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I have code I wrote to replicate a simulation study by another author. Is it okay to publicly upload this in my code repository?

This will include:

  • code (my work, based on the author’s description in the study)
  • replicated table (values are similar to original)
  • original table (for comparison purposes, with citation)

4 Answers 4

44

You ask about uploading three different things, so it's worth answering with regard to the three parts.

  1. Your own code: Definitely acceptable to upload it. You wrote the code so the code is your original work and you would own the copyright in the code. The reasons for citing the original work in the context of your own code would be two-fold: (a) to put your own code in context, and (b) to acknowledge an academic debt to the original author. In terms of copyright, however, I see no legal requirement to cite the original paper.

  2. Your table of results: Definitely acceptable to upload it. This is your original work, however closely your results approximate the original. The reasons for citation of the original work, in the context of your table of results, are exactly as in point 1.

  3. Original table, for comparison purposes, with citation: From the point of view of academic ethics, this would look quite acceptable. However, the copyright issue is less clear and will depend upon the jurisdiction of the place where you are publishing, and possibly also, on the place where the original work was published. The notion of "fair use" in copyright works varies very substantially from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. If the original table (i.e., the other author's original work) is more than a few lines long, I strongly recommend that you seek permission to publish it. Just have a look at "permission requests" on the website of the original journal.

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  • 1
    Re copyright: Probably fine in the US under Feist v. Rural (human creativity is required for copyright to subsist in a work) and possibly Baker v. Selden (copyright cannot protect a system or method of organizing and performing arithmetic calculations). Problematic at best in Europe (incl. the UK) due to database rights. But you can do anything if you get permission from the rightsholder, as your answer says.
    – Kevin
    Jan 2, 2023 at 4:01
  • 3
    Regarding point 1: although there is no legal requirement to cite the original work, there is certainly an academic requirement. Not citing the original work would probably be plagiarism, which is quite a serious offense in academia.
    – Stef
    Jan 2, 2023 at 8:15
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    I dont think you can copyright data or facts. The tables data is tables data, it has no copyright only the visual presentation may under some circumstance have copyright.
    – joojaa
    Jan 2, 2023 at 12:29
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    @joojaa Databases are protected in some countries, including in the EU, UK and Russia. It's not copyright, it's a separate intellectual property right (like patents and trademarks are other IP rights).
    – jcaron
    Jan 3, 2023 at 12:07
  • In some jurisdictions, the code itself, even if written from scratch, could run afoul of patents.
    – jcaron
    Jan 3, 2023 at 12:10
17

Other answers here seem to focus on the issue of copyright.
I will add that it is also a good idea to publish your code and results in the interest of documenting replication of the original study. This is an important aspect of science, being able to replicate/reproduce the results of others, as it helps validate scientific findings.
In this context, I think it is also important to cite the original work to help document your replication of their work. Actually, you could even consider publishing your replication in a journal that focuses on this important aspect which is usually ignored by traditional journals in favour of new results. One such journal is Rescience C.

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    Publishing the code and results are clearly good ideas. Should you cite or quote the results of original study? I would say cite, and if the overlap needs to be explained then explain it, do not excessively quote it.
    – Badger
    Jan 3, 2023 at 4:29
4

Yes, it is fine to do that as long as you acknowledge the original paper.

2

Basic copyright rule applies. If you wrote the code yourself, then no problem.

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