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From PhD to Life

Transition updates: Mélanie Brunet, copyright librarian and Kyla Reid, research facilitator

Since their last Q&As, both Mélanie’s and Kyla’s portfolios have grown, giving them the opportunity to work with a variety of departments.


Mélanie Brunet (PhD, history) contributed to the Transition Q & A series in May 2013. Read her interview here. She was then the librarian at the International Development Research Centre. Dr. Brunet is now copyright services librarian at the University of Ottawa.

Since May 2013, I had the opportunity to help the International Development Research Centre implement its open access policy. This initiative allowed me to expand my knowledge of scholarly communication, open access, Creative Commons licenses, questionable (or “predatory”) journals, institutional repositories, and copyright. During that period, I also took on the management of journal subscriptions, including ensuring access for IDRC grantees through a proxy server, negotiating that access with vendors, and analyzing usage statistics, deepening my interest in e-resource licensing and copyright.

In June 2016, I got the opportunity to focus on these areas of interest by joining the University of Ottawa as copyright services librarian. It is a relatively new position, created as part of U of Ottawa’s transition from an Access Copyright license to managing copyright internally.

I am now responsible for developing and offering copyright education to faculty, staff, and students. This requires me to stay up-to-date on developments in copyright law and their impact on the higher education and research sectors. I offer presentations and workshops, meet with professors and students to provide guidance, and collaborate with fellow librarians and services on campus to ensure copyright is considered in various projects (including electronic reserves, digitization of archives and special collections, guidelines and training for a new learning management system) and provide the necessary expertise on the topic. So far, I have worked primarily with professors, who have questions ranging from using copyright-protected materials in their courses to keeping the copyright on their own publications. But I also help students with their questions about clearing copyright for images and other content they want to reproduce in their thesis and the copyright implications of publishing their work.

Being back in an academic environment means I get to draw on my own graduate school, teaching, and research experience to relate to the copyright issues facing and affecting faculty and students at the university. I still use the skills I acquired as a graduate student and later as an instructor, in addition to all the library-related knowledge I gained in my previous position in a research organization. I get to teach, help develop policies and guidelines, do research, engage in interdisciplinary work, participate in administrative and committee work, and exchange with and learn from a growing community of copyright experts in higher education.

Kyla Reid (PhD, philosophy) contributed to the Transition Q & A series in July 2013. Read her interview here. She is a research facilitator in the faculty of public affairs at Carleton University. Follow her @kylareid.

I have remained at Carleton University in my capacity as a research facilitator in the faculty of public affairs. It’s been so great to have the stability, which I think has given me the space to set (and in some cases even achieve) longer-term goals. Since my Q & A, my portfolio has grown to include – what we call in research administration – institutional applications. This has meant that I have had the opportunity to work closely with several research teams to develop multi-million dollar applications. This work is more intense and challenging than individual research grants but I can really see the impact of my role. This year I even had the opportunity travel to Yellowknife, NWT to work on one of these projects.

I have increased my engagement with the national association for my field – the Canadian Association of Research Administrators – including serving on the membership engagement committee and leading professional development workshops. I’ve also been asked to present at the Canadian Association of Political Science Annual Conference and in a number of PhD classes here at Carleton to talk about non-academic careers for PhDs.

Jennifer Polk
Jennifer Polk is a career coach and entrepreneur. She earned her PhD in history from the University of Toronto in 2012. For more information and resources, check out her website:
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