Category Archives: Author rights

Canadian Research Funders’ Commitment to the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA)

In 2019, the five major national research funding agencies in Canada announced that they had signed on to the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), an initiative which calls for more holistic practices for evaluating research outputs. These five organizations include the Tri-Agency Research Council members – the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Canada (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) – as well as the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and Genome Canada. 

In August 2023, CIHR reaffirmed their commitment to fulfilling DORA recommendations by updating their program guidance to applicants and peer reviewers. NSERC and SSHRC both also have statements discussing how becoming DORA signatories aligns with their current practices. They also stipulate how their funding mandates will change in response to DORA principles. 

A few universities are included in the list of 50 Canadian signatories of DORA. Through these commitments, institutions such as the University of Calgary, Université de Montréal, and École de technologie supérieure are changing the way research impact is evaluated within their organizations.  More information on the implementation of DORA in Canada is available on DORA’s website. 

TK Labels: Tool for Indigenous Peoples to assert sovereignty over traditional knowledges

Logo for the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples


August 9 marks the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, an annual celebration of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was adopted in 2007. It is an opportunity to highlight the significant contribution that Indigenous Peoples have made to our world and it serves as a reminder to reaffirm everyone’s commitment to advancing the rights of Indigenous Peoples and to working together to address the challenges they still face around the world.

This celebratory blog post is dedicated to Traditional Knowledge Labels (TK Labels) – a framework for preserving Indigenous knowledges in digital environments. It will outline how the system works and discuss how it can be helpful in scholarly work.

1.   What are TK Labels?

Traditional Knowledge Labels (TK Labels) is a digital tagging system developed by the Local Contexts initiative in partnership with Indigenous communities worldwide to recognize, categorize, and acknowledge traditional knowledges of Indigenous Peoples and their contexts and regulate how and by whom that intellectual property can be used. Together with other tools such as Local Context’s BC Labels, GIDA’s CARE Principles, or the Mukurtu Content Management System (CMS), they ensure the cultural sovereignty of Indigenous peoples worldwide.

2.   What can TK Labels add to existing frameworks regulating intellectual property?

TK labels appear to be akin to statutory copyright and trademark law. Yet they were developed because legal concepts of regulating intellectual property are often at odds with how traditional knowledge is passed on, shared, and exercised. Copyright laws have been exploited many times to appropriate Indigenous knowledges and traditional cultural expressions, including by the scientific community.

Instead, the concept of TK labels is loosely inspired by Creative Commons (CC) licenses. CC licenses form another labeling system, that is intended to complement copyright by offering a more general framework for sharing intellectual property. But TK labels are more elaborate than Creative Commons and designed to provide a holistic perspective on the context in which traditional knowledges and Indigenous cultural heritages live. They can, for example, show provenance and specify protocols that should be applied when using the knowledge and they can be customized to serve local contexts. TK labels also contrast with Creative Commons because the open philosophy of which these licenses are a component is not in harmony with indigenous traditions of learning, teaching, and knowing.

Although not legally binding, TK labels create a safe space for traditional manifestations of intellectual property and their contexts that existing copyright laws generally cannot capture and legislate.

3.  How do TK Labels help protect Indigenous Knowledges and promote Indigenous cultural sovereignty?

Currently 20 different TK Labels help to raise awareness of Indigenous knowledges and their interrelationships. Labeling traditional knowledges that exist in digital environments makes them more recognizable. By contextualizing them with the help of TK Labels, knowledge-keepers can decide to provide clarity, depth, and meaning to audiences outside of their communities. As a result, these labels can prevent misappropriation by making clear where the knowledge and teachings originate and in what way their usage is authorized. This can encourage future use, foster their preservation and prevent undesirable or illegitimate applications. It is the exercise and sometimes the restitution of control over their dissemination. TK Labels help to repatriate sovereignty over knowledges and cultural expressions, that have been torn from their ancestral settings. And not least, they can encourage engagement with the inherent nature of Indigenous knowledge traditions and lead to a deeper understanding of them.

An image of 12 different TK Labels and their meaning

Examples of different TK Labels and their meanings. Source: Local Contexts and

4. What role TK Labels can play in indigenizing digital scholarship

TK labels offer an opportunity to improve the social impact of digital scholarship by promoting decolonization and indigenization. As more non-Indigenous researchers turn to traditional knowledge to solve societal problems to which Western science cannot find sufficient answers, such as wildlife conservation or the life-threatening effects of the climate crisis, it is increasingly important that this knowledge be used appropriately, respectfully, and in harmony with its bearers. TK labels can provide a framework for this use. With TK Labels, global Indigenous communities have an additional tool in their hands with which they can gain recognition for knowledges and cultural practices that have been considered a common good by the scientific community for centuries and have thus been appropriated without acknowledgement of their sources. Now these communities can claim it on their own terms.

5. How students, researchers and academic institutions can implement TK Labels in their learning, teaching, research and heritage work

The labels themselves can only be applied by Indigenous communities. Researchers and educators as well as academic and heritage institutions (archives, museums, libraries) who would like to refer to traditional knowledges in their works or in collections they host can apply a TK notice to them by registering their projects or collections in the Local Contexts Hub. That will notify Indigenous communities of potential Indigenous rights and interests in their publications, data or holdings, who can then decide if and which labels to apply to those projects. 

An important application relevant to scholarly and preservation work that includes the TK Labels is the Mukurtu CMS for building digital collections that contain manifestations of Indigenous cultural practices and traditional teachings. Learn more about how TK Labels are implemented into Mukurtu here.

Further Reading on Indigenous Knowledges

A special issue of UVic’s open access journal KULA: Knowledge Creation, Dissemination, and Preservation Studies has been dedicated to Indigenous Knowledges in 2021.

CARL Joins Thousands Calling for Improvements to Research Assessment

April 3, 2018

The Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) has signed on to the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), which recommends changes in practices by the research community regarding the use of research metrics.

For more see:

Open Education Week Event on Vancouver Island – March 8

Open Education Week: Open in Action

Date: Thursday March 8

Time: 9:30 am- 3:00pm

Location: Babcock Canada Interaction Lab in the Jack White Building (#13 on Map) @ Interurban campus, Camosun College

Free Registration

Open Education Week’s goal is to raise awareness about free and open educational opportunities that exist for everyone, everywhere, right now.  We want to highlight how open education can help people meet their goals in education, whether that’s to develop skills and knowledge for work, supporting formal studies, learning something new for personal interest, or looking for additional teaching resources.

Join faculty, staff and students at the Innovations Lab @ Interurban campus, Camosun College to celebrate the Open Education Movement in BC. This event will include presentations from open advocates at various Institutions who will discuss their projects in detail and share how they have put open education into action.

9:30 am Welcome and Introduction

9:40-10:20 am Kelsey Merkley – The Intersections of Open

Kelsey Merkley is an open innovation practitioner. After 7 years in South Africa she has extensive experience in managing Pan-African projects with an open education focus, including Africa Open Toolkits, the Pan-African Open Advocate Training Program #openafrica & Kumusha Bus stops. Previous projects include working with Siyavula, Nolwazi, WikiAfrica, University of Cape Town IP Unit, City of Cape Town Open Data Project, UNICEF Innovation Unit, and the Shuttleworth Foundation. She has hosted events including the first African Open Textbook Summit and the Institute for Open Leadership. She founded Open Textbooks for Africa a project designed to support the adaption and adoption of Open Textbooks across Africa.

Now based in Toronto, Kelsey is Public Lead for Creative Commons Canada after serving as Public Lead for Creative Commons South Africa for 4 years. Creative Commons is the global standard for legal sharing. Kelsey has expertise in IP Law, Open Textbooks, Open Educational Resources, Open Policy, Open Business Models and loves Community Building.

Most recently Kelsey has worked with Creative Commons HQ, and e-Campus Ontario.

Kelsey’s talent is creating a robust local and international partnerships and communities. She was named one of South Africa’s brightest young minds by Mail & Guardian in 2015 and was a speaker at 2015 TEDxCapeTown.

10:20-10:30 am Break

10:30- 11:00 am Inba Kehoe – Scholarly Publishing UVIC

11:00-11:30 am Elizabeth Childs and Jo Axe – Transforming an entire department RRU

11:30-12:00 pm Amanda Coolidge, BCcampus – Project Updates and New Call for Proposals

12:00-1:00 pm Lunch sponsored by BCcampus

1:00-2:00 pm Lightning Rounds

Michael Paskevicius, VIU

Sue Doner, Camosun College

Janni Aargon, UVIC

George Veltsianos, RRU

2:00-3:00 pm Uncommon Women Panel – hosted by Kelsey Merkley, featuring UnCommon Women, Mary Burgess and Jennifer Walinga

In the 2014 Tutu Lecture “Women in Peace” Mary Robinson, President ofIreland, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights spoke to the importance of gender equality of the decision-makers in the room.  And the value of amplifying the voice of women leaders brings more to the room and the decisions – Her practical recommendation was simple “that women in positions of authority walk into a room that is dominated by men should ask “What’s wrong with this room?””

Kelsey Merkley started UnCommon Women because she saw a gap between the women in senior operating roles and the men in “Thought Leader” roles. In other words, the women were getting s*** done. Kelsey wanted to celebrate and amplify the many strong brilliant and busy women of the commons.

Join Kelsey Merkley as she interviews and facilitates a conversation with UnCommon Women, Mary Burgess and Jennifer Walinga.

Amanda Coolidge, MEd
Senior Manager of Open Education
BCcampus | connect.collaborate.innovate


Elsevier grants journal access to German universities

January 4, 2018 | Nature

Elsevier granted uninterrupted access to about 2, 500 journals for German scientists/universities while they work out a deal for a collective deal is hammered out nationally. Talks broke down at the end of 2017.

For more information see: and


AIP eliminates page publication charges

Jan 5,  2018 | AIP

AIP Publishing announced today the elimination of publication page charges and color charges, as of January 1, 2018, for all of the organization’s journals, including Physics of Plasmas, Review of Scientific Instruments, and 10 other prominent peer-reviewed physical science titles. The company’s decision followed an assessment of the global publishing landscape, which found that the charges represented potential barriers to some researchers, and no longer serve the AIP Publishing non-profit mission. Two prominent AIP Publishing titles, Journal of Applied Physics and Applied Physics Letters, ceased levying publication page charges in June 2017.

For more see:

Stephen Hawking’s 1996 doctoral thesis now open access!

Maev Kennedy | The Guardian | October 23, 2017

Anyone in the world can now download and read the doctoral thesis of a 24-year-old Cambridge postgraduate student, written in 1966; how many will fully understand Properties of Expanding Universes is another matter.

Stephen Hawking hopes that giving free access to his early work will inspire others, not just to think and learn but to share research. He said: “By making my PhD thesis open access, I hope to inspire people around the world to look up at the stars and not down at their feet; to wonder about our place in the universe and to try and make sense of the cosmos.

“Anyone, anywhere in the world should have free, unhindered access to not just my research, but to the research of every great and inquiring mind across the spectrum of human understanding.”

Read more at:

Bold OA push in Germany to change academic publishing

August 23, 2017 | Science

“Over the past 2 years, more than 150 German libraries, universities, and research institutes have formed a united front trying to force academic publishers into a new way of doing business. Instead of buying subscriptions to specific journals, consortium members want to pay publishers an annual lump sum that covers publication costs of all papers whose first authors are at German institutions. Those papers would be freely available around the world; meanwhile, German institutions would receive access to all the publishers’ online content.

Consortia of libraries and universities in the Netherlands, Finland, Austria, and the United Kingdom have all pushed for similar agreements, but have had to settle for less than they wanted. In the Netherlands, for example, Elsevier—the world’s biggest academic publisher—has agreed to make only 30% of Dutch-authored papers freely available by 2018, and only after a significant increase in the annual sum libraries pay.”

Read more about where the deal is stalled: