In an effort to prevent some potential problems I want to present some ideas about intellectual property and posting on RLR right now at the beginning.
I hope that RLR will help people in the lab. The idea is simple – that we will benefit from the expertise of others. The Rieseberg lab has a lot more expertise than any individual member does and all of us have skills and information to share. In order to promote this sharing lab members need to feel that the give and take that happens via RLR is fair – not too takey. Users of RLR need to feel that they are not contributing substantially more than others and that their contributions are not being unfairly exploited. With this in mind I’ve come up with three ideas about intellectual property as it pertains to posts on RLR. They are listed below and on the About page.
I assume that most of the posts on RLR will not represent substantial amounts of the poster’s time, effort or data but some will. Its these big posts that I’m concerned about. We want them, they are likely to be the most useful posts. The principles presented below are my attempt to promote the posting of valuable things on RLR. Almost by definition, if someone posts something valuable, then they have a stake in that thing, and I want lab members to feel like they are not risking that stake by sharing.
Principle 1: If you use something from RLR that was created by somebody else you owe them something. It might just be a thank you, mostly that will do it, but sometimes it might be an acknowledgment in a publication or it may extend all the way up to co-authorship – or at least a discussion about what you want to do with your lab-mate’s contribution. You need to assess whether the item posted on RLR represents a substantial amount of work by the author(s) and, if it does, you need to talk to them. If you do not know enough about the item of interest to assess how much work went into it then ask the author(s). At the very least, if you access expertise or data via a post on RLR, you owe RLR a post about some of your data or something in your area of expertise.
Principle 2: If you post something on RLR that represents a substantial amount of your own work please make that clear in your post. Please help users be considerate of your contribution by making it obvious. Always put your name on posts. Highlight items that represent your own data or work. Tell users, in your post, that you want to talk about how your work is used if that is the case.
Principle 3: You don’t own everything you touch and if you have benefited from the work of others in the lab you should be giving back – even things you do “own”. The bottom line is that everyone benefits from the work of others in the lab so everyone should be sharing. RLR is a tool to facilitate this sharing and help make the lab greater than the sum of its parts. Please share, post.