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How can I avoid having my research ideas stolen?

  1. May 3, 2013 #1
    I work in a network of teacher training universities in Europe and am evaluating a science education program as my PhD project. My supervisors and advisor have warned me to take great care in sharing my ideas with a young researcher, Dr. New. This new reseacher has been, much to our surprise and dismay, hired in a post-doc position to evaluate a very similar science education program that was copied from our program without credit given. My supervisor met with the leader of the copy-cat program before it's creation when there was "no interest" in developing a program. After the copy-cat program was created, my supervisor met again with the leader of the copy-cat program to express his disappointment, but there is not much he can do about it.

    The other issue is that at my uni there is no pressure to publish and my advisor does not want to focus on this. Therefore, instead of publishing in a journal, I am publishing a background report of my discovery phase research in a report. My advisor and supervisor say that the methods used in the discovery phase are unique and they fear that Dr. New will somehow steal my ideas. They warn me to share no data with her because she works with a much larger team of researcher who can turn out a publication in several months.

    It seems to me that avoiding this woman is silly and that there are lots of different approaches to and themes for investigating our programs. At the same time, I do want credit for my work. IT seems to come down to two question (maybe I should be asking other questions?):

    1) Is publising my background investigation report as good as publishing a paper in a journal when it comes to publising an idea or approach? Or should I wait until my work is published in some conference proceedings? Or is it more important to get people reading my report?

    2) How should I deal with contact with her? She visits my uni regularly and has been suggesting we meet. I would really like to be transparent about the whole thing and talk about how we could bring our ideas together once they have been published. And if she presses for more, ask her how I can receive credit for my ideas.

    All input welcome. Reba
  2. jcsd
  3. May 3, 2013 #2
    generally most people I have interacted with in my academic career are conscientious enough to give credit where credit is due. however, given the kind of reputation this person seems to have, you should avoid her like the plague. and if you are advised not to share your research ideas to competing research groups, then you should follow that advice. if you do something stupid and share more ideas then you rightfully should you may end up getting fired from your own research group.
  4. May 3, 2013 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    Or you could just give her bad advice and enjoy the results...
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