Impact of the Tri-Agency Framework on Responsible Conduct of Research (2021)
Researchers and research-intensive institutions are all in the process of understanding and having to adapt to the Tri-Agency Framework (aka the Framework) published in 2021. This framework is likely to revolutionize the way research is conducted. The Framework provides a roadmap designed to improve and elevate research practices.
Introducing the Tri-Agency Framework
The framework is a result of collaboration between three influential Canadian funding bodies - the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). Together, they created the Framework to pave the way for responsible and accountable research practices.
The Framework provides guidance, empowering researchers to uphold the highest standards of research ethics, integrity, and transparency. It also aims to foster a culture of excellence, collaboration, and innovation in research-intensive institutions across Canada.
Elevating Research Data Management Practices
At the heart of these guidelines is the art of research data management. The Framework places a strong emphasis on effective data management practices. It recognizes that research data is a valuable asset that requires careful stewardship.
What does this mean for researchers and research-intensive institutions? It means embracing a holistic approach to data management throughout the research journey. From planning and collection to storage, organization, documentation, and preservation, the Framework encourages all to adopt best practices at every step.
By following the framework's recommendations, researchers ensure the integrity, accessibility, and reproducibility of their data. This not only enhances the credibility of research but also fosters collaboration, facilitates knowledge sharing, and accelerates scientific advancements.
Gaining a Competitive Edge in Grant Applications
Research funding is usually the result of grant applications. The Framework offers an opportunity for researchers to have their proposals stand out amidst fierce competition.
Funding agencies increasingly recognize the significance of responsible research practices. Researchers would be wise to align their grant applications with the principles outlined in the Framework to demonstrate their commitment to conducting research to the highest standards. It signals to funding bodies that you prioritize ethics, integrity, and data management excellence.
By incorporating the framework's recommendations into a research data management plan, researchers position themselves as competitive candidates. Funding agencies value researchers who demonstrate a strong commitment to responsible data practices, security, and transparency. Embracing these guidelines could distinguish a grant application.
The Call to Action: Evaluate Your Research Data Management Solutions
As the Framework continues to influence the research data management practices, it's time to take action and evaluate your current practices and those of your research institution.
Ask yourself: Are your existing research data management solutions aligned with the framework's principles? Do they support the responsible use, storage, and sharing of data? Are they equipped to handle the evolving challenges of data management?
More importantly, now is the time to critically evaluate your Research Data Management (RDM) solutions. Seek out tools and technologies that align with the framework's recommendations. Look for features such as secure data storage, collaboration functionalities, and the ability to comply with data security and privacy regulations - the full research data management lifecycle.
Choose RDM solutions that seamlessly integrate into your workflows and as well as those of your institution. Embrace the power of emerging technology to streamline your processes, enhance collaboration, and safeguard the integrity of your research data.
We are seeing many recent efforts globally that share these objectives and characteristics. In Canada, the Digital Research Alliance of Canada just launched their Controlled Access Management for Research Data initiative. In the US, the National Science Foundation is currently in the early stages of development of the U.S. Research Security and Integrity Information Sharing Analysis Organization(RSI-ISAO), as mandated by Section 10338(b) of the 1CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 (Public law 117-167).1. Many other efforts with a similar focus are underway in Europe and Asia.
These guidelines are likely to become the new norms for interdisciplinary research and global collaboration to drive future knowledge sharing.
The Framework is intended to drive research excellence, integrity, and competitiveness. By embracing it, researchers and research-intensive institutions become more competitive for heavily-contested research grants.
Researchers must establish or adopt responsible research data management practices guided by the framework's principles. They should also embrace the culture of transparency, collaboration, and innovation that it fosters.
It’s important to critically evaluate the existing Research Data Management solutions. Choose tools that align with the framework's vision and facilitate the operational control activities over your research project including your team, external collaborators, research participants and other members of your research institution including: research legal services, research ethics boards, research librarians, and IT.
1The CHIPS and Science Act of 2022: https://www.congress.gov/117/plaws/publ167/PLAW117publ167.pdf.