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Thread: Right to use a dataset

  1. #1 Right to use a dataset 
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    Hello
    I have an ethic dilemma and would like to have some guidance on the following.

    Some 5 years ago I was PI of a project on ecology and hired an expert to sample and identify the species. This expert was assisted by, my then, PhD student. Currently I keep collaborations with my former student but am in in bad terms with the expert.

    My student and I would like to use the database compiled (species abundance data) for furhter studies. The expert has learnt of our intentions and threatens to report misconduct. We offered co-authorship to the expert but it was refused.

    My questions is can we, on ethical grounds, use the dataset for research (i.e. non-profit activities)? I do not care if the expert uses it for her own research. Personally I think that this data should be publicly available but the expert put a lot of effort to compile it and can understand his point.

    Thank you very much for your attention.


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  3. #2  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Please note that I am not an expert on the legal aspects of this situation, nore have you said where you are based. However, here are my thoughts.

    You hired the expert to perform a job. That job was to provide you with a set of data. I would have thought that that data set then becomes your property, since you have paid for it. This should have been laid out in the hiring agreement. If it was not, then what is normal practice in these circumstances?


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  4. #3  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope sculptor's Avatar
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    tursiops

    where are you?
    what university?

    "Hired", if used properly, means that whoever paid the wages, owns the product.

    If you hire a workman to build you a house, does the workman own the house?
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  5. #4  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope sculptor's Avatar
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    tursiops

    where are you?
    what university?

    "Hired", if used properly, means that whoever paid the wages, owns the product.

    If you hire a workman to build you a house, does the workman own the house?

    A grad student I knew worked for a professor(as an R.A.) assembling a data set. He then wanted to use the data he had generated in his dissertation. The professor claimed ownership of the data, and the grad student came up with a different dissertation.
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  6. #5  
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    Thank you very much for the answers. I find them very useful.
    I am at a European University. I prefer not to give more details about the exact location.
    It is not quite correct to say that the one who pays owns the product. The rule when it comes to patents is that my university shares the property rights with the researchers (50% each) but I am not so interested in the legal issues. My main focus for this debate is the ethical implications. I just want to be sure that I am taking the right decission.
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  7. #6  
    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tursiops View Post
    My main focus for this debate is the ethical implications. I just want to be sure that I am taking the right decission.
    The ethical issues are irrelevant if they conflict with the legal.
    Without wishing to overstate my case, everything in the observable universe definitely has its origins in Northamptonshire -- Alan Moore
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  8. #7  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope sculptor's Avatar
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    I would disagree strange.
    Ethics are far more important than legality.

    If we chose legalism over ethics and morality, we all lose.
    ........................

    tursiops
    Was the study which was done 5 years ago ever published?
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  9. #8  
    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sculptor View Post
    I would disagree strange.
    Ethics are far more important than legality.
    If tursiops gets sued perhaps that will make him/her feel better

    But on a more practical note if the owner of the data sues, the court is not going to recognise "ethics is on my side" as a defence.
    Without wishing to overstate my case, everything in the observable universe definitely has its origins in Northamptonshire -- Alan Moore
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  10. #9  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope sculptor's Avatar
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    strange:
    tursiops wrote:
    The expert ... threatens to report misconduct.
    This seems an ethical dispute within a university/collegiate community.

    ergo
    the question as/re publishing.
    Here, once published, the practice is referencing(citing) the publication of the material.

    From what I've read here, it would seem that the university, the professor, and perhaps the "expert" are joint owners of the generated data.
    But, I do not know the whole story, nor details.
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  11. #10  
    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Oh, OK. I missed that. Apologies.

    My experience is more to do with intellectual property infringement.

    I'll shut up now.
    Without wishing to overstate my case, everything in the observable universe definitely has its origins in Northamptonshire -- Alan Moore
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  12. #11  
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    Hello again.
    The data set as such was never published but served as basis of a publication. In my opinion research-generated data should be freely available although the researchers can reserve the property rights to prevent commercial use by a third party.
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