Former Conference Board Author Explains How Lobbyists Influenced Plagiarized Reports

from the well,-there's-that... dept

Wow. If you thought that the whole saga with the deceptive and plagiarized reports about intellectual property in Canada was over, when The Conference Board of Canada recalled the reports and admitted that they were both plagiarized and not up to research standards, think again. One of the named authors of the report is now speaking out to reveal some of the behind the scenes details. Now, he's only giving one side, but if his version of the events is true, it's incredibly damning of the Conference Board. Basically, he says that he wrote a very, very different research report last year, and handed it over in late August. He had already quit to take another job, but had finished up his research. However, months later, he received phone calls from both The Conference Board and some of the IP lobbyists who funded the research to complain about what the research said (impartial? non-biased?). Since he was no longer employed, he figured it was none of his business, but he implies that in response to these calls, the Conference Board appears to have replaced much of what he wrote with the plagiarized snippets from the lobbyist's own reports... but left his name on the report as an author. He's not happy:
  • I was a full-time employee with the Conference Board between September 2007 and July 2008. I resigned almost a year ago to take a fulfilling job with a non-profit in British Columbia.
  • I submitted draft research to my former supervisor for the IP reports in mid-August 2008. I finished the research after I moved even though I was neither on salary nor on contract with the Board.
  • The research I submitted did NOT include the controversial passages or plagiarized content.
  • I worked with three contract researchers on this project between April 2008 and June 2008, including Jeremy deBeer, whose work I integrated into the draft. These researchers did not submit research that included the controversial/plagiarized content.
  • I had no involvement in any content changes and did not see these papers after I submitted them in August.
  • My new work was interrupted in mid-September by my former supervisor at the Conference Board to tell me there had been “push back” from one of the funding clients about the research and inclusion of Mr. deBeer’s contribution. I had quit almost two months earlier so this was of no concern to me.
  • Around the same time, my new work was also interrupted by a call from one of the funding clients who expressed similar concerns. Again, I informed him that I no longer had anything to do with these reports.
  • I received news of its publication on May 26, 2009, ten months after my resignation. I downloaded and read the research after I was informed of the controversy and was alarmed to see the direction it had taken.
  • I sent my letter to Anne Golden the following day.
  • The VP of Public Policy e-mailed me on May 29th to ask for my assistance in finding both researchers who could "fix" the reports, as well as external reviewers who would be impartial in reviewing the new work. His message stated that “I trust your judgment, experience and knowledge and would value your help.”
The Conference Board wants my help to fix reports that were published 10 months after my departure. It wants me to help fix publications that were re-written (and plagiarized) months after my departure and after they discarded the research I compiled and submitted. The Conference Board asks for my help but won't acknowledge that it was wrong to put my name on reports that bear little resemblance to the original research I submitted, were substantially reworked, and were published ten months after I resigned. After Anne Golden laid blame on contract researchers and supervisors late last week, I noticed two of the authors who still were listed on the organization's web site were no longer on the staff list.
If true, this is all pretty damning, and raises serious questions about how The Conference Board of Canada created this report, as well as its impartial nature as a research institute. It's no secret that many research firms are accused of producing reports that favor the funders of those reports -- but to specifically toss out contrary results and replace them with the funders' own text goes beyond even what many "pay for the research results you want" type firms normally do.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    res2 (profile), Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 1:46pm


    for a lawsuit?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    GeneralEmergency (profile), Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 1:51pm

    Come on, Mr Cook...

    Why don't you just do us all a favor and drop a copy of the original report at

    Then we can see for ourselves just how slimy this hack job really was.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 1:53pm

    Re: Come on, Mr Cook...

    Yeah! I like that idea.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    yogi, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 1:54pm

    No surprise

    This happens so much within and without Academia that only an extremely naive or childish person would take research at its face value.

    It is always important to know who is writing, what they're stand is on the subject and who is doing the funding and why.

    In any case i think that we can take it for granted that anything the recording industry writes belongs to the "Fiction" part of the library.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 2:09pm

    Wimpy said it best...

    ...when he said "I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today".

    Perhaps that proverbial "Tuesday" never came for The Conference Board of Canada, and well...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    thornintheside, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 2:19pm

    paid shills at Conference Board of Canada

    So much for their reputation as impartial. I hope someone goes back and reviews their previous reports, I expect they will find numerous examples of bias in favor of the company/organization that funded their reports. What a crock!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Adam Bell (profile), Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 2:24pm

    If all true, a real shame. The Conference Board of Canada is definitely off my list of sources of information. Reminds me a drug company funded drug tests. I don't believe them either.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    minijedimaster (profile), Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 2:25pm

    Re: Come on, Mr Cook...

    That's assuming he kept a copy of it for himself.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    Simon (profile), Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 3:15pm

    Interview with Conference Board of Canada's CEO

    TVO's Search Engine has a podcast with Anne Golden, CEO of the Conference Board of Canada. This was recorded prior to the latest revelations above. 40k.mp3

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Sammy, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 4:25pm

    Are the Conference Board directors in hiding??

    The Board of Directors of the Conference Board of Canada is made up of a pretty impressive bunch of people - or so I thought before the plagiarism scandal.
    Where are they now? Only one has been mentioned in all the reports and blogs and that is our UBC President who has distanced himself from such unethical activity. I ask that the rest of them speak out about their opinion and role in this fiasco. Ms. Golden will be gone, so her opinion does not matter any more.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 4:35pm

    let's ask former employees who might have an axe to grind. Good way to get an entirely truthful statement!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Mechwarrior, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 5:51pm


    They'll probably be more truthful than plagiarists. At least they cant be any worse. Unless of course you are from the RIAA or MPAA, then it would be infinitely worse, wouldnt it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 7:01pm

    Does anyone go to jail for this? Any punishment on the individuals responsible? Personal fines? Something.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 7:02pm


    (by personal fines, I don't mean fining a corporation or an entity that represents more than one person. I mean fines on the specific people responsible, on their personal assets).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    On the periphery, Jun 4th, 2009 @ 2:24pm

    I doubt very much that Mr. Cook was a "disgruntled employee with an axe to grind" the manner it is being implied. Rather perhaps Mr. Cook realized the reality of the research production situation at the conference board and decided to - rightly so - distance himself from further involvement. He did mention he left of his own accord. Not agreeing with process does not mean one has an "axe to grind", it could merely mean one wishes to maintain one's personal and professional integrity. He should defend himself from allegations that are clearly not attributable to him.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    The Mad Hatter (profile), Jun 4th, 2009 @ 8:58pm

    The Conference Board of Canada - Research you can't trust

    And it appears that they may not be the only ones, it appears that similar things may have happened in England as reported by Glyn Moody. If Glyn is right, where else has this happened?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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