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Scholarly Communication: Copyright & Ethics

A brief guide on what's new in Scholarly Communication.

Data Sharing, Copyright, Ethics, and Informed Consent

Why are ethics, copyright & licensing of data important? 

Just as your would not willingly publish your social security number for all, you would not post the raw data from your research without serious legal and ethical issues at hand. It is possible, however, to share sensitive and confidential research data ethically and legally.


You may decide that you would like to apply a license to your research data. There are many reasons why would may reach this conclusion. 

  • You may be required or strongly encouraged to obtain a license. 
  • Data licenses are one of the most effective ways to communicate permissions to potential re-users of data. 
  • A license is a legal instrument for a rights holder to permit a second part to do things that would otherwise infringe on the rights held. 

Here are some tips on licensing:


Copyright is the exclusive and intellectual property right assigned automatically to the creator. Copyright policies and laws prevent unauthorized copying and publishing of an original work. It is important to be mindful that copyright applies to research data and plays a role when creating, sharing and re-using data.

Knowing, understanding, and abiding by copyright laws is 100% your responsibility. Copyright misconduct is not taken lightly and punishment can be severe resulting in long term professional and personal consequences.

Things to consider:
  • Data is not copyrightable
  • Original expression of data is copyrightable (chart/table/visualization in a book)
  • Data can be licensed: you can easily give permission for secondary use of your data using a CC0 declaration from the Creative Commons.

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