Ethics action plan: Placing Ethics at the core of CIHR’s business

CIHR is committed to promoting health research that meets the highest international standards of excellence and ethics. It has now developed an Ethics action plan that is aligned with strategic directions in ethics set out in Health Research Roadmap II. This Plan was endorsed by CIHR’s Governing Council (GC) and finalized and approved by the GC Standing Committee on Ethics in January 2015. 

The objectives of the Ethics action plan are to:

  • Strengthen ethics leadership and impact in meeting CIHR’s mandate; and
  • Systematically embed ethics, consideration of ethical issues, and application of ethical principles into CIHR’s business.

The Ethics action plan has six areas of action:

  1. Strengthen ethics leadership through shared accountability mechanisms and integration of CIHR’s ethics mandate

    In this accountability and leadership model for ethics, Governing Council maintains strategic oversight of the ethics function; a transformed Standing Committee on Ethics advises Governing Council, Science Council and the President; Science Council leads the integration of ethics within CIHR’s science and knowledge translation agenda and individual Institutes, led by their Scientific Directors, integrate the ethics function as relevant to their various mandate areas; the Chief Scientific Officer/Vice President, Knowledge Translation and Ethics is the senior executive charged with ethics leadership at CIHR; and Ethics Office staff and volunteer experts such as Institute Advisory Board Ethics Designates contribute to the integration and consideration of ethics at all levels of the organization.

  2. Ensure ethics considerations inform CIHR decisions related to priority-setting, programs, policies, processes, partnerships and peer review

    The consideration of ethics will be more systematically embedded into mechanisms for priority-setting, planning, program design, policy development, and partnership management. Mechanisms will be put in place to ensure more systematic surfacing of the needs for ethics expertise to inform the work of Science Council, the Executive Management Committee, core CIHR advisory bodies, ad hoc decision-making bodies, and strategic initiatives as they arise.

  3. Nurture and monitor ethics research capacity in Canada

    CIHR is committed to providing targeted assistance and training to the ethics research community to ensure maximum use of both new and existing funding schemes. We will monitor the application pressure and success rates of ethics researchers in the current funding schemes and new schemes as they are implemented. Through experts within the ethics research community, we will identify and facilitate recruitment of peer reviewers with the necessary knowledge and skills for reviewing ethics research applications.

  4. Capture and assess the impact of ethics activities within the Open Programs and strategic initiatives

    To date, there has not been much work on assessing and communicating the impacts of CIHR funded ethics research. Performance indicators and targets will be developed to monitor, on a regular basis, the impacts of ethics research as well as the impacts of the implementation of the Ethics action plan, and to make adjustments as required.

  1. Develop and implement a new ethics communications strategy

    A new communications strategy will be developed to highlight CIHR’s leadership and progress in advancing the CIHR ethics mandate in alignment with CIHR’s overarching communications strategy. Key audiences will include the CIHR research community at large, ethicists and ethics researchers as well as international bodies and researchers. CIHR’s ethics mandate is also being advanced as a cross cutting theme in CIHR’s refreshed strategic plan, Roadmap II. The visibility of CIHR leadership within the ethics domain both nationally and internationally will be more systematically promoted and communicated.

  2. Review the ethics leadership model and action plan after five years

    A rigorous and objective assessment of the ethics leadership model and action plan will be undertaken after five years. This will build on the performance data collected over time and will provide another independent assessment of CIHR’s progress in advancing its ethics mandate, following up on the assessment in 2013.

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