This policy is an outcome of Science 2016 initiative, produced by the scientists and managers of Stream Team 3: Promoting a Culture of Scientific Excellence. Scientists from all regions of the Department provided feedback during production of the policy.

Table of contents

A. Introduction

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has a long and prolific science publishing tradition that has advanced aquatic and marine scientific knowledge. DFO is committed to the open communication of science and to the mobilization of scientific knowledge, both internally and externally, to the benefit of Department policies, programs and services for the Canadian public.

A national policy ensures a consistent treatment of scientific publications across DFO regions, recognition of the scientific impact of the Department through the use of a standard affiliation, and effective tracking of our publications to better integrate science into departmental processes.

The policy recognizes the primacy of the peer review system in maintaining scientific standards and thus establishes separate manuscript submission and review processes for primary (section 1) and secondary (section 2) scientific publications.

The policy has been developed in consultation with DFO scientists from all regions, and in compliance with Canadian legislation, directives and policies of the Treasury Board Secretariat, and in consideration of the collective agreements between scientists and management.Footnote 1

B. Responsibility for the National Policy for Science Publications

The Assistant Deputy Minister of the Ecosystems and Oceans Science Sector (the Science Sector) and the Regional Directors of Science are accountable for adherence to this national policy on primary (section 1) and secondary (section 2) scientific publications.

1. Primary (Peer Review) Publications

1.1 Scope

The policy applies to the publication of science papers in primary peer reviewed publications (scientific journals, special issues, book chapters, books and conference proceedings) and describes the responsibilities and processes for both authors and management.

The policy replaces all pre-existing regional policies concerning peer review publishing.

1.2 Applicability of Policy to Authors of Primary Peer Review Publications

The national policy on publishing in primary peer review publications applies when:

The lead author of a manuscript is employed by DFO or is in the DFO Scientist Emeritus and Science Alumnus programFootnote 2.

A co-authorFootnote 3 of a manuscript is employed by DFO or is in the DFO Scientist Emeritus and Science Alumnus program and the subject matter of the paper is relevant to the DFO mandate or there has been a significant investment of DFO resources in the paper [usually assessed as the effort contributed by the DFO employee (e.g. analysis and interpretation in the paper)].

1.3 Manuscript Record Form [MRF (1)]

Authors are required to use the supplied Manuscript Record Form [MRF (1)] and Checklist (ANNEX A) for primary peer review publications to track the manuscript through the review process leading to submission to the editor of a publication.

1.4 Plain Language Summary (PLS)

Authors are required to produce a very short (i.e., 150 words) Plain Language Summary (PLS) of the manuscript (ANNEX B) to explain the relevance of the science to the Department and to promote the value of science through outreach and communication. It is intended for internal use to identify linkages to programs, policies and stakeholders and for use in the plain language promotion of science (refer to ANNEX C for a sample PLS).

1.5 Management review

1.5.1 Best Practice - Publication Planning Within Work Plans

As a best practice, to the greatest extent feasible, planned publications should be discussed as part of the work planning process.

1.5.2 Pre-Submission Manuscript Peer Review

Prior to the submission to the editor of a publication, it is recommended that the author have the manuscript reviewed for scientific content by one or more qualified experts, particularly in the case of single-authored papers. The name(s) of the reviewer(s) is (are) to be recorded on the MRF (1).

1.5.3 Management Review for Compliance with Legislation

Manuscripts with a DFO lead author, along with the MRF (1) and Plain Language Summary shall be submitted to the Author’s Division Manager. The Division Manager reviews the manuscript for compliance with the Intellectual Property Policy/Copyright Act, the Privacy Act, the Financial Administration Act (with respect to approvals of publication costs) and the Values and Ethics Code for DFO. When the lead author is not a DFO employee, DFO co-authors will provide their Division Manager with a copy of the manuscript at the time of submission to a publication.

Division Managers also review the manuscript to identify sensitive issues, solely for the purpose of briefing senior management and the Communications Branch prior to publication of the science paper.

At no time, will the inclusion of sensitive material (e.g. data, conclusions) prevent publication of scientific papers.

In the rare case where a manuscript does not fully adhere to policies and legislation, the Division Manager discusses potential revisions with the author(s). If after that discussion, the Division Manager still has concerns, he/she will identify these concerns to the Regional Director of Science who makes the final determination. In these cases only, the Regional Director of Science reserves the right to withhold permission until intellectual property, copyright and/or privacy issues are addressed.

For author(s) located in the National Capital Region, the responsibilities of the Division Manager and Regional Director of Science will be assumed by Directors and Directors General respectively.

Science management commits to a 10 working-day turnaround for signoff of manuscripts for publication. If managers do not respond with an approval within 10 working days, authors may submit their manuscripts to the publisher.

1.6 Standard Manuscript Identification and Storage

The text “Fisheries and Oceans Canada” must appear as an author’s affiliation in order to ensure that publications by DFO authors are retrievable in online searches and discovered for bibliometric analysis. The author submits the manuscript to the publication and, once a departmentally-approved online storage or document management system is available, stores the final, accepted, peer-reviewed version in that system.

1.7 Overview of Author/Co-author Responsibilities

Authors are responsible for the quality of the scientific information such as reproducibility and/or accuracy of the science, accurate analysis and reporting, appropriate discussion and conclusions, clear communication and respect for any permission(s) required to use proprietary data and images and any contractual arrangements related to the scientific information. These include specific provisions that were negotiated with external collaborators pertaining to publication, confidentiality, patenting or other aspects.

In the Government of Canada, Departmental policy processes are used to present decision-makers with analysis of scientific considerations in company with economic, social and other pertinent considerations. As codified in the Values and Ethics Code for DFO, public servants have a duty to serve the public interest by providing decision-makers with “all the information, analysis and advice they need, always striving to be open, candid and impartial.” In their dual roles as public servants and scientists , authors should not include comments or opinions on federal policy in peer reviewed publications. The identification of sensitive topics should occur at the outset of plans for authorship and if possible, within the annual work planning process to enable the Division Manager to arrange for appropriate communications support to be prepared in advance of the publication of scientific papers by a publisher.

Where a DFO employee is the first author of a paper, he/she will ensure that Crown Copyright is claimed when they submit their manuscripts for publication (refer to ANNEX D for guidance on Crown Copyright).

Where possible, DFO authors will arrange for Open Access to their scientific papers. If an author is unable to pay for Open Access out of research funds, the Division Manager or Regional Director of Science will have the discretion to pay the Open Access fee.

1.8 Guidelines for Managers/Overview of Management Responsibilities

1.8.1 Tracking Science Publication Output

Division Managers are accountable for tracking the output of publications delivered by staffFootnote 8. Division Managers shall collect and regularly submit copies of the MRF (1) to Regional Directors of Science for retention relative to compliance with policies and for tracking for open access purposes, etc. Complete citation information is required.

1.8.2 Compliance with Government of Canada Acts, Policies and Directives

Division managers are accountable for:

  • Effective risk management, through the early identification of planned publications with sensitive topics that may require communications support and products, and notifying the regional Communications Branch accordingly.

Division managers AND Regional Directors of Science are accountable for:

1.8.3 Quality of Published Science

In general, the purpose of management review of manuscripts for publication is related to legal matters as outlined above; however, maintaining a high quality of science in publications from DFO is also a legitimate management concern. In the highly unlikely event that he/she has concerns related to the quality of the work, a Division Manager has the discretion to request that authors submit manuscripts to qualified experts prior to submission for their advice on suitability for publicationFootnote 9. In the remote case where the scientific quality or integrity of the manuscript is called into question, the 10-day review period for timeliness of approval does not apply. Scientific integrity and quality will be determined by reviewers jointly agreed upon by the author and the manager.

1.8.4 Ensuring Communication of Plain Language Summary

For the communication and promotion of the value of science, it is the responsibility of the Division Manager to provide the author’s Plain Language Summary to:

  • Regional Director of Science
  • Regional Communications Branch
  • Internal clients of the sector within the region, as identified in section C of the Plain Language Summary form (i.e., those responsible for the potentially impacted programs, projects, Acts, initiatives)

As appropriate, it is the responsibility of the Regional Director of Science to provide the Plain Language Summary to:

  • Regional Director General
  • Senior management in the Ecosystems and Oceans Science Sector
  • Senior management in other sectors in DFO

2. Secondary Publications

Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s (DFO’s) secondary science publications include the DFO series “Canadian Technical Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences,” “Canadian Data Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences,” “Canadian Industry Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences,” and “Canadian Manuscript Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences,” and other series. These scientific and technical reports often contain preliminary science findings and the Department normally provides the only review for these documents. For the publishing, authors should refer to DFO’s “Guide for the Production of Fisheries and Oceans Canada Reports” available.


The series called “Canadian Hydrography and Ocean Sciences – Technical Reports/Final Field Reports” is exempt from this process as are DFO’s Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat

2.1 Scope

This procedure applies to all authors of manuscripts in these series mentioned above, as non-departmental authors may publish in the report series. These authors should arrange for publication with the most appropriate departmental establishment (i.e. DFO region), in terms of geography or area of interest. This establishment becomes the “issuing establishment”.

2.2 Manuscript Record Form [MRF (2)]

Authors should use the Manuscript Record Form [MRF (2)] for DFO Technical and Manuscript Series Reports to track the review procedure for these publications. Refer to ANNEX E for the MRF (2).

2.3 Overview of responsibilities

It is the responsibility of the appropriate Division Manager to either appoint an individual in his/her division as a Secondary Publications Editor or to fulfill this task himself/herself. In either case, this individual is responsible for quality assurance of the secondary publication.

In their dual roles as public servants and scientists, authors will not comment on federal policy in their scientific publications.

2.4 Process for review of Secondary Publications

  • The author completes the MRF (2) and submits with the draft manuscript to the divisional Secondary Publications Editor.
  • The Secondary Publications Editor forwards the manuscript to two reviewers where appropriate (e.g. the “Canadian Data Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Science” series normally requires no review), who may be either internal or external to the Department. Reviewers are asked to evaluate the scientific content of the manuscript, to document their comments, and to recommend:
    • acceptance of the manuscript
    • acceptance of the manuscript, following appropriate revision; or
    • rejection of the manuscript
  • On the basis of the reviewers’ comments, the Secondary Publications Editor either accepts the manuscript as is, specifies the revisions required, or rejects the manuscript. The author is informed of the decision and, if changes to the manuscript are required, the author makes these before resubmitting it to the Secondary Publications Editor.
  • Upon receipt of the final version of the manuscript, the Secondary Publications Editor signs the Manuscript Record Form and submits it and the manuscript to the Division Manager.
  • The Division Manager signs the MRF (2), returns the form and manuscript to the Secondary Publications Editor, and forwards a copy of the MRF (2) to the author. The Division Manager sends an additional copy of the form and manuscript (with a note that the manuscript contains sensitive subjects, if applicable) to the Regional Science Director AND the Regional Communications Branch.
  • The Regional Science Director signs the MRF (2) and returns it to the Division Manager, who then copies it to the Secondary Publications Editor (but may retain the copy of the manuscript).
  • If the author wishes to make changes, and these are made, then the process continues as described in (a) above.
  • In the rare case where an author has used proprietary data and information, the Division Manager and the Regional Science Director shall withhold permission for the report to be submitted for publication until appropriate written permission to use the data in the publication is obtained from the owner of the data.
  • Any sensitive issues should be identified by the Division Manager within 10 business days from submission of the manuscript by the Secondary Publications Editor to the Division Manager. Regardless of the outcome of this review, after this time, the Secondary Publications Editor may submit the manuscript for publication without waiting for the Manuscript Record Form to be returned by either the Division Manager or the Regional Science Director. The Regional Communications Branch must be advised when an impending publication contains sensitive material, in order to prepare appropriate communications support.
  • The Secondary Publications Editor then makes arrangements to have the manuscript published in the appropriate series. To obtain a DFO number for a scientific or technical report, contact Publications / Publications (DFO/MPO)

At no time, will the inclusion of sensitive material (e.g. data, conclusions) prevent publication.

2.5 Registration of Electronic Publications in the DFO Library Catalogue

The author must submit an electronic copy of their publication in PDF format to The report must be fully assembled with all figures and tables inserted in the text. Fisheries and Oceans Library staff ensures these scientific reports are freely available to the public. These scientific reports are archived on a secure departmental server and a permanent hyperlink for each report is created in the DFO Library catalogue.

Annex A: Science Publications Manuscript Record Form – MRF (1)


Annex B: Plain Language Summary of the Manuscript (PLS)


Authors are required to write a very short (i.e., 150 words/see sample below) Plain Language Summary of the Manuscript to explain the relevance of the science to the Department. It is intended for internal use to identify linkages to programs, policies and stakeholders and for use externally in the plain language promotion of science. Please provide the summary to the Division Manager prior to the publication’s release.

Annex C: Sample of Plain Language Summary of the Manuscript (PLS)


Authors are required to write a very short (i.e., 150 words/see sample below) Plain Language Summary of the Manuscript to explain the relevance of the science to the Department. It is intended for internal use to identify linkages to programs, policies and stakeholders and for use externally in the plain language promotion of science. Please provide the summary to the Division Manager prior to the publication’s release.

Sample of a PLR:

Annex D: Author’s Guide on how to Manage Copyright and Moral Rights


Authors should review the Department’s Intellectual Property Policy and Intellectual Property Management Guidelines accessible from the linked page, and familiarize themselves with the sections on Permissions to Reproduce Copyright Material. As a work product of a federal public servant, the copyright to science published by a DFO scientist belongs to the Government of Canada ('the Crown'). Authors may not waive or transfer Crown copyright in an automated online process or via a “transfer of rights” form provided by a publisher. The Canadian Intellectual Property Office has produced a “Guide to Copyright”. Note that the Copyright Act states, “Copyright shall belong to Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada ('the Crown') and shall continue for the remainder of the calendar year of the first publication of the work and for a period of fifty years following the end of that calendar year.”


Two permission forms to authorize publishers to reproduce Crown copyright material are provided in the Intellectual Property Management Guidelines: one for manuscripts involving only DFO authors, and a second for manuscripts where DFO authors co-author with non-DFO authors (joint ownership). The forms are titled: “Permission to Publish, Reproduce and Translate a Scientific Article”. An author’s signature will not validate these forms. The Treasury Board Secretariat policy per the Financial Administration Act on signing authorities requires authorization by a senior manager at the level of Regional Director of Science or Director General concerning intellectual property/Crown Copyright.

When it is possible to identify the portions written by DFO employees in a manuscript with multiple authors, authors should identify the exact sections to which the permission to use copyrighted material applies. Co-authors who are federal public servants from other departments will require a similar signed form to manage copyright per the copyright management policy applicable across the Government of Canada.


Authors are advised not to waive their moral rights, which are protected under the Copyright Act of Canada (sections 14.1 and 14.2). Moral rights protect the author’s right to attribution, integrity and association with a work. Authors retain moral rights for the duration of the copyright, even if the copyright has been licensed to another party. Per the Act, moral rights “cannot be assigned or licensed, but can be waived by contract.” If the author waives their moral rights they will lose their legal recourse against the publisher for infringement, of their moral rights, such as diminishing the author’s standing or reputation by distorting, mutilating or modifying the scientific information, or associating it with a product, service, cause or institution. The Crown will retain its rights to address other matters of infringement but moral rights are owned by the author and cannot be waived by another party.

For more information on Crown Copyright, see the DFO Intranet (Communications Branch) under Key Documents and Links: Crown Copyright and Crown Copyright FAQ.

Annex E: Science Publications Manuscript Record Form – MRF (2)


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