On February 9, I shared with you the decision that the Faculty of Medicine had begun a preliminary review of allegations relating to McGill Prof. J. Corbett McDonald’s research on asbestos. The purpose of this review, which followed the broadcast of a CBC documentary and the publication of a letter sent to the Chancellor, Principal and Chair of McGill’s Board of Governors, was to gather data – independent of the news reports – to determine whether the matter should be referred to the office of McGill’s Research Integrity Officer (RIO).
As you know, research is a vital part of the University’s mission, and McGill researchers are required to perform their work according to the highest ethical standards. The University’s role is to provide a framework for research excellence and integrity in the public’s interest and in an environment that supports academic freedom, a responsibility we take seriously.
At my request, Prof. Rebecca Fuhrer, Chair of the Dept. of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health, carried out the preliminary review. I am grateful for the dedication and diligence with which she undertook this mandate. Although the report does not identify evidence of research misconduct, it is my conclusion that the Faculty does not currently have all required records and data in hand to assess definitively in regard to research integrity.
Consequently, I have asked for additional guidance from the office of the RIO under Section 4.2 of the Regulations Concerning Investigation of Research Misconduct, which states that, “Where a person is unsure whether a suspected incident constitutes Research Misconduct, he or she should seek guidance from the RIO.” Note this is not a request to the RIO for an official investigation at this time.
I will keep you informed regarding the outcome of this process.
April 12, 2012