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University proposes change to revenue distribution in copyright policy

Change sees authors make more money when university commercializes work

University proposes change to revenue distribution in copyright policy

Nearly a decade after the Copyright Policy was approved in May 2007, an amendment has been proposed by Professor Vivek Goel, Vice-President Research and Innovation, to provide consistency in the handling of copyright revenues. The amendment calls for harmonizing their distribution with the Inventions Policy, which governs the commercialization of inventions through the university.

Under this amendment, the author’s share of copyright revenue will increase to 40 per cent from 25 per cent when the university commercializes their work, but it will remain unchanged from 75 per cent when the author commercializes their own work.

Due to the introduction of online education via platforms like edX and Coursera, Goel said that “a very small amount of work gets commercialized.” Goel hopes that the amendment will clarify sharing of revenue and make it more advantageous for authors creating work by giving them a better incentive.

The university owns any work created by an author during their employment at the university under the assumption that the work created in an author’s course of employment made substantial use of university resources.

Work does not include any research or books published by authors during their course of employment. Rather, it refers to works by authors where they are tasked to create learning material — like video or learning audio.

The author’s actual share in revenue through the university’s commercialization is 60 per cent, but the author must pay a 20 per cent management fee. The rest of the revenue is distributed to the author’s academic division, the author’s department, and to the Connaught fund — a reserve dedicated to research.

“We don’t engage in this to make money,” said Goel, adding that the purpose of the Copyright Policy is to ensure that the products created by authors affiliated with the university are used in a way that stops people from taking their work.

An author, as the policy defines, includes any member of the university’s teaching staff, administrative staff, librarians, postdoctoral fellows, students, or any visitor to the university. Defining postdoctoral fellows as authors is one of the major proposed amendments.

Previously, according to Goel, there was confusion regarding the copyright status of work created by students or trainees, which this amendment clears up.

The university, where it does not own copyright, still has a right to receive shares of the net revenue generated by the work, as well as use, revise, and modify the work for research and teaching purposes within the university.

Goel said the university asserts some rights over these works to provide them on a royalty-free basis for educational purposes. If the authors were to do that themselves, it would be easy for a for-profit publisher to take them.

This proposed amendment to the Copyright Policy came about after the university began reviewing its current practices; the revision process to this policy began in 2016.

Goel proposed this amendment to Governing Council’s Committee on Academic Policy & Programs. The governance path will take it before the Academic Board, Executive Committee, and finally to Governing Council for approval on February 14.

U of T’s five-year strategic research plan expands research themes, goals

Revisions based on extensive community feedback

U of T’s five-year strategic research plan expands research themes, goals

The 2018–2023 Institutional Strategic Research Plan (ISRP), which will define the direction of U of T’s research for the next five years, will include more provisions for intersectional research.

External funding agencies, including the Canada Research Chairs program and the Canada Foundation for Innovation, require the university to revisit the plan every five years. Modifications to the ISRP are made to keep up with changes in the diverse fields of research at the university.

It was presented to Governing Council’s Planning and Budget Committee for review on January 10. After being reviewed by the committee, Vivek Goel, Vice-President Research and Innovation, will present it to the Academic Board. Its final release will be on January 25, 2018.

Goel’s office organized town halls to solicit feedback from the U of T community throughout 2017. In March and April, Goel held around 30 sessions where faculty, students, and staff across all three campuses provided feedback about research at the university; an online survey was also circulated. Principals, deans, the Council of Aboriginal Initiatives, and the Connaught Committee were among those who responded.

Based on the community response, the university released a first draft of the ISRP in the fall of 2017 for a final round of feedback.

According to Goel, the plan has two parts: research themes and strategic objectives.

The updated objectives include broader themes to allow for intersectional areas of research that do not fall into typical domains like history, chemistry, and philosophy.

Research themes are now more aligned with current and potential future research areas. As per the recommendations from the community feedback, the ISRP has increased its focus on equity and diversity, Indigenous research, knowledge mobilization, and the link between research and teaching.

Goel added that, as the most research-intensive university in Canada, research is at the core of the admissions process and student life at U of T. “The character of the student experience is really meant to be influenced by the research enterprise.”

U of T releases advocacy toolkit to support Naylor Report

Toolkit provides resources for those who wish to lobby Canadian government

U of T releases advocacy toolkit to support Naylor Report

The U of T administration has released an advocacy toolkit for students, faculty, and staff to persuade the federal government to implement the recommendations from Canada’s Fundamental Science Review Panel, also known as the Naylor Report. The report was commissioned by Science Minister Kirsty Duncan and released in April.

From the findings of an independent panel of experts, the Naylor Report reviews the state of fundamental sciences in Canada. It concludes that federal support in fundamental science has been lacking in recent years, a decline that reduces Canada’s international competitiveness and Canadian innovation.

The report provides recommendations on how the government can improve Canadian research.

“This report sets out a multi-year agenda that, if implemented, could transform Canadian research capacity and have enormous long-term impacts across the nation,” said panel chair and former U of T President David Naylor in the report.

“The Fundamental Science Review presents a thoughtful, coherent plan that addresses all dimensions of Canada’s research system through a set of tightly linked recommendations,” Vivek Goel, U of T Vice-President of Research and Innoation told U of T News. “We will continue to work with our university colleagues across Canada to encourage the government to act on all 35 recommendations made by the panel.”

The Canadian government has not promised to act on all 35 recommendations made in the report, which include a $1.3 billion increase in research funding over four years. In June, nearly 200 researchers gathered in Toronto to discuss making the implementation of the Naylor Report’s provisions a reality. It is unclear if the toolkit is an outcome of this talk.

The advocacy toolkit, announced in a press release by U of T Chief of Government Relations Andrew Thomson, provides “quick facts about the Report, why it matters, and why the University of Toronto strongly endorses its recommendations.” It states that the Naylor Report is “sensible, affordable,” and that the implementation of its recommendations would benefit all Canadians. It further posits that investing in fundamental science is important for innovation, economic growth, and promoting curiosity among young Canadians.

Additionally, the toolkit encourages all members of the U of T community to support the panel through whatever means they have available, including using the hashtag #supportthereport on social media.

“The toolkit asks members of the U of T community to take action and participate in the campaign to convince the federal government of the critical importance of supporting fundamental science,” Thomson wrote.