Peer Review and Intellectual Property – Riding the Crest of Change

This panel discussion at RTCOC raised some interesting questions regarding the place of technology in the academic peer review and promotion process.

Although, much has been written on this topic, such as
Bolger & Sprow (2003), there are always issues pertinent to the specific context.

One interesting point which was raised related to the differentiation of the value of courses which are instructor-developed vs. those that are student-centered. While most courses are not as clearly defined as these two types, it raises the issue that the development of content (textbook type online courses) are valued differently than those courses in which communities and connections are developed. Therefore, in my understanding, writing content is valued differently than that of building course communities. It’s an interesting argument as both processes certainly involve different skills and strategies.

Additionally, there was a differentiation between courses that are externally funded vs. courses that are built in-house. Of course, money that is brought into the university is almost always valued highly in the peer-review process.

I did like the fact that the idea of open source/open licensing was presented, however, I was still surprised to hear a few gasps from the audience. I think the idea of open source (software/content) is becoming more mainstream in academic discussions, but there is still much to be discussed before this is to become a preferable option.

Of course, one of the points that came up was the idea of “who owns what?”. As an example, if a faculty member develops a course, who owns it? And this question is never that simple. There are many issues regarding the genesis of the course that could affect ownership.

Additionally, one new (to me) point that was raised is that there needs to be more emphasis on the issue of intellectual property beyond just faculty members, e.g., graduate students. This is certainly just one of many issues that has to be faced seeing that graduate students (and other university citizens) develop excellent content, and rights of the creators should be protected.

So many questions and issues are in front of us on this topic … but this session certainly helped me to better understand this complex issue. I am just certainly happy that I am not making the BIG decisions.