It’s All About Sharing…

Xian, a summer undergraduate research student at Big University, was flattered when a graduate student, Pingwei, at another university emailed him inquiring about his research. Since Xian had just finished writing a progress report for his research advisor, Xian sent it as an attachment to his email reply to Pingwei. Throughout the summer, Pingwei emails Xian several times asking very specific questions about Xian’s work. Xian happily answers every question. The following spring Xian is surprised to see Pingwei’s name on the by-line of a technical article in a leading scientific journal. Xian is even more surprised when he reads the article and sees text, figures and tables that were clearly taken word-for-word from Xian’s summer progress report.

Consider each of the following questions and evaluate the case study:

1. What is the action or inaction that is the cause for concern?


2. Who or what may be affected?


3. How will they be affected? (i.e., what are the possible consequences?)


4. Are there any laws, regulations written or unwritten that may apply?


5. What actions might be taken and what would the consequences of these actions be?


6. Can anything be done to prevent this from reoccurring or to minimize the severity of the consequences?


Basis for Case Study 4
It isn’t always students who are naive about sharing their information. Recently in a first-person account detailed in the Chronicle of Higher Education a young assistant professor detailed the unexpected results of sharing her dissertation with a graduate student from another university who was doing related work on the same topic: