Our Code of Practice
SRDC has been applying high ethical standards to all its research activities for more than 25 years. We pay particular attention to the treatment of participants in our research and demonstration projects. Our Code of Practice is based on guidelines established by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans.
Our Code goes beyond Tri-Council guidelines to ensure that personal information is private, confidential, and secure. SRDC has policies and practices to ensure the secure management of data and protection of the personal information. Furthermore, as part of our Designated Organization Screening through the Canadian and International Industrial Security Directorate, SRDC holds a Facility Security Clearance at the SECRET level.
SRDC projects have been reviewed and approved by numerous school boards' and post-secondary institutions' research ethics committees. The following principles guide the conduct of SRDC research activities.
Respect for human dignity.
The cardinal principle of modern research ethics is respect for human dignity. This principle pertains to protecting the multiple and interdependent interests of the person — from bodily to psychological to cultural integrity. It is unacceptable to treat persons solely as objects or things, because doing so fails to respect their intrinsic human dignity and diminishes the humanity of everyone involved. The welfare and integrity of the individual remain paramount in research involving humans.
Respect for free and informed consent.
Individuals are presumed to have the capacity and right to make free and informed decisions. Respect for persons means respecting the exercise of individual consent, and the principle of respect for persons translates into a requirement for free and informed consent on the part of all participants in research, including the right to withdraw from research without penalty.
Respect for vulnerable persons.
Respect for human dignity entails high ethical obligations towards vulnerable persons — those who may be less capable to make decisions regarding their own welfare. Children, institutionalized persons or others who are vulnerable are entitled — on grounds of human dignity, caring and fairness — to special protection against abuse, exploitation, or discrimination. Ethical obligations to vulnerable individuals who are involved in research require the use of special procedures to protect their interests.
Respect for privacy and confidentiality.
Respect for human dignity encompasses privacy and confidentiality practices. Privacy and confidentiality are considered fundamental to human dignity. Thus, standards of privacy and confidentiality must be applied to protect the access, control and dissemination of personal information. In doing so, such standards help to protect the integrity of individuals.
Respect for justice and inclusiveness.
Justice implies fairness and equity. In the research setting, it concerns the distribution of benefits and burdens among participants. On the one hand, distributive justice means that no segment of the population should be unfairly burdened with the harms of research. Thus particular attention should be paid to the treatment of vulnerable individuals to ensure that they are not exploited for the advancement of knowledge. On the other hand, distributive justice also imposes duties to neither neglect nor discriminate against individuals and groups who may benefit from advances in research.
Minimizing the risk of harm.
Attention to the potential for harm is critical to the ethics of research involving humans. Although it is impossible to eliminate all risks from any human endeavor, proposed research activities must be analyzed to ensure that participants are not subjected to unnecessary risks of social, behavioural, psychological, physical, or economic harm. Researchers must also be aware of potential risks associated with the environment and timing of research activities to effectively minimize the risk of unintended harm to participants.
Respect for interests of the wider society.
Greater access to research-based evidence should serve the interests of society. Respecting the interests of wider society requires consideration of the potential outcomes of research activities for funders, operational partners, other researchers and evaluators, and others who may be affected by those activities. No research should be undertaken that is predisposed toward a particular outcome. Funders should be provided with an impartial assessment of the methods available to address each research question. Funders and operational partners should be notified of the protocols, standards and guidelines under which the research will be undertaken.
Respect for the broad dissemination of research findings.
The contribution of research to the public good and the advancement of knowledge is maximized when it is shared with a broad audience. Therefore, consideration must be given to ways in which research findings can be shared with the general public, funders, research participants, and colleagues. Findings should be made available in independently published and easily accessible reports. Additionally, non-confidential information regarding methods and data quality should be disclosed to permit other researchers and evaluators to assess the research methods and findings.
Respect for high standards of evidence.
The analysis of all research data is guided by a commitment to raise the standards of evidence that are used in assessing social policies and programs. This commitment implies the use of the best available technologies, methodologies, and practices appropriate to each research project.
Respect for truth.
Respect for the truth requires that data be accurately gathered, recorded, and preserved. Above all, the results of research must be reported fairly and honestly. Information will not be knowingly misinterpreted or used in inappropriate ways.