Research Transparency and Accountability – New Collaborations?

The discussion of a new tri-council policy framework on February 16th , previewed recommendations that have evolved over two years of deliberation and planning to address issues of research transparency and accountability.  During a research integrity workshop session of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting, it was proposed that the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council be given the power (and responsibility) to release the names of researchers and their organizations with a description of ethical breaches such as misappropriation of funds, plagiarism, falsification of data and ghostwriting.

Given the nature of privacy laws, this new ability to publish names and contexts will become possible with the inclusion of a waiver (presumably as part of the application process) which would acknowledge that investigators forfeit their right to “polite discretion” in the event of a “grave transgression”.  Assuming responsibility for this new approach will be the “Panel on Responsible Conduct of Research” which has replaced the 1994 tri-council research integrity statement.

Another interesting aspect of this framework is the proposal of a new requirement to include at least one member on the research team who is not affiliated with the University conducting the research.  Although this criteria was included to address concerns of University self-interest and protection of institutional reputations, it also underscores the value of Universities and School Boards (and their researchers) collaborating in education research.  As both the Association of Educational Researcher of Ontario (AERO) and the Ontario Education Research Panel (OERP) continue to support Ontario researchers, this new framework provides additional motivation and opportunities to leverage existing research capacities as well as explore new possibilities.

For more information on the details discussed at this workshop, click here to read a  detailed article by Sabrina Doyle in the current issue (March, 2012) of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).

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