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Integrity in Research and Scholarship Policy

Effective Date: March 18, 2013
Downloadable Version: PDF ICON Integrity in Research and Scholarship Policy
Related Procedure(s): PDF ICON Integrity in Research and Scholarship Procedures
  This document is available in alternate format on request.


The Humber College Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning (hereafter referred to as “Humber” or “the College”) is committed to fostering the highest standards of integrity in research and scholarship. This concept is based on honesty, accountability, respect for others, rigorous scientific methodology, scholarly competence, legitimate professional qualifications and stewardship of resources. In striving to provide an environment that encourages its members to uphold the standards set forth in this policy, Humber recognizes that, ultimately, the primary responsibility for high standards of conduct in research and scholarship rests with the individuals carrying out research activities. Defining and advocating clear standards to promote integrity in research and scholarship provides a valuable means to encourage compliance with these standards.

This document outlines the responsibilities and expectations of researchers and the College to collectively create and promote a culture of responsible research at Humber. The purpose of this policy is to:

  • Promote a culture of honesty, accountability and trust for researchers to ensure responsible conduct of anyone at Humber engaging in research; and,
  • Outline procedures for investigating allegations of responsible research conduct breaches at Humber; and,
  • Provide a means to ensure resources and funding are used responsibly and in compliance with relevant policies and procedures.


The policy applies to all staff, students, and all other research personnel associated with Humber, regardless of status.


Allegation: A declaration, statement, or assertion communicated in writing to the Research Office declaring that there has been, or continues to be, a breach of one or more Institutional policies, the validity of which has not been established.

Applicant or co-applicant: An individual who has submitted an application, individually or as part of a group or team, to carry out research activities. The application could be to the Humber Research Ethics Board, to request funds from an internal or external funding agency, and/or as part of a research contract.

Author or co-author: The writer, or contributing writer, of a research publication or document that is submitted either internally or externally for purposes of disseminating research findings.

Conflict of interest: A conflict of interest can arise when activities or situations place a person or the college in a real, potential or perceived conflict between their duties or responsibilities related to research and their personal, institutional or other interests. Conflict of interests may occur when individuals’ judgments and actions or the college’s actions in relation to research are, or could be, affected by personal, institutional or other interests.

Complainant: The person filing or making a policy breach allegation in research or scholarship, according to this policy.

Investigation: A systematic process, conducted by an Institution's investigation committee, of examining an allegation, collecting and examining the evidence related to the allegation, and making a decision as to whether a breach of a policy(ies) has occurred.

Members of the Humber community: All staff and students, and all other research personnel associated with Humber, regardless of status. As it regards students, the term includes, but is not limited to full-time, part-time, and visiting students. As it regards staff, the term covers all three classifications of staff (administration, faculty, and support) and any employment or affiliation status that may be found at Humber, which includes, but is not be limited to, full-time, part-time, and contract. As it specifically relates to faculty, the status covered by the term also includes, but is not limited to, sessional and visiting faculty.

Policy Breach: Willful noncompliance to the conditions set forth in this policy including but not limited to:

Representative: A person chosen by the respondent or complainant, who may be an employee or member of an employee or student group to which the respondent or complainant belongs.

Research: An undertaking intended to extend knowledge through a disciplined inquiry or systematic investigation. Includes but is not limited to literature reviews, funding applications, data collection with or without Research Ethics Board approval, industry partnered projects, journal papers or articles, theses and/or presentations at seminars or conferences.

Researcher: Anyone who conducts or is involved with research activities.

Research Ethics Board (REB): The Humber Research Ethics Board (REB) oversees ethical screening and conducts a full review of research projects involving human participants. One REB will be established to evaluate all research and ensure the research is conducted in a manner that is consistent with this policy.

Respondent: The person who has been alleged to have committed a breach of this policy.

Tri-Council: Is comprised of the three major funding agencies in Canada: the Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).


Responsibilities of Researchers

The purpose of this policy is to promote research that is reliable, ethically collected and potentially impactful on a specific area of expertise. Accordingly, Humber requires all researchers and scholars engaged in research activities to be responsible for upholding the principles set forth in this policy.

1.1. Development of Research Funding Applications or Project Plans

  • Promoting a culture of academic and scholarly integrity begins at the development stage of a research activity. In the planning stages of a research proposal or grant application, researchers are required to:

1.1.1. Comply with relevant Humber policies; refer to section 4.6 for details.

1.1.2. For research involving humans, obtain Research Ethics Board approval prior to beginning any data collection,

1.1.3. Ensure they and their team members have the appropriate licensing, training and expertise for their role in the project;

1.1.4 Develop a methodology that is scientifically rigorous and is likely to yield valid, reliable results;

1.1.5. Have a knowledge dissemination plan to ensure findings, whether positive or negative, are shared with relevant professionals, colleagues, decision makers and other stakeholders in the field;

1.1.6. Principal Applicants or Investigators must ensure that all individuals listed on a research project have agreed to be included.

1.2. Data Gathering, Storage and Retention

  • Research requires using scholarly and scientific rigour and integrity in obtaining, recording and analyzing data, and in reporting and publishing results. The management of accurately recorded and retrievable results is essential to any research project. Accordingly the following criteria apply for research data collected by Humber researchers:

1.2.1. Researchers must keep complete and accurate records of data, methodologies and findings, including graphs and images, in accordance with the applicable funding agreement, institutional policies and/or laws, regulations, and professional or disciplinary standards in a manner that will allow verification or replication of the work by others;

1.2.2. Data must not be used for anything other than what was approved by the original granting agency, sponsor and/or the Research Ethics Board,

1.2.3. If the Principal Investigator leaves Humber during the project period, Humber will maintain all original data files for the remainder of the project period; alternative arrangements for copies to be kept by the Principal Investigator must meet approval of the Research Ethics Board;

1.2.4. Provision of material products, such as software prepared during research, substances, or equipment, to third parties for non-commercial research purposes within or outside the research units requires the approval of the Principal Investigator and the Research Office;

1.2.5. If data contains identifiable information, it must be collected, stored and destroyed in compliance with PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act) or PHIPA, as required for personal medical information (Personal Health Information and Protection Act); and,

1.2.6. The Principal Investigator is responsible for ensuring secure and confidential storage (see also 4.2.5 below). The duration of the storage will be for three years from the date of publication of the results, in compliance with the Research Ethics Board Policy), unless otherwise stipulated and/or approved by the Research Ethics Board.

1.3. Authorship

  • The attribution of authorship in all research publications must accurately reflect the intellectual contributions of all members of a research team.

1.3.1. Eligibility: The co-authors of a publication are all those persons who have made significant intellectual contributions to the results. An administrative relationship to the investigation does not, by itself, qualify a person for co-authorship. Authorship decisions should not be affected by whether participants were paid for their contributions, or by their employment status. The author who submits a manuscript or report for publication is responsible for including all appropriate co-authors, for sending each co-author a draft copy of the manuscript for comment, and for obtaining consent on co-authorship, including the order of names.

1.3.2. Purely formal association with a research project, such as the directorship of a laboratory or an administrative position in a School, does not constitute authorship, but may be recognized in an acknowledgement. General supervision of the research group, technical help, data collection, or critical reviews of manuscripts or reports prior to publication are not sufficient for authorship, but may be acknowledged in a separate paragraph. There will be no honorary co-authorship; authorship must be based entirely on significant intellectual, professional or immediate supervisory contribution. Other contributions should be indicated in a footnote or in an acknowledgements section

1.3.3. Student Contributors: In student/professor collaborations as co-authors of a joint publication, both should make a significant scholarly contribution that represents an original contribution to the area of study and/or is creative and intellectual in nature. Contributions of both the professor and the student should be integral to the completion of the paper or report. A student should be granted due prominence on the list of co-authors for any multiple-authored article or report that is based primarily on the student’s own work, according to the commonly accepted practice in the field recognizing the substantive contributions of co-investigators be they faculty collaborators, external partners and/or students; using unpublished work of other researchers and scholars only with permission and with due acknowledgement; and using archival material in accordance with the rules of the archival source.

1.4. Publishing and Knowledge Dissemination

1.4.1. Knowledge Dissemination: It is expected that all research knowledge generated at Humber will be disseminated, even if the results do not support the investigator’s other research and/or does not support the original hypothesis. The Knowledge Dissemination plan should be defined before data collection begins, and should be adhered to by the investigators, to the greatest extent possible.

1.4.2. Permissions: Researchers must obtain the permission of the author before using new information, concepts or data originally obtained through access to confidential manuscripts or applications for funds for research or training that may have been seen as a result of processes such as peer review

1.4.3. Conflict of Interest: All team members are required to reveal to sponsors, universities, journals or funding agencies, any material conflict of interest, financial or other, that might influence their decisions on whether the individual should be asked to review manuscripts or applications, test products or be permitted to undertake work sponsored from outside sources

1.5. Conflict over Authorship

1.5.1. There may be cases where there is disagreement between authors and/or team members regarding a publication. Conflict over authorship could occur if any of the following situations arises:

  • Authors disagree on the interpretation of the results; and/or,
  • A team member believes he/she has made a contribution deserving of co-authorship, but the Principal Applicant is not including him or her in the publication; and/or,
  • Co-authors disagree on the order of the author list in a submitted publication.

1.5.2. In the event of a disagreement that does not involve a breach of any Humber policies, other relevant internal policies or relevant external policies (e.g. of the funding agency and/or research sponsor), the responsible Investigator will make the final decision of what team members to include as an author. In the event that a finding or published report is based on research that has been unethically collected and/or not in compliance to required guidelines or policies, a co-author will file a policy breach with the Research Office.

1.6. Compliance to Humber Internal Policies

  • Researchers are expected to comply with all Humber policies.

1.7. Compliance to External Regulations1

1.7.1. If a project is funded by one of the Tri-Agency institutions, Humber employees and students are required to comply with the Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research guidelines.

1.7.2. As appropriate for the project, researchers must also be in compliance with relevant external regulations and legislation, included but not limited to:1

  • Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA)
  • Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA) where medical or health information is collected
  • Canadian Council on Animal Care Policies and Guidelines
  • Agency policies related to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act
  • Licenses for research in the field
  • Laboratory Biosafety Guidelines
  • Controlled Goods Program
  • Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) Regulations
  • Canada's Food and Drugs Act
Policy Breaches

2.1. Actions that violate or are inconsistent with the principles outlined in section 1 will be considered breaches of policy and will result in sanctions ranging from warning or reprimand to expulsion or dismissal, as appropriate to the circumstances. Such actions may include, but are not limited to, any or all of the following dishonest behaviours:

  • Falsifying or fabricating data;
  • Plagiarism, (i.e. copying large body of copyrighted material without acknowledging the author and the source);
  • Willfully misrepresenting and/or misinterpreting (for any reason) findings resulting from the conduct of research and scholarly activities;
  • Failure to recognize relevant contributions of others in the authorship of papers or invention disclosures e.g., student or co-worker contribution of an idea that leads to a concrete improvement of results, time spent collecting and analyzing data or written contributions to articles/papers, failure to honour the confidentiality that the researcher promised or was contracted to as a way to gain valuable information from a party internal or external to Humber;
  • Failure to adhere to terms and conditions of contracts with a third party (in most cases external to the Humber that is sponsoring the research;
  • Failure to report to the Humber Research Office an involvement in research involving human participants, bio-hazardous materials or animals, and to obtain approvals as necessary;
  • Failure to disclose conflict of interest.

2.2. Students who are alleged to have committed a policy breach in academic research solely in their capacity as students, and in respect only to work related to the completion of course or program requirements, will be governed by their School’s procedures for dealing with academic misconduct.

2.3. The following will not normally be considered breaches of policy:

  • Honest errors or mistakes;
  • Differences in opinion or different interpretations of scientific discoveries.

2.4. Information concerning a policy breach will be communicated to applicable stakeholders of the research project in which the policy breach occurred, including but not limited to, sponsoring agencies or industry partners, partnering academic institutions, local, provincial or federal grant agencies, peer-reviewed journals or other publications if the research has been published, in accordance with their requirements.

Institutional Responsibilities

Humber recognizes that promoting a culture of research integrity requires a commitment from the institution. As such, Humber commits to:

  • providing access to necessary resources;
  • creating and upholding processes through which breaches of responsible research conduct may be reported, investigated and, as necessary,
  • processes for breaches to be reported and corrected, and for offenders to be disciplined.

3.1. Providing a culture that fosters responsible research conduct: Humber will promote these standards and issues through dissemination of this policy and other relevant written material and offering workshops and seminars on the topic and recognizing staff and students who uphold and encourage the standards set forth in this policy.

3.2. Investigating Policy Breach Allegations: Allegations of policy breach may arise from anonymous or identified sources within or outside the institution. The allegations may be well founded, honestly erroneous or mischievous. Whatever their source, motivation or accuracy, such allegations have the potential to cause great harm to the persons accused, to the accuser, to the institution, and to research and scholarship in general. Therefore, Humber will take prompt action and treat allegations seriously and in a manner that is impartial and accountable to the members of its community and the broader academic community. Investigations into breaches will be guided by the principle of fairness and applicable to all parties. The respondent and complainant will have adequate opportunity to know any evidence presented by any party and to respond to that evidence, if he or she so chooses.

3.3. Accountability and Reporting of Confirmed Policy Breaches

3.3.1. Once a policy breach has been investigated and refuted or confirmed, a report will be prepared by the investigation committee, assigned by the VP, Academic, and actions will be determined.

3.3.2. Humber will take the necessary measures to ensure the protection of Agency or sponsor funding, where evidence supports that a policy breach occurred. This may include temporary suspension of the project, and restricted access to funding, until the matter has been resolved.

3.3.3. Breaches that occur under Tri-Agency funded research: All Humber employees and students are required to comply with the Tri-Council Policy Statement Section 2.1

3.4. Recourse for Researchers

3.4.1. If the person sanctioned by a decision believes the decision was reached improperly or disagrees with that decision, an appeal or grievance, as appropriate, may be filed, according to the terms of the appeal or grievance mechanism applicable to that person.

3.4.2. If no such mechanism is in place, an appeal may be filed with the President within 15 working days of the sanctioned individual’s receipt of the report. If an appeal is received at the President’s office, the President will review the final report and may consult with the VP, Academic, the Committee and all other parties involved in the investigation, including witnesses, the complainant, and the respondent, before determining an appeals mechanism for the case, which will be consistent with the principles and procedures in this policy.

3.4.3. Upon completion of appeal proceedings, the decision rendered will be final and binding on all parties, whether the decision is made by the President or delegated by the President to a group responsible for hearing the appeal.

3.5. Record Keeping

All documents involved in the investigation will be kept in a confidential file in the office of the VP, Academic, for a minimum of 3 years following the finding of policy breach or dismissal of the allegation. All information and records relating to an action taken under this policy will be handled by Humber in compliance provincial and federal privacy legislation.