Publication, Data, Intellectual Property, Avoidance of Undue Influence
Publication in peer-reviewed journals is at the heart of the academic research enterprise. Considerations around the sharing of information, and the ability to replicate research results, are discussed in the excerpt from “On Being a Scientist.” Responsible research policies require protection of the scholar’s right and responsibility freely to offer periodicals and other publishers research results. Participation in scholarly publication is also a key component of the research apprenticeship of students. Donald Kennedy’s 1989 paper “On Academic Authorship” presents a systematic discussion of the topic.
As do most institutions, FVSU subscribes to the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure with 1970 Interpretive Comments of the American Association of University Professors with the 1987-1990 revisions. At Washington State University, the section on academic freedom reads as follows:
“Teachers are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results, subject to the adequate performance of their other academic duties; but research for pecuniary return should be based upon an understanding with the authorities of the institution.”
Following this basic theme, most institutions do not accept grants or contracts that confer upon an external party the power to censor, unduly delay, or exercise veto power over either the content of instruction or the conclusions and/or publication of research. Publication of research findings may temporarily be delayed in order to protect patent rights or permit the research sponsor to review the proposed test only to identify proprietary information furnished by or belonging to the sponsor. Research sponsored by interested parties is not trustworthy.
To protect both the scholar and the institution, researchers should be alert to language in proposals, award notices, or other project documents that limit openness. The Sponsored Programs Office (SPO) staff is available to assist in reviewing such documents. Any concerns about restrictions on openness or the ability to publish should be resolved, via SPO, before an award is accepted.
Recently, there has been an increased interest in patentability and licensing of intellectual property developed at institutions. This has brought new attention to issues of openness and potential for publication, as well as new potential conflicts of interest.
The idea that institutional resources should be reserved for meeting the institution’s mission underlies many intellectual property policies. Typically, the use of research facilities and resources for commercial purposes or for personal financial gain is managed through state ethics laws. Institutions receiving federal funding must report invention disclosures and promote technology transfer for the good of society.
Finally, after the research project is complete, regulations stipulate the length of time that scientific records and data must be retained. In general, data must be kept for three years following the closure of a project (this applies to both scientific and financial records). Special circumstances may require longer retention periods. Signed and possibly witnessed Laboratory notebooks are crucial project records, for example, in support of a patent application. In addition, records related to human subjects must be kept confidential – see Human Subjects section.