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Peer-review at Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Within Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), the Science Sector is responsible for producing scientific advice that contributes to DFO's mandate.

The Science Sector relies on the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) to coordinate the delivery of peer-reviewed science advice. Through CSAS, we publish Departmental scientific advice and information on issues, such as fish stock dynamics, species at risk, invasive species, ecology of marine and freshwater ecosystems, marine protected areas and aquaculture.

Our CSAS documents are a key way we communicate our scientific findings and results to Canadians – our scientists and teams also publish primary papers, offer technical briefings, use social media, and partner with museums and ocean literacy organizations to communicate about Canada's oceans and aquatic ecosystems.

The CSAS process is sometimes used to provide very focused advice, in the form of a Science Response, but at other times, we rely on a more comprehensive full CSAS peer review meeting. The science advice generated from both of these CSAS processes continues to advance DFO's understanding of the aquatic environment.

CSAS ensures appropriate peer review has taken place – this means results and conclusions have been challenged and evaluated by experts.

CSAS processes involve a range of experts from DFO and outside organizations, including academia. Debate among researchers is a normal and healthy part of the development of scientific knowledge and helps contribute to better research outcomes. By providing objective scientific peer review of others' work, participants are expected to offer constructive, impartial, evidence-based views, avoiding personal advocacy and non-scientific disagreement. Participating in this process means experts have also agreed to respect a code of conduct which ensures respect for other participants' sources of knowledge, values, experience, expertise and points of view. Testing and challenging each others' ideas constructively is an important part of the scientific process. For peer-review to function effectively, professional and respectful behaviour is maintained throughout the process.

The advice resulting from CSAS processes is shared with Canadians on the Department's website. DFO continues to look for ways to innovate and strengthen this function. Scientific integrity is fundamental to the important work we do in DFO Science. It guides our processes, shapes how we work with others and how we generate science advice to inform decision making for the benefit of Canadians.

For more information on the policies that guide how we generate science advice for decision making, please consult the policies and guidelines page.

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