We're collaborating with another researcher from another institution. Collaborating here means that we do the whole work (study design, questionnaire development and testing etc.) and the other researcher provides access to patients, potential study participants. We usually wait for months for a reply when we have a question and progress is really slow.

Now, there are pretty clear signs that this other researcher may try to take over the whole project and write the publication alone. For me personally, this is not my most important project, but it would still bother me if you would have invested so much time for nothing.

Would it be an option to license our questionnaire to have it as a hostage for the worst case or what would be a good option?

Spoiler: communication is complicated.

1 Answer 1


Your collaborators shouldn't publish your research without acknowledging, typically with co-authorship, your contribution, since that's plagiarism. If they published anyway, you could notify the publisher.

Legally speaking, the questionnaire will be protected by copyright law (in many countries), which prohibits your collaborators from publishing it.

  • Thanks! What do you mean by "protected by copyright law"? It's not published yet, so how can it be protected? That's why I was asking if I can protect it against unauthorized use.
    – sophar
    Sep 15, 2020 at 8:50
  • @sophar Copyright is a type of intellectual property that gives its owner the exclusive right to make copies of a creative work, usually for a limited time, source: Wikipedia.
    – user2768
    Sep 15, 2020 at 8:52
  • Ok, my comment wasn't clear enough? The question is: how can it be "protected by copyright law" if it hasn't been published yet?
    – sophar
    Sep 16, 2020 at 12:05
  • @sophar Please read an article on copyright.
    – user2768
    Sep 16, 2020 at 12:26

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