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Questions tagged [legal-issues]

On legal issues affecting academicians. Note that Academia.SE, like any SE site, cannot offer specific legal advice; consult a lawyer for such questions. Use [law], not [legal-issues], for questions on law as an academic discipline or field of study.

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209
votes
13answers
42k views

How to avoid being falsely accused of harassment by a student?

I am a junior faculty member and as part of my work I have to supervise students. I am required by the University to have one-on-one meetings with them every week to check their progress and give ...
206
votes
9answers
31k views

Professor creates assignment making students advocate for a bill being presented to Congress. Is this legal?

I attend a public university in Kentucky (USA). My professor has assigned an advocacy assignment that requires students to write three letters of support for a certain House bill that will soon be ...
170
votes
7answers
40k views

Is it acceptable to publish student names with the label 'stupid question', on a publicly-visible website?

While I was browsing faculty websites, I came across this page (new link: http://www.pdmi.ras.ru/~iaroslav/teaching.php?screen_check=done&Width=360&Height=640). Near the bottom there is a ...
159
votes
13answers
14k views

Do I have the legal right to demand information on plagiarism of my work from another university?

A student of a German institute has translated my Russian thesis word by word to English and submitted it as her own work in 2014. I informed the university providing them with my work in Russian and ...
147
votes
12answers
41k views

Our teacher is encouraging us to use cracked software

I'm taking a course named Numerical and Computational Methods Based on Mathematica (Or in Chinese: "基于Mathematica的数值计算方法"), but Wolfram Mathematica is a bit expensive for me to afford. On the first ...
95
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5answers
18k views

Are non-citizen Muslim professors and students going to be removed from US universities and subsequently deported by Trump's ban?

Does anyone have any information on this? Are academics somehow protected from Trump's ban on Muslims? I know that some have the "alien of extraordinary ability" work visa, but what about for ...
77
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7answers
9k views

To avoid legal battle, in bussiness world reference letters are written extremely terse. How do academics get away with this?

It seems to be accepted wisdom in the business world that reference letters for former employees should be extremely terse. They should confirm that the employee worked there, and essentially nothing ...
69
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7answers
8k views

Are PhD supervisors responsible for informing students about legal issues pertaining to research?

After an extreme amount of effort, I am now in possession of a very large dataset of human experiments which is required for my research. However, after speaking with some of my colleagues about ...
64
votes
8answers
63k views

Is watching porn in university a crime?

I am about to start my graduate studies in an American university, moving from my native Peru. Over the course of my under-graduation, I have developed this strange habit of watching porn at odd times,...
60
votes
12answers
12k views

What are the legal and ethical implications of “padding” pay with extra hours to compensate for unpaid work?

I have come into a strange position and could greatly use some advice on how I should proceed. I am an undergraduate student at an American university in a computer engineering program. For the last ...
59
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5answers
12k views

Should I send a “cease-and-desist” letter to ResearchGate?

ResearchGate is pretty well placed on Google. But it does not have a lot of contents or active users, despite their constant invitation spam. So they spidered a lot of publications, and provide some ...
52
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7answers
10k views

Is “Assistant Professor Position (Tenure Track) for a female Researcher” illegal in Austria?

Not so long ago an Austrian institution posted a job ad titled "Assistant Professor Position (Tenure Track) for a female Researcher". The description says further As part of a special measure ...
49
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4answers
7k views

I wrote the code based on a paper's methodology; are there any legal problems with making it open source?

I coded the methodology based on the paper "Free Water Elimination and Mapping from Diffusion MRI" and I am curious if I am legally bound to take permission from the authors or the journal in making ...
46
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1answer
8k views

Alma mater (USA) refuses to remove my name from public search

The professor of a US university where I graduated from with a master's degree maintains a website that he makes available for public search. He lists students that attended one of his courses, ...
44
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8answers
11k views

Co-authors decided to remove most of my contributions from a Nature paper without my consent

I am a postdoc and have dedicated the past five years to working on a big project spanning several groups and countries. My and my supervisor’s contribution was to interpret their results in light of ...
43
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5answers
13k views

Is it legal (USA) and ethical to use international edition textbooks? When I pay for a textbook, where does the money go?

Background: I am a student. I didn't have anything in life for four years, and I worked myself silly at times for it. So now I ask - when I pay hundreds of dollars over the production cost (new ...
42
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3answers
8k views

Persistent issues with salary pay as a postdoc in China: What can I do?

I am a third-time postdoc, and had never before had problems with getting paid. For almost two years now I have been a postdoctoral fellow at a university in southern China. This is my first ...
40
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7answers
8k views

A team member of a coursework software development project didn't contribute in any way. Can I remove his name from the project?

I am the project manager of a small team of five undergraduate developers who have been working for months on a large system for our Senior Capstone project. Four members of the team, including myself,...
40
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4answers
7k views

Should I secretly record a meeting to prove I'm being discriminated against?

I'm a PhD student at a university in the UK. The head and director of graduate studies at my department are trying to get me removed from the department. Almost all of this is going on over my head, ...
37
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7answers
10k views

Would a 5-year prison sentence totally ruin one's academic career?

For committing a crime considered very severe in the U.S. and in some countries (hence the 5-year minimum sentence), but not as severe (but may still lead to imprisonment) in many other countries? He ...
37
votes
8answers
58k views

Legality of downloading books from websites such as Library Genesis

I am an international student who will be joining a graduate program at a US university starting Fall '18. In my home country, I have used such websites as Library Genesis and BookFi to download ...
37
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4answers
5k views

I believe a publisher is infringing copyright when reproducing a figure I created. What can I do?

A few months ago an Elsevier representative contacted me asking for permission to reproduce one of my thesis figures in one of their books. Since this figure is only in my thesis (introduction section)...
36
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5answers
9k views

Filing discrimination claim against my department

I am a graduate student and I believe I was discriminated against by my department. I am pretty hurt by it, but I do not want to give further details to protect my identity. I spoke to a lawyer and he ...
36
votes
1answer
4k views

How to prosecute plagiarism when the discoverer of the plagiarism is an outside third party?

Recently a group of students have investigated the the alleged plagiarism in the thesis of one of the most famous alumnus's of Glasgow Caledonian University. In one specific case, a crowd-sourced ...
35
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5answers
11k views

Would an honest researcher actually have to pay back their salary?

Recently, I read the answer by Hexal to the following question here: Not including student who contributed very little as coauthor of paper and I was scared. Much more than scared, I could not sleep ...
34
votes
10answers
18k views

Writing someone else's master's thesis: Unethical and illegal?

It is really difficult for me to decide on this situation: when someone calls me and asks for work-for-hire for his/her thesis. I don't know what to do. I want to help and earn money but I think this ...
34
votes
1answer
3k views

Am I allowed to show properly redacted exams to a colleague to determine if cheating occurred?

On an exam I recently administered, I discovered that several students had turned in essentially the same solutions for multiple questions. Before launching an academic dishonesty investigation, ...
32
votes
5answers
6k views

Undergrad students grading other undergrads: ethical, professional, or even legal?

As an undergraduate, I've been working as a TA in an electronics lab for a while. Recently I have been asked to grade other students' lab reports. I have also done some oral examination, but I guess ...
31
votes
4answers
20k views

Is it legal to use Sci-Hub in Germany?

I used to use this website to get the research papers that are not freely available online. So, passing the right name of any research work for this Russian website will derive the paper directly to ...
30
votes
5answers
7k views

Professor will not write a letter of recommendation because I have restricted access to my records under FERPA, is this legitimate?

I am preparing my tenure-track faculty application materials for the current hiring cycle, and I'm thinking of replacing one of my reference writers with one of my PhD committee members (I'll call him ...
30
votes
8answers
6k views

Postdoc that refuses to follow the terms of her contract

I am supervising a research group. Each year, our institution offers several four years postdoc positions, and one year ago I told a friend of mine to apply to it because we work in very similar ...
29
votes
2answers
1k views

Has the DeWitt Clause, which prevents publication of named DBMS benchmarks, ever been successfully defended in court?

Several commercial database vendors include an end-user license agreement provision, known as the DeWitt Clause, that prohibits researchers and scientists from explicitly using the names of their ...
28
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3answers
17k views

What are the consequences of using Sci-Hub?

A student of mine has told me about Sci-Hub, where people can download copyrighted scholarly articles for free. I have cautioned him that it is illegal, but he challenged me asking me what would be ...
26
votes
6answers
5k views

What does a promise of possible funding “based on availability of departmental funding” actually mean?

I'm finishing up my third year of a PhD program this Spring. Until recently, I had assumed that I would have four years of funding as many of the PhD students do. However, after asking the department ...
26
votes
4answers
6k views

Is it legal and is it appropriate to display religious items in faculty offices in the United States?

This question is specifically in the context of an American public institution and a generic faculty member, specifically not someone working in religious studies or a similar department. I have ...
26
votes
1answer
1k views

License of code accompanying a published article

Given a paper that introduces a new algorithm and upon publication copyright is transferred to the publisher. Is an implementation of the presented algorithm considered a derivative of the published ...
25
votes
4answers
5k views

Advisor miscalculated the personnel budget for research grant

I am a PhD student directly employed by a German university, this means my salary is paid directly by the federal government. In Germany, the salary of PhD students is (often and in my case, ...
25
votes
2answers
670 views

What kind of assistance from graduate institution can I expect in transferring parole?

I am currently applying to graduate programs in physics across the US, though primarily in California. I am a New York State resident currently on parole for a violent crime committed in 2005. I have ...
24
votes
3answers
14k views

Is it legal in the US for a student to download a copy of a textbook, to study?

(this is coming out of a comment thread regarding this question.) The USA has a Fair Use legal provision restricting its copyright law: 17 U.S.C. § 107 Notwithstanding the provisions of ...
24
votes
4answers
17k views

What laws exist in India to protect students from harassment by teachers/professors?

I am a college student in Rajasthan. I had a chance to address a large group at a college function, and in my address I said unfavorable things about professors in the college. Since then, I believe ...
23
votes
3answers
5k views

How to get lab resources back from a post-doc who resigned while on vacation and not coming back?

I am posting this on behalf of my advisor. A post-doc in my research group at US told that he'd be going home to meet his family who are in a different country, but after two months he emails that he ...
23
votes
1answer
860 views

How is US law on equal opportunity enforced in academic recruitment?

Almost every US university states on its job advertisements that the university is an equal opportunity employer. Based on federal law, this means that applicants not be judged by their race, color, ...
23
votes
1answer
4k views

Can you be dismissed from a graduate program for attending jury duty?

From what I’ve read, an employer can’t legally fire you for attending jury duty, although they don’t have to pay you. I’ve been called before but never had to serve more than a day. However, a grad ...
21
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3answers
5k views

How does a petty marijuana possession charge affect graduate admissions in math?

I was charged with possession of marijuana earlier this year. In my state, it's not a crime, just a violation with a fine. Technically, it's not even a conviction because there's a diversion program ...
21
votes
4answers
2k views

Is it legal and ethical to post my notes of a conference I am attending on my website?

I'm due to attend a conference soon, and plan to take notes on the talks I attend. My note-taking software of choice (org-mode) can easily export to HTML. Is it legal to post my notes on my website? ...
21
votes
2answers
1k views

Can we use students' class homework solution for research purpose?

A colleague of mine would like to compare 25+ different Java implementations of the same homework. Is it OK (ethically/legally in the US) to share my students' class homework solutions with him for ...
18
votes
4answers
2k views

Does publishing a book while employed by an academic institution grant them legal claim on the royalties?

If I publish a book on my research topics while employed for an academic institution, can they claim part of the revenues I get from royalties ? My question is relative to Europe, but if someone knows ...
18
votes
3answers
4k views

Is it lawful for a fellowship linked to a permanent faculty position at a British university in the STEM field to only be available to females?

The internally funded Anne McLaren Fellowships at The University of Nottingham state in their eligibility that "Candidates for the Anne McLaren Fellowships must be female and pursuing a career in a ...
18
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2answers
3k views

Is it illegal to share publications not in the public domain with collaborators?

Back in my university days, I got into the habit of saving papers I had to read to my hard disk. At first I did this simply to organize them more conveniently, and have quicker access to them. ...
17
votes
3answers
529 views

Advice wanted concerning students who have had run ins with the law.

I am a first year grad student with an expunged felony in the state of Arkansas. I am looking for advice on if and how I should communicate this with my adviser. The felony is due to a drug crime and ...