Millot: Professional Ethics on Holiday from EdSector? (II)
As a critical consumer of policy studies, I'm sensitive to analysis on behalf of advocacy. But until I saw the difference between Sweating and Growing, I never thought EdSector reports would cut inconvenient facts rather than address them head on. Surely there is a principled counter-argument for the viability of CMO finances and the underlying business model. I still prefer to believe that this fiasco is an aberration rather than evidence of a pattern.
The further I get into AERA’s ethical code, the more I'm convinced that EdSector's current communications strategy – the editing process was "not... out of the ordinary," we’ve done absolutely nothing wrong, and those who differ are confused, mercenary, disgruntled or mean – is counterproductive.
Mistakes were made. EdSector would be much better off
if incoming board chair Margaret (Macke) Raymond and Publisher Andrew Rotherman
issued a statement saying as much, announcing that Kim Smith has decided to
leave the board in the best interest of EdSector, and noting that the
nonprofit's Research Advisory Board has been asked to develop an ethics policy
to guide future publications. The controversy would end immediately. Indeed, EdSector would
look pretty good for policing itself when less confident organizations might stonewall.
Meanwhile, back to the salt mine, assessing this situation in light of AERA's ethical standards.....
AERA’s standards on Intellectual Ownership address the control and use of researchers’ work products. The first requires acknowledgement of other work significantly relied on.
• EdSector Policy Director Kevin Carey, or whoever directed him to rewrite Toch’s Sweating as Growing, was under a professional obligation to acknowledge Toch and his draft
report. Toch's decision not to sign on as the author of Growing is entirely permissible under the code, and completely irrelevant to this rule. Remember that Toch refused to sign on because he does not consider Growing to be his work, but a bastardization of his efforts.
Toch's decision does not excuse Carey or EdSector from acknowledging him as the
author of Sweating, on which
Carey and EdSector relied significantly to publish Growing.
This same standard states it is improper to use
positions of authority to appropriate the work of others or claim credit for it.
• Surely all can agree Sweating was "appropriated" (i.e., taken) by
EdSector and, particular in the absence of an individual author, that EdSector
has claimed credit for the portion of Toch’s original that remains in Growing.
The second standard of this section’s clarifies the relationship between an author’s intellectual rights to his work and the financial or business relationship in which the work was produced.
While under suitable circumstances, ideas and
other intellectual products may be viewed as commodities, arrangements
concerning the production or distribution of ideas or other intellectual
products must be consistent with academic freedom and the appropriate
availability of intellectual products to scholars, students, and the public.
Moreover, when a conflict between the academic and scholarly purposes of
intellectual production and profit from such production arise, preference
should be given to the academic and scholarly purposes.
• EdSector states that it ceased working with Toch on
the academic and scholarly purpose of Sweating/Growing because of an argument over compensation. On a
practical level, the outcome of this business dispute could hardly have a
material impact on EdSector’s financial condition. Whatever the merits of EdSector commercial case against Toch, denying him access to whatever rewriting was being done by Carey, violated the organization's ethical responsibilities. This is
especially true given that EdSector planned to, and did, present Toch with a
final copy just prior to release, in the hope he would sign on to Growing as author. It looks like EdSector was withholding
money to influence Toch to accept the nonprofit's preferred publishing outcome, and this is not permitted under the code.
Next: Ethics in the Review Process