Volume 93, Issue 34

Friday, October 29, 1999


11 senaotrs stand tall after election

Incumbent tops BOG votes again

Western told, it takes money to get money

The stadium's last hurrah

Up the down staircases of UWO

Ownership of research a cause for debate in UCC


Caught on campus

Ownership of research a cause for debate in UCC

By Paul-Mark Rendon
Gazette Staff

University officials went public yesterday to do a background check on the ownership status of university research.

In the University Community Centre atrium, a debate was held which discussed the pros and cons of a public report prepared by industry experts on the commercialization of research.

The report, entitled "Public Investments in University Research: Reaping the Benefits," was released by the Advisory Council on Science and Technology in May and includes several recommendations by an expert panel on how research should proceed to become a marketable product.

Society of Graduate Students president Susan McDonald said she felt several recommendations in the report would compromise the autonomy of research by making it accountable to industry funding. "Basically, the commercial sector is very good at what it does, but it's not very good at acknowledging other value systems," she said.

"I think we've got two systems in direct conflict. We, as researchers, have to be able to maintain that autonomy. In this report, we have nothing to ensure that autonomy will be respected or accepted," she added.

However, Doug Gill, director of Western's industry liaison office, said the report would not pose any looming threats to university researchers. "Creators are free to publish or not to publish, participate or not participate in commercialization if that's their choice," he said. "No one's holding a gun at anybody's head here."

Western's VP-research, Bill Bridger, said he too stood behind the report. "Universities are about doing research that's of interest to faculty members and there's nothing in the report that says anything against that," he said.

Despite Bridger's assurances, McDonald said she was still distressed. "I start to wonder who's calling the shots," she said.

Mike Dawes, chief negotiator for the University of Western Ontario's Faculty Association, said he was skeptical because the producers of the report, did not include any representatives from universities. "These are all people who have a background in commercialization of intellectual property or they're all managers, but there's not an academic in the bunch," he said.

McDonald added the ideology of the issue is far from a reality. "We do get the suggestion that what we're talking about is a partnership but one of the partners is already dictating what the other should be doing," she said.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999