Conference Board of Canada Issues Statement on IP Reports

The Conference Board of Canada has just issued its statement into the three IP reports that it recalled last month after acknowledging concerns involving plagiarism.  The statement admits just about all the allegations that were raised on my blog and in the media:

Plagiarism did occur, and it wasn’t detected due to insufficient oversight of this project. The evidence indicates there was undue reliance on feedback from a funder who was deemed to have important technical expertise. We failed to seek similar feedback from a broad range of stakeholders. The report relied heavily on too few sources and lacked sufficient balance. Moreover, the reports did not follow our internal quality review process. Overall, there was inadequate monitoring of this entire project.

The Conference Board has now contracted with Ruth Corbin to redo the reports, which will be presented to a multi-stakeholder roundtable in the fall.


  1. Andrew Butash says:

    Wow. I have to say, I’m impressed. Given the Conference Board’s history with other reports, this was fairly unusual to begin with, so I’m glad to see they’ve stepped up and admitted they made mistakes.

  2. Alan Langford says:

    Process, what process?
    The statement says “Moreover, the reports did not follow our internal quality review process”, then two sentences later “We have already taken steps to further strengthen our rigorous quality review process to prevent future incidents of this nature.”

    It’s hardly a “rigorous” process if it’s possible to not follow it.

    The open question, and the one upon which the credibility of all Board reports depends upon, is how many of their reports managed to bypass their process.

    The only way the Board can restore any credibility is to have an independent third party do an audit on a sampling of recent reports, not just the one where shoddy work has already been unmasked.

  3. Amos Hayes says:

    Owning up to the influence is more than our government has been able to do. Well done for highlighting the pressure and bias of the industry associations and how it has prevented a fair review. I hope politicians and civil servants will take note and start treating the issue objectively, and with Canadian public interest first.

  4. Why why why
    The trouble is they still haven’t addressed the problem of why this occurred.

    Despite my lack of knowledge of their process, I am still relatively confident that the level of incompetence (in several different areas) required to accidentally produce this result is unbelievable enough to be discounted.

    If it was not accidental, what is the source of the corruption and how is it being dealt with?

    Monitoring may be an issue, but a lack of monitoring only means they didn’t detect the problem before the report was published, it didn’t cause the problem. What was the cause?

  5. straight face
    How can she claim that?

    “the reports did not follow our internal quality review process”

    and what was her very own quality process when the author asked that his name be removed?

    and what was the “quality process” for taking someones work, butchering it, and signing someone else’s name to it as if they wrote it?

    Also who was the “funder” that did this, and to which the CBoC did nothing about.

    She sure did leave a lot out of that “press release”.

    This press releases address nothing than her promise that she will bring these reports back and shown as the “funder” said it should be shown.

    What a joke.

  6. Sal9757894
    “The evidence indicates there was undue reliance on feedback from a funder who was deemed to have important technical expertise.”


  7. Curtis Cook says:

    Cook receives apology from Conference Board
    In addition to the public statement from the Conference Board today, I received a personal letter this morning signed by Anne Golden and dated June 16th. The letter refers to my correspondence to Anne Golden on May 27th as well as the Board’s internal investigation. Her letter states:

    “What the investigation revealed is that the draft reports that you submitted in August 2008 did not include the plagiarized pieces, nor do they bear tangible resemblance to the product that was ultimately released. The drafts that you submitted were free of any of the offending passages and the internal investigation absolves you of responsibility in this regard. Not only has the Conference Board removed your name from the three reports, we have fully recalled the three reports, as I explained.”

    The letter also states, “Curtis, please accept our apology for your having been associated with this controversy.”

    I had asked for a public acknowledgement from the Board, considering how publicly my name was used on these reports almost a year after I had resigned from the Conference Board.

  8. Curtis rules!

  9. Not perfect, but still a very admirable move by the Conference Board.

  10. still, too many unanswered questions

    @curtis: was there a public acknowledgment, that cleared your name and reputation? (I couldn’t find it)
    Do you think the board might be already infiltrated by lobbyists (via free consultants / helpers)? Or what would be your explanation how this could have happened?

    @michael: Do you think Ruth Corbin is a good choice?

  11. Congratulations Professor!
    You’ve slayed a dragon!

    Hope you’re keeping your sword sharp for the next one.

  12. Funder as Author?
    I don’t understand that sentence either: “there was undue reliance on feedback from a funder who was deemed to have important technical expertise.” Did that funder edit these reports and insert the plagiarized paragraphs? What other reports/projects is that funder fiddling with?

  13. straight face
    Wow. I googled her. Impressive. I don’t think I ever saw so many letters after a name!

    RUTH M. CORBIN, B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D., LL.M. C.S.C., C.M.R.P., ICD.D.

    Her Resume is online here: faculty/cv/Corbin.pdf

    She is no stranger to the CBoC she has won awards from them (They appear to be friends) and has done some sort of address on:

    ““Governance of Intellectual Property: Lingerie and Fast Cars,” Keynote address to the Conference
    Board conference on Intellectual Property Management, Toronto, May 2008.”

    So no stranger to IP, law, surveys, (seems she had a stint with a few of the big ones)

    Other than that, I have no clue who she is. That’s a lot of letters after her name though! 🙂

  14. Geoff Kerson says:

    Thank you for all your work on this and similar issues, Dr. Geist. It is no exaggeration to say you provide huge service to Canada and its citizens.

  15. This may seem like a victory but do we really know the truth…..?
    I’m delighted that the Board have decided to redo the research and MG deserves considerable credit for bringing this issue to light.

    However I find Anne Golden’s statement wholly inadequate and it hinges on the phrase “undue reliance on feedback from a funder”……This, and her other comments about process seem to imply that the report was sent to the funder as per usual practice, they made a few comments and these were incorporated into the final report without proper review….Sloppy but understandable.

    On the other hand, in light of Curtis’ comments and the evidence of the report itself, one could credibly believe that a final report was produced, submitted to the funder, who objected strongly to its conclusions. The funder then reworked the report, removed the parts they didn’t agree with and inserted the plagiarized passages. The end result was a report that met the needs of the funder.

    Quite frankly I don’t know which of these scenarios is most likely but it would be easier to believe Anne Golden if she were more contrite, provided the name of the funder, and gave more detail about exactly what happened and had provided the public apology that Curtis asked for.

    Lastly while the Board should be congratulated on the appointment of Ruth Corbin to produce a new report, why was there not an independent enquiry into how this report was produces in the first place?

  16. Glenn Walker says:

    Glenn Walker
    Denials, Interviews with Anne Golden have been less than impressive, a statement buried on their website and a PRIVATE apology to an individual whose reputation could have been seriously damaged by this report. The CBoC appears tone deaf to the controversy. Their poor handling of this should is a case study in poor PR.

  17. Agreed Glenn!
    It seems as if they are simply stalling, thinking this will just go away and everyone will just forget. Unfortunately I think they are right.

    I think it’s a shame – The Conference Board of Canada has a great reputation and consistently puts out good solid insightful research. What they lack right now is principled leadership. Ironic really when you think of all the research they’ve done on Trust over the years. I’d be interested to see what the employees there think of it all and how Anne Golden has explained it to them – its sad that in acting the way they have a few individuals have let everyone else down.

  18. pat donovan says:

    welcome to the information revolution, people…

    lets all watch the conservatives crash and burn over this one.

    it a MASSIVE invasion of privacy
    INCREASED costs and regs for buz

    AND a presumtion of guilt.


  19. 1,400 research reports and this is the first time they’ve had to recall a report? Probably only because no-one has done any real checking or dared to challenge the content of those reports. How many of those reports are flawed with incorrect conclusions? Their statement is a real crock! They say “insufficient oversight”, “undue reliance on feedback from a funder”, “failed to seek similar feedback from a broad range of stakeholders”, “relied heavily on too few sources” “lacked sufficient balance” and “did not follow our internal quality review process”. Then they say “We have already taken steps to further strengthen our rigorous quality review process”. Unbelievable! Obviously, they remain arrogant, believing that this is no big deal but that they needed to put out a statement of some sort. I believe the Conference Board has lost all credibility.

  20. Give them the benefit of doubt
    I couldn’t say it with a straight face, but Anne Golden did:
    …there was “no causal link between feedback(from the funder) and any edits”….
    Why did the Conference Board provide a draft to the funder seeking feedback? Ummm,the report’s cover design and colour combination were edited as a result of the feedback.