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The Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) refers to to the "the behaviour expected of anyone who conducts or supports research activities throughout the life cycle of a research project (i.e., from the formulation of the research question, through the design, conduct, collection of data, and analysis of the research, to its reporting, publication and dissemination, as well as the management of research funds)." (RCR Framework). Canadian institutions that receive funding from the Tri-Agencies are governed by the Tri-agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research (2021) . SFU's Policy R60.01 details the principles involved and the responsibilities of all parties. R60.01 applies to all research activities at the institution, whether funded by the Tri-Agencies or otherwise. 

"Responsible Conduct of Research" (RCR) is sometimes used interchangeably with "research integrity" or "research ethics" but these phrases do not always mean the same thing. RCR comprises the ethics of research practice, the promotion of high ethical standards in the conduct of research, and legal-regulatory compliance. Its importance is integrally connected to the prevention of behaviours that could cause harm to researchers, research communities, research participants or the public. 

RCR training is available as part of the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) Program. The training is strongly encouraged for all faculty and graduate researchers (particularly for incoming faculty, Department Chairs and TPC Chairs) and is required for faculty and graduate students in the Faculty of Applied Sciences. SFU's Research Integrity Officer is the first point of contact to discuss or report issues related to RCR.

  1. Principles
  2. What is a breach?
  3. Reporting a breach
  4. Investigations


SFU Policy R60.01 reiterates the basic principles of RCR from the Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research. They include:

Rigour: Scholarly and scientific rigour in proposing and performing research; in recording, analyzing, and interpreting data; and in reporting and publishing data and findings.

Record keeping: Keeping complete and accurate records of data, methodologies, and findings, including graphs and images, in accordance with all relevant agreements, policies, laws, regulations, and professional or disciplinary standards in a manner that will allow verification or replication of the work by others.

Accurate referencing: Referencing and, where applicable, obtaining permission for the use of all published and unpublished work, including theories, concepts, data, source material, methodologies, findings, graphs, and images.

Authorship: Including as authors, with their consent, all those and only those who have made a substantial contribution to, and who accept responsibility for, the contents of the publication or document. The substantial contribution may be conceptual or material.

Acknowledgement: Acknowledging appropriately all those and only those who have contributed to research, including funders and sponsors.

Conflict of interest management: Appropriately identifying and addressing any real, potential or perceived conflict of interest in accordance with the University’s policy on Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Commitment (GP 37). 

What is a Breach?

A breach of SFU or Agency policy may include, but is not limited to the following:

Fabrication: Making up data, source material, methodologies or findings, including graphs and images.

Falsification: Manipulating, changing, or omitting data, source material, methodologies or findings, including graphs and images, without appropriate acknowledgement, such that the research record is not accurately represented.

Destruction of research data or records: The destruction of one’s own or another’s research data or records or in contravention of the applicable funding agreement, institutional policy and/or laws, regulations and professional or disciplinary standards. This also includes the destruction of data or records to avoid the detection of wrongdoing.

Plagiarism: Presenting and using another’s published or unpublished work, including theories, concepts, data, source material, methodologies or findings, including graphs and images, as one’s own, without appropriate referencing and, if required, without permission.

Redundant publication or self-plagiarism: The re-publication of one’s own previously published work or part thereof, including data, in any language, without adequate acknowledgment of the source, or justification.

Invalid authorship: Inaccurate attribution of authorship, including attribution of authorship to persons other than those who have made a substantial contribution to, and who accept responsibility for, the contents, of a publication or document.

Inadequate acknowledgement: Failure to appropriately recognize contributors.

Mismanagement of Conflict of Interest: Failure to appropriately identify and address any real, potential or perceived conflict of interest, in accordance with the Institution’s policy on conflict of interest in research, preventing one or more of the objectives of the RCR Framework (Article 1.3) from being met.

Misrepresentation in an Agency Application or Related Document: Providing incomplete, inaccurate or false information in a grant or award application or related document, such as a letter of support or a progress report. Applying for and/or holding an Agency award when deemed ineligible by CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC, or any other research funding organization world-wide for reasons of breach of responsible conduct of research policies such as ethics, integrity or financial management policies. Listing of co-applicants, collaborators or partners without their agreement.

Mismanagement of Grants or Award Funds: Using grant or award funds for purposes inconsistent with the policies of the Agencies; misappropriating grants and award funds; contravening Agency financial policies, namely the Tri-Agency Guide on Financial Administration, Agency grants and awards guides; or providing incomplete, inaccurate or false information on documentation for expenditures from grant or award accounts.

Breach of Agency Policies or Requirements for Certain Types of Research: Failing to meet Agency policy requirements or, to comply with relevant policies, laws or regulations, for the conduct of certain types of research activities; failing to obtain appropriate approvals, permits or certifications before conducting these activities.

Breach of Agency Review Processes: Non-compliance with the Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Policy of the Federal Research Funding Organizations. Participating in an Agency review process while under investigation.

Reporting a Breach

SFU's Research Integrity Officer is the first point of contact to discuss or report issues related to RCR. A formal report should be sent via email and should include sufficient information for the RIO to determine the credibility of the allegation. Anonymous allegations are allowed, however they must contain sufficient information to enable the assessment of the allegation and the credibility of the facts and evidence on which the allegation is based, without the need for further information from the complainant. 


Allegations of research policy breaches are investigated by the Research Integrity Officer and staff. This list is posted in accordance with the Tri-Agency Framework requirements. 

Year Allegations Received Inquiries Conducted Investigations Conducted Breach Confirmed Nature of Breach
2023 3 3 1 1 Self-plagiarism
2022 6 3 2 1 TCPS Ch9 - Lack of informed consent, lack of concern for participant welfare (Indigenous)
2021 3 2 0 0  
2020 2 2 1` 1 TCPS Ch9 - Lack of community consultation (Indigenous)
2019 4 3 0 0  



Last updated: March 26, 2024