Government of Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

FAQs

About the Panel

Q:What is the Interagency Advisory Panel on Research Ethics (PRE)?
A:
The Interagency Advisory Panel on Research Ethics (PRE) is a body of external experts established in November 2001 by 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 of Canada (SSHRC) to advise on the evolution, interpretation and use of the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS). PRE is supported by an Interagency Secretariat on Research Ethics (SRE).
Q: Why was the Interagency Advisory Panel on Research Ethics (PRE) created?
A:
When the Agencies adopted the TCPS in August 1998, they committed to keeping it a “living and evolving” document. Accordingly, they created PRE to advise them on the evolution, interpretation and use of the TCPS. PRE’s independent and multidisciplinary advice to the Agencies promotes high standards of ethical conduct, advances the protection of human research participants and enhances accountability in research ethics. In keeping with its evolution mandate, PRE proposed changes towards a second edition of the TCPS. The resulting revision of the policy, TCPS 2, was released in December 2010. Opportunities for community feedback on TCPS 2 will be made available.
Q: Who are PRE's members?
A:
PRE is composed of 12 volunteer members drawn from periodic national public calls for nominations. PRE members bring diverse expertise and views on research involving humans from such fields as ethics, law, psychology, engineering, medicine, research involving aboriginal peoples, sociology, political science, administration and the public. A current list of Panel members is available on our website.
Q: Who are the three Agencies—CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC—and what is their role?
A:
The three Agencies are the founding partners who created the Interagency Advisory Panel and Secretariat on Research Ethics (PRE/SRE).

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), formerly known as the Medical Research Council, is the Government of Canada’s agency for health research. It aims to excel in the creation of new health knowledge, and to translate that knowledge from the research setting into real world applications. The results are improved health for Canadians, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened Canadian health care system.

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) is the national instrument for making strategic investments in Canada’s capability in science and technology. NSERC supports both basic university research through discovery grants and project research through partnerships among universities, governments and the private sector, as well as the advanced training of highly qualified people.

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) is the federal agency that promotes and supports university-based research and training in the humanities and social sciences. Through its programs and policies, the Council enables the highest levels of research excellence in Canada, and facilitates knowledge sharing and collaboration across research disciplines, universities and all sectors of society.

Q: How does PRE work?
A:
PRE assesses the TCPS 2 on an ongoing basis, taking into consideration the national and international context, which recognizes diverse research ethics needs, activities and environments.

PRE’s policy initiatives flow from its core mandate, which is to advance the evolution and use of the TCPS 2 through its advice to the Agencies. To that end, PRE has launched complementary initiatives on important policy dimensions of the TCPS 2 such as its interpretation, implementation and educational needs, as well as on participation in a national governance dialogue on research involving humans. PRE addresses particular TCPS 2 issues and topics through its diverse working committees. It relies on transparent and inclusive processes of community and public engagement to help establish priorities and inform its deliberations and recommendations.

Under the governance structure for the TCPS 2, the Secretariat on Research Ethics (SRE) is mandated, among other things, to provide substantive, administrative and communication support to the Panel.

Q:Will the Panel undertake any other TCPS 2-focused educational initiatives?
A:
Yes. The Panel is currently developing an education strategy. Information concerning this strategy will be posted on the Panel’s website. In addition to the revision of the online tutorial, initiatives under consideration include regional workshops for research ethics board (REB) members and researchers in partnership with institutions, and a series of webcasts addressing common issues of interest to the research community. The Panel also plans to provide further tutorial modules focusing on specific types of research.