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Jul 12

No. 37: Who owns the data collected by a PI over many years?

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Intellectual Property

Who owns the data collected by a PI over many years?

Reader Question: Over my 25-year career as a PI, I maintained an extensive computer-based database of all my work. I am now about to retire but wish to continue my research using only my collected data, and my department chairman agreed to this. However, the new lab director insists that he be included as co-author on any future publications (even those based on the older data). Who is considered to have ownership of the older data? How can it be used by someone who was never involved in obtaining it?

Expert Comments:

This question raises a number of issues, initially including who owns or has rights to the database. People have a tendency to assume that they can take with them their own work product when they leave a place of employment. This is not the case. It is likely you don't own the rights to the database.

I will assume for simplicity that you worked your entire 25-year career at one place. If that is a university, it is likely the university's intellectual-property policy covers numerous types of intellectual property (IP), including non-technical and technical data under the broad category of "Trade Secrets."

Such policies usually provide that IP you developed while working at the university is owned by the university's technology-transfer company.

You likely have an employment agreement with the university that similarly provides that IP you developed is owned by the technology-transfer company. If you worked for a company, again it likely has an employment agreement saying the company owns the IP.

A complication is that, 25 years ago, some IP policies and some employment agreements may not have covered data rights. But university employment agreements still typically provide that the employee/PI is subject to the faculty handbook or the published university policies as modified or amended from time to time.

Assuming that the employer owns the database, another issue is whether the department chairman has authority to permit you to take it with you upon departure. In all likelihood, the chairman lacks this authority.

At a university, the authority would need to come from the technology-transfer company or from the administration. In the case of a company, the authority would need to come from an officer with authority to grant such permission.

In the unlikely scenario that you signed only one employment agreement 25 years ago and it makes no reference to data rights, then the ownership rights could be unclear. But even in this case, the university or company probably would claim the rights. It would still be best for you not to assume that you own the database or can take it with you.

The better course would be for you simply to ask permission to take the data. Most universities and companies are flexible. Considering that you wish to continue your research, a suitable arrangement likely could be made.

Another complication arises with sponsored research. If the government was sponsor, it may have certain rights in and to the data and those would have to be considered in deciding what future use you could make of the data.

If the research was privately sponsored, the signed agreement may determine who has rights and what future use may be made of the data.

If you do not have complete rights, it's true that someone who was never involved in obtaining the data might be able to use it. For example, if the university is owner it could say what future use may be made of the database and who may use it. In the case of government-sponsored research, the government likely could make such decisions.

Lastly, the issue of the new lab director insisting that he or she be included as a co-author on any future publications (even those based on the older data) raises a question of ethics.

The new lab director should not be included as a co-author merely by the fact that he or she is director but made no real contribution. Unfortunately, there appear to be no definitive guidelines for determining whether someone should be listed as an author or a co-author.

The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) states:

“Authorship credits should be based on 1) substantial contributions to conception and design [of the project], or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data; 2) drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and 3) final approval of the version to be published. Authors should meet conditions 1, 2, and 3, in the ICMJE’s present definition (www.icmje.org).” (emphasis added). See also, European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) Reports, “Who did what?,” Vol. 5, No. 5, page 446 (2004).

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), in its Guidelines for the Conduct of Research in the Intramural Research Program, states that “individuals who have assisted in the research by their encouragement and advice or providing space, financial support, reagents, occasional analyses or patient materials should be acknowledged in the text, but not be authors.”

Thus, someone providing a bench, microscope, or who donated part of their funds toward the research of others might not automatically be granted co-authorship under NIH guidelines.

Comments by Todd Deveau, JD, partner, Thomas Kayden Horstemeyer & Risley, LLP, an intellectual property law firm in Atlanta.

Comments (38)
Collegiate Professor
written by Greg Dressler, July 08, 2010
Co-author rules clearly state that authorship must include a contribution to the design, execution, or interpretation of experiments, generation of a key reagent, writing of the manuscript, or analysis of the data. Unless the new lab director makes a contribution to the paper, he/she is not entitled to co-authorship. The NIH has strict guidelines and most journals now expect each author to list their contribution to the work. It sound like this person has no claim on authorship from what you describe.
Principal Investigator, RMD, Inc.
written by Gerald Entine, July 08, 2010
I agree with Professor Dressler that the new Lab Director cannot be an author unless he contributes in a meaningful way to the paper.

However, the data itself belongs to the institution and others at the institution can use the data and analyze it in new ways to reach new conclusions. In this case, those others might be authors on the paper and the person who generated the data might be either a co-author or the paper may simply include a formal acknowledgment stating his contribution, depending on the specifics of the article.
Senior Scientist
written by Jonathan Cole, July 12, 2010
There are several disturbing aspects to the assertion of your new lab director. The most disturbing is his or her insistance to be included as a co-author on papers using the data. Setting aside the ownership quesiton for a moment, co-authorship is a complex decision but one thing it should not be based on is an insitutitional policy about who "owns" the data. If my lab director insisted on being a co-author on papers by his or her right of office, I would complain about this over his head and do it very, very loudly. Actually I think it would be grounds to have this director fired.

An institutional policy like this of data ownership is one of the biggest hindrances to get scientists to participate in institutionally-supported data bases.
Associate Professor
written by Elizabeth L. Krause, July 12, 2010
It strikes me as quite clear that the new lab director is completely off his rocker and in need of some serious ethics training with regard to authorship. My institution has ethical guidelines for co-authorship in working with graduate students, and these apply equally to co-workers. Deveau's response about who owns data addresses other important issues that many of us will likely face in the future.
Thanks for asking the quesiton.
written by RRA, July 12, 2010
The existence of of publically available databases such as the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO)implies that data generated under support from places like NIH are in the public domain. In fact most journals require that certain types of data be placed in one of these public data bases prior to publication. In fact, the new NIH grant application asks that you detail how results will be made public. Anyone who wants to reanalyze and publish a paper using your such data should be able to do so, giving credit to the person or group that generated it. New analytical tools become available and should be applied to old data if the application develops new insight. I have reanalyzed old data in the context of new data or insight many times and published papers just as others have used my old data and done the same thing. This is the way science works. Publication places data in the public domain
written by Clinial Prof, July 12, 2010
I think that in this instance the theory and the practice are very far apart. It is interesting to hear the comments above re: complaining aboth the lab director and that he/she is "off his rocker". The reality is that at most institutions the new lab directors claim would be respected, he/she would be given full access to the data, and any complaints made would be, for all practical purposes, ignored.
Program Director
written by Scott Overmyer, July 12, 2010
I would personally ignore the Lab Director's demand. It seems to me to be an unreasonable grab for publications to which he or she is not entitled.
Professor of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine
written by Daniel Musher MD, July 12, 2010
Two separate issues here.

First question is framed incorrectly, leading to tangential responses. Not a question of "owning" data. The person who gathered them has the full right to use them unless his/her university has a contractual statement that prevents him from doing so.

With regard to co-authorship, most medical journals now ask for a statement on the role of each coauthor -- contribution to data collection, data analysis, drafting the manuscript, etc. A statement that Dr. Joe Blow came in as the new head of the lab and wishes to be included as a coauthor won't be acceptable.
Senior Research Fellow Emeritus Professor
written by Adam Curtis, July 12, 2010
Some pretty big possibilities of future accusations of plagiarism could lie low in this situation.
This comentary is off-base
written by OldTechie, July 12, 2010
1. Unless there is an invention pending, IP is not at issue. As Musher notes, the generator of the data has full rights to use the data in any way he/she sees fit. Any IP that results would, however, belong to the original employer unless it resulted independently ("not obvious to someone of ordinary skill", etc.); this is seldom an issue.

2. The new director's request is problematic except as the new director (like any other member of the scientific public) would have the data available. Unless the new director met criteria, he/she would have to lie to accept co-authorship at any reputable journal. More importantly (also noted earlier), this is a perfect example of lack of "responsible conduct of research." I cannot believe any institution with NIH support would tolerate or condone this.
Professor of Biomimetics
written by Julian Vincent, July 12, 2010
Wait until you retire and leave the department, then let them sue you . . .
Assistant Professor
written by J. M., July 12, 2010
1. I probably own the data, since it is likely that they were obtained with Federal funds

2. My advice is to make the data public and accessible

3. Then to use it as you seem fit

4. Authorship is a very stretchy concept, and although some Journals now require to state the role of each co-author, some times you have to say "provided unique reagents" (i.e., I was allowed to use her instrument) or "provided framework and discussion of the data generated" (i.e., was around and I have to include him)
where is the intellectual contribution of your chair?
written by Associate Professor, July 12, 2010

Your chair is showing a lack of integrity. S/he has has not made an intellectual contribution to the design, development, evaluation, or writing of the research project. If s/he becomes part of a research project you undertake with this data at some point, obviously that changes things. However, being chair does not warrant a publication. In fact, shame on him or her for expecting it.
written by Hyun Sil Kim, July 12, 2010
On first queation, it is interesting and I think that I would have same experience in the near future. Although new lab director did not get involved in data collection, it would be so difficult to get out him from the datas. Because of he is new lab director.
I think that there is necessity of negotiation or deal between retired PI and new lab director. As you know well, we have many things to do for journal publication and it is really long time process. Publication is a nearly impossible work with only data collection. How about giving the chance of other contribution for publicaiton to new lab director if he insists that he would be included as co-author on any future publications ?

where is the intellectual contribution of your chair - sorry, should have read Lab Director
written by Associate Professor, July 12, 2010
Same premise though.
Proposal format
written by Zoraida Aguilar, July 12, 2010
In relation to the question whether an author has the rights to the data collected, does the former employer, whether be it a university or a private firm have privileges over the format of proposals? Are formats of proposals considered intellectual properties? or copyrighted materials?
The new generation of PI = politicians
written by Punished for honesty, July 12, 2010
Most of the "new generation" PI's are like that. I spent two and a half years as a senior research associate for a junior prof. She wormed her way on any paper within a country mile. My work gave her three publications in two and a half years, and on two of them she managed to put someone else in the department who made zero contributions - but her mentor is retiring and she needs someone new to help her get grant funding, so she bends over backwards to find new friends. I was ordered not to write the one paper where she is only middle author (I did one experiment in her lab, the rest of the data was from years ago) because "she was now paying my salary, all my work should be on her papers only". At that point I started looking for a new job. Then I stumbled upon a hornets' nest that cost me my job and possibly my career. My boss convinced me to do a gene expression profiling experiment that I knew would not work, especially as she removed some of the control samples "to save money". As predicted, nothing useful was learned from the experiment. My boss used faulty data analysis to "generate" data that fit her hypothesis beautifully. Additionally, I found that the lab that did the actual gene chip analyzed the primary data based on an erroneous assumption regarding the format, they believed it to be log2 when it was in fact log10 - and I was ignored. I got the same response when I borrowed a cell line from another lab and accidentally discovered that they got their cell lines mixed up. So the whole department is based on sloppy data and political gamesmanship. I lost my job because I refused to allow fabricated data into my manuscript - the PI didn't even have the balls to fire me she simply harassed me until I became physically ill and had to resign. That is science now: it has degenerated into politics, smoke and mirrors - and those few who try to do good, honest work are forced out.
written by Observer, July 12, 2010
Because the new lab director's request is clearly unethical and to give benefit of the doubt to presumably intelligent people, I'm wondering whether there is another side to this story. Is it possible that the new lab director was hired by the institution and enticed in part by the exclusive availability of a pre existing resource (data base) to use in their future research ? Now that he/ she has arrived only to realize it's not going to be exclusive, he/she is requesting co-authorship ? Not that this would make it right, I'm just trying to figure out why someone might *feel* they have a right to co-authorship.

This situation actually is more complex than it appears. Once the current PI retires, he/she is not really entitled to use the current institution as affiliation for publications unless there is a formal agreement that the PI retains a position (which there probably is after 25 years of service). The current PI does not own the data, it belongs to the institution and their future obligation is to the new PI (sorry, that's how it works). Given that the institution owns the data, owes their future allegiance to the new director, it may be difficult to move forward by negotiating. Making the whole database public seems like the best approach to get out of this situation....then anyone including yourself can use the data to publish what you like. No need to discuss anything with the new PI and shame on him/her anyway for being such a poor scientist as to even suggest it.
Bigger Picture
written by Tech Transfer, July 12, 2010
3 Major issues arise here.
1. Who owns it?
2. Right to Use it?
3. Authorship/Inventorship

1. Under most university policies (which are backed by state employment laws) the University owns all intellectual property developed in the scope of work of their employees. The university almost always grants back to the professor the right to publish said works in academic journals (as this is the mission of Universities). Research that is supported by Federal funds falls under the Bayh-Dole Act which is very specific concerning who has rights to use the intellectual property. Publication of the IP is a given right, however, the ownership and protection of the IP falls to the University. If the University fails/refuses to protect the IP, the Federal Government then allows the Inventor to step up and if IP still goes unprotected then the Government has the option to take it over.
In university settings, it is common place for faculty to move from University to other institutions, including other universities and private companies. In doing so, they must receive an inter-institutional agreement at allows them to continue working on any IP that was originally developed somewhere else to protect the rights of all the owners of IP (both older IP and newer IP). Most universities are more than willing to sign inter-institutional agreements.
2. The faculty members right to utilize the IP ends when their contract with the university ends. The faculty is NOT a co-owner of the IP. If they wish to continue their research at another institution, they must receive either a waiver of rights or an inter-institutional agreement that details how the rights of the owner of the IP will be protected.
3. Inventorship - As for the Lab director who insists as being included as co-PI, perhaps he was merely insisting that any use of the existing data be attributed to the University that it was founded at? If he was in fact insisting on Authorship (which is quite common in university settings), then he is being unethical and a report to the review board is warranted.
As far as inventorship, any patent examiner would require that the contribution to invention be clarified and the lab director would be removed from record if no contribution was made.

Either way, a quick phone call to your Tech Transfer office should resolve the issue. If no patentable IP has been generated, you could protect yourself with a royalty-free world wide non-exclusive license to utilize your IP in any way you see fit.
When Patents are not on the horizon, this is an easy fix to a messy situation.
Good luck to you~
Author Rules
written by Prof Tim Reynolds, July 12, 2010
Many years ago as a junior doctor I had a professor from another department who wanted his name on every paper written by anyone with a connection to his department [which was not the department I worked in]. I simply added a list of 'functions' on the end of the title page of a paper he expected to be named on and gave it to him for 'final signoff'; i.e. He was presented with the manuscript and the letter to sign for submitting it [he was not expected nor expecting to make any editorial comment].

It simply had:

AA, AB, AC: Experimental Design
AA, AB : Laboratory Work
AC : Statistics and manuscript drafting
AA, AB, AC: Manuscript review and final drafting
Prof X : Head of Dept. X

It was clear from the list of functions that he had had no part in any of the experiment and that his name was merely there because he expected it. He realised that this woild look bad and withdrew his demand.

Professor & Chair
written by Joshua Schimel, July 12, 2010
Mr. Deveau is completely off base in linking intellectual property issues with authorship issues in this case. He is right about who owns the IP--it's the University. If there is something patentable, it is the University that gets to patent it. But as others have commented above, authorship on a paper is a matter of intellectual contribution and the lab director had none. Ergo--he or she is not entitled to authorship on the papers.

In fact, insisting on authorship is a personal thing here--the Institution owns IP but the institution would not be an author. The Director does not hold individual rights to the IP, and is not entitled to claim personal benefit from it, which authorship grants. The Director is reasonable in requiring that the institution get appropriate credit for the work--but that would involve only two things in this case:

1. Require that the author use his or her University address to ensure that the lab gets credit for the work and papers, even if the author is no longer associated with the lab. The data were collected while he or she was at the lab, and so the lab is entitled to that credit.

2. The funding source that supported generating the data be acknowledged. The new papers grow off that funding.

Finally, if this is a University and the data were generated under federal research funding, then they are legally public. If the lab director tries to constrain access to the database, then the PI is entitled to FOIA it.
Publication co-authorship rules
written by Prof Malcolm Woollard, July 12, 2010
During the early stages of my career as a researcher I was occasionally exposed to academic 'bullying' by more senior staff who attempted to insist that their name should appear as a co-author on papers for which they had no intellectual ownership. I stuck to my guns and freely quoted the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors rules in support of my stance. As a journal editor my colleagues and I use these as our main point of reference when arguments about authorship and contributorship are presented to us. I recommend sending a copy to your Director and suggest that if he feels unable to comply with their guidance he complain directly to the Editor of any publications which you choose to submit papers to - I am sure he will then withdraw his demands in order to avoid the embrassment of being informed that he has no right to co-authorship.
written by William Meggs, MD, PhD, July 12, 2010
As a scientist, it is abhorrent that a scientist spending a career designing experiments, formulating hyptheses, and collecting data could loose all rights to that data, and further that a third party could come in and publish the data. It is further abhorrent that publishers of scientific journals copyright data, and one may have to pay them royalties to use the data in future publications and review articles.
The chair of a department at my university demands that his name be on every paper if one of his faculty members is a co-author. My colleagues refuse to collaborate due to the obvious ethical violations inherent in this rule.
written by Bill, July 12, 2010
This is another example of the intrusion of the world of lawyers and legalism into science. The practical personal ethics of the situation depends on interpersonal relationships and on institutional norms. Despite everything the journals say, there are some places where lab directors still commonly get their names on papers -- they may request the opportunity to do a final edit so they have some rational; or not. At other institutions this same behavior would be grounds for termination. One can decry the absence of uniform standards but I find it much more useful to try to adapt to one's environment than to try to force all researchers and all institutions into the same mold, even in the name of ethics.

written by Patricia Wiltshire, July 12, 2010
I find all the comments very interesting indeed, and rather than make a comment, I would like to ask another question. If, as a freelance consultant, one is asked (for very minimal funding from a grant - £200,000 worth of work was carried out for £8,000 reimbursement) to carry out analysis of samples and the main grant holders are incapable of interpreting the data, can they insist on authorship of every paper I produce using the original data? In fact, interpretation of the data indicates that their original premise was very faulty and the only reason I would want to use the data is to demonstrate the flaws in original methods and protocols and to apply caveats for other workers. I have been told that, if I use the data for any publication, all of the people involved with the grant would expect co-authorship although they contributed nothing to interpretation. In fact, I would only use the results to indicate how such research should be carried out. They devised the sampling strategy without consultation, with the result that the data are unsuitable for purpose.
Professor Emeritus (Law & Technology)
written by IP and Acacdemic credit, July 12, 2010
Beware of any blanket statements that IP "belongs" to the employer. In many cases related to patents it has effectively been dedicated to the public one way or another.

I chaired an Engineering School promotion and tenure committee. We had lots of ways of discouraging the unethical "money and power" co-authors. In one case we told a department chair that any junior faculty member's paper with his name on it would be routinely ignored in the P & T process since it was obviously published in a journal with no controls on who was listed as an author. We also required formal authorship statements in co author situations. I do recall an assistant professor truthfully stating "I had the Idea and the Grad student did 110% of the work. Senior Prof. X made numerous suggestions, all of which were ultimately rejected, but unquestionably contributed to the work by forcing me to articulate more clearly why the suggestions were rejected. Junior Prof Y who had some time on her hands waiting for her experiment to work, actually wrote up the paper.

In Response to "Bill" it is not about lawyers and it is not an issue of personal ethics. Academic authorship is an issue of professional ethics to be decided on the level of the profession.

In response to Dr. Meggs. I agree that any researcher should have the permanent right to use data but it is inherent in science that other researchers should be able to examine the data and draw and publish their own conclusions.

Doctrines of "fair use" are very useful in dealing with copyright issues.

Like to know who owns the copyrights of the images, also generated during data collection?
written by Media Designer working with scientists, July 12, 2010
I'm a media designer who works with neuroscientists to design presentations of their work. Since I see some incredibly beautiful images they produce, I'd like to honor them with their own gallery ... but after reading this, I'm beginning to wonder who actually owns the images... (also considered data, I assume?) Being married to a scientist, I appreciate how hard the work is and can totally understand their sense of ownership over years of gathering data, so I'll leave the original question on the lab director and authorship for those of you with more academic battle scars than I've have! But my question is related to the images: Q: "How come I can buy a T-shirt with a picture of earth on it ... wasn't most likely generated by pubic funds from a NASA trip into space where this image was taken?? So, does 'JQ Public' own any of the mother earth image?" Thanks in advance ... I appreciate your input ... and all the hard work you guys do!

personal vs professional ethics
written by Bill, July 12, 2010
Professional ethics have become intrusive, excessively legalistic and largely unenforceable. The effort to impose these ethics has also led to the gradual erosion of personal ethics which probably weren't all that great to begin with. The overall result is that one has islands of high ethical standards in a sea of cynicism. This is particularly unfair to those who actually try to follow the rules. Admittedly all of this is off-topic but I couldn't resist.

@Meggs & Ownership of life works
written by Tech Transfer, July 12, 2010
Unfortunately, there are some situations in which a faculty member may lose rights to access data that was developed in the scope of work. I would venture that this is a rare occurrence and usually would occur in the face of some sort of academic dishonesty.
It is important for faculty members to fully understand their employment contracts and their rights and responsibilities surrounding intellectual property.
That said, your knowledge that is acquired after a life long career in research is not something that can be left behind when you switch employers. Many private companies maintain a "non-compete" clause that prohibits previous employees from obtaining positions in competitor companies.
Universities will very willingly enter into inter-institutional agreements with a faculty member's new post to protect their rights and to also facilitate the advancement of the technology. The last thing that anyone wants is for the project to die off completely because the faculty moved.

If you are considering leaving and you have IP or lab notebooks that you want to continue working on at your new post, it is in your best interest to talk with your tech transfer office. They can facilitate the move, often without the involvement of a department chair. (University IP is under the control of the University Tech Transfer Office, NOT the department chair!!)
written by Tech Transfer, July 12, 2010
Any institution that highers a faculty member to conduct research should fully vet the research history of the new faculty. To protect themselves, as much as to protect the faculty.
Be wary of any institution that allows you to continue your research without an agreement with your previous employer as to how ownership will be handled.
written by Viroj Wiwanitkit, July 12, 2010
This is very interesting topic. It is a comment problem. The "gift author" is an ethical problem that can be seen in many developing settings. The head of department, director, dean, chancellor might ask for having thier name within the publication without contribution but state that they are CEO who totally own the intellectualship of the unit. So this is a question to further discussed. Also, one who contribute a lot to the work is usually omited from the list in the publication. Some get only acknowledgment and the others get nothing.
written by Joe, July 13, 2010
The new director is completely unethical (and arrogant) to insist on authorship. It would be correct to file a complaint with the higher-ups (assuming a university at least the dean of your school but better to take it right to the president of the university). Enough of the arrogant padding their cv's and egos off the backs of others!
Corporate Research
written by Daniel H, July 13, 2010
Your question lacks complete precision but for argument's sake assume that the database represents a pool of knowledge which has not as yet been fully exposed to others in publications. The data, therefore, represents a tool to produce publications because the knowledge that it contains can guide research questions and experiments that can generate new knowledge and new data. If and when you take it you are taking a part of the laboratory with you. Strictly speaking there are complications with this but consider the legal position when people leave employment: no judge in the land would stop anyone from making a living out of knowledge that they took with them in their heads! that is why some companies introduce clauses to stop people working for a competitor; or why some companies pay people handsomely to stay at home and do nothing. Therefore, in practice, I think you are safe in ignoring the requests of the new lab director. Also, it will not be possible for you to compete with the lab that has staff and other resources, so his request for co-authorship is unreasonable.
Vice chairman, Research & Ethics, Ebonyi State University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki - Nigeria
written by OUJ Umeora (Dr.), July 13, 2010
The issue of ownership of the database is at best controversial. One needs to understand if any prior contract/agreement existed between the PI and the institution before he started gathering the data. Ownership should then be decided on the basis of that agreement/contract. if no such agreement exists, then a consensus may be arrived at presently to suit and not disadvantage any parties as long as the research participants remain protected by the new agreement.
On the issue of the new director insisting on being a co author. This is unethical and is can be considered as gift authorship if it happens. This should be condemned. the new director is better advised to source his own database.
Prof. of Anesthesiology and Pediatrics
written by D. Polaner, July 13, 2010
The proper academic term for what your new lab director is asking for is "fraud". Of course, if he is demanding authorship in return for continued access to your data, then it is properly termed "extortion".
Such conduct should be reported to the department chair, the dean, and the university ethics committee. It is reprehensible and does not portend well for the future of your lab and its investigators.
written by David Tam, July 13, 2010
Ownership and authorship are completely different entities.. The problem lies in mixing them together.

You can author a paper without owning the data, such as collaboration from another institution who owns the data, and you contribute to the analysis and intellectual development of the ideas in the paper. By the same token, just because someone co-authored a paper, in this case, does not own the data or have any rights to distribute the data without the consent of the collaborator, even though they both wrote the paper together.

And vice versa, you can own the data without authoring the paper, such as you put the data in a publicly accessible database, and someone on another part of the world use those data to publish a paper; you are not entitled to the authorship of such unknown author. The owner of the data has the right to decide how to distribute them or protect them (but with or without the authorship rights, because authorship is what is derived from the processing/analysis of data but not the data itself.)

That is, authorship is "value-added" intellectual contribution/knowledge based on the data, thus the value-added entity does not equate to the raw data.

Another analogy is that if a PI moves to another institution, he/she usually takes the data with them, and most of the time you take the equipment with you too if they were purchased by your own grant funding. Most universities honor such transfer of ownership, and they almost always go with the PI who produced such data.

Ownership of Data
written by Denis English, Ph.D., July 14, 2010
By intellectual property laws, which supercede, these data are owned by their discoverer. Some or most institutes have a POLICY that the data (and books) "belong" to the institute. They do not. They belong to the discoverer, or PI, or named PI unless that person was directed by another. The funding agency has no ownership interest, but may have claim to royalities. The property belongs to its owner; court fights have always sided on the side of the investigator in these cases and POLICIES are only that and can never supercede the law.
Assistant Professor, Duke
written by Harrison Jones, August 09, 2010
Without intellectual contribution, authorship should not be granted.

A related problem is the "inflation" on the number of publications (and the amount of grant funding) expected to be promoted and receive tenure. As an Assistant Professor in 2010, I sure feel this pressure. At whatever institution you may be working, there are metrics to be met and expectations at research institutions are quite high.

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