    • Supporting regulatory functions within the department and other governments.
    • Developing standards, codes, techniques, and guidance to support industry practices and ensure safety and well-being of Canadians.
    • Supporting innovation and pre-commercial technology developments.
  3. Expert Advice and Science Diplomacy
    • Providing expert advice and guidance to decision-makers, as well as assessments related to risk management.
    • Cooperating and collaborating internationally on natural resources issues.

Scientific integrity is the responsibility of all employees, and not just the scientists and researchers.

Role of NRCan and its Employees in Scientific Integrity

Federal scientists and researchers play a dual role as members of both the government and the scientific community. As such, they have to be responsive and accountable to the government and its needs, while also being held to the specific standards of science excellence of the wider scientific community. Further ensuring the scientific integrity related to that work is the responsibility of all employees, and not just that of the scientists and researchers.

Science at NRCan constitutes an integral part of the department and employees' work and the Scientific Integrity Policy is applicable to all our employees who:

  • Engage in, use, supervise, manage, or report on scientific activities;
  • Analyze and/or publicly communicate information resulting from scientific activities;
  • Utilize information derived from scientific activities in policy and decision-making; and
  • To the extent that is reasonable and feasible, to guest workers and other collaborators involved in NRCan's research activities.

What happens when there is a breach to the Scientific Integrity Policy?

  • As outlined in the SIP, the authority to address allegations of breaches to the Policy rests with the Scientific Integrity Lead, who will seek to ensure that concerns are assessed through a fair, impartial, and respectful process.
  • When concerns of a breach are brought to the attention of Scientific Integrity Lead, they will validate allegations and lead the assessment of wrongdoing, supported by relevant, impartial experts.    
  • While anyone is free to make their concerns known to the Scientific Integrity Lead, the objective of dealing with any allegation is to resolve the issue at the lowest level. Employees are encouraged to pursue informal resolutions to resolve potential misconduct, such as engaging in a dialogue or mediation, and managers/supervisors remain empowered to resolve concerns that are brought to their attention.
  • Filing a formal allegation of a breach with the Scientific Integrity Lead does not prevent an employee from availing themselves of the grievance procedures provided for in their collective agreement or the Code of Values and Ethics.

Contact us to find out more about scientific integrity at NRCan.

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