The development of knowledge and innovation is a project that lies at the heart of Québec's social and economic development. The strategic importance of research is reflected in the significant resources and number of stakeholders dedicated to its practice. This societal project will only succeed through continued support and the promotion of research excellence, and achieving research excellence requires the adoption of ethical reflection on research.
In Québec and abroad, this notion has contributed to establishing the fundamental principles of ethics in research. Concretely, it has led to the development of norms, rules and legislation defining socially and legally acceptable or unacceptable conditions for conducting research activities. Acknowledging that ethics and research excellence are inextricably linked demonstrates the constant evolution of a research community and its members, who view the promotion of these values as an additional guarantee of the quality of their work and of their reputation.
Québec, Canada and around the world: examples…
For many years, federal and provincial government departments and agencies, as well as international organizations, have published action plans, laws, tools and research ethics guides to help research actors navigate in research. Compliance with the standards set out in these documents has become a criterion for receiving grants from public sources (such as government departments and public granting agencies).
... In Québec
Québec government departments and research funding agencies, including the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQS) (formerly the Fonds de recherche en santé du Québec or FRSQ), have been concerned with these issues since 1998, in particular with the adoption of the Québec Policy on Science and Innovation, which redefined the roles of the Fonds. Indeed, the Ministre de la Santé et des Services sociaux du Québec (MSSS) mandated the FRQS with the establishment and enforcement of research standards in Québec, resulting in the production of the Standards du FRSQ sur l'éthique de la recherche et l'intégrité scientifique (2008, updated in 2009), a follow-up to the Guide d'éthique et d'intégrité scientifique de la recherche (2003).
... In Canada
Canada's three granting agencies – the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) – were established to promote, facilitate, support and sustain research projects in their respective fields. Together, the three Councils adopted a series of ethical rules (Tri-Council Policy Statement (1998, updated in 2010 and revised in 2014)) that provide rigorous guidelines for the support and funding of research involving human participants.
Several of the key principles to which the FRQS subscribe were first presented by leading international organizations or eminent actors. The Nuremberg Code, formulated as early as 1947, defined "voluntary consent" as an essential condition for human experimentation. Since that time, the Declaration of Helsinki, issued by the World Medical Association (1964, last revised in 2013) and the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights (2005), among others, have shaped the history and evolution of ethical principles regarding research on human participants. In addition, the International Ethical Guidelines for Biomedical Research Involving Human Subjects developed by the Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences (CIOMS) in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2003 provide guidelines for biomedical sciences and international health research.