The Role of Research Security at the University of Waterloo

Data Lock on technology background

As many of you will know, research security is a growing topic that Canadian universities are now incorporating into their daily functions and administrative processes. We should expect this trend to continue, as Canadian governments continue to focus on the increasing need for research security between university systems, granting agencies, and government institutions.  Canada is not acting alone in this capacity.  Research security is now a central issue across the G7 and the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) groups of states, even though the parameters and application of research security are still being defined in Canada and globally. 

The overarching aim of research security has been captured well by Canada’s Chief Scientist, Mona Nemer: 

“More and more scientists are joining forces across disciplines, institutions and borders, and in doing so, they are contributing to a better future for Canadians and for humanity. Yet, in today's highly interconnected world, we need to consider how to reconcile the enormous benefits of scientific collaboration with the risk of research security threats. How do we balance the need for openness, transparency and trust with proper safeguarding against manipulation, theft, or misuse of scientific information? After all, your work is important, and the good it generates is something we need to protect. That means making sure that your research is as open and secure as possible.”[1]

Attaining this balance will be critical as Canadian Government policy adapts to the realities of scientific practice in universities. And no area has been more central to this development than the university requirements for federal funding as set out in the National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships’ (Guidelines), issued in July 2021, which requires the Office of Research to work closely with and support faculty to outline how security risks may be implicated in their research projects. The Guidelines are seen to be the first tool to assess potential risk in many scientific domains and how risk may be proportionally mitigated through necessary safeguards.

The initial process associated with the Guidelines framework has, however, proved very challenging, particularly in the wide scope of questions on research risk, how sensitive research may be used by foreign governments, and what ‘dual-use’ technology looks like in practice.

To meet this new challenge, the Office of Research is fully committed to continue to assist faculty with their Guidelines applications to ensure successful outcomes. Further, we will continue to strongly promote the principles of transparency, predictability, and norms of open science, which must be the cornerstones of a successful relationship with universities in research security.

To ensure that Waterloo drives these developments, the Office of Research is setting up a Research Security Program. The newly founded research security team, led by Dr. Justin Nankivell (Director, Research Security), is working closely with faculty members to navigate the granting process and embed these principles in granting agencies’ decision-making.  The team is also in the process of constructing a research security portal which will provide guidance to faculty on key areas that are seen to be research security issues; facilitate training in risk mitigation, cyber security, and export controls; and, engage the Waterloo community on how best to understand the domain of research security in a shifting geo-political environment.

We are here to support you in navigating these complex issues and to guide your proposals toward success. We look forward to working with you collaboratively in these areas in the future.  

For questions or inquiries about research security, please contact Dr. Justin Nankivell at

[1] See Government of Canada, “Why Safeguard your Research” website:

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Updating the White Paper on Bibliometrics

Hands on keyboard with metrics

Since 2016, the White Paper: Measuring Research Output through Bibliometrics has been a touchstone for the responsible use of bibliometrics at the University of Waterloo and beyond. Bibliometrics is a tool that can be used to understand elements of research productivity and impact, such as understanding citations within a research area or group. Crucially, the White Paper underscores the need for bibliometrics to be considered with other tools and processes for a complete picture of research output and productivity.

Seven years later, the Working Group on Bibliometrics (a gathering of key stakeholders including interested researchers, faculty representatives, the Library, Office of Research, and IAP) is guiding an update project.

Six task forces are hard at work:

  • Task Force 1: How to better serve the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences in bibliometrics and research impact
  • Task Force 2: The role of alternative metrics in analyses
  • Task Force 3: The intersection of equity, diversity, and inclusion and bibliometrics
  • Task Force 4: Exploring collaboration and interdisciplinary research with bibliometrics
  • Task Force 5: The impact of COVID on research
  • Task Force 6: Practical guidance on the responsible use of metrics

The six task forces, coordinated by our Bibliometrics and Research Impact Librarian, Laura Bredahl, have been hard at work since May 2022. Task Force drafts should be completed by early fall. Stay tuned for broad stakeholder consultations later in the Fall semester.

Any questions? Please contact the Working Group on Bibliometrics email

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The Graham Seed Fund is now open for applications

Stethoscope and a smart phone.

Do you have a project idea to transform health through technology? Do you need funds to support highly qualified personnel (HQP)?

The Graham Seed Fund is now accepting applications for new projects that will work towards the University’s strategic priority of creating a globally recognized hub for innovative and transformative health technologies. Collaborative projects that leverage and build health system partnerships with patients, patient families, the public, academics, clinicians and health-care providers are encouraged. The Graham Seed Fund provides funding in the amount of up to $25,000 for a one-year period. This opportunity is for all faculties at the University. Apply Now.

About Graham Seed Fund

The Graham Seed Fund is a Transformative Health Technologies initiative and is designed to broadly encourage innovative health-care solutions to challenges of today and tomorrow. The Fund seeks to leverage and build health system partnerships by providing resources for collaborating directly with a full range of health providers and clinicians. It is anticipated that this collaborative, interdisciplinary model will help to quickly advance solutions for challenging areas in health technology. Visit us online to find out more and to apply to the Graham Seed Fund.

Application Dates

The first cycle opens on Monday, October 3, 2022, with all applications submitted to by Friday, December 2, 2022 at 11:59pm EST. Primary applicants will receive written notice of the decision by Thursday, December 22, 2022.

Graham Seed Fund Launch Event

Join us at the Graham Seed Fund Launch Event on Monday, October 31 at 12:00 p.m. EST at the Enterprise Theatre (East Campus 5, Room 1111). Come learn more about the seed fund, hear about the available resources for collaboration with health-care partners, and network and engage with the University’s President, Associate Vice-President for Health Initiatives, health-care leaders, clinicians, researchers, and health experts. Register online by October 25 for refreshment planning purposes.

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Have you heard about Up Start?

Open workspace with Velocity sign

One of the most rewarding experiences anyone can have is bringing technology to market. Up Start is the opportunity for the University of Waterloo community to step out and build a technology company.

Built by Velocity and the Waterloo Commercialization Office (WatCo), student researchers, founders and recent alumni will be funded and have access to resources from both Velocity and WatCo.

Up Start is accepting applications now and will welcome its first cohort this October. Accepted teams will work closely with Velocity and WatCo advisors to conduct market research, develop a business plan and receive funding to help get them started.

Link to apply | Link for more info

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Ethics Matters @ Waterloo

Ethics Paper

Research conducted at the University of Waterloo has societal and global impact. Applying ethical considerations to the design, implementation, and dissemination establishes and maintains public trust in the research community more broadly. When planning and conducting research, it is critical to incorporate an ethical lens. This approach lends itself to improving and maintaining research quality and trust in research, while also demonstrating respect, welfare, and justice for study participants through the balancing of potential benefits and risks.

At Waterloo, we balance our strong traditions and focus on research and innovation with values of community and local impact. Research ethics at Waterloo embodies this by providing ethics support for those involved in research while respecting and safeguarding participants and researchers. Waterloo’s Research Ethics Boards facilitate research and the other processes that support it. There are increasing requirements from funding agencies and publishers to address ethical implications in grant applications, data management plans, and knowledge mobilization activities. The staff in the Office of Research Ethics can help you think about and navigate this.

Aside from reviewing applications, we provide many other supports for the research community including:

Perhaps you find yourself with questions about research ethics, your responsibilities, or expectations that come from guidelines such as the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS2)? Unsure if your research needs ethics review or have any questions about putting together an application? Remember, good research starts with asking good questions.

Reach out to one of our friendly research ethics staff by booking a consultation or reach out directly by email to  We look forward to chatting with you and helping to support your research!

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Research Horizons - Cementing Ontario's leadership in the global automotive mobility sector

A hand holding a crystal sphere in front of a sunset cascading over a body of water

Join us on Wednesday, November 2, 2022 at 12pm, for a Research Horizons presentation on Ontario’s flagship initiative  for the automotive and mobility sector, OVIN, the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network and its efforts towards catalyzing a future that builds safer, cleaner, and more efficient transportation presented by Raed Kadri, Vice-President, Strategic Initiatives, Business Development for the Ontario Centre of Innovation & Head of the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN).

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