Complying with the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications

By Diane (DeDe) Dawson, Science Liaison Librarian, University Library

The new Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications came into effect on May 1st 2015. This policy applies to all grants awarded from that day and onward (exception: CIHR has had this policy in place since Jan 1, 2008). This blog post is intended to be a handy, practical introduction to the policy and how to comply.

The Policy Details:

“Grant recipients are required to ensure that any peer-reviewed journal publications arising from Agency-supported research are freely accessible within 12 months of publication” (emphasis my own).

There are two routes to achieve this:

  1. Online Repositories (a.k.a. the “Green” route)
    Grant recipients can deposit their final, peer-reviewed manuscript into an institutional or disciplinary repository that will make the manuscript freely accessible within 12 months of publication. It is the responsibility of the grant recipient to determine which publishers allow authors to retain copyright and/or allow authors to archive journal publications in accordance with funding agency policies.
  1. Journals (a.k.a. the “Gold” route)
    Grant recipients can publish in a journal that offers immediate open access or that offers open access on its website within 12 months. Some journals require authors to pay article processing charges (APCs) to make manuscripts freely available upon publication. The cost of publishing in open access journals is an eligible expense under the Use of Grant Funds.

Tips and Tools for Complying:

Green/Repository Route:

  • You do not need to publish in an OA journal – just make sure that the journal you want to publish in complies with the Tri-Agency OA Policy. This means the journal/publisher must allow you to post a copy of the manuscript in a repository within 12 months of publication (often known as the “embargo period”).
    • Check Sherpa/Romeo for publisher’s policies.
    • Carefully read your Copyright Transfer Agreement (CTA) when publishing; negotiate with the publisher to keep the rights you need to post a copy (use an addendum tool).
    • Make sure you post the proper version of the article. Most publishers permit posting of the “post-print” or “author’s accepted version” (the final copy of the manuscript after peer-review and after final revisions have been made). Sherpa/Romeo and your CTA will tell you which version is acceptable to post by your publisher.
  • Currently the U of S does not have an institutional repository, but there are a growing number of disciplinary repositories that you can post to. Search the Directory of Open Access Repositories (OpenDOAR).
  • Posting on your own website is not enough. You must also post in an institutional or disciplinary repository. Although the Tri-Agency has not clearly stated this, it is likely that posting in a social network site like ResearchGate is also not an acceptable route to compliance.

Gold/Open Access Journals Route:

The Green and Gold routes are not mutually exclusive. If you publish in an OA journal, you can still post a copy to a repository. In fact this is encouraged. Why not have your article available in more than one location? It will increase discoverability, accessibility, and ultimately readership and citations!

All of these resources (and more!) are listed on the University Library’s Open Access Guide.

This is a modified version of a blog post originally posted on May 1st 2015 here:

What is the science behind your course design madness?

By Fred Phillips, Professor, Baxter Scholar, Edwards School of Business

As we begin another year, students are encountering some of the course design decisions made by their instructors. Some will be introduced to “flipped classrooms”, where students prepare by reading/viewing/responding to a learning prompt before it is formally taken up in class. Others will encounter new learning tools, such as adaptive reading systems that embed interactive questions within reading materials with the goal of assessing each student’s comprehension so that new topics can be delivered the moment he or she is ready to comprehend them.

Just as instructors have questions about these approaches and tools, students are likely to be curious about whether there is a method to our course design madness. To help explain the underlying learning science, I have made a few videos that describe relevant (and fun) studies that lend support to these pedagogies. Each video focuses on a particular question that students (and possibly instructors) are likely to have about elements of their courses. Each video describes two or three relevant studies in just enough depth to convey the gist of how they were designed and what they discovered. And, in the spirit of a TED Talk, they are each less than 10 minutes in length.

My thought with these videos is that instructors can send each link to students at the moment they expect their students will be asking the particular question, or they can provide them en masse. My hope is that the videos will help students appreciate why our courses might be designed as they are. And, if we’re really lucky, the videos will inspire our campus community to learn more about the scholarship of teaching and learning. Enjoy!

1. Why do we have so many tests? (7 min 24 sec)

  • Students often wonder why I plan frequent quizzes and exams throughout the term.

2. Why attempt to answer questions before “being taught”? (7 min 22 sec)

  • Students often think that there isn’t benefit in attempting to answer questions before they are formally taught content.

3. Is easier and more convenient learning better? (8 min 54 sec)

  • Is it more effective for students to have a cramming study session or to study throughout the term? When practicing, should students group questions of similar type or mix different question types? Does use of analogies help or hinder student learning?

Feedback in Marking – Some Tips for Efficiency

Feedback is one of the most important factors when it comes to improving student performance in a course. Yet many instructors would use words like tediousgrueling, or headache-inducing to describe the process of providing feedback to student work. If you are one of those instructors, consider integrating one (or more!) of the following strategies into your grading practice.

  • Separate Grading and Feedback: If the student cannot use your feedback to improve the quality of their work, writing comments on student work is probably just a waste of your time and energy.
  • Frontload Feedback: Provide specific and more detailed feedback early and frequent in the term, so it can be integrated into student work throughout the term. Early and frequent, but brief, feedback has a more powerful effect on student performance than long and detailed feedback later in the term does.
  • Comment Code: Create a list of frequent comments / feedback about student work (errors, corrections, suggestions, etc.), and give each a code. (For example, “AV” could be the code for “Use active voice, not passive voice”.) Distribute your Comments Code list to students, and use these codes when marking student work to cut down on your time spent writing comments.
  • Less is Sometimes More: Too much feedback can overwhelm and discourage students who are struggling. On each assignmentfocus primarily on giving feedback in the one or two areas that these students can improve on, which will lead to the greatest improvement in their performance in your class.
  • Delegate: Provide students with a self-evaluation checklist or rubric that they must fill in and submit as part of their assignment. Include reflection questions such as “What do you think the most interesting part of your paper is?” or “For me, the hardest part of completing this assignment was…”

The suggestions in this post are derived from Walvoord & Johnson Anderson’s book Effective Grading: A Tool for Learning and Assessment, which is available for faculty and instructors to borrow from GMCTE’s Resource Lending Library. For more information on making your marking and grading practices more efficient or to borrow this book, please feel free to contact GMCTE.

“If Not Us, Who? If Not Now, When?”

In Peter Stoicheff’s speech for the Presidential Announcement, he posed two questions that inspire the university’s efforts to decolonize and Indigenize our campus (July 9, 2015,  Emphasizing the urgency for action, he asked, “If not us, who?” and “If not now, when?”

At the University of Saskatchewan, we have a growing number of Indigenous staff, students, and faculty. Yet the U of S is comprised of a predominantly white settler Canadian campus population, and is set within a traditional Western institution. As we build capacity and become strengthened by the work and contributions of Indigenous staff, students, and faculty, the non-Indigenous people on campus have a large task ahead of them. The time is “now,” and the “who,” regarding decolonization, is made up of “us” (a majority of non-Indigenous peoples) who, mostly unknowingly, contribute to the systemic racism and oppression felt by the various peoples on campus.

Part of the solution to decolonizing the institution is to draw the elements of oppression out of our classes, content, curricula, and institutional systems and policies/documents. What will remain will be generative soil for Indigenous staff, students, and scholars to take root, feel respected and valued for their work and contributions, belonging, and being to thrive.

For more information regarding decolonizing and Indigenizing your classes, content, and curricula, and to participate in relevant professional development, contact the Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching Effectiveness at 306.966.2231, or

Additionally, we encourage people to consider submitting applications to the Experiential Learning Fund, to help support their efforts to decolonize and Indigenize through practicums, community engaged learning, or field-based instruction. For more information, click here.

Co-authoring Take 2: A co-authored post about co-authoring

Co-written with Shannon Lucky, Library Systems & Information Technology
Earlier this year I excitedly read Shannon Lucky’s post on Co-authoring from April 21, 2015 on Brain-Work, sparking a chance to respond, connect and collaborate. In our discussion about co-authoring we captured a wide range of questions to ask and strategies that seemed to fit with the framework of the 5 Basic Elements of Cooperative Learning that we adapted to co-write this blog post. To see Shannon’s description of our collaboration visit where the following information is cross-posted on C-EBLIP.

– Carolyn

Co-authoring and collaborative research can be personally rewarding and can strengthen a project by tapping into multiple perspectives and disciplines. It can also be difficult and frustrating at times but conflicts can be minimized, or avoided altogether, through planning and clear communication.
The following checklist is based on the five basic elements of cooperative learning developed by Johnson, Johnson, & Johnson Holubec. Each element is defined and lists questions you should answer as a group and tips to keep in mind as your work progresses. These questions can feel uncomfortable or may lead to conflict, but it is better to have these hard conversations early and to sort out any impasses before it is too late. Sometimes collaborating with someone just doesn’t work and it can be better to identify these situations early and walk away on good terms rather than having a project fall apart mid-way through when lots of time, energy, and resources have already been invested.
Communicate early! Communicate often!

A good collaborative team needs:

1. Positive Interdependence – having mutual goals, pursue mutual rewards, and need each other to be successful.

  • What are my goals for the project and what are my co-author’s goals?
    • This can include the number of publications you will write, the venue and format of publication, and timelines.
  • What am I bringing to this project and what are other in the group bringing?
    • Talk about your work style and preferences, personality, Myers-Briggs types, StrengthsFinders, what bugs you about working in groups – anything that will help your group get to know each others preferred work styles.
  • Can the project be easily divided so that everyone has a defined task?
    • Doing the literature review, editing, analyzing, referencing, etc.
  • What will each of our roles on the project team be and will they be static or rotating?
    • Note taking, coordinating meetings, synthesizing/pulling together ideas, etc.
  • What will the author order be or how else will author contribution be recognized?
    • How is this determined and is everyone in agreement?


  • Know thyself – figure out what has bothered you about past collaborations and what has worked well. Communicate this clearly to your team members and ask them what works and does not work for them. Be honest and upfront about your expectations.

2. Face-to-Face Promotive Interaction – reading each other’s expressions or tone and have positive interactions

  • How can we meet face-to-face, in the same room or using technology?
    • Especially important when working at a distance. We must interact with each other in ways that avoid misunderstandings or assumptions and build consensus/respected distinction?
  • How frequently should we meet and how will these meetings be arranged?
    • Are all meetings planned at the start of the project? Who is required at the meetings and who will organize and lead them? When will they occur?
  • What will our meetings look like?
    • Will they be for planning and checking in on individual progress, working meetings, or discussion and co-creation focused?
  • What is the length of our project?
    • Confirm what collaborator and able and willing to commit to in advance. Situations can change, but having a rough expectation for required time and contribution to the group can help with contingency planning if need be.
  • How will we create a good rapport and welcoming environment for the group?
    • Whose job is it to set the tone? The meeting host and the content lead for the discussion don’t have to be the same person.


  • Pay attention to discussions happening over email and other non face-to-face interactions to ensure that positivity, respect, and encouragement is maintained.
  • Make sure everyone in the group is included in discussions so no one becomes isolated or siloed in their piece of the project. This recommendation does not preclude small task groups or subgroups, but communication should be forefront.

3. Individual Accountability – each person knowing what they need to do, is able to do it, and does it on time.

  • What are the deliverables?
  • What are realistic timelines for me? For my co-author(s)?
  • What are our external deadlines?
    • e.g., special issue deadlines, external reviewer, conferences, personal deadlines
  • What will we do if we fall behind or need to step back?
    • Anticipate setbacks and plan contingencies.


  • Make individuals accountable to the group and their collective goals, rather than to a single individual leader. Allow the weight of several people relying on and expecting each piece to prompt action. Also reduces the tracking and chasing of the leader.
  • Make sure there is an explicit link between author order and contribution to the project or ensure another type of recognition for all authors.

4. Interpersonal And Small Group Skills – having the conflict-management, leadership, trust-building, and communication skills to build a well-functioning group

  • What skills do we already have in our group for leadership, conflict-management, facilitation etc.? What gaps exist and how can we fill them?
    • This can mean adding a person or finding external support such as hiring a copyeditor.
  • What roles do we all want to play on this project?
    • Take care to consider each person’s workload and other projects they are involved with. You might not want to be the lead researcher or editor for multiple projects are the same time.
  • What is my bandwidth for contributing to this project?
    • Note if this is likely to change during the lifecycle of the project and how this will impact the group.


  • See what skill development opportunities are available in your area.
  • Co-authoring might be an opportunity to either observe or practice a new skill

5. Group Processing – continuing to be a well-functioning group, checking in regularly and using the skills from element #4.

  • What points of coherence and dissonance have we identified as a group?
    • How do our personalities in element #1 work together or against each other?
    • How will we deal with disagreements?
    • What is the plan when individuals do not fulfill their part of the project?


  • Revisit your roles and decisions periodically as a group.
  • Build time to reflect and discuss the project into your meetings or schedule time specifically for this activity.
  • Identify one next step or a change to improve your project and/or your work dynamic.
  • Celebrate your successes!

Johnson, David W., Roger T. Johnson, and Edythe Johnson Holubec.Cooperation in the Classroom. Edina: Interaction Book, 1991. Print.

Too explicit? No such thing.

Following on Heather’s post last week about the key (and required) elements of the syllabus at the University of Sasaktchewan, I wanted to add a point of emphasis that I think saves time, saves confusion, and may even save you some heartache.

That point is: be explicit with your students about your expectations.

Sometimes, as instructors, we may forget that we too  had to learn about academic expectations and norms.   If we were lucky, we caught on quickly, probably in our first or second years of undergraduate study.   Our new students (new to our disciplines, our institution, our jargon, our everyday language, our Saskatchewan and/or Canadian ways) will benefit from clear instructions and rules about how to complete the work required, and especially the work we will assess for grades.  When we want individual work, we should explain what that looks like and what it does not in the context of our course.  Examples help a lot.  When collaboration is permitted, we should explain what we mean by that and what we would regard as collusion in the context of our course.  Again, examples are very useful.  When we expect students to use outside resources, we should explain what we mean by originality and what we mean by proper referencing, by proper paraphrasing.  Referring students to library and other resources so that they may quickly  learn about these important practices is vital.

It’s also important to note that what we expect may differ from what students have experienced in other programs, in other courses, and with other professors, even those in our same hallways.  The expectations we have can, to some extent, reflect our own beliefs about students and the role of assignments in their learning.

While this GMCTE video sets this same message about being explicit within the concern for academic integrity, you may find a view of this short piece gives you the reminder you need about stating, what may be to you but not to your students, the obvious.

Syllabus Requirements Updated in Academic Courses Policy

There were a number of changes to the Academic Courses policy at the University of Saskatchewan this year, including several related to the syllabus. As such, I want to take this opportunity to remind our readers at the U of S about what must be in your syllabus regardless of your college or department, which may have additional requirements.

All of the information shown below is included in the syllabus template and guide that can be found on our web site. You are not required to use the template, but it can be handy to use as a checklist for your own syllabus. It also contains additional information that we recommend you include in your syllabus.

The Academic Courses policy requires the following elements to appear in your syllabus:

  • type and schedule of class activities;
  • if the class is offered online, through distance learning, or off-campus, any additional or different expectations around any class activities and requirements;
  • expected learning outcomes or objectives for the class;
  • the type and schedule of term assignments;
  • the type and schedule of mid-term or like examinations;
  • notice if any mid-term examinations or other required class activities are scheduled outside of usual class times, with College permission;
  • the length of the final examination in hours as well as its mode of delivery;
  • relative marking weight of all assignments and examinations;
  • consequences related to missed or late assignments or examinations;
  • whether any or all of the work assigned in a class including any assignment and examination, or final examination, is mandatory for passing the class, or whether there are any other College-level regulations that specify requirements for passing the class
  • attendance expectations if applicable, the means by which attendance will be monitored, the consequences of not meeting attendance expectations, and their contribution to the  assessment process;
  • participation expectations if applicable, the means by which participation will be monitored and evaluated, the consequences of not meeting participation expectations, and their contribution to the assessment process;
  • experiential learning expectations if applicable, the means by which experiential learning will be monitored and evaluated, the consequences of not meeting experiential learning expectations, and their contribution to the assessment process;
  • contact information and consultation availability;
  • course or class website URL, if used;
  • notice of whether the instructor intends to record lectures and whether students are permitted to record lectures
  • explanation of Copyright where it relates to class materials prepared and distributed by the instructor
  • location of the Academic Courses policy as well as the regulations and guidelines for both academic and non-academic misconduct and appeal procedure;
  • information regarding support services that are available to students through the Student and Enrolment Services Division, Student Learning Services at the University Library, and the Colleges.

In addition, there are two subsequent points of importance:

After distribution the following changes are NOT permitted:

  • Methods & modes of assessment for all assignments and exams must remain as stated in syllabus
  • No major graded assignment or examination is to be newly assigned in a class
  • No changes to already set dates or the stated grade weighting of graded assignments or examinations

Changes are allowed after distribution if no student objects and the department head or dean (in non-departmentalized colleges) is notified.

Plus, “Once the Registrar has scheduled final examinations for a term, instructors wanting to change the date and/or time of their final examination must obtain the consent of all students in the class according to procedures established by the Registrar, as well as authorization from the Department Head, or Dean in non-departmentalized Colleges.”

Teaching Goals, the Learning Charter, and the Fall Fortnight

It’s hard to believe, as we sit on a 30+ day, that the fall term is coming up fast! It is even warm in my office today as I write. (And for those of you who have stopped by on other days and needed to put on a jacket, you know how hot it must be out there to warm it up in here!!) At the Centre we have been busy planning for the start of the fall turn and, as always, our guiding star is the University of Saskatchewan’s Learning Charter.

It reminds us of our responsibilities and commitments to the university community. There are specific commitments and responsibilities for instructors. We use these to guide the support we offer to instructors.

One of the ways we cluster opportunities are the seasonal fortnights—two weeks of an eclectic mix of sessions offered in a variety of formats. The next Fortnight runs from August 17th through to the 28t. Information for instructors is here: and for graduate students and post-docs is here:

We look forward to getting together again soon! For more information on any of these sessions, or to suggest sessions, please contact GMCTE.

Just a reminder—the commitments and responsibilities for instructors are:

  1. Exemplify Learning: Create a learning context which values and facilitates active learning and broad thinking; Act according to ethical principles; Create a learning environment where all participants engage respectfully.
  1. Teach Effectively: Be aware of the range of appropriate instructional strategies for teaching the course content; Select & utilize effective methods of instruction. Provide graduate teaching assistants with the proper guidance and supervision.
  1. Assess Fairly: Clearly communicate & uphold academic expectations and standards; Ensure that assessment of student learning is transparent, consistent and congruent with course outcomes; Regularly provide prompt & constructive feedback to students.
  1. Solicit Feedback: Provide opportunities for students to give candid feedback on their learning experience without fear of repercussions; Solicit feedback on teaching effectiveness from other areas; Reflect on feedback and continually strive to improve.

Practice Problem Sets: Issues of Timing and Mixing

While looking for resources for a faculty member in the sciences who was interested in incorporating more problem sets into her lectures to increase student engagement, I came upon a 2007 article by Rohere and Taylor, appearing in Instructional Science. This article describes two experiments where particular timing and mixing of mathematics practice problems improved learning.

The authors point out that it is usual for practice problems to be assigned:
• immediately following the relevant lesson (massed), and
• for problems of the same type to be grouped together (blocked).

15 - September - 2008 -- MathsThrough Rohere and Taylor’s experiments, they found that spacing the timing of two sets of practice problems 1 week apart (they called this spaced rather than massed) and varying the types of problems in a practice set (they called this mixed rather than blocked) greatly improved students’ test performance.

While the experiments used math concepts (one was a permutation task, the other was a volume task), it seems there could be an extrapolation/application to other kinds of practice problem sets for students.

The basic idea I take from this article for teaching is twofold:
(1) have students return to the problem type practiced in the previous week, and
(2) mix last week’s problem type with this week’s problem type.

This approach means students get to try a set of problems again—important especially if they had difficulty first time around. Plus, using mixtures of problems handled at the same time requires students to learn to pair each kind of problem with the appropriate procedure – that is students not only learn how to perform each procedure (learning-how), but also which procedure is for each kind of problem (learning-which) – the authors call this “discrimination training.”

A powerful closing remark in the article is that shuffling problems in this way presented few logistical demands for the teacher, making it an easy change in teaching practice that can have dramatic benefits for student learning.

(And, here I’ll add another easy change that builds on the above…teachers can ask students to do problems sets in small groups, then exchange them with another group and provide peer feedback on their calculations or choice of procedures. The learning that occurs by providing feedback to peers has also shown improvements in student performance.)

Rohere, D, & Taylor, K. (2007). The shuffling of mathematics problems improves learning. Instructional Science, 35, 381-498.

Evaluating Presentations With a Little Help From My (Citable) Friends …

Individual and group presentations provide great opportunity for students to share what they have learned with peers and an efficient and feasible way of marking for instructors.

That being said, how do you grade them?

I, and I’m pretty sure you too, have experienced the full range of presentations from the stunningly excellent to the staggeringly confusing, from the inspirational to the sleep-inducing. The challenge is describing these qualities so they can be identified and assessed.

One option would be to create my own rubric based on these experiences.

The easier option is to use or adapt existing materials from others I respect.

The first source I turn to is the well-respected Association of American Colleges & Universities’ VALUE (Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education) assessment initiative, which has created 16 rubrics including one for oral communication.

They define oral communication as “a prepared, purposeful presentation designed to increase knowledge, to foster understanding, or to promote change in the listeners’ attitudes, values, beliefs, or behaviors” and assess it according to five criteria: organization, language, delivery, supporting material and central message. The rubric describes requirements for each criterion across 4 levels. For example, Capstone (4) level delivery requires that presenters’ “Delivery techniques (posture, gesture, eye contact, and vocal expressiveness) make the presentation compelling, and speaker appears polished and confident.”

The second resource I consider is the more detailed (15 criteria across 3 categories) rubric of the American Evaluation Association’s Potent Presentation Initiative (p2i). Their website has every resource I ever wished to send to students (and perhaps others) about what “good” presentation or posters look like. They have posted rubrics, guidelines, templates and resources for regular slides presentations, ignite presentations (20 slides x 15 seconds = 5 minutes of auto-advancing slides), posters and handouts.

In addition I could ask a colleague or see what other courses in the program are using.

presentation outline

One of the best parts of adapting rubrics is the opportunity to decide which pieces I find most important for my course (e.g., organization), ones that are relevant if revised to be more specific (e.g., supporting material) and ones that are not (e.g., mastery – speaking without reading from notes). I also can decide which resources I recommend (e.g., p2i slide design guidelines), which I comment on (e.g., I suggest noting times if you use the p2i rundown template) and which I just mention (e.g., p2i presentation preparation checklist).

When uncertain I can always ask for a second opinion from a colleague, request a consultation, or trial it before posting the criteria.

Happy assessing!

Picture courtesy of Sean MacEntee and carries a Creative Commons Attribution license.