Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Science Ethics Policy Framework
Effective Date: March 1, 2019
If you have questions about the internal documents mentioned below, contact the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Science Integrity section at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Integrity in Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's (AAFC) science and technology branch is essential to maintain public confidence and to enhance the reputation of AAFC as a research organization. It is vital that the Canadian public has confidence in the research that comes from AAFC laboratories or that involves AAFC scientists. Accordingly, it is essential that AAFC, as a science-based government department engaged in scientific research and related scientific activities, establish and make public its policy on an ethical framework within which all scientific activity is conducted. Responsible conduct in scientific activities is important to AAFC and its employees. The Science and Technology Branch (STB) community is expected to adhere to the rigorous standards required of scientific investigation, and to the values of the Canadian federal public sector as expressed in the Values and Ethics Code for AAFC.
The Science Ethics Policy Framework (SEPF) provides further guidance and support for STB employees conducting and managing science in all their professional activities. The SEPF sets out the principles and guidelines that govern the conduct of employees involved directly and indirectly in conducting and managing science, and affirms AAFC's commitment to the highest standard of integrity in its science and technology activities.
This policy outlines the basic standards and measures that should be understood and incorporated in everyday activities to ensure responsible conduct in research, technology and other activities covered under related policies such as AAFC’s Science Integrity Policy, and the Policy on Science and Technology Publications.
The objectives of the AAFC Science Ethics Policy Framework (SEPF) are to:
- Foster a high standard of ethical practice, while providing standards and guidelines for ethical conduct, among all AAFC STB employees conducting and managing science and scientific activities or developing science policy.
- Promote awareness of the importance of integrity and transparency in research and discourage research misconduct and questionable research practices through education and awareness.
- Provide guidance concerning issues that should be considered during the conception, development, completion, dissemination, and review of research to ensure accountability and transparency.
- Provide review and redress mechanisms to address issues related to the ethics of scientific research.
- Strengthen the respect and trust of partners, research organizations, the scientific and communities, Parliament, and the public, to maintain and enhance public confidence in the integrity of AAFC science.
- Help AAFC generate reliable information for the best decision making.
1.3 AAFC Vision, Mission and Mandate
- Driving innovation and ingenuity to build a world-leading agricultural and food economy for the benefit of all Canadians.
- AAFC provides leadership in the growth and development of a competitive, innovative and sustainable Canadian agriculture and agri-food sector.
- AAFC provides information, research and technology, and policies and programs to achieve an environmentally-sustainable agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector, a competitive agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector that proactively manages risk, and an innovative agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector.
This policy applies to all employees, AAFC partners and non-employees conducting scientific research under AAFC-approved collaborative research, development and technology activities within STB, or using AAFC facilities to conduct scientific research.
STB employees who do not meet or comply with the standards set out in the framework may be subject to disciplinary measures up to and including termination of employment. Third parties who do not meet or comply with the standards set out in this policy may face sanctions including non-renewal or termination of agreements.
1.5 Roles and Responsibilities
All activities of AAFC STB employees involved in conducting and managing science should be consistent with this policy. All AAFC employees should also be aware of their responsibilities under other laws, regulations, policies and procedures. Some of the other related policies and procedures are listed in Annex A.
The Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) STB through appropriate delegated officials will:
- Implement and administer the provisions of the SEPF;
- Promote awareness of the policy and ethical issues through mandatory education and training;
- Ensure that employees, at all levels, who conduct and manage science have access to ethical guidance and training;
- Help facilitate the resolution of disputes concerning matters dealt with in the SEPF;
- Take seriously all reports of non-compliance with the SEPF, and handle suspected violations in accordance with the procedures outlined in the SEPF;
- Address any alleged non-compliance of which he or she becomes aware, whether or not a formal complaint has been made. This applies to situations that involve employees as well as other non-AAFC participants in AAFC publicly-funded research projects, or using AAFC facilities to conduct scientific research;
- Endeavour to protect the rights and needs of persons who are accused of misconduct or mismanagement of the natural or applied scientific research process;
- Protect the rights and security of those who report a potential misconduct or mismanagement of the scientific research process.
AAFC STB Employees will:
- Comply with this policy;
- Report instances of suspected misconduct as outlined in the framework;
- Protect the integrity of research conducted at AAFC and preserve its reputation;
- Address issues related to ethics in accordance with the provision of the policy;
- Cooperate in any inquiry/investigation conducted by AAFC;
- Promote awareness of the importance of integrity and ethical conduct. This includes making sure non-AAFC participants in AAFC publicly-funded natural or applied scientific research projects are aware of the SEPF, as appropriate.
AAFC partners and non-employees
This policy applies to all AAFC partners and non-employees conducting scientific research under AAFC-approved collaborative research, development and technology activities within the STB, or using AAFC facilities to conduct scientific research. As such, relevant aspects of the SEPF must be outlined in all third-party agreements.
Non-STB Employees will:
- Agree to comply with the SEPF in all agreements for research under AAFC approved collaborative research, development and technology activities within the STB, or when using AAFC facilities to conduct scientific research (see article 7.1);
- Comply with the framework;
- Report instances of suspected misconduct as outlined in the policy;
- Protect the integrity of research conducted at AAFC and preserve its reputation;
- Address issues related to ethics in accordance with the provision of the framework;
- Cooperate in any inquiry/investigation conducted by AAFC;
- Promote awareness of the importance of integrity and ethical conduct.
2. Principles and Guidelines
This section sets out the principles and guidelines that apply to all AAFC STB employees as well as to partners and non-employees who are conducting scientific research under AAFC-approved collaborative research, development and technology activities and/or using AAFC facilities to conduct scientific research.
2.1 General Principles
2.1.1 Performance of Science
- Pursue and promote science that is consistent with government priorities; the AAFC vision, mission, and mandate; and STB’s science strategies.
- Ensure that science, including scientific advice, is based on sound scientific principles, accepted methodologies and professional standards.
2.1.2 Professional Conduct
- Promote and maintain the highest standards of honesty and integrity in the gathering, analysis and publication of data and research materials.
- Acknowledge appropriately and adequately the published and unpublished work of others.
- Acknowledge appropriately and adequately their own previously published work, and avoid self-plagiarism.
- Conduct, discuss, manage, judge, and report science honestly, thoroughly, and without conflict of interest and in a manner that does not hinder the research of others.
- Encourage constructive criticism of individual scientific work in a manner that fosters quality and advancement of science.
- Recognize significant contributions by other persons to original ideas as well as past and present contributors to scientific work, and not accept or claim unwarranted credit for the accomplishments of others, including technical assistance.
- Ensure objectivity, fairness, and integrity when conducting expert reviews of manuscripts, grants, proposals and other items.
- Avoid situations that may cause members of the public to lose confidence in the neutrality, objectivity, and impartiality of AAFC.
- In accordance with the Values and Ethics Code for AAFC, employees shall not accept or solicit any gifts, hospitality or other benefits that may have a real or apparent influence on their objectivity in carrying out their official duties or that may place them under obligation to the donor. For details and more specific guidance, employees should consult the Values and Ethics Code for AAFC, specifically sections on “Gifts, hospitality and other benefits” and “Offers of funded travel from a third party”.
- Employees should not offer any assistance to entities or persons that have dealings with the Government of Canada, where this assistance is not part of their official duties, without obtaining prior authorization from their designated superior and complying with the conditions of that authorization. Further, employees should not step out of their official roles to assist private entities or persons in their dealings with the Government of Canada where this would result in preferential treatment to the entities or persons.
- Employees should discuss with management and the Values and Ethics Office prior to running for or accepting office in scientific societies, positions on boards, etc., to avoid issues with respect to liability, conflict of interest, etc.
2.1.3 Selection of Scientific Research
- Select scientific research that supports the departmental vision and mandate, and science strategies.
- Ensure that scientific research is ethically sound and is consistent with the principles enunciated in the SEPF.
- Consider and avoid obvious or potential ethical issues and risks in planning and conducting research, and the subsequent dissemination and application of research results.
- The primary responsibility for ensuring the ethical soundness of scientific research rests with the individual(s) performing the research.
2.2 General Guidelines
2.2.1 Ethics Risks
AAFC employees involved in conducting and managing science will:
- Identify any obvious or potential ethics-related issues and risks in their research proposals and other science activities;
- Where necessary, seek policy direction on issues not clearly covered by the SEPF or the Values and Ethics Code for AAFC;
- Identify any new and emerging issues in their science and research activities and seek policy direction on these ethical issues and risks in accordance with the SEPF and the Values and Ethics Code for AAFC.
2.2.2 Environmental Impact
All natural or applied research that may affect the environment is subject to governing legislation, including the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. In addition, the stewardship value in the Values and Ethics Code for AAFC specifies that public servants must use resources responsibly, including by considering the present and long-term effects their actions will have on people and the environment. Appropriate caution must be exercised in the conduct of research that raises environmental issues, and all research must comply with AAFC’s Biosafety, Biosecurity and Biocontainment policies and guidelines. AAFC research with living organisms must be conducted in an appropriate containment laboratory in accordance with federal legislation. For organisms that pose a risk to human and animal health (e.g., Level 2 or 3 organisms), the appropriate legislation is the Human Pathogens and Toxins Act (PDF). For organisms that pose a risk to plant health, the appropriate legislation is the Plant Protection Act.
2.2.3 Research Involving Human Subjects and Animals
Research involving human subjects must:
- Be reviewed by the AAFC Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) and approved by the AAFC Science Ethics Committee (SEC) in accordance with the provisions of the SEPF;
- Be conducted in a manner that respects the rights of the human subjects;
- Conform to generally-accepted scientific principles, rules and guidelines, government policies, statutes, and regulations;
- Be based on a thorough knowledge of the scientific literature, other relevant sources of information, and on adequate laboratory experimentation;
- Be consistent with the highest standards as articulated in the most recent version of the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct of Research Involving Humans.
Research involving animal subjects must conform to generally-accepted scientific principles and must be consistent with the guidelines of the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC). Research involving animal subjects must be evaluated and approved by an animal care committee as provided for in the CCAC guidelines.
2.2.4 Collaborative Science/Research
- Adhere to the mandate of AAFC and the public service, and must contribute to the goals of the Department and serve the public interest;
- Be designed to provide benefit to both the Department and the partner(s);
- Adhere to the highest standards of integrity and not compromise or appear to compromise the objectivity of the Department;
- Adhere to governing principles, standards, policies, guidelines, legislation and regulations;
- Ensure that all collaborative research could withstand public scrutiny with respect to scientific ethics and integrity, even projects requiring confidentiality (e.g. due to trade secrets).
Research as a Service and Third party Activity
- Third parties who rent or use AAFC research facilities to carry out any type of scientific research must adhere to the principles and guidelines enunciated in this policy, during the conduct of research activities in AAFC facilities. This policy must be brought to their attention.
- Scientific service and third party research activities must be conducted in accordance with the generally accepted scientific principles, standards, policies, guidelines, legislation and regulations.
- All scientific research carried out as a service and third-party activity must be able to withstand public scrutiny, in accordance with the Values and Ethics Code for AAFC, the AAFC Directive for Assessing Memberships on External Boards of Directors, and the AAFC Directive for Assessing Offers of Travel Funded by a Third Party.
2.2.5 Openness and Transparency
It is AAFC policy, subject to law, including the Access to Information Act, that:
- Descriptions of all publicly-funded research projects must be publicly available. This may take the form of open access publications or plain language summaries, or may be limited to project titles only where confidentiality is required (e.g. research involving trade secrets).
- Results of publicly-funded research should be published or made available through reports and/or web sites as appropriate, after consideration of intellectual property (IP) protection if necessary;
- Contributions of all parties in collaborations must be acknowledged through authorship and/or acknowledgments as appropriate;
- Primary responsibility for providing information/disclosure to the Department rests with employees responsible for the research project;
- AAFC employees must bring this policy to the attention of non-AAFC participants in AAFC publicly-funded research projects, as appropriate.
- Scientific publications must be submitted to the on-line Science Publication System (accessible only on the Government of Canada network) upon publication, as per the instructions at this site and in the AAFC Policy on Science and Technology Publications.
2.2.6 Application of Research and Development Results
- Research and development results shall be subject to peer review and must be interpreted using sound judgment and with careful attention to all observations that deviate from original hypotheses.
- Results provided in research reports to partners must undergo internal review to ensure they meet high professional standards.
- The highest standards of honesty and integrity in the publication of data and results must be promoted and maintained.
- All science project proposals or experimental protocols must identify potential applications of any new research in accordance with established AAFC procedures.
- Assessment of new scientific research results should identify benefits, impacts and any ethical implications of the new research.
2.2.7 Provision of Scientific Advice
- The provision of all scientific advice must be subject to due diligence to ensure integrity, quality, objectivity and reliability.
- All advisors must clearly distinguish scientific fact and judgment from their personal views in formulating their advice.
2.2.8 Data management (collection, acquisition, and interpretation)
Research records (such as lab books and electronic data sets) are the property of AAFC, and must be made available on demand for consultation, audit or investigation. AAFC employees involved in conducting and managing science must follow all Government of Canada and AAFC guidelines to ensure the integrity of scientific research data and the research records. This should include, but is not limited to:
- Adopting accepted and proper methods for record keeping, electronic data collection and storage, and for acquiring and maintaining research data and research records;
- Ensuring that data capture and storage are compliant with the Canadian Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act;
- Recording the results of research in a form that will allow continuous access for analysis and review;
- Organizing data and records in a manner that allows ready verification;
- Retaining all original data and research for a reasonable length of time prior to archiving. A period of at least seven years from the date of publication is recommended;
- Ensuring that any records, including research records, under the control of AAFC are not disposed of or destroyed without the consent of the Archivist as required by section 5 of the Library and Archives of Canada Act;
- Ensuring compliance with the Policy on Government Security and the Policy on Service and Digital and the Directive on Service and Digital;
- Making data publically available, as appropriate, to comply with the Government of Canada Open Government and Open Data policies.
Authorship shall be based on significant contribution to the conceptualization, design, execution, and/or interpretation of the research study, as well as a willingness to assume responsibility for the study. It must be avoided for persons who have not made significant research contributions to the work being published. See Annex A.
2.2.10 Intellectual Property
It is the responsibility of all AAFC employees to:
- Ensure that they comply with the Public Servants Inventions Act;
- Declare at the time they accept their offer of employment with AAFC any intellectual property in which they claim ownership that was developed before they joined AAFC;
- Declare at any time during their employment with AAFC, continued involvement in any intellectual property in which they claim ownership that was developed before they joined AAFC;
- Report their scientific discovery or innovation through an invention disclosure, as regulated by the Public Servants Inventions Act and according to AAFC Invention Disclosure Process Office of Intellectual Property and Commercialization;
- Ensure that technologies that have potential for intellectual property protection through patents or trade secret are maintained in confidence, and any results having any commercial value are not published in any format including posters or conference presentations until IP protection is in place, or a confidentiality agreement is in place.
- Ownership of inventions: The ownership interests of inventions, including new plant varieties developed by AAFC plant breeders, are governed by the Public Servants Inventions Act. Any intellectual property developed by AAFC scientists during the course of employment or while acting within the scope of their duties is the property of Government of Canada, pursuant to section 3 of the Public Servants Inventions Act.
- Ownership of copyright: The copyright interest of AAFC employees in all publications for which they have authorship is owned by the Crown, in accordance with section 12 of the Copyright Act. In the case of collaboration with non-AAFC authors on publications that may or may not be under the direction or control of AAFC, those outside authors would be owners of their copyright interests in the publication; Crown copyright would apply only for the AAFC authors.
- Affiliation: The first affiliation of an AAFC author must be with AAFC regardless of the author’s other affiliations with universities, colleges or other bodies, to ensure the copyrights are owned by the Crown.
- Copyright Release/Copyright Permission: AAFC employees do not have the authority to sign copyright forms or other agreements with respect to Crown copyright. This can only be done by authorized personnel, currently Associate Directors of Research, Development and Technology (AD-RDTs). The lead AAFC author, who may or may not be the corresponding author on the publication, is responsible for ensuring the appropriate copyright release and copyright permissions procedures are carried out to secure Crown-owned copyright.
For more information about copyright, please refer to the AAFC Policy on Science and Technology Publications. For assistance with respect to intellectual property and copyright issues, STB employees should contact the OIPC.
2.2.11 Technology Transfer for Commercialization
Due diligence must be exercised by employees in developing agreements for transfer of technology for commercialization, ensuring the Government of Canada’s intellectual property rights are fully protected and that AAFC receives an adequate return on investment.
3. Research and Development Misconduct
Research and Development misconduct is taken here to mean fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or other practices that seriously deviate from those that are commonly accepted within the scientific community for proposing, conducting, reporting, or reviewing research and development. It does not include honest errors or honest differences in the interpretation of data. Misconduct in research and development is constituted by a failure to comply with the provisions of this and, without limiting the generality of this section, includes:
- The fabrication or falsification of data;
- Plagiarism, which means the presentation of the documented words of another as their own, without attribution appropriate for the medium of presentation;
- Self-plagiarism, which is the use of an author’s own previous work in another context without adequately citing it;
- Using any information in breach of any duty of confidentiality associated with the review of any manuscript or grant application;
- Intentionally omitting reference to the relevant published work of others for the purpose of inferring personal discovery of new information;
- Misleading ascription of authorship to a publication including the listing of authors without their permission;
- Attributing work to others who have not in fact contributed to the research and development;
- The lack of appropriate acknowledgment of work primarily produced by a research and development student/trainee or associate;
- Interference with any research- and development-related property of another person, including without limitation the apparatus, reagents, biological materials, writings, data, hardware, software, or any other substance or device used or produced in the conduct of research;
- Misrepresentation, as in stating or presenting a material or significant falsehood;
- Misrepresentation, as in omitting a fact so that what is stated or presented as a whole states or presents a material or significant falsehood.
4. Science Ethics Committee
The ADM STB shall establish a Science Ethics Committee (SEC) to provide policy direction on ethical issues affecting AAFC science and to review and assess the decisions of science ethics subcommittees (SESCs) related to the following:
- Ethical risks associated with science projects and scientific activities (including research involving human subjects);
- New or emerging science ethics policy issues;
- Application of the AAFC STB Science Ethics Policy Framework (SEPF), and disputes related to non-compliance with the SEPF;
- Allegations of ethical misconduct in scientific practice.
The mandate, roles and responsibilities of the SEC and SESCs are outlined in the SEC Terms of Reference.
5. Categories of Ethics Review
Employees may request:
- Policy direction on new or emerging ethics issues in scientific research through the review process outlined in the framework;
- The review of allegations of ethical misconduct in scientific research through the resolution process outlined in the policy (Annex A).
5.1 Ethics Policy Review
Employees who need policy direction on new or emerging issues in scientific research shall first raise the matter, preferably in writing, with their immediate supervisor or using the usual reporting relationships.
5.2 Science Ethics Issue Resolution
The framework does not limit an employee from raising an issue through other means. Employees may wish to consult other means of resolution, such as those established under the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act, the AAFC Code, or the Policy on the Prevention and Resolution of Harassment in the Workplace. Where a matter may constitute serious wrongdoing, disclosure to the immediate supervisor, AAFC’s Senior Officer for Internal Disclosure, or the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner would be a protected disclosure under the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act. Employees should consult the Office for Internal Disclosure or the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner for more information.
Employees may also wish to consult their union representative, the Values and Ethics Policy Centre, AAFC’s Departmental Harassment Coordinator, or Integrated Resolution Services.
Employees who require advice on non-compliance with the SEPF should discuss the matter with their supervisor(s) or a member of the SEC.
STB employees, and non-employees using AAFC facilities or who are conducting research under AAFC-approved activities, who become aware of a situation of possible non-compliance, possible scientific misconduct or possible non-compliance with other ethics-related policies, laws, or regulations, shall first raise the matter with the immediate supervisor or using regular reporting relationships. In situations where the issue relates to the immediate supervisor, the employee can raise the matter directly with the SEC (Annex A).
The reports of scientific ethical issues and/or misconduct will be protected in accordance with the Privacy Act and the Access to Information Act.
6. Implementation and evaluation
Science and Technology Branch employees and non-employees who rent or use AAFC facilities, including third parties, will be provided with a copy of the SEPF by Branch management. Branch management should also ensure that Branch employees have completed mandatory training on Values and Ethics and Conflict of Interest (AGR-620), Science Ethics (AGR-850) and Scientific Publications Ethics and Copyright (AGR-860).
The policy will be evaluated every three years following its implementation, or at the request of the ADM STB or appropriate officials, to ensure that it continues to meet its objectives and that it remains current and consistent with the AAFC STB mandate and other AAFC policies. Any issues or concerns identified will be addressed as necessary.
Annex A: Procedures
- Research groups, partners, or collaborators must resolve questions of authorship as early as possible during the course of a study, before publications are drafted.
- Authorship shall be governed by the following guidelines:
- Authorship is attributed to those persons who have made significant research contributions to the work and who share responsibility and accountability for the results.
- A supervisory or an administrative relationship to the research does not of itself qualify a person for co-authorship.
- The order of the authors' names in a publication is determined according to the quality and extent of the contribution, the extent of the responsibility and accountability for the results, and the custom of the discipline.
- The attribution of authorship is not affected by whether or not researchers are AAFC staff; all contributors may have authorship as deemed appropriate based on their contribution to the research.
- Other contributions that do not qualify for authorship should be indicated in a footnote or an "Acknowledgements" section, in accordance with the standards of the discipline and the publisher.
- Authorship must be avoided for persons who have not made significant research contributions to the work being published. In the absence of an agreement between or among the researchers and where there are co-authors, the following further guidelines apply:
- The author who submits a manuscript for publication (the submitting or corresponding author) accepts responsibility for including as co-authors all persons who are entitled to co-authorship, and none who are inappropriate.
- The submitting or corresponding author shall provide each co-author with a draft copy of the manuscript in advance of submitting the manuscript for publication, and shall receive approval from each co-author prior to submitting the manuscript for publication.
Copyright Release/Copyright Permission
- The lead AAFC author on a scientific publication must complete the appropriate Copyright form (AAFC Only or AAFC Multiple Holders or Journal’s Crown Copyright form) and submit it to their Centre’s Associate Director, RDT (AD RDT) for signature. Authors do not have the authority to assign copyright or sign copyright forms; this can only be done by their AD RDT. For journals where this is done on-line during on-line submission, this can only be done with permission of the AD RDT after the appropriate forms have been signed.
- It is the responsibility of all AAFC employees to:
- Seek written permission from AAFC prior to filing an application of patent inside or outside Canada;
- Ensure that they identify themselves as public servants in any application for patent in Canada;
- Ensure inventorship is accurate and execute all documents required by AAFC in its efforts to obtain patent or trade secret protection;
- Protect and uphold Crown rights to intellectual property in accordance with the Public Servants Inventions Act and Copyright Act;
- Adhere to standards of conduct and performance established by the AAFC Office of Intellectual Property and Commercialization, AAFC policies and procedures, and any other applicable laws and regulations.
Ethics Policy Review Process
Step 1: Employee Requests Review
The employee requests policy direction from the immediate supervisor (or through regular reporting relationships), in writing, for new or emerging science ethics policy issues.
Step 2: Screening and Review of Request
The immediate supervisor will:
- Review and discuss the issue with the employee and determine whether or not the issue raised by the employee falls within the scope of the SEPF;
- Forward the employee’s request to the SEC and inform the employee in writing;
- If it is determined that the policy issue raised by employee does not fall within the scope of the SEPF, the employee or the manager should seek guidance from the Values and Ethics Policy Centre or the appropriate area of expertise.
Step 3: Review by the SEC
The SEC will:
- Review the request and determine the appropriate policy interpretation or direction;
- Convey its recommendation, in writing, to the employee and the immediate supervisor;
- Develop and forward the new and/or modified policy recommendations in collaboration with the Branch Implementation and Human Resources Committee (BIHRC) to the ADM STB;
- Update the SEPF following the approval of the proposed policy change by the Branch Executive Committee (BEC) / ADM STB.
Step 4: Review by the ADM STB
The BEC / ADM STB may reject or approve the SEC's recommendations. If the SEC's recommendations are approved, the ADM STB will instruct officials to implement the recommended new policy and to convey the decision to the SEC, the employee and the immediate supervisor.
Science Ethics Issue Resolution by Formal Process
Employees who wish to formally raise a matter related to alleged non-compliance with the SEPF should follow the process noted below.
Step 1: Request for Review
The employee may raise a matter of alleged non-compliance through various channels, either by informing their immediate supervisor, a member of STB management, or a member or the chair of the SEC, about the nature of the specific concern, including:
- The name of the person alleged to have been non-compliant or to have committed misconduct in the practice or management of science (if known);
- The date and description of the non-compliance (if known);
- All other pertinent information, such as the name(s) and date(s) of preliminary discussion(s) held prior to the filing of a formal statement and request for resolution;
- Unless stated otherwise, all complaints/allegations are deemed to have been submitted in confidence and all practical efforts will be made to protect the identity of the complainant during the course of the review or investigation;
- Anonymous allegations will be taken seriously, though the inability to follow up with the source of the allegation may limit the ability to investigate the matter and to protect the source from reprisal.
Step 2: Screening and Review of Request
The immediate supervisor will:
- Review and discuss the issue with the employee and determine whether the employee's concern falls within the scope of the SEPF;
- Forward the employee’s request to the SEC and inform the employee in writing, if it is determined that the issue raised by the employee does fall within the scope of the SEPF;
- Inform the employee in writing that the issue will not be reviewed under the SEPF, if it is determined that the issue could be dealt with more appropriately under other departmental or Treasury Board policies, guidelines or procedures, provide appropriate direction to the employee, in consultation with other departmental resources as appropriate, such as Departmental Security Services, Labour Relations, or Values and Ethics Policy Centre and Integrated Resolution Services.
Step 3: Review by the SEC
The SEC Chair will:
- Review the issue to determine if there are sufficient grounds for further action;
- Reject the request if it is determined that the matter is trivial or vexatious, or was not submitted in good faith;
- Establish a Science Ethics Sub-Committee (SESC) to conduct inquiries or lead an investigation to seek relevant information and documentation;
- Review the recommendation of the SESC and report its findings with appropriate recommendations to the SEC DG Champion and ADM STB when relevant;
- Provide information to the ADM STB and/or other Branch management sufficient to address any alleged non-compliance of which they are aware, whether or not a formal complaint has been made. This applies to situations that involve employees as well as other non-AAFC participants in AAFC publicly-funded research projects;
- Once a response is approved by the ADM STB, convey its decision in writing, including available recourse, to the non-compliant employee and the immediate supervisor;
- Maintain a record of all decisions made by the SEC.
Step 4: Response
The ADM STB will:
- Review the report and recommendations made by the SEC and determine the appropriate course of action, including any corrective measures needed;
- Will direct appropriate officials to implement the decision.
Step 5: Recourse
Employees affected by the SEC’s decision may appeal in writing to the ADM STB within 25 business days of being notified of the decision. Employees subject to discipline may seek resolution through established grievance procedures.
For non-STB employees, a similar process will be followed with allegations raised by non-STB employees against STB employees.
For allegations raised against non-STB employees using AAFC facilities or conducting research under AAFC approved collaborative research, development, and technology activities, the non-STB employee’s direct non-STB supervisor will be involved. Following the investigation, the ADM STB will answer to the external complaint in respect with the diverse directives.
Annex B: Related Laws, Acts, Regulations, Policies and Procedures
All AAFC employees are responsible under the following policies and procedures:
- Values and Ethics Code for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
- AAFC Directive for Assessing Offers of Travel Funded by a Third Party
- AAFC Directive for Assessing Employee Memberships on External Boards of Directors
- Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector
- Treasury Board Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment
- Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act
- Treasury Board Policy on Prevention and Resolution of Workplace Harassment and Violence
- Official Languages Act, Regulations
- AAFC Administrative Investigation Directive
- Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct of Research Involving Humans (2018)
In addition, AAFC employees should also be aware of their responsibilities under various policies and laws and their related guidelines for example,
- Public Servants Inventions Act
- Criminal Code — in particular, sections 120-126: 120: bribery of officers; 121: frauds on the government; 122: breach of trust by public officer; 123: 124: selling or purchasing office; 125: influencing or negotiating appointments or dealing in offices (i.e.: bribery); 126: disobeying a statute
- Financial Administration Act (note, in particular, s. 80(1)(e), which requires public servants to report information related to fraud)
- Public Service Employment Act
- Public Service Labour Relations Act
- Access to Information Act
- Privacy Act
- Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act
- Library and Archives of Canada Act
- Patent Act
- Treasury Board Contracting Policy
- Policy on Government Security
- Policy on Service and Digital and the Directive on Service and Digital
- AAFC Inventions and Innovations Awards Policy and Guidelines
- Policy on Internal Audit
- Managing Collaborative Arrangements: A Guide for Regional Managers
- Authority to Use Copyrighted Material in Peer Reviewed Science Journals (AAFC Authors Only – AAFC / AAC5201-E or Multiple Copyright Holders/Authors – AAFC / AAC5202-E)
Annex C: Definitions
- Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
- Assistant Deputy Minister
- Canadian Council on Animal Care
- Human Research Ethics Committee
- Science Ethics Policy Framework
- Science Ethics Committee
- Science Ethics Sub-Committees
Any written and signed statement describing possible misconduct and given to AAFC.
Good faith allegation
An allegation made with the honest belief that misconduct has occurred by an employee who formally raises an issue for review through the SEPF's resolution process.
Bad faith allegation
An allegation made as part of an employee's formal notification of an issue in which the issue-raising employee should have known, or through reasonable inquiry could have known, that the allegation is untrue or frivolous.
An author of a scientific publication is someone who has made significant contribution to the conceptualization, design, execution, and/or interpretation of the research study described in the publication, and who is willing to assume some responsibility for the study and the publication.
Data include the methodology used to obtain results, the actual research results, and the analysis and interpretations by the researchers.
"Derived from the Greek word "ethos", which means "way of living", ethics is a branch of philosophy that is concerned with human conduct, more specifically the behaviour of individuals in society. Ethics examines the rational justification for our moral judgments; it studies what is morally right or wrong, just or unjust." Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer
In this context, inquiry means information gathering and initial fact-finding to determine whether an allegation or apparent instance of ethical misconduct warrants further investigation.
Investigation means the formal examination and evaluation of all relevant facts to determine if ethical misconduct has occurred and, if so, to determine the responsible person(s), define the nature of the misconduct, assess the seriousness of the misconduct and make recommendations if further action is required.
Includes "misconduct in science" or "misconduct in research" or "scientific misconduct" and "non-compliance" with the provisions of the SEPF.
Misconduct in science/research means fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, avoidance or other practices that seriously deviate from those that are outlined in the SEPF and are commonly accepted within the natural science and engineering research community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research. It does not include honest error or honest differences in interpretations or judgments of data.
Avoidance is making it difficult for other researchers to reproduce one's findings by deliberately omitting, when publishing, information fundamental to the understanding of the procedures that were followed.
Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or reporting them as real observations.
Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record.
Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person's (or the author’s own previously published) ideas, processes, results or words without giving appropriate credit.
Section 2 of the Library and Archives of Canada Act defines record as "any documentary material other than a publication, regardless of medium or form."
Creative work undertaken on a systematic basis to increase the stock of knowledge and use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications of science and technology.
Research includes all individual and group activities concerned in the advancement of knowledge through scholarly, scientific and creative activity.
Research involving human subjects
Research involving human subjects is broadly understood to include electronic or other kinds of observation in an experimental setting; physical and psychological experiments; measurements and surveys; and field work for studies of cultural groups, national or ethnic groups.
Any data or results that embody results of scientific inquiry; it includes, for example, laboratory records, both physical and electronic, research proposals, progress reports, abstracts, theses, oral presentations, internal reports, and journal articles.
These activities include foundational science and longer term core research and innovation work that advances the understanding of the natural resources upon which agriculture depends (soil, air, water); research to combat threats to Canadian agriculture production; mechanisms to protect and conserve Canadian bioresources and genetic diversity; and find future new opportunities for the sector.
The development, utilization, communication, and commercialization of research outputs.
Annex D: List of contacts
- Science Ethics Policy Framework
Policies and Guidelines
- Values, Ethics and Conflict Resolution
- Official Languages
- Office of Intellectual Property and Commercialization
- Office of Internal Disclosure
- Departmental Harassment Coordinator
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