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Allegations of Scientific Misconduct

NSERC takes complaints of scientific misconduct very seriously. Allegations are reviewed to first determine if the issue falls under NSERC's purview and then whether the issue constitutes scientific misconduct according to the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Integrity in Research and Scholarship.

NSERC does not carry out investigations. Institutions funded by any of the federal funding agencies are required to have an institutional integrity policy in place that complies with the Tri-Council Policy Statement and that outlines procedures for investigating allegations of scientific misconduct. The expected procedures for such investigations are outlined in the Tri-Council Policy Statement and in the Framework for Tri-Council Review of Institutional Policies Dealing with Integrity in Research.

If an investigation is carried out at the institution as a result of a request from NSERC, a report must be provided to NSERC within 30 days of the conclusion of the investigation, whether or not it is concluded that misconduct occurred.

If an investigation is carried out at the institution without a request from NSERC, the institution is asked to provide NSERC with a comprehensive report in cases where it is concluded that misconduct occurred and agency funding is involved.

If an issue arises through the peer review process following an analysis as previously described, the Research Ethics Coordinator may bring the matter directly to the attention of the university on behalf of NSERC. The Research Ethics Coordinator may also bring the issue forward on behalf of the peer reviewer that identified the misconduct or misrepresentation.

If an allegation is brought forward by an outside source, an acknowledgement is normally sent within five days of receipt of the complaint, indicating an approximate timeline for completion of the analysis of the file. Following the analysis, there are two possible outcomes:

  1. The complainant is notified that the matter does not fall under the NSERC purview or the Tri-Council Policy Statement and that no further action will be taken.
  2. The complainant is notified that the matter does fall under the Tri-Council Policy Statement and is requested to do one of the following:
    1. Provide written permission to allow NSERC to forward the allegation(s) and the complainant’s identity to the institution official; or
    2. Send the complaint directly to the institution official (NSERC will provide a contact name) and the exact copy of the complaint to NSERC. Upon receipt of the copy, NSERC will communicate with the institution and request that an investigation be carried out and the institution report back to NSERC on the process followed and the conclusions reached.

    Option b is used when the letter of complaint contains personal information about parties other than the complainant or respondent.

The institution that investigates the matter is responsible for informing the parties involved (the complainant and respondent) of the decision reached.

Upon receipt of an investigation report, NSERC’s role is to determine if the investigation was carried out according to the requirements outlined in the Tri-Council Policy Statement. Additional questions may be asked, or additional information may be requested.