I teach a course in Computer Science in which research is evolving so rapidly. This is an undergrad course. It is difficult to have a comprehensive set of lecture notes prepared every time during the semester. I teach through blackboard only (and I feel students like that thing about me).

However, students do require some lecture notes. I have the following questions in mind.

  1. Can I provide research article(s) as lecture notes?
  2. If Yes to (1), then am I violating copyright? -- I don't think so, as it is only for an unsharable academic purpose only.
  • I would say to 2. no, it isn't. You could imagine the same thing but with a chapter from a textbook. It's still a published work, you're not presenting it as your own work but as a means of self guided instruction. However, are you equipping students with the ability to decipher research articles? Undergraduates are, quite rightly so, awful at dissecting and understanding research papers which may not benefit them as much as you think. I feel as though it also depends on how you present them. Are you going to type them up or just hand out the whole paper? You'd have to cite if the former.
    – Eppicurt
    Nov 10 '17 at 10:07
  • 2
    Why don't you have a set of "notes" of the basic techniques, then refer to the research papers / articles as extra or supporting material and the "new" directions things are going. That way when you create the assessment you can base the questions on the techniques and not latest "fancy" research that they may not have covered.
    – Solar Mike
    Nov 10 '17 at 11:28
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    For 2: do double check with someone before you host the papers on blackboard. Depending on where exactly you are and how your Uni does things, this might be a no no. At mine, for example, you're only meant to post links to externally hosted papers or set up a digital reading list with the library. We all mostly ignore this, but we ignore it knowingly. Nov 10 '17 at 11:52
  • The big idea about doing lectures on the blackboard is students having their own self-written lecture notes. What you wrote down by yourself, you have practically already understood.
    – Karl
    Nov 11 '17 at 0:23

It is best to ask your librarian - they are usually well trained in copyright issues and will be able to advise you how to avoid copyright infringement.

On a side note - unless your students are very good in CS already, I am not sure if using research papers as the only teaching materials for the course is necessarily a good idea.


Technically, research articles are not the same as lecture notes, as they often are not written in a pedagocically suitable manner. Research articles may include lacunae and gaps that are obvious for an informed reader, but not for a student. So while journal articles can be used as reading material, they are usually not suitable replacement for a good set of lecture notes.

If you do choose to provide research papers, it’s fairly easy to include links rather than providing the papers themselves, since they may be subject to copyright.

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