1. Important Links
CLICK HERE, for the Ad Hoc Investigatory Committee report.
2. Context Of Followup
In 2017, Professor Pyne released a research report on so-called “predatory publishing”. In it, he details how academics publish in journals that are not peer reviewed, and who make little if any effort to verify the findings.
Although the report did not drop specific names, it was not well received by Thompson Rivers University. In a sense this was understandable, as it is not a topic that most people wish to address. Professor Pyne claims that this led to the atmosphere at the school changing, and to his eventual suspension.
Regardless of how touchy the topic may be, this was the wrong way to handle it. Truth should never be censored just because it is inconvenient or embarrassing.
This topic was originally covered early this year. However, since then the Committee investigating the case has ruled that Professor Pyne’s rights were violated.
3. From Ad Hoc Investigative Comm Report
Point #3, the school was found to be lacking in having a strong understanding of its academic freedom obligations.
About point #4, that is true, though it doesn’t appear that the school knew what was happening as the research was being done. As no live subjects were used, no ethics approval was needed.
Point #5 concerned leaking of personal information which Professor Pyne believes was done deliberately.
Again, read the whole report for a more thorough reply.
An interesting point is raised: even if one has issues with the topic being raised, the way it was handled was completely wrong.
Beyond that, the report on predatory publishing raises very valid concerns. Academics should be concerned about the quality of the screening that is done of their research. Predatory publishes may reward professors with money or more status for work that by all rights should have been rejected. Academia can be a vicious place. In fact, shedding light on this could be viewed as investigative journalism.
Finally, retaliation (no matter how subtle) creates a chilling effect for everyone. What topics are now off limits? Who will be next? Is this really where we want to go with free speech?
4. Comments From Professor Pyne
1/ What exactly did the ruling say?
-TRU and TRUFA violated academic freedom
-Committee tries not to attribute motives to people
-TRU lacks strong policies in academic freedom
-TRU violated privacy laws by leaking confidential information
-TRU should pay wages lost during suspension
2/ Can or will TRU appeal?
-TRU refused to participate in the process, so not likely
-There have been claims of defamation, even though people were not named in the paper
3/ What has changed since this case happened?
-I’ve had my office transferred elsewhere
-People were unhappy with some Facebook postings I made
-The issue still isn’t sitting well with people
4/ Do you think it will make a difference at TRU?
-No, it doesn’t seem to have
Committee has been hand picked by the President
-They say that they have not been provided with all the information, but won’t say what they don’t have
5/ What would you say to people concerned about academic freedom?
-It’s an important cause
-There are a lot of hoops to jump through
-Check out the Society for Academic Freedom