3

A tad similar to this question here but also quite different, so here's the current debacle:

In one of my classes I taught, the final project entails students getting in groups and having to run a mini experiment of their own. One of the groups had a very cool idea that I thought was great and unique but didn't give much thought to. Fast forward about half a year or so to now. I revisited their idea and realized that their idea could, in fact, be a Study 1 that's part of an overall larger series of projects I'm hoping to conduct. Of course, because their study was a class project (meaning that it has no IRB, sample size is extremely small and therefore statistically underpowered, no supervision from faculty or grad students for quality check, etc.), I can't simply slap their results on my paper and give them coauthorships like you might do with other collaborators.

That being said, I'll have to run a replication study of their idea to meet publication standards and rigor. Normally, I would see if the students would want to be research assistants to help me replicate their study and give them coauthorships on any posters, oral presentations, or papers that come out of this. However, I don't think I'll be able to get the study started for a while and all these students are currently 4th years (meaning they will graduate in approximately 6 months).

With that in mind, is it ethical to replicate the study with my own batch of research assistants in the future and give credit to the class students in only the acknowledgement sessions for giving me the idea for one of the studies in the paper?

Or would one have to give authorship to the students? I personally follow a code of publication ethics where authorship is mainly reserved for those who played a role in the actual writing of the paper or collection of primary data but of course am open to hearing out other opinions and changing my code. (Note: my field is Psychology)

Small edit: I see this case as being different from citing published papers or preprints given that the work is still novel and not published. But the students' project is actually on Youtube so it can be regarded as public. Perhaps I'm intuitively sensing that it is different given that they were my direct students.

  • 2
    I'm somewhat distant from your context, but if they're already "published" on YouTube, citing their video (but no co-authorship) would seem reasonable to me... in terms of fair-play and such. And maybe ask them if they'd want an opportunity to continue on your extension of their project... or not. – paul garrett Dec 10 '19 at 22:24
  • That was also a rationalization I reached as well from a strictly academic code of ethical conduct point of view. Perhaps it is because it is the same institution and the fact that they were my students that it's bothering me--but this may just simply be me worrying over nothing. – ssjjaca Dec 10 '19 at 22:27
  • In particular, if you're not actually "scooping" them in any on-going projects of theirs, you're not "playing unfair", I think. Yes, you had "inside information", but that does not necessarily mean that you can't do anything ever... If you wanted to be squeaky clean, I guess contact them and ask them what their own plans are... – paul garrett Dec 10 '19 at 23:01
  • "I don't think I'll be able to get the study started for a while and all these students are currently 4th years" Do these people really need to be around to study with you? Can't you collaborate from afar? Have you considered offering them grad. positions (perhaps masters degree)? If you think there are many projects to be conducted you can fit 3-4 masters thesis after you all co-author the study 1. – Boaty Mcboatface Dec 11 '19 at 8:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.