New policy on scientific integrity lifts gag on scientists, researchers

Veronica Silva
July 31, 2018

Ottawa recently released a model policy that allows government scientists and researchers to speak their minds freely to enable them to help shape public policy based on evidence. The Model Policy on Scientific Integrity was crafted by federal chief science advisor Dr Mona Nemer, in cooperation with the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat and the federal research community. As a model policy, it will be the basis by which federal agencies are expected to craft their own policy to meet their specific needs. The goal is to have the individual policies in place by the end of the year among the federal agencies that employ 10 or more scientists and researchers. By allowing public scientists to speak freely about their research, the federal government said it is trying to encourage a culture that supports and promotes integrity in science and research that will in turn build up public trust. The new policy is in contrast to how the previous Conservative government muzzled  government-employed scientists and researchers. PIPSC, the largest union comprising scientists and professionals at the federal and provincial and territorial governments, said that it is pleased with the release of the policy, which represents more than three years of work to promote scientific integrity and evidence-based policy making. Part of this hard work involves including scientific integrity in government employees’ collective agreements. The group said they look forward to assurances from the policy, including the fact that any breach in the policy can be reported to management. The model policy is based on existing best practices in Canada and similar international policies. Federal agencies are expected to report annually on the progress of their policies, and Nemer’s team will review the progress and take the next course of action if needed.

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