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264 votes
Accepted

Is it appropriate for a professor to require students to sign a non-disclosure agreement before being taught?

No. It’s not appropriate and this is an obvious, blatant abuse of authority. I have a word in mind to describe this professor, but unfortunately am not free to disclose it as I am under an NDA. (It ...
Dan Romik's user avatar
  • 193k
237 votes

Advisor professor asks for my dissertation research source code

One of the reasons Science has been so successful is that scientists treat knowledge and tools as public goods. We don't hoard knowledge, but rather we write papers, share techniques, offer ...
Raghu Parthasarathy's user avatar
182 votes

Should I send professors money for illegally downloading their books?

With that in mind, would it be appropriate to simply send those odd 10 dollars to the author of the book that I am illegally downloading? First, I would be concerned about your legal exposure. You ...
cag51's user avatar
  • 70.5k
156 votes

Is it appropriate for a professor to require students to sign a non-disclosure agreement before being taught?

He may or may not be "protecting his ideas", but, in fact, teaching has as a goal the dissemination of ideas. If one wants to keep secrets or have proprietary stuff, don't pretend to teach a friggin' ...
paul garrett's user avatar
  • 90.1k
128 votes

Should I send professors money for illegally downloading their books?

I find the moralistic tone of some of the other answers a bit distasteful, and also unhelpful. It’s pretty clear to me that you didn’t come here to ask for a general lecture about the pros and cons of ...
Dan Romik's user avatar
  • 193k
88 votes

Is it appropriate for a professor to require students to sign a non-disclosure agreement before being taught?

I don't know what your university regulations are, but there must be something in there that says that a professor cannot refuse teaching to their students, no matter what you sign or don't sign. It'...
Federico Poloni's user avatar
85 votes

Advisor professor asks for my dissertation research source code

Ideally in this situation you would make your program publicly available. Giving others access to this code does not prevent you from using it, and will help you build reputation within your field. ...
Weckar E.'s user avatar
  • 1,272
75 votes

Advisor professor asks for my dissertation research source code

As someone who works in scientific computing, I agree with what others say, and would likely take it a step further. To put it hyperbolicly: Refusing reasonable requests to code used in a published ...
R.M.'s user avatar
  • 5,243
75 votes
Accepted

While in Phd I developed a lot of code that I want to turn into start-up. Can I do this?

I'm not aware of any blanket prohibition, anywhere, that say that you can't use code developed during a PhD for a commercial venture - but most Universities in the US will have some kind of ...
BrianH's user avatar
  • 21.4k
72 votes

Advisor professor asks for my dissertation research source code

If you wrote the code as part of your work as a PhD candidate, and were at all considered an employee of the institution as a PhD candidate, then the institution may well own intellectual property ...
Dylan Richard Muir's user avatar
68 votes
Accepted

My supervisor uses my scientific jokes and metaphors in his talks. What's a healthy way to deal with this?

As the old saying goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Ideally, we all want presenters in academia to get as good at presenting topics as they can, so it is reasonable for your ...
Ben's user avatar
  • 69.8k
60 votes
Accepted

Do I have to acknowledge the company where I started a project when I later publish related research in college?

At least in my field, Acknowledgements are generally regarded a fairly informal mechanism. There are few rules dictating what must and mustn't go in there. However, given that mentions in the ...
Ian Sudbery's user avatar
  • 41.7k
40 votes

Private company using my dissertation

I think that your best bet is to contact the IP department at the academic institution where you did your PhD: They can inform you about your rights concerning the work you did there as a student ...
Erwan's user avatar
  • 13.6k
37 votes

Is it appropriate for a professor to require students to sign a non-disclosure agreement before being taught?

The instructor is paid to teach, not write a book. If the book gets in the way of his/her teaching duties, either s/he give up teaching OR give up the book. Moreover, I doubt this instructor can ...
ZeroTheHero's user avatar
  • 27.4k
36 votes

Advisor professor asks for my dissertation research source code

A lot of people have mentioned making your code available, and I entirely second that. But to get more specific, put it on GitHub. Public repositories are free, it keeps a version history of your ...
Jeff's user avatar
  • 16.3k
36 votes
Accepted

What can I do with a research project that is my university’s intellectual property?

First, it would be good to know if that is a claim they can legally make where you are. It is possible that it is an empty claim. Second, if it is a proper claim, you should learn how it is ...
Buffy's user avatar
  • 375k
35 votes

Should I send professors money for illegally downloading their books?

Actually, what you should do, if you want to behave ethically, is purchase legal copies of the books you've stolen. This answer has generated a lot of controversy. Let me explain a bit of the ...
Buffy's user avatar
  • 375k
35 votes
Accepted

Would it violate copyright to retype a classic mathematics book from the 1960s using modern notation and uploading it online?

For your own use, you can type anything you like, modify it in any way that you like. There are no restrictions on that sort of thing, as long as it is strictly for personal use. Among other reasons, ...
Buffy's user avatar
  • 375k
34 votes

Should I send professors money for illegally downloading their books?

After thinking about it a bit more, I wouldn’t do this. Here’s a few reasons: The professor will have to waste their time trying to decide whether or not to accept your offer, and surely they have ...
goblin GONE's user avatar
31 votes
Accepted

Do I hold the copyright on test answers?

I think this question should be interpreted according to the goal you have: my goal is to be able to see my answer on an assessment after I have taken it. You could ask a lawyer about your precise ...
Bryan Krause's user avatar
  • 123k
26 votes

Should I send professors money for illegally downloading their books?

If you are a professor who authored a book, how would you feel about this? I'd feel extremely annoyed. You're not only doing something illegal, you're cheating someone of their work. This wouldn't be ...
Allure's user avatar
  • 133k
26 votes

Advisor professor asking me for the source code of my dissertation in order to be used by another student

Unless you are angling for commercial use of your code, you should post the code publicly, to GitHub, your own website, etc. To be clear, you are almost definitely under no obligation to provide your ...
Lee Hachadoorian's user avatar
25 votes

Would it violate copyright to retype a classic mathematics book from the 1960s using modern notation and uploading it online?

united-states In US law, this would be considered a derivative work. If the book is still under copyright (which is pretty much certain for any book published in 1964 or later), then you would need ...
Michael Seifert's user avatar
21 votes

Commercial company wants me to list all prior "inventions", give up everything not listed

I work at an R&D company that has a pretty similar clause in its contract, and in fact most R&D companies will. The core reason is that things change quickly in R&D, so an area that the ...
jakebeal's user avatar
  • 189k
21 votes

How can I protect a course I created independently from being taken by the community college I substitute for, when I am about to teach it there?

I'm going to come up with a different answer. Sometimes I've taken over a course from someone else. They've offered me their slides, exercises, questions, etc. Sometimes I've stopped teaching a class, ...
Jeremy Miles's user avatar
  • 2,553
21 votes

Do I hold the copyright on test answers?

To the extent that there is creative work, such as a nontrivial mathematical proof or computer program, you most likely hold the copyright. The only exception would be if you explicitly relinquished ...
dfeuer's user avatar
  • 311
20 votes

Advisor professor asks for my dissertation research source code

It's generally considered good practice to publish code that you use for research/analysis related to things you publish. Not everyone does but then lots of people fail to follow best practices. Not ...
Murphy's user avatar
  • 2,447
19 votes

Private company using my dissertation

You are in an very difficult situation here. The first thing to realise is that, unlike academia, companies make a point to decouple service from the people who provide it. This is the opposite ...
Captain Emacs's user avatar
18 votes

Advisor professor asking me for the source code of my dissertation in order to be used by another student

Why would you refuse? You might want “negotiate” an explicit acknowledgment at the end of any paper that uses your code as seed for something else (“ We thank Jan Schwarz for permission to use an ...
ZeroTheHero's user avatar
  • 27.4k

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