Open Science

Closed Shop

I was perturbed last Monday morning to receive an email aimed at the graduate students in one of the faculties here, instructing them to make sure that they are now all using the ‘new IP and commercialisation lab books’.

As far as I understand it, the aim of these books is to ensure that all research done in the faculty is protected for possible commercial exploitation. It’s a no-stone left unturned approach.

I fully understand that the University would wish to benefit from any research happening within it’s ivory towers (more concrete hereabouts) that might have commercial potential. I also respect the decision of researchers who feel that their work is commercially exploitable to protect their (actually the University’s) IP by keeping their work appropriately private.

However, a researcher will generally have a good idea if the work they are undertaking is likely to have comericial applications, and will make an appropriate decision about their record keeping and publications. For a research institution to legislate for all of its members based on the needs of a small minority strikes me a closed-minded and anti-progress. I can’t help but think of all that lovely data languishing in tombed hard drives and paper lab books, trapped behind prohibitive non-disclosure agreements.