Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Science Integrity Policy

1. Effective date

1.1. This policy takes effect on January 1, 2019.

1.2 This policy will be regularly reviewed and revised as needed.

2. Context

2.1. This policy is issued pursuant to the May 15, 2017 and June 1, 2017 Memoranda of Agreement between the Treasury Board and the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) in Respect of Scientific Integrity.

3. Authorities

3.1. This policy should be read in consultation with the Values and Ethics Code for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canadafootnote 1, the Directive on the Management of Communicationsfootnote 2, as well as Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)'s Science Ethics Policy Framework and its Policy on Science and Technology Publications.

3.2. Where there is conflict or incompatibility between this Policy, and any legislation, provision of any relevant collective agreement, and/or mandatory policy instrument of the Treasury Board, the provisions of the legislation, the provisions of the Treasury Board mandatory policy instrument, and/or relevant collective agreement take precedence.

3.3. Where there is conflict or incompatibility between this Policy and a voluntary Policy instrument of the Treasury Board (that is guidelines or tools), the provisions of this Policy take precedence.

3.4. AAFC will maintain a record of all instances of conflict or incompatibility between this Policy and legislation, collective agreements, or Treasury Board policy instruments and/or AAFC policy instruments, and submit this record as part of the performance evaluation as per s. 7.9 of this Policy.

3.5. In consultation with the AAFC Consultation President of PIPSC, the Deputy Head has authority to support science integrity by establishing relevant and applicable standards for the design, conduct, management, review and communication of research and science within AAFC.

4. Objectives and expected results

4.1. The objectives of this Policy are to:

4.1.1. Foster a culture that supports and promotes scientific integrity in the design, conduct, management, review and communication of research, science, and related activities.

4.1.2. Increase public, employee and stakeholder trust in the credibility and reliability of AAFC research and scientific activities.

4.1.3. Set out expectations regarding the design, conduct, management, review and communication of research, science, and related activities.

4.1.4. Enhance employee understanding of the contributions of research and science to evidence-informed decision-making, as well as the role of managers, communication specialists, researchers and scientists in the development of government policy and advice.

4.2. The expected results of this Policy are that:

4.2.1. Employees involved in the design, conduct, management, review, use or communication of research, science, or related activities understand and conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the principles of scientific integrity.

4.2.2. AAFC is recognized by employees, stakeholders, and the public as a reliable and credible source of research and scientific information.

4.2.3. As appropriate and to the extent possible, allegations of breach of the principles of scientific integrity as defined in s. 6 are addressed through a fair, impartial, efficient, confidential and respectful process.

4.2.4. Employees understand and seek to enhance the contributions of research and science to science advice, government policy and evidence-informed decision-making.

5. Application

5.1. This Policy applies to AAFC employees who design, conduct, communicate, manage, review or make use of AAFC research, science or related activities, as well as non-AAFC employees who make use of AAFC facilities, research, science or related activities (for example, visiting scientists and students, contractors, collaborators).

5.2 Nothing in this policy supersedes any relevant collective agreements. Neither does the policy extend provisions of relevant collective agreements to employees not subject to those agreements.

6. Scientific integrity principles

6.1. AAFC recognizes that stakeholder trust in the research and scientific information provided by governments depends upon the integrity of the process by which such information is produced, managed and communicated. The same holds true for trust in the decision-making process that makes use of such information.

6.2. Furthermore, AAFC recognizes that scientists and researchers must uphold and conform to standards of excellence accepted by the wider research and scientific community.

6.3. To this end, in designing, conducting, managing, reviewing, using or communicating research, science and related activities, AAFC employees shall:

6.3.1. Ensure that all such activities are carried out in a manner that is consistent with all relevant and applicable standards of scientific excellence, research ethics, and responsible research conduct.

6.3.2. Ensure that the conduct of AAFC research and science and any research or scientific products, as well as any associated communications, are free from political, commercial, client and stakeholder interference.

6.3.3. In the absence of clear and compelling reasons for limiting disclosure, ensure that research and scientific information produced by AAFC are made available to the public in a timely manner and in keeping with the Government of Canada's Directive on Open Government.

6.3.4. Accurately represent and appropriately acknowledge the contributions of both themselves and others to their research or scientific work.

6.3.5. Avoid conflicts of interest, and ensure that any real, potential or apparent conflict of interest is explicitly recognized, reported and appropriately managed.

6.3.6. Encourage discussion based on differing interpretations of research and scientific evidence as a legitimate and necessary part of the research and scientific processes and, where appropriate, ensure that these differences are made explicit and accurately represented.

6.3.7. Ensure that the significant and meaningful contribution of researchers and scientists to government programs, policies, regulations, and decision-making is acknowledged in official publications or communications, including the names and roles of those who made significant contributions to these products and activities.

6.3.8. Report any breach of these principles (that is, a breach of scientific integrity) to their supervisor, manager, AAFC's Science Integrity Lead, or the chair of the AAFC Science Ethics Committee, as appropriate.

7. Requirements

7.1. Implementation

7.1.1. This Policy will be communicated to all employees by the Deputy Head.

7.1.2. AAFC will continue to develop and implement the additional procedures, policies, guidelines, tools, training and professional development opportunities necessary to support this Policy.

7.1.3. AAFC will ensure that contractors and/or collaborators involved in, or providing services in support of, research, science or related activities are informed of this policy and are expected to respect its provisions and intent.

7.2. Fostering a culture of science integrity

AAFC recognizes two complementary approaches to fostering a culture of scientific integrity. One focuses on instilling the virtues that underlie responsible conduct in research, science and related activities (s. 7.2.1). A second focuses on the procedure for bringing allegations of breaches forward, the investigation of these allegations, and the consequences of a finding that a breach has occurred (s. 7.2.2).

7.2.1. Science virtues

In accordance with relevant collective agreements and the TBS Policy on Learning, Training and Developmentfootnote 3.

7.2.1.1. AAFC recognizes the importance of research networking with national and international peers and active participation in the business and organization of relevant scientific and professional societies, which form an important part of ensuring scientists and researchers understand and are held to the standards of their communities.

7.2.1.2. AAFC recognizes the importance of the virtues underlying scientific excellence, including intellectual curiosity and honesty, constructive skepticism, meticulousness, avoidance of bias, humility in the discovery and use of science evidence, and the limitations of scientific inquiry. To this end, it will ensure that learning policies support training, education and professional development opportunities that allow employees to further their understanding of, and appreciation for, these virtues.

7.2.1.3. AAFC will ensure its learning policies support training, education, and professional development opportunities to inform and educate employees about responsible conduct in research, research ethics, and the annotation, management and archiving of research and scientific data.

7.2.2. Breaches of scientific integrity

7.2.2.1. In cases of alleged breaches of scientific integrity, employees at all levels shall seek to resolve the issue in a fair and respectful manner and consider informal processes such as, dialogue or mediation. In such cases, employees are encouraged to discuss and resolve these matters with their immediate supervisor. They can also seek advice and support from other appropriate sources within AAFC, such as, the Science Ethics Committee (SEC) or the Science Integrity Lead.

7.2.2.2. The Deputy Head will appoint a Science Integrity Lead to address allegations of breaches of this Policy.

7.2.2.3. The Science Integrity Lead will promptly and thoroughly review and investigate alleged breaches of this Policy.

7.2.2.4. AAFC will endeavor to protect personal information and otherwise provide safeguards to ensure that employees may bring forward, in good faith, allegations of breach of scientific integrity or participate in an investigation procedure without prejudice or fear of reprisal.

7.2.2.5. When public servants have information that could indicate a serious breach of the Values and Ethics Code for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada they can avail themselves of the procedures laid out in the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Actfootnote 4.

7.3. Openness, transparency and timeliness

7.3.1. AAFC recognizes and understands the importance of openness and transparency regarding all elements of the research and scientific process as well as the timely release of scientific and research information. It nonetheless also recognizes that there may be legitimate and compelling reasons that may limit the disclosure or availability of research or scientific information to employees, stakeholders or the public.

7.3.2. This policy, as well as any associated policies, directives or guidelines, will be posted on AAFC's public website in permission-less downloadable form, in both HTML and PDF formats.

7.3.3. As the current policy and any associated policies, guidelines or tools are amended and revised, AAFC will maintain an annotated electronic archive of all such changes, with all archive elements available in permission-less downloadable form.

7.3.4. No AAFC employee shall suppress, alter or otherwise impede the timely release of research or scientific information in the absence of clear and compelling reasons for doing so.

7.3.5. AAFC employees shall ensure that research and scientific information (including that produced by contractors, or other partners who participate in, or assist with, the design, conduct, use or management of research, science or related activities) is produced and disseminated in a timely and transparent manner, in the absence of clear and compelling reasons for not doing so.

7.4. Public communication of research and scientific information

7.4.1. AAFC recognizes the right to freedom of expression by researchers and scientists on matters of research or science. It also recognizes the important role of researchers and scientists in communicating research and scientific information to the public.

7.4.2 Moreover, AAFC recognizes that as public servants, scientists, researchers and indeed all employees are subject to the Values and Ethics Code for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada as adopted April 2, 2012. It further recognizes the need for caution and prudence in the public communication of classified or sensitive scientific or research information, as well as existing legal constraints on information disclosure. Finally, AAFC recognizes that effective public communication requires certain skills, and that researchers and scientists may have different degrees of comfort with public fora.

7.4.3. Researchers, scientistsfootnote 5, and subject matter experts shall have the right, and are encouraged, to speak about or otherwise express themselves on their science and their research without approval and/or without being designated as an official spokesperson. However, researchers, scientists and subject matter experts do require approval to speak on matters of policy, or policy implications of their science or their research. In either case, they must respect the information disclosure provisions of the Access to Information Actfootnote 6, and the Values and Ethics Code for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

7.4.4. In any public communications, employees must be familiar with and respect any legal restrictions on information disclosure such as, privacy rights, matters before the courts, and cabinet confidences. They must also respect the Values and Ethics Code for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and the Access to Information Act. Unless explicit approval to do so has been given by supervisors or managers, research, or scientific information that is classified or sensitive shall not be discussed in any public communication.

7.4.5. In the case of planned formal public communication events with sufficiently long lead times (for example, public talks, and lectures), employees should provide the title of the presentation and a brief summary to their manager/supervisor for information purposes only and without prejudice.

7.4.6. In the case of formal public communication events with short lead times (for example, media calls, and interviews) that effectively preclude prior notification, employees should notify their supervisor/manager, as well as Public Affairs Branch, as soon as possible after the event for information purposes only and without prejudice.

7.4.7. Pursuant to s. 7.4.4 and 7.4.5, AAFC will ensure that employees are provided with guidelines consistent with relevant collective agreements and the Directive on the Management of Communications, to assist them in determining the types of public communications for which supervisor/manager notification is desirable or required, and the appropriate timing and form of any such notifications.

7.4.8. Researchers and scientists are under no obligation to act as public AAFC subject matter experts or appear in public fora, and may decline any such invitation or request without prejudice, unless explicitly assigned this task by management.

7.4.9. Any public communication that describes work conducted by researchers or scientists must be reviewed and approved by them or their designates before publication or dissemination, as required by the AAFC publication policy and the Science Ethics Policy Framework.

7.4.10. Researchers and scientists are encouraged to participate in media training provided by AAFC, but this is not a requirement for them to express themselves about their science or their research.

7.4.11. Where a researcher or scientist is speaking in the role of an official spokesperson, or subject matter expert, they must identify themselves by name and position.

7.5. Dissemination of research and scientific findings

7.5.1. AAFC recognizes that communication among researchers and scientists is critical to the development of scientific and scholarly knowledge. Moreover, AAFC acknowledges that its researchers and scientists are part of a global community of scientific and scholarly expertise. The contribution of AAFC's research is critical to maintaining and enhancing the credibility and reputation of AAFC experts, the reputation and credibility of AAFC, and the contribution of AAFC to the knowledge economy.

7.5.2 As with public communications, researchers or scientists disseminating or communicating information through research or scientific media are subject to, and bound by, the Access to Information Act, the Values and Ethics Code for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and must abide by Treasury Board of Canada's Directive on the Management of Communication where it does not conflict with the relevant collective agreements. To this end, AAFC must have publication approval processes that are compatible with the relevant collective agreements. Approval to publish will not be unreasonably withheld.

7.5.3. AAFC scientists must follow the polices and guidelines in the Policy on Science and Technical Publications.

7.6. Contributions to the scientific community

7.6.1. AAFC recognizes that the participation of AAFC researchers and scientists in the global scholarly community depends upon domestic and international collaboration and partnerships. Such collaborations and partnerships provide important opportunities for AAFC researchers and scientists to leverage their expertise, knowledge and infrastructure in developing research and scientific knowledge to the benefit of Canadians. To this end, AAFC will:

7.6.1.1. Encourage and facilitate domestic and international research or scientific collaborations and partnerships among AAFC researchers and scientists and the external research and development communities in universities and colleges; provincial, territorial or indigenous governments; industry and business; and civil society.

7.6.1.2. Make a reasonable effort to appropriately resource participation in relevant scientific and professional societies, working committees, conferences, workshops and symposia identified by both researchers and scientists as well as management.

7.6.1.3. Make a reasonable effort to ensure appropriate engagement or participation of researchers and scientists in international science and research-based fora of which Canada is a formal member.

7.6.2. Furthermore, AAFC encourages activities related to collaboration with the extramural research and development communities, including the appointment of AAFC researchers and scientists to adjunct professorships.

7.7. Role of employees in science advice and evidence-informed decision-making

7.7.1. AAFC recognizes that researchers and scientists have important roles to play in providing advice that informs federal programs, policy, regulations and law. Research and scientific findings are an important source of evidence that must be appropriately considered in evidence-informed decision-making.

7.7.2 Moreover, researchers and scientists have an important role to play in providing advice not only on the research required to resolve today's issues, but also to identify emerging scientific and technical issues, research directions and opportunities.

7.7.3. To this end and in consultation with PIPSC representatives, AAFC will develop and deploy transparent and systematic mechanisms and procedures for:

7.7.3.1 Gathering, evaluating and incorporating scientific advice into the AAFC policy and regulatory decision-making process.

7.7.3.2 Engaging employees in the design, development, and evaluation of robust and resilient research programs that will be able to meet the research needs of the future.

7.7.3.3. Identifying and prioritizing areas of federal authority for which the current federal science or research capacity is inadequate or where federal investment in research and development is likely to provide substantial benefits to Canadians.

7.7.4. In addition, AAFC will:

7.7.4.1. Support training and professional development opportunities devoted to the roles of science and research in developing evidence to support evidence-informed decision-making. Such opportunities may be made available to all employees who engage in, supervise, manage, support, review, use or report on research and scientific activities; analyze, curate or communicate data or information generated by these activities; and/or seek to use information derived from these activities in decision-making.

7.8. Responsible conduct of research

7.8.1. AAFC is committed to ensuring that AAFC research and science conforms to the highest standards of responsible research conduct and shall strive to follow the relevant and applicable research practices honestly, accountably, openly and fairly in the development and dissemination of research and scientific knowledge.

7.8.2. Scientific integrity involves the application of concepts of transparency, openness, high quality work, avoidance of conflict of interest and plagiarism/self-plagiarism, and ensuring high standards of impartiality and research ethics. Employees involved in science or research shall conform to the standards of responsible research. Such standards are contained in AAFC's Science Ethics Policy Framework (SEPF). Research involving humans or animals is governed by the Human Research Ethics Committee and must conform with the Tri-council principles and procedures as specified in the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humansfootnote 7 and the Canadian Council on Animal Care Guide to the Care and Use of Experimental Animals (PDF)footnote 8, respectively.

7.9. Monitoring and performance evaluation

7.9.1. AAFC will regularly review this and associated policies, guidelines or tools to ensure they remain relevant and seek employee and applicable bargaining agent input and feedback on the implementation of this Policy and provide performance indicators as practical.

7.9.2. In consultation with the Office of the Chief Science Advisor (OCSA) and PIPSC representatives, AAFC will design, develop and implement a monitoring plan for this Policy within 12 months of it coming into force, that will provide information on (a) the extent to which the policy has achieved its objectives (that is, policy performance); and (b) future policy and associated instrument (for example, guidelines, directives, etc.) adjustments, modifications or changes likely to improve policy performance. Any such plan must have regard for other government initiatives or circumstances that may affect estimated performance independent of, or in concert with, the Policy.

7.9.2.1. This plan will explicitly identify (a) the performance indicators that will be monitored; (b) how the data on these indicators will be collected, annotated and curated; (c) how performance baselines will be characterized; (d) how changes from baseline will be estimated and evaluated.

7.9.2.2. A copy of all data and information collected as part of the monitoring plan will be forwarded annually to the Office of the Chief Science Advisor (OCSA), the appropriate National Union-Management Consultation Committee and the Governance Committee for Implementation of Government-Wide Scientific Integrity Policy comprised of the Secretary of the Treasury Board, the Chief Science Advisor and the President of PIPSC.

8. Responsibilities

Deputy Head

The Deputy Head (DH) and its delegates are responsible for fostering an environment that encourages excellence and integrity in research, science and related activities, and for promoting a culture of open communication where employees may disclose, in good faith, information concerning breaches of scientific integrity. The DH is also responsible for:

  • ensuring that this Policy is communicated to all employees;
  • monitoring compliance with this Policy within AAFC and taking corrective action as needed;
  • performance evaluation of this Policy;
  • providing an annual confirmation of the compliance and reporting with this Policy as requested by the Governance Committee for Implementation of Government-Wide Scientific Integrity Policy and in 7.9.2.2.

Science Integrity Lead

The Science Integrity Lead is responsible for:

  • implementing this policy for the department.
  • promptly and thoroughly investigating alleged breaches of this policy.
  • recommending any remedial actions resulting from breaches of this policy.
  • regularly reviewing this policy and reporting on its implementation to the Deputy Head.

Directors General, directors, managers and supervisors

Directors general, directors, managers and supervisors are responsible for implementation of this Policy. Such responsibilities include:

  • informing employees about this Policy and ensuring that they are aware of their rights and responsibilities and obligations under the Policy;
  • ensuring compliance with this Policy, providing to employees information about the processes available to them if they wish to make an allegation under this Policy, and addressing all allegations of breach of scientific integrity that are brought to their attention or of which they are aware;
  • ensuring that employees are aware of professional development and training opportunities that may be available in support of this Policy.

Specific responsibilities will be articulated in procedures and guidelines that will be developed to support this Policy.

AAFC employees who conduct research, science or related activities

All AAFC employees involved in the design, conduct, management, review, use or communication of research, science or related activities, and all persons conducting research, science or related activities under the auspices of AAFC will have primary responsibility for:

  • ensuring their behavior and conduct conforms to the principles of scientific integrity;
  • ensuring that they design, conduct, manage, review, use or communicate research or science in a manner fully consistent with this Policy;
  • reporting a suspected breach of scientific integrity as soon as possible; and
  • participating in good faith in any inquiry or investigation conducted pursuant to this Policy.

9. Definitions

Alteration (of a scientific or research work):
any change in the form or content of a research or scientific work that may affect the interpretation of the work and/or its implications.
Breach (of scientific integrity):
failure to abide by any of the provisions described in s. 6 or s. 7 of this Policy.
Classified or sensitive research or scientific information:
research or scientific information that would normally be considered to be exempt from disclosure under the Access to Information Act.
Clear and compelling reasons (for withholding publication of scientific or research information):
legitimate reasons include, but are not limited to: (a) disclosure of such information is exempt under the Access to Information Act or the Security of Information Act; (b) technical or technological constraints limit or prevent making the information available.
Client:
any person, institution or organization, whether internal or external to government, who is the recipient and/or user of research or scientific data, products, services or information, and who is involved with establishing the question or topic of the research or scientific work in question.
Collaborator:
any person, organization or institution with whom/which an AAFC employee undertakes the design, conduct, management, review or communication of research, science, or related activities and who/which does not receive direct or indirect remuneration.
Communication (of science):
science communication involves any exchange of scientific or research information (including research results and interpretations thereof, methods, protocols, data, and products) in any form, between or among researchers or scientists (science and research producers) and the consumers or users of this information, including the public, other scientists or researchers, other government employees, and clients.
Compelling evidence:
evidence of sufficient strength to convince the decision-maker that it is likely that the claim for which the evidence is adduced is true.
Deputy Head:
as defined in section 11(1) of the Financial Administration Act.
Employee:
this is in most cases to be interpreted broadly to cover all employees within a department or agency, all of whom have a greater or lesser role to play in the scientific integrity procedures described in this Policy.
Interference:
any action that alters or suppresses the work or the impartiality of a scientist or researcher, as understood within the Values and Ethics Code for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Interference also includes alteration or inappropriate suppression of research methodology and results or dissuasion of reporting of results by any party, including clients.
Related activity:
any activity that (a) supports science or research (for example, laboratory operations and management; infrastructure (including information and communication infrastructure); (b) uses research or scientific information as an input (for example, solicitation or preparation of science advice; evaluation of research or scientific evidence); (c) involves the curation, communication or archiving of scientific or research data or information.
Research:
any undertaking intended to extend knowledge through a disciplined inquiry or systematic investigation. For the purposes of this policy, research does not include social, economic, public opinion or other analysis conducted for policy development purposesfootnote 9.
Researcher:
employees primarily involved in the application of comprehensive scientific and professional knowledge to the planning, conduct, evaluation and management of fundamental or applied research, knowledge enhancement, technology development and innovation relevant to defense science, historical research and archival science, mathematics and the natural sciences. (N.B. These definitions follow the RE occupational group definition for the public servicefootnote 10.
Science:
the pursuit and application of knowledge and understanding of the natural world through application of one or more elements of the scientific method. In the context of the current policy, it is understood to include both fundamental and applied natural, physical, biomedical and social science, as well as engineering and mathematicsfootnote 11.
Scientific integrity:
the condition resulting from adherence to concepts of transparency, openness, high quality work, avoidance of conflict of interest and ensuring high standards of impartiality and research ethics.
Scientist:
employees primarily involved in the application of comprehensive scientific and professional knowledge to the planning, conduct, evaluation and management of fundamental research, knowledge enhancement, technology development, and innovation relevant to natural sciences (SE) or to one of the applied science programs involving actuarial science, agriculture, biology, chemistry, forestry, meteorology or physical sciences, which include physics, planetary and earth sciences, scientific regulation and patents (SP)footnote 12.
Suppression (of a scientific or research work):
the deliberate withholding of a scientific or research work, or any portion thereof, from publication or dissemination, in the absence of clear and compelling reasons for doing so.
Timely manner:
within a time frame that is consistent with usual review and approval processes, and consistent with logistical and resource constraints. The AAFC or external collaborators may impose reasonable embargo periods to respect the right of a principal investigator to first publication.

10. Enquiries

For further information on this policy, contact aafc.scienceintegrity-integritescientifique.aac@canada.ca.

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