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Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat
Policy on Participation in Science Peer Review Meetings

1. Policy Title

Policy on Participation in Science Peer Review Meetings

2. Effective Date

This policy is effective July 15, 2021.

3. Policy Objective

The objective of this Policy is to ensure a consistent national approach to achieving a balance of appropriate scientific expertise and perspectives at Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) science peer review meetings.

This Policy provides guidance to CSAS science peer review Steering Committees on developing a list of appropriate participants, following the Inclusiveness Principle set out in the Government of Canada’s Science Advice for Government Effectiveness (SAGE).

4. Policy Statement

When considering who will participate in CSAS peer review meetings, Steering Committees should at the same time consider the CSAS Conflict of Interest Policy and the SAGE principle on Inclusiveness as an over-arching guide, which states:

Advice should be drawn from a variety of scientific sources and from experts in relevant disciplines, in order to capture the full diversity of scientific schools of thought and opinion. Inclusiveness enhances the debate by getting conflicting viewpoints on the table, generating a full and open discussion, and drawing in scientific findings that may not otherwise be considered; sound science thrives on the competition of ideas facilitated by the open publication of data and analyses. The market for science advice is global and the growing body of science knowledge available internationally must be brought to bear on policy issues. Inclusiveness aids in achieving sound science advice by reducing the impacts of conflicts of interest or biases that may exist.

Accordingly, input and advice at CSAS science peer review meetings needs to be sought from a wide range of perspectives, including local and Indigenous knowledge. Participants must have the relevant expertise required to engage constructively in questioning, commenting on and challenging the scientific information and interpretations presented, and playing an active role in arriving at consensus on conclusions during the meeting. 

In addition, DFO’s Policy on Science Integrity encourages “…discussion based on differing interpretations of research and scientific evidence as a legitimate and necessary part of the research and scientific processes and, where appropriate, ensure that these differences are made explicit and accurately represented.” The policy “…applies to all who plan, produce, support or utilize science to make well-informed decisions.”

Participation in CSAS peer review meetings is by non-transferable invitation only, from national or regional CSAS offices, the meeting Chair(s) or the Science coordinator of the peer review meeting only. Once a peer review meeting has begun, no substitutions will be permitted except by permission of the Chair(s). Participants are expected to remain and participate for the full duration of peer review meetings.

5. Context

CSAS science peer review meetings provide objective scientific information and advice to support decision-making and policy development by DFO management programs and the Minister.

CSAS science peer review meetings are venues for the technical review and challenge of scientific information leading to consensus-based science advice. Canadian and international experts in relevant scientific disciplines are invited by CSAS to a peer review meeting to analyze data, consider information, and ultimately to provide science advice to the client to address the objectives of a previously agreed-to terms of reference. Peer review participants are to act as independent experts, not as representatives of organizations.CSAS science peer review meetings are conducted at a scientific, working level. They are not consultations. Science advice generated from CSAS meetings must be free from political, commercial, client and stakeholder interference.

6. Definition of an Expert

Steering Committees should ensure that CSAS science peer review meeting participants represent the best available expertise to support the highest quality of scientific advice. In the context of CSAS peer reviews, an expert:

7. Achieving the Right Balance of Experts

In accordance with the SAGE principle of inclusiveness, DFO’s Policy on Science Integrity, and the CSAS Conflict of Interest Policy, the CSAS Steering Committee should ensure that the selection of participants considers the above definition of expert, and: 

In addition:

8. Application and Authority

For Regional peer review processes, the final Authority for application of this policy is the Regional Director of Science.

For Zonal peer review processes, the final Authority for application of this policy, is the Regional Director of Science for the Region leading/coordinating the peer review process.

For National processes the final Authority for application of this policy, is the Executive Director of Science Programs.

Questions on the policy may be addressed by e-mail to:

Executive Director, Science Programs
Ecosystems and Oceans Science
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

9. Last Review Date

January 2021

Date modified: