On May 28, 2009, The Conference Board of Canada recalled three reports on intellectual property rights following allegations of plagiarism and undue influence by an organization that funded the research.
We undertook a review of the research project—including the progressive drafts of reports and related e-mail correspondence available—and we are now ready to report back on our findings.
The Conference Board of Canada regrets the fact that this project (specifically, three intellectual property rights research reports) has suffered lapses of process and judgment.
To put this situation in context, during the past eight years—since the current quality review process was first introduced—the Conference Board has produced approximately 1,400 research reports; this is the first time we have had to recall a report.
Plagiarism did occur, and it wasn’t detected due to insufficient oversight of this project.
The evidence indicates there was undue reliance on feedback from a funder who was deemed to have important technical expertise. We failed to seek similar feedback from a broad range of stakeholders. The report relied heavily on too few sources and lacked sufficient balance. Moreover, the reports did not follow our internal quality review process. Overall, there was inadequate monitoring of this entire project.
We have already taken steps to further strengthen our rigorous quality review process to prevent future incidents of this nature. We have added new quality control steps including: using anti-plagiarism software at multiple stages in the process, additional review by external challengers, and engagement of senior management earlier in the research process.
What we’re going to do next
We believe the subject of intellectual property rights in Canada is important and that there is value in bringing this research to fruition, and we have developed a plan to do so.
We have contracted with Dr. Ruth Corbin, an acknowledged, objective expert in the field of intellectual property, to review all relevant research and consult multiple sources, and redo the reports.
Ruth Corbin is Adjunct Professor of Intellectual Property at Osgoode Hall Law School. Her impressive biography includes co-authoring two books on Intellectual Property evidence. Dr. Corbin has been qualified as an expert witness by the Copyright Board of Canada, the Trademarks Opposition Board, the Federal Court of Canada, and Superior Courts in four provinces.
When completed, this work will be presented to a multi-stakeholder Roundtable to be held in the fall. We will publish a summary of the Roundtable discussion, reflecting the full spectrum of views on the issue, as an Appendix to the research.