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I'm a TA at a British university, and as part of this job role I create and write educational material, which also includes creating and marking assignments.

I've recently discovered that several of the assignments I wrote have been taken by a colleague, my name then scrubbed off them, and distributed as part of this colleague's assessment strategy. My colleague did not tell me he was going to do this, and I feel as though my hard work has been/could be unfairly attributed to my colleague.

I feel aggrieved by the situation, but am I being unreasonable before I decide to escalate this matter?

  • Unless teaching is your main career, you probably do not care too much about that. You always can put the material covered/prepared in your CV/portfolio where it probably will be of the best use. If your colleague claims they developed the material, it's probably time to set it right, but my experience is that "..but I did that first" statements work to the detriment of whoever calls them rather than to the copycat. Unfair but true. Concentrate on getting credit for your scientific work. – Captain Emacs Apr 11 '17 at 17:35
  • The removal of your name bothers me. It would be different if the colleague had credited you and requested permission as a courtesy. – aparente001 Apr 12 '17 at 4:49
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I am a professor in a UK university. I would say that it is standard that if you teach a course and then hand it on to someone else then you should hand over all your teaching material, which your successor will typically modify to their taste. Moreover, people do not usually keep track of authorship, except possibly in the case of a full set of notes that is similar to a book. Of course it is polite for people to be open about what they are doing and to express appreciation for any material that they inherit.

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    I understand that re-use is the norm, and I've certainly made use of that myself. However, if I've ever re-used something I always ask the original author, or if they are no longer teaching, then to attribute with a simple "Thanks to Dr. X". I guess I am being a little unreasonable, and will simply say "I would have appreciated a 'heads-up'" when I next see him. – ama981 Apr 11 '17 at 17:48
  • @ama981 - Certainly a 'could I use the material please' would have been nice. Would you have refused if asked nicely? I've had people take extensive lecture notes and slides and turn them into external, for pay, short courses without attribution. More power to them - I had no interest in doing so and am happy to see the material used. Kind of like free software, basically... – Jon Custer Apr 11 '17 at 18:04
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The behavior described in the OP is indeed unethical. When an individual distributes a work created by another person(s), intellectual honesty demands the individual provide unambiguous references to the original source(s). Failure to do so is, at best, incompetent documentation and, at worst, an act of intellectual piracy. I have personally referred people to academic review boards for similar behavior.

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    I don't know the research area of the OP, and I don't know how extensive the assignments were, but in my area (CS/math), it's extremely uncommon to put attributions or references on assignments or exam question. (And I'm pretty sure that many assignments I had to solve as a student had not been invented by the TA in charge of the tutorials.) – Uwe Apr 12 '17 at 9:25

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