The Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS or the Policy) is a joint policy of Canada’s three federal research agencies – 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), or “the Agencies.”
This Policy expresses the Agencies’ continuing commitment to the people of Canada to promote the ethical conduct of research involving humans. It has been informed, in part, by leading international ethics norms, all of which may help, in some measure, to guide Canadian researchers, in Canada and abroad, in the conduct of research involving humans.
This edition represents the first substantive change to the Policy since its adoption in 1998. It is a major revision, reflecting over a decade of experience in the application of the Policy by the research community to existing and emerging ethical issues and new areas of research. It also distils the experience of the Interagency Advisory Panel on Research Ethics (PRE or the Panel), which was created in 2001 primarily to steward the evolution and interpretation of this Policy, and to provide the Agencies with independent advice on issues related to the ethics of research involving humans. This edition, which replaces the original TCPS, draws on the advice provided to the Panel by its working groups and committees. As well, it reflects the significant and valuable input from the research community and all those who provided feedback on the drafts that the Panel circulated publicly in December 2008 and December 2009.
The people of Canada, through Acts of Parliament,1 have created and funded the Agencies to promote and assist research within their respective legislative mandates. In discharging their mandates, the Agencies wish to promote research that is conducted according to the highest ethical standards. The Agencies have therefore adopted this Policy as a benchmark for the ethical conduct of research involving humans. As a condition of funding, the Agencies require that researchers and their institutions apply the ethical principles and the articles of this Policy and be guided by the application sections of the articles.
To be eligible to receive and administer research funds from the Agencies, institutions must agree to comply with a number of Agency policies set out as schedules to an Agreement between the Agencies and institutions.2 This Policy is referenced in Schedule 2 to that Agreement. Institutions must therefore ensure that research conducted under their auspices adhere to this Policy. Researchers are expected, as a condition of funding, to adhere to the TCPS. Institutions should support their efforts to do so.
In addition to this Policy on the ethics of research involving humans, institutions and their researchers must adhere to the other policies referenced in the Agreement, which include policies on research integrity, peer review and conflicts of interest in research.3
Organizations and entities not party to the Agreement are welcome to adopt this Policy to guide the ethical aspects of the design, review and conduct of research involving humans. Since the adoption of the original Policy in 1998, many bodies in Canada and abroad have adopted, adapted and been guided by this document. The Agencies hope that this Policy will continue to serve as a model and guide for the ethical conduct of research involving humans.
The Agencies recognize that considerations around the ethical conduct of research involving humans are complex and continually evolving. We therefore welcome comments and discussion, and commit to the continued evolution of this document.
The online version of the Policy, which will include all updates and revisions, shall be considered the official version.
 See Canadian Institutes of Health Research Act, Statutes of Canada, 2000, Chapter 6; Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Act, Revised Statutes of Canada, 1985, Chapter N-21; Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Act, Revised Statutes of Canada, 1985, Chapter S-12.[Back]
 Agreement on the Administration of Agency Grants and Awards by Research Institutions.www.science.gc.ca/Research_Funding_Collaboration/Policies_and_Guidelines/Institutional_Agreement-WS56B87BE5-1_En.htm[Back]
 Schedules 4 (research integrity), 6 (peer review) and 14 (conflicts of interest).[Back]