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CAUT welcomes action to address health research controversy

The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) welcomes today’s announcement by the Minister of Health that a working meeting will be held to discuss controversial reforms to how the federal government assesses and funds health research.

Beginning this year, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) unveiled a series of dramatic changes to how research proposals are submitted and reviewed, including a new online peer review process.

“The changes in the peer review process have created chaos within the scientific and academic community,” said David Robinson, Executive Director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers. “We welcome today’s announcement by the Minister and hope that it sets the stage for the reinstatement of face-to-face meetings of peer review panels. Researchers simply have no confidence in the new system.”

On June 27th, nearly 1,000 biomedical researchers signed an open letter to Health Minister Jane Philpott, expressing alarm about the peer review reforms and demanding that the government immediately reverse the “radical” changes that are generating an “imminent crisis”.

In a statement issued today, the Minister “noted” the growing concerns within the health research community.

“As a result, I have asked CIHR to convene a working meeting in the very near future with key representatives of the research community, including those who have raised this issue publicly, to find common ground and move forward with solutions that address the issues raised with regard to the quality and integrity of CIHR's peer review system,” said Philpott.