Taking Notes: Eye on Education – Graduate Students May Be Losing Credit For Work

Taking Notes: Eye on Education – Graduate Students May Be Losing Credit For Work

This column focuses on a wide range of issues affecting post-secondary students. Students are encouraged to submit suggestions and educational topics they are concerned about, or personal experiences with courses or university situations they feel other students should know about. If suggest a topic or a course alert for taking notes, contact djabbour@ausu.org


The American Educational Research Association conference was recently witness to a disturbing assessment of Canadian universities. In a paper entitled, More Than Meets the Eye: The Underside of the corporate Culture in Higher Education, Magda Lewis, professor of education at Queen’s University, suggests that the pressure to publish is leading professors to “grab and take unto themselves items they have not produced” (Canwest news, 2005) by taking too much credit for work that is primarily produced by graduate students, many of whom have significant research skills and are ready to publish their own work. This may be hidden under the guise of “co-authorship” or “collaboration”, but in reality it is the graduate students who have done the bulk of the work. One example cited in the paper tells of a student who had collected data, written the paper, and was seeking publication – however, her senior faculty supervisor assumed first author rights on the study.

Lewis blames the push to commodify knowledge, which she feels has “transformed higher education from a place where knowledge is created and shared, to where it is hoarded and sold for a price” (CanWest news, 2005). In this “scholarship-as-product” marketplace, professors are judged and compensated according to how much research-based work they produce.

Given that future prospects, professional prestige and research grants are dependent on publications, graduate students should be very concerned by this trend toward others appropriating work that the student should be receiving proper credit for.

CanWest News (2005). Professors too willing to grab students’ work: Scholarship-as-product trend noted. Edmonton Journal, April 11, 2005, A7. http://www.canada.com/edmonton/edmontonjournal/news/story.html?id=809ba7ef-27ea-46cf-8335-2aee48b5fb4e
Lewis, Magda (2004). More than meets the eye: The underside of the Corporate culture in higher education and possibilities for a new feminist criticism: http://www.csse.ca/CASWE/Institute/2004/Magda_Lewis_CASWE_plenary_2004.pdf
American Educational Research Association: http://www.aera.net/

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