Concerns About Sharing Research

posted
28-Feb-20, 23:45
edited about 16 seconds later
Avatar for Llangattock
posted about 2 months ago
I would appreciate some advice over my reluctance to fall in with my University's constant urging to be "collegiate", and share lots of information about my thesis.
I study part-time, and work to pay for my study. The work is in my field of study - but that is the problem! I am a good researcher, and have done numerous short pieces of original research already. However, the sector in which I work (heritage) is competitive, and I have found that, as soon as I share my discoveries with colleagues, they quickly absorb my findings into their own work streams, and, before I know it, are doing talks, preparing exhibitions, and generally acting and speaking as if the work I laboured so hard to do, was their own idea.It is immensely frustrating! - and makes me feel that I really don't want to run that risk with my thesis research.
I am trying to keep this all in perspective: of course, I want to share discoveries in order to improve academic knowledge. I do know that it is usually people's enthusiasm for the topic that makes them speak as if "they" know, what I have discovered. I also know that I can be too sensitive and defensive!
But at the same time, I can feel exploited and taken advantage of. An example: I wrote a short paper last autumn - which I did not present to my direct supervisors, but to another team at work, whose area it fell more naturally into. I was not prepared for the enthusiasm with which it was received - nor for the fact that one of this team then went and discovered one of the items I had argued in my paper belonged to our collection, and started negotiating with the owner to buy it back!
I then reluctantly sent my paper to my own supervisors, knowing that they would get to hear of it. I have now discovered that they have "added" a second exhibition this season, to the one already planned. Guess what, the added exhibition is about the part of our collection that I wrote about - and, going on past performances from them, I expect that they will be using some of my work in the exhibition, without one word of credit or mention of what I did.
With this sort of behaviour as my working background, perhaps you can understand my concern about sharing my work? How do I get over this? And how do I protect my work? I would really like to submit a conference abstract - but I worry about having my work stolen.
posted
02-Mar-20, 16:35
edited about 10 seconds later
Avatar for cucaracha
posted about 1 month ago
Have you communicated this frustration to the people who have used your work without crediting?

I imagine if you politely explain your surprise at seeing your work and discoveries replicated in their own work/exhibitions without any credit, they would rectify this, or at least you'd've set your boundaries if they try it on again in the future. I hope you can get this resolved!
posted
02-Mar-20, 18:35
edited about 5 seconds later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 1 month ago
I have a lot of sympathy with you on this. I have had repeated incidents throught my career not just in research.
During my PhD, I generally refused to talk to anyone about anything I hadn't already published with only a couple of exceptions. It didn't turn out to be much of a problem for me but that might not be the case for others.

I know a few posters on here disagree with my approach and there are potential advantages in sharing but for me it just wasn't worth the risk. Academia is not collegiate. It is hugely competitive and cut-throat and you need to be careful what you share.

I would chat to your supervisor, explain the issue and try to find a compromise.
posted
03-Mar-20, 19:47
Avatar for Llangattock
posted about 1 month ago
Quote From cucaracha:
Have you communicated this frustration to the people who have used your work without crediting?


I would love to communicate my frustration to the people who have used my work without crediting, Cucaracha! Unfortunately, they are the managers, and I need the work in order to continue my studies. It is very difficult to complain when there is such an imbalance of power.
posted
03-Mar-20, 19:57
edited about 29 seconds later
Avatar for Llangattock
posted about 1 month ago
Academia is not collegiate. It is hugely competitive and cut-throat and you need to be careful what you share.


Thanks for your reply, I'm afraid this only confirms what I have seen so far. Bearing that in mind, I will think very carefully in terms of how much of my research I am prepared to discuss in a conference situation.
posted
03-Mar-20, 21:18
by rewt
Avatar for rewt
posted about 1 month ago
I actively share incomplete data sets. I treat each step of the process as something different and create different files. So it easy to send a data of my results of my supervisor without giving her any of methodology or raw data. I can also send it to other people knowing that they can't steal my work but they have my final results. I don't know if it is applicable to your field but it might be an idea to only share parts of your work. Enough for them know what you are doing and what you have achieved but without any of the useful bits.

What is plagiarism. They should not publish any paper and you have proof you shared it with them if they do try to publish your work. However you are part of a team ie, the department. In my opinion they do have a right to use your work and share your results, as the most fundamental part of research is dissemination. There is no point doing great work but hiding the results and not telling anyone. In general, I think it is fair to talk about others people work if the original author told you about. By sharing the paper they might have thought that you wanted them to know and that you were going to publish it soon. Not crediting you and pretending it is was their work is wrong but using the results you presented them is fair.
posted
04-Mar-20, 00:07
edited about 18 seconds later
Avatar for Llangattock
posted about 1 month ago
Quote From rewt:

What is plagiarism. They should not publish any paper and you have proof you shared it with them if they do try to publish your work. However you are part of a team ie, the department...There is no point doing great work but hiding the results and not telling anyone. In general, I think it is fair to talk about others people work if the original author told you about. By sharing the paper they might have thought that you wanted them to know and that you were going to publish it soon. Not crediting you and pretending it is was their work is wrong but using the results you presented them is fair.


I do get what you're saying, rewt, and I agree with the sentiment: I do want a wider audience for the results of my research, otherwise why do it? At the end of the day, we all want people to discuss our research, right?

Update on my work situation: I received an email today, saying "hope you don't mind if [we] use parts of your research paper, on two panels in our exhibition?". I have replied to say I'm happy for it to be used, but I have already submitted the paper to my University as part of my course work, and in order to protect the 'original research' status of my work, that they should credit my contribution to the exhibition by printing my name and University alongside the parts they have used.

Gosh, I hope that was the right thing to do! Does anybody know?
posted
05-Mar-20, 03:10
edited about 1 minute later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 3 weeks ago
On the point of dissemination of results, the issue is really one of timing. Do you disseminate results before publishing and risk facing the problems you are experiencing or do you wait until you are safely published and then do it?
You need to consider the pros and the cons of both approaches.
posted
05-Mar-20, 03:13
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 3 weeks ago
rewt, that's an interesting approach.
How does sharing incomplete data benefit you?

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