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Professional Rights and Responsibilities

CAUT Policy Statement

Academic Staff as Teachers

The first responsibility1 of academic staff as teachers is the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge and understanding through teaching, research, scholarly activity and creative artistic activity. They should endeavour conscientiously to remain current in their field, to develop their scholarly competence, and to maintain and enhance their effectiveness as teachers.

Academic staff members have the right to assess and evaluate student performance, to organize course content and classroom or laboratory activities, and to employ methodology and didactic material, including textbooks, in a manner consistent with relevant academic standards and the course description approved by the senior academic body of the institution, provided that these policies and course descriptions do not infringe the individual's academic freedom. In multi-section courses, or in team teaching, the same principles apply.

Where appropriate, academic staff members should encourage students to debate and discuss course content. Academic staff have the right to promote and guide student participation in class discussions as they see fit within the framework of human rights and professional standards.

They should be fair in evaluating their students.

They should not exploit the work of students for personal gain.

All information about students that is gained in confidence, whether concerning students' academic progress, personal lives or political and religious views, should be kept in strict confidence. This does not affect the normal use within an institution of information concerning academic progress for the purpose of making academic decisions.

Where an academic staff member and a student are in a close personal relationship such that there is, or may be perceived to be, a conflict of interest, or inappropriate bias, the staff member should decline or terminate a supervisory or evaluative role with respect to the student in question, and, when necessary, make appropriate alternative arrangements for the supervision and/or evaluation of that student's work.

When acting as referees, academic staff members should strive to be fair and impartial.  They may refer to a student's character where this is relevant.

In cases where the reference has not been solicited by the student, academic staff members should inform the student prior to responding. Normally they should not respond unless the student agrees.

Academic Staff as Scholars

Academic staff have the right to investigate and to conduct research in accordance with principles of academic freedom. It is essential that academic staff members be free to disseminate the results of their research through publication, lectures and other appropriate means.

Academic staff members should publicly acknowledge any affiliations or other relationships they may have with the funders of their research. They should identify any sources of funding or support for their research projects.

Academic staff members should refrain from entering into any agreement that infringes their freedom to publish the results of research conducted within the institution's precincts or under its auspices. Notwithstanding this, they may agree to delay, for no more than 60 days, publication of their research findings for the purpose of preparing a patent application, provided that this condition is agreed to and is known before the research work is commenced.

They should familiarize themselves with and respect prevailing ethical guidelines regarding research involving human or animal subjects.

Academic staff should not waive their Moral rights to the intellectual property they create.

Academic Staff as Colleagues

Academic staff members should act to ensure a working milieu which is open, non-discriminatory and free from personal, racial or sexual harassment. They should defend their colleagues' academic freedom. They should not act deliberately so as to infringe that freedom.

When assessing the competence of a colleague in the context of a request from an appropriate institutional committee or authority (e.g. a committee dealing with appointments, tenure, dismissal or research grants) academic staff members have the obligation both to the colleague and to the institution to be fair and impartial. Such judgments should be provided in writing whenever possible.

In disseminating the results of their scholarly activity, academic staff members should fully acknowledge contributions by colleagues, students and others.

They should not exploit the work of colleagues for personal gain.

Academic Staff and Service

In accepting an academic appointment, academic staff members assume obligations to the institution in addition to their primary duties as teachers and scholars. They have the responsibility to participate in the life of the institution, in its governance and administration, through membership on committees and organizations at board, senate, academic staff association/union, college, school, and department levels, as well as the broader community. They should encourage openness in the conduct of the institution's affairs.

Approved by the CAUT Council, April 2009.

1 This statement reinforces the Canadian Association of University Teachers’ “Policy Statement on Fairness for Contract Academic Staff” which affirms inter alia that: “All academic appointments should recognize that the nature of academic work includes teaching, research and professional activity and participation in service activities.” CAUT regrets, therefore, that many contract academic staff are limited by their situation to "teaching only" or "research only" positions.