Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Education Software

Open Source Licenses For Academic Work? 173

Posted by Soulskill
from the attribution-citation-and-extra-pepperoni dept.
An anonymous reader writes "We're in the process of submitting a scientific paper describing some techniques for data analysis. We'll be releasing the associated code, so we're faced with choosing an appropriate license. My supervisor insists there should be a citation clause, requiring any published article that uses results of the software to cite our paper. Of course, ideally, free software shouldn't have such encumbrances, and I initially tried to talk him out of it. However, in academia, the issue of attribution and citation is very important. Also, it is not a restriction on use of the software per se, only on publication of results. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any such license. So I wondered: what do other academic Slashdotters do?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Open Source Licenses For Academic Work?

Comments Filter:
  • by xous (1009057) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @11:18AM (#25085025) Homepage
    Not one of 'em crazy academics but wouldn't this do?

    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by swimin (828756)

      He wants them to attribute when they use the results of the code, not when they use the code.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by xous (1009057)
        I misread that.

        I don't think it is possible to enforce restraints on the output of an application.

        Think of the implications of Microsoft if was able to have a similar clause in Microsoft Word, Wordpad, notepad, or even Windows.

        I think the best thing he can do is ask for citations/attribution.
        • by IWannaBeAnAC (653701) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @12:17PM (#25085453)

          If you accept the basic premise of EULA's, which specify a contract, then that contract can do basically anything it likes, within the law.

          Existing EULA's can and do put restraints on what you are allowed to do with an application. Consider for example 'student' versions of software, such as Matlab, Visual C++, etc, that cannot be used for commercial or research purposes. Also a lot of scientific software has a 'no commercial use' clause.

          • If you accept the basic premise of EULA's, which specify a contract, then that contract can do basically anything it likes, within the law.

            But once you've gone that route, you've probably already given up the idea of using an OSI approved open source license.

          • by julesh (229690) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @02:25PM (#25086443)

            If you accept the basic premise of EULA's, which specify a contract, then that contract can do basically anything it likes, within the law.

            Existing EULA's can and do put restraints on what you are allowed to do with an application. Consider for example 'student' versions of software, such as Matlab, Visual C++, etc, that cannot be used for commercial or research purposes. Also a lot of scientific software has a 'no commercial use' clause.

            Before I begin: IANAL. I have, however, read widely on law, particularly copyright and contract law. The following is not legal advice.

            What you say is true, as far as it goes.

            But you see, saying "you can use this program, as long as what you are doing falls into one of these categories" is entirely different from stating what you can do with the output of the program after you've finished using the program.

            Contracts have limits on what they can achieve, and when the requirements of a contract start to seem too onerous, courts tend to decide that the contract's aims are outside of the scope of a contract.

            I've never seen a relevant test, but I would expect that a contract that attempts to stifle the freedom of speech of one its parties would be very difficult to enforce, except in very specific circumstances. Such circumstances would probably include stuff like near-equality of bargaining power between the parties, which isn't the case here (where there's a producer/consumer relationship). Contracts that cannot be simply terminated without leaving behind residual obligations are harder to form, too. In this case, you can't just say, "I don't agree to that any more" and stop using the software, because you still have the results that you obtained from the software.

            My suggestion to the OP is quite simply this: pick any OSS license you like. I'm fond of BSD/MIT style licenses, and they are (as you can guess by the names) popular with academic institutions, at least in the field of CS. Release the software under that license, and put a note in the documentation politely asking people publishing results obtained from the software to include a citation to the paper about it. Include suitable example references in a number of formats, so it's particularly easy to cite.

            Really, people will want to provide a citation. It backs up their paper with more depth, provides additional information about the methods they have used and gives the reader more confidence in their results to know how they were derived.

            Why not just trust people?

            • by pthisis (27352)

              I've never seen a relevant test, but I would expect that a contract that attempts to stifle the freedom of speech of one its parties would be very difficult to enforce, except in very specific circumstances. Such circumstances would probably include stuff like near-equality of bargaining power between the parties, which isn't the case here (where there's a producer/consumer relationship). Contracts that cannot be simply terminated without leaving behind residual obligations are harder to form, too.

              FWIW, con

            • In the end, there is very little difference between a 'use' restriction, and an 'output' restriction. Except for purely personal use (which is basically unenforceable anyway), to get the same effect as a restriction on the output, you just put a restriction on the use: "you are only allowed to use this software if you agree to do X", where "X" is something like "cite the authors of the software in any publications that make use of data obtained with the software".

              In quantum chemistry, there is a very wi

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by matria (157464)

          FSF ruled that a website using PHPNuke (GPL) had to retain the copyright notices for PHPNuke on page footers and in the Generator metatag since this was generated by the CMS code.

          And this copyright notice will be present on the generated pages footer and in the HTML source as a Metatag called Generator. Those messages are now compliant with the 2(c) section of the GPL license and CAN'T BE REMOVED.

          http://phpnuke.org/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=6966 [phpnuke.org]

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by stm2 (141831)

            But I guess they want citation in publications (academic paper), not just displayed in software.

      • by hey! (33014) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @12:45PM (#25085665) Homepage Journal

        He wants them to attribute when they use the results of the code, not when they use the code.

        Personally, I think this wrong-headed.

        It seems to me that one of two cases apply: the software in question is critical to reproducing the results presented, in which case it would be mandatory to cite the software in any real peer reviewed paper. Or the software is not critical in reproducing the results, in which case the developers don't merit citation in the paper, although they may be deserving of gratitude and a pat on the pack.

        For example, should people who used LaTex or Open Office to prepare printed materials used in the course of their research cite those products? Only if the particular materials produced could only be produced in precise form by that software.

        Now suppose you used postscript to produce images used for vitual perception experiments. Well, you'd probably want to publish the routines, and certainly stipulate they ran on such and so a Postscript implementation, if there were any chance at all that different implementations would render those images differently.

        Now, in cases where results are produced that are dependent on a particular piece of software, whether that software be proprietary, open source, or in the public domain, it is academically dishonest NOT to cite the software, in my opinion.

        • by mazarin5 (309432)

          But at the same time, if this software, or the algorithm it uses, is important to the methodology that the researchers use, it would almost certainly be mentioned anyways. If it's an otherwise trivial implementation of some common principles, then there's nothing to take credit for.

      • by fermion (181285)
        what is the point. If someone uses the mrthods pr result, they have to cite the paper. Every cites everyones paper anyway because that is how cred is developed, by having your paper cited. Is there something more that is needed? That might be the ccal. Otherwise 100 years of publishing might not be wrong
  • by haluness (219661) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @11:19AM (#25085037)

    So, if you were to get such a license and then somebody published a result without citing your software (as opposed to mentioning that they used the software), how would you (or your boss) enforce it?

    Would your boss really sue another academic for not citing the software?

    Of course, as an academic myself, not citing the paper for some software that I used, is sloppy anyway.

    • by goombah99 (560566) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @11:30AM (#25085123)

      or Boo Hoo, what if someone read your paper and then did not cite it in their derivative work?

      Citations are a matter of academic integrity and publishing ethics not law.

    • by trainman (6872) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @12:18PM (#25085461) Homepage

      This was exactly my thought, we GPL all the software out of our lab. We also have a prominent notice on our download page giving the proper journal citation for this particular piece of software, so users know what to put.

      However to not cite software used, particularly when the exact citation line is given to you so easily, in academic would be considered academic dishonesty. Sloppy as you said. And would reflect very poorly on the author of the paper if it were ever to come to light.

      Since you can't really enforce it without a costly lawsuit, you simply have to have faith other academics will follow the same attribution code to cite sources, including software.

      What might be more useful is writing this to a prominent journal in your field as a letter to bring attention to this issue, to help teach those older academics who never thought about the issues of citing software.

      • by iter8 (742854) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @12:34PM (#25085573)
        We do the same, release the software under the GPL along with a request to cite the proper journal references. You can't really enforce that, but we seem to get plenty of citations, so I think it's an honor system that mostly works. When I review a paper, I try to make sure the authors cite the software they use and if the paper describes original software, they release it. I don't really trust the results from black-box software.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by The boojum (70419)

          Another issue that no one seems to have mentioned yet is the credibility aspect. If the publications associated with a piece of software start getting enough citations to where it becomes well known and other researchers build on that software then citing it helps to give your own work a measure of credibility.

          You show that your results are obtained by building on top of battle-tested, proven software that's already been vetted by others. It deflects concerns about mistakes in your basic implementation an

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by shaitand (626655)

        '

        This was exactly my thought, we GPL all the software out of our lab. We also have a prominent notice on our download page giving the proper journal citation for this particular piece of software, so users know what to put.

        However to not cite software used, particularly when the exact citation line is given to you so easily, in academic would be considered academic dishonesty. Sloppy as you said. And would reflect very poorly on the author of the paper if it were ever to come to light.

        Since you can't really

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Xandu (99419)

        I hate to be a lame AOL'er, but "me too" where me is all the people I work with: software is GPL, try to encourage people to cite (or in many cases just put a quick mention in the acknowledgements) any appropriate papers when publishing.

        A (marginally) interesting counter-example is healpix [nasa.gov], code used by astronomers for all sky maps (especially of CMB [wikipedia.org] data, its original use case). It was originally released with such a citation clause, which caused much annoyance among people who wanted to use the code for

    • Since you are an academic, you would know that there are worse consequences for an academic than getting sued. Loss of professional reputation is, IMO, worse than this. Something that would definitely happen if you happen to use someone's work without properly attributing it to them.
      The review process is usually capable of weeding this out when it comes to experimental results etc., but when it comes to software, this is a little harder for a reviewer to spot. It is really up to the user of that softwar
      • Loss of professional reputation is, IMO, worse than this. Something that would definitely happen if you happen to use someone's work without properly attributing it to them.

        Not really, this sort of thing goes on all of the time. I suspect you are not an academic? Or perhaps your field is different? (I'm not being snide here, different fields really do have different cultures of citing people, I have discovered.) Often, the background material for a publication is a quite large set of partially overla

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by f(x) is x (948082)

      Of course, as an academic myself, not citing the paper for some software that I used, is sloppy anyway.

      So you cite the paper for every piece of software you use (ssh, Linux, gcc, etc.)?

      As a member of the networking / distributed systems community, researchers certainly don't cite all of the relevant tools they use. Testbeds (like Emulab and PlanetLab) and simulators (NS2, etc.) are cited in the results section because the reader needs to understand the methodology of experimentation. However many researchers use tools created by researchers to run their experiments (CoDeploy, PLuSH, PLMAN, Stork, etc

      • by haluness (219661)

        > So you cite the paper for every piece of software you use (ssh, Linux, gcc, etc.)?

        Of course not - but it only applies to software that is so common that everybody will know about it, such as ssh or Linux.

        Even for some cases, such as say nmap, I'd at least include a reference that lists the URL. I'm lucky that the journals I submit to, allow that.

        You mention researchers running their experiments with certain softwares and not citing them since it doesn't change the results. In my mind that's a sloppy pa

        • by shaitand (626655)

          'will any differences in their results be due to... the lack of use of Stork?'

          If you have adequately explained your methodology then reproducing the results shouldn't depend upon the tool you used to implement that methodology. If using another tool to implement the method changes the results then the results shouldn't be considered valid in the first place.

      • by foobsr (693224)
        The unfortunate reality is that citations are a metric of "credit" in the academic community and the lack of citations presents a problem for researchers who build tools.

        <sarcasm>This is only reflecting the fact that those are unable to add proper value to their respective fields, which again shows that the metrics work well.</sarcasm>

        In my days the underlying attitude was reflected by the creation of the label 'Rechenknecht' (appr. compute-slave) for the sub-professoral members of the sc
    • Citations are generally a matter of academic integrity (giving credit where it's due), and assistance to the reader (pointing out sources for statements that are argued for or proved elsewhere, and further reading). I rather dislike attempts to interfere in that judgment process.

      Generally of course I do cite the paper for software I use, though it depends somewhat on the journal style (some journals prefer footnotes for software instead of normal references, unless the software's paper is something other th

    • Of course, as an academic myself, not citing the paper for some software that I used, is sloppy anyway.

      And as an academic myself, I completely agree. If someone were to use this guy's code in the results of a publication, they would have to cite the code's maintainers... and that is something that the journal referees should enforce. If a journal's editors are doing their job, they will not let someone publish any results without a thorough explanation of where those results came from.

      So I guess my point is, there should ideally be no issue of enforcing such a citation restriction.

  • NAMD License (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 20, 2008 @11:22AM (#25085061)

    The NAMD license [uiuc.edu] has a similar clause. It might be worth looking into.

    • I find this cause, and the NAMD one quite obnoxious. It's not really ethical to demand that someone cite your paper in their work, even though they quite obviously will in any case (if you didn't a referee is almost certainly going to pick you up on it).
  • The Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license looks
    like what you need

    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

    It allows others to modify and adapt your work as long
    as they attribute the original in the manner specified by you.

  • by logicnazi (169418) <logicnazi@nOspAm.gmail.com> on Saturday September 20, 2008 @11:24AM (#25085071) Homepage

    Your academic papers don't have such a licensce. They are cited because it's considered unethical not to do so. The same would apply to using your source code.

    Also, your license can't actually enforce the citation clause. I mean whoever uses the code won't necessarily be the same person who writes the paper. Additionally I have some doubts that the kind of clause you are interested in would be legally enforceable.

    Science works because we trust other scientists to cite our work if they use it. If we kept our work secret unless other scientists signed agreements to do so nothing would get done.

    • by logicnazi (169418)

      But you might want to consider one of the many licenses that prevent intermediate parties from passing on the source code with all references to your group stripped out.

      To elaborate on my prior comment it's not clear to me whether merely using a copy of your code for research purposes without passing it on would be covered as a type of fair use and hence not require accepting the license in the first place.

      • by Simon80 (874052)

        That's not how fair use works - using an entire piece would never fall under fair use, under any definition or description I've read. Also, references to the group cannot be stripped out if they're part of the licensing conditions, even under the BSD license.

        The submitter should trust that paper authors will cite properly if they've used the software to obtain scientifically relevant results. Any paper that doesn't cite the software used is pretty useless anyway, the reader won't know where they got the rel

    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @11:37AM (#25085195) Journal
      Why not look at some of licenses to come out of academia, the MIT license (from MIT) and the BSD license (from UCB), or the University of Illinois Open Source license? All of these are roughly equivalent. There are a few issues:
      • If your work was publicly funded, then a permissive license is the only ethical solution, since it is the only way of ensuring that your work benefits those who funded it.
      • Citation, as you point out, is an ethical issue, not a legal one. If someone uses your work and doesn't cite you, then this is unethical. Pursuing them legally is expensive (will your organisation fund this?) while a letter to the editor of the publishing journal is cheap and more likely to have the desired effect. If you include a note in the documentation suggesting the paper to cite, most people will (it's easier than thinking, and bulks out the references section...)
      • You are in academia. Your value as an academic is measured by your reputation. The more people use (or are aware of) your work, the greater this reputation will be. Any clause in a license which limits distribution or use is going to harm your reputation in the long run.
      • You are in academia. Your value as an academic is measured by your reputation. The more people use (or are aware of) your work, the greater this reputation will be. Any clause in a license which limits distribution or use is going to harm your reputation in the long run.

        As an academic I for one would find this clause obnoxious and avoid using your software if at all possible.

        The poster should also be aware that most academic institutions assign copyright to the author of the software (as long as the software is not of commercial value) you are therefore free to make your software available under any license you please. To avoid a dispute with your supervisor you could dual license it (GPL and BSD with a citation clause for example).

        • I'd avoid the GPL for academic work. One of my supervisor's former students released a library under the GPL, and it was completely ignored in terms of attributed use. At least one company has produced (successful) products violating the license (bugs and symbols match) but the university doesn't intend to sue them and the former student doesn't have the funds to do so personally. If he had released it under a more permissive license, then they would have had no reason not to credit him. There are now a
          • I'd avoid the GPL for academic work. One of my supervisor's former students released a library under the GPL, and it was completely ignored in terms of attributed use. At least one company has produced (successful) products violating the license (bugs and symbols match). but the university doesn't intend to sue them and the former student doesn't have the funds to do so personally.

            He could have assigned the copyright to the EFF and they would have fought the case for him. In addition to this please name and shame them, if I knew who this company was I'd be sure to avoid their software.

            If he had released it under a more permissive license, then they would have had no reason not to credit him. There are now a number of independent implementations of the same algorithms, and people use derivatives of those and cite them instead of his work.

            If they are so morally corrupt as to appropriate GPL code I don't see why they would credit BSD code. There's still the "if people knew they could get it for free why would they buy it" argument.

            There are now a number of independent implementations of the same algorithms, and people use derivatives of those and cite them instead of his work.

            I would imagine there is something about these tools which makes them more attractive than his software, I d

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by bcrowell (177657)

      Your academic papers don't have such a licensce. They are cited because it's considered unethical not to do so. The same would apply to using your source code.

      Yeah. Also, if someone uses the code to do calculations they're going to publish, then the publication is going to need to include enough information so that readers will be able to determine how the calculations worked. The easiest and most straightforward way for to accomplish that is simply to give a reference to the paper describing the code. As

    • "Your academic papers don't have such a licensce. They are cited because it's considered unethical not to do so. The same would apply to using your source code."

      You'd certainly think so, but it turns out that lots and lots of people either 1) don't mention the software at all or 2) mention the software by name, but don't include a citation.

      People often think 2) is OK because it allows people to reproduce the results of the paper.

      I happen to have a decent amount of experience with this, haven written some so

    • by ghoti (60903)

      I've seen this a few times myself, and I'm also in the process of releasing some research software as open source. People are usually happy to cite your software, because it adds weight to what they do (they haven't just made it up themselves, but they're building on a published base). You can't force them anyway, and if somebody is going to rip you off or use your software without mentioning it, there's no way you can stop them.

      You can save yourself a lot of unnecessary work and headaches by just letting g

  • Plagiarism (Score:2, Insightful)

    by holizz (737615)

    It's not like they can use your work without attribution in academic papers, since that would be plagiarism, right? So any specific clause that required citation would be unnecessary.

  • How in the world would you enforce such a licensing clause? Unless the output is DRMed in some way, they could just remove any markings that indicate it came from your program. Besides, an ethical researcher using your program would already cite the source of the data and an unethical researcher would just ignore any stipulations in the license.

  • Use a BSD License. This license goes back to the 1970s.
  • Ask nicely. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @11:30AM (#25085117)
    To be honest, I think your best option is: "Ask nicely."

    Seriously, academia and publishing and citation is a massive reputation system. It almost entirely works on the honor system, with formal inquiries occurring (rarely) when there are major transgressions. Let's say you find or write some complicated open-source license that requires citation. The code will still be available. Unscrupulous people could still use the code and publish without citation. Do you really think you (or your supervisor) would ever bother suing them? I highly doubt it. But you would certainly spread the word that these researchers don't cite properly. You would certainly bring up this issue during peer review. This is where the real damage to them will occur.

    So, my recommendation is to just skip the middle-man, and don't bother with the unconventional FOSS license (which would just confuse people who want to use the software but won't ever publish anything). Wherever you post the code, just include a prominent request (on webpage, in README, and code headers) along the lines of "If you publish any work that uses this software, please cite XXX." Most scientists would be happy to add that citation. The only ones who wouldn't are the ones who try to pass off other's work as their own: do you really think they care about respecting copyright?

    This is, at least, the procedure used in my field. Publish your paper. Release the code using a standard FOSS license.. Add a citation request. Done.
    • To be honest, I think your best option is: "Ask nicely."

      Agreed, including a citation requirement is more likely to get my back up and make me reconsidering using your code than anything else.

  • by Timothy Brownawell (627747) <tbrownaw@prjek.net> on Saturday September 20, 2008 @11:30AM (#25085127) Homepage Journal

    The BSD license is from UC Berkeley, the MIT license is of course from MIT, llvm is from the University of Illinois / NCSA and uses a license almost identical to the BSD license, etc. For some reason, this sort of "free as in knowledge" type license seems to be rather popular among educational institutions.

    My supervisor insists there should be a citation clause, requiring any published article that uses results of the software to cite our paper.

    That is a restriction on how it can be used, and I seriously doubt it is at all compatible with Open Source. It certainly wouldn't be compatible with Free-as-in-FSF software.

  • pointless (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jipn4 (1367823) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @11:30AM (#25085129)

    If they use your software in a manner that, from an academic point of view, requires citation, then they are going to cite you anyway if they are honest.

    If they use your software in a manner that, from an academic point of view, does not require citation, then your clause puts them in a difficult position. For example, their editor might insist the citation be removed, but then your license kicks in.

    Besides, how are you going to enforce this anyway? Are you going to sue? What kind of damages and remedies are you going to put in there?

  • by Noksagt (69097) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @11:31AM (#25085135) Homepage

    Just pick a standard OSI license, tell people who want to cite it how they can, and trust that it will work out. Don't try to force people to use your software in any peculiar way, even if that way does not seem "evil."

    I asked a related question here [slashdot.org] several years ago. I have completed my schooling and released some open source software, some of which has been used and cited.

    Copyright licenses generally protect holders from having others distribute their works in a way that they do not want. They do not place many restrictions on how the legally obtained work can be used. You might be able to use an end user license agreement that attempts to mandate citation & worse restrictions (such as not being able to publish software benchmarks) have certainly been imposed. Some authors even mandate registration before others can receive the source code & can then see who may be using but not citing their software. But I think this may actually be counterproductive & it certainly wouldn't be considered free software.

    Academic integrity necessitates describing your work accurately in such a way that others can reproduce it. To do this, others will need to say what software they used to obtain the results they publish & they should choose to cite you. This won't always happen, but it will probably happen more frequently than you or your advisor think. It is certainly valid to write or call other academics who you know use your program and ask that they cite your paper in the future. In extreme situations, you can send a note to the editor of the journal that considers such papers that didn't cite your work & most editors will err on the side of strongly encouraging authors to add a citation.

    Most other free/open source software that is used a lot in the sciences does not have a EULA of the type you subscribe, yet many are popular & are cited. They may have a FAQ entry or a mention in their README on what should be cited, but they don't try to make it legally binding.

    You should ask yourself why you want to release it as free and open source software. Presumably, you hope that others will use it (obscurity is a worse threat than piracy) & maybe even to help you improve it. You also probably want to obtain some kind of academic prestige (which can come not only in the form of citation, but also from name recognition of both the program and the authors of that software). The best way to get this to happen is to write a solid piece of work that can do something that other works that cost (financially, time invested, and responsibilities involved) the same or less can't do as well and that other people want to do. Use a standard FSF/DFSG/OSI license (such as the GPL) & trust that everything else will work out. Getting quirky will discourage use of your software.

  • You can state that the materials can be reproduced as long as the copyright note is maintained showing authorship.
  • You'll give the rest of us a bad name if you actually produce anything. Stop that.
  • Why not incorporate the paper and the code together in the forms of extreme commentary? That should strike an appropriate balance I would think.

  • The important thing to have cited is your results in your paper, not your software. Many academic institutions have been writing open source software for a long time, in fact many of the open source licensees that are used every day come from software that was developed in academic institutions. Things like MIT license, much of the motivation behind the GNU license, BSD, the list goes on. None of them require attribution.

    • The important thing to have cited is your results in your paper, not your software.

      That's making an assumption that there is no intellectual value in the software, only in the underlying theory. I'd say both are valuable, and both should be cited by other researchers who depend on them.

  • I publish a paper on new research, I get priority, no amount of pissing about by other people removes that priority, regardless of what may be attempted.

    I am, and remain, the originator of that work, it cannot be patented by anyone else, or copyrighted, because my own work precedes that of any other. My permission must be sought, and even if given, cannot ever remove my priority.

    Further developments based on it may be copyrightable by others, but this again does not remove my priority on the original resear

    • by djmurdoch (306849)

      I publish a paper on new research, I get priority, no amount of pissing about by other people removes that priority, regardless of what may be attempted.

      However, when you are trying to get a grant, or tenure, or a promotion, the boards examining your work will want to know if it has had any impact. Citations to it indicate impact.

      • by thermian (1267986)

        I publish a paper on new research, I get priority, no amount of pissing about by other people removes that priority, regardless of what may be attempted.

        However, when you are trying to get a grant, or tenure, or a promotion, the boards examining your work will want to know if it has had any impact. Citations to it indicate impact.

        Anyone publishing a paper/article/thesis who does not cite correctly is at risk of having their paper rejected anyway, so its a self correcting system.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      As for code? Well I've used the GPL for all my research related code, and I've had no problems

      Why GPL? I would expect that when one is publishing academic research, one would want to license any accompanying code under a license that is as compatible as possible with whatever code other researchers are using. That would be something like BSD.

      • by thermian (1267986)

        As for code? Well I've used the GPL for all my research related code, and I've had no problems

        Why GPL? I would expect that when one is publishing academic research, one would want to license any accompanying code under a license that is as compatible as possible with whatever code other researchers are using. That would be something like BSD.

        Personal preference. My thinking is they can use everything I wrote as it is, in which case they must abide by the GPL, or use it to learn and re-implement it under whatever license they wish. I'm happy for people to originate their own code after learning from mine, I've always worked that way.

        By using GPL I also get to use it in my primary open source project if I wish without incurring license clash

    • In the UK all you have to do is write your name on a work, and its copyrighted anyway, not sure about the US.

      In the US, the UK, and any country that has ratified the Berne Convention [wikipedia.org] (i.e. nearly all countries), any creative work fixed in a tangible medium has automatic copyright protection. There is no need to attach a name, or to register the work, although both may help in proving the copyright.

  • In any code I release, the comments at the top state which paper should be cited if this code is used. Academics are all smart enough to know that they should cite papers and code, so just make it easy by pointing to what you want the citation to say. Everyone of importance will cite your paper/code without issue.
  • Take a look at http://cran.r-project.org/doc/FAQ/R-FAQ.html#Citing-R

    Most papers to use R (or other statistical software) will in fact cite it. R makes this easy, by providing built-in citation strings. Do this, and well-behaved researchers will cite your software.

  • How about you talk to the lawyers your school keeps around for this kind of stuff? Since you're going to be obligated to follow whatever their rules are anyway, you might as well defer to them now instead of after their lawsuit.

    • I am amazed that so few others thought about this.

      The submitter is almost certainly under legal obligations of some kind and going out and doing his/her own thing could easily lead to legal trouble.
    • It depends on your school, but I know of some school legal teams that are stuck in the mindset of locking everything up in hopes of making a buck for the university down the road. It's not really their fault. It's what the administration (i.e. management) keeps asking them to do. But it is also totally opposed to the academic spirit.

      Bottom line, if you call in the legal team, you will have to play by their rules. If you keep quiet, you might not get noticed by them and you can do what ever you want (

  • Dude,
    Just go with the old BSD license. I believe you're looking at Clause 4, iirc.

  • > Also, it is not a restriction on use of the software per se...

    Yes it is, and with it your software will never be included in any major Linux distribution.

    BTW is your suoervisor actually the author of any of the software? If not perhaps you could keep him happy by attaching his terms to the copies of the software distributed with the paper and then release it under your preferred terms elsewhere.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by julesh (229690)

      BTW is your suoervisor actually the author of any of the software? If not perhaps you could keep him happy by attaching his terms to the copies of the software distributed with the paper and then release it under your preferred terms elsewhere.

      As a student/researcher any work the OP did as part of his studies at the university would typically be considered by a court to be the copyright property of the university, at least in as much as they provided the resources (tuition, guidance, computer facilities, ac

  • In the Diamond Age, ownership of an idea is significant. For example, the blinking light on an Ethernet card. The inventor of the concept patented the idea, another company used the idea without communicating it to the inventor. The inventor's resulting favorable ruling can be found at. WAIT! You sound like a pretty smart person, go find it yourself. And of course, after all those hours of searching, I maybe not telling you the truth. Personally speaking, it's good to see students learning the various

  • "Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If you're ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats."

    --Howard Aiken (maybe)

  • Algorithms and Libraries for Physics Simulations [comp-phys.org] has two licenses, one for the basic libraries and one for applications. They both require citations as a condition of use. Library [comp-phys.org] license and applications [comp-phys.org] license.

    The important bit is common to both licenses:

    This license grants permission to use, reproduce, display, distribute, execute and transmit the Software, and to prepare derivative works of the Software, and to permit others to do so for non-commercial academic use, all subject to the following c

  • We've never had a problem with someone using our software without citing us appropriately. Most cases people *want* to cite us because it justifies how they used it in their own work and helps them get the paper accepted by the reviewers. If your boss is worried about people not citing your software, then your software is completely derivative anyways (your software does more than just compute the mean, right?).

    We were worried about big-pharma companies using our software for drug discovery, so we had UC gi

  • I agree with the previous poster. Don't invent your own license, and use a general purpose free software license (like the GPL). In addition, usually academic software (particularily in fields which are not computer science) is very often extremly specialized, and very often only academics will want to use it. Hence, in practice, your concern should be more that your software is used (and hence, academic credit is given thru citations) than anything else. Your fellow researchers will certainly cite you i
  • Publishing Ethics (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DynaSoar (714234) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @12:53PM (#25085725) Journal

    "...what do other academic Slashdotters do?"

    I always provide attribution because it's part of the rest of the ethics of science. But for code, don't expect everyone to continue to attribute the paper itself, just the source lab and university. We use the EEG system most common to labs like ours. Everyone mentions the vendor in their work, but nobody mentions the validation papers and review of same. Similarly, everyone mentions what statistical analyses they use, but hardly anyone would even know where to begin to find the original publications validating them. If the code becomes widely accepted, expect it to become commonplace enough that the lab and university get mentioned, but not the paper.

    And to be that widely accepted, you'd need to either provide ample validation in this publication, or better plan on doing a validation paper as a follow up. Enlisting similar labs for the latter would give your analysis more weight and them a worry-free pub, and everyone wins. If your analysis doesn't happen to be novel enough to warrant this (say, it's a mash up of previously known analyses) then your validation is reference of the sources, but it's not something you can expect much referencing to.

  • I think what many of the other posts are saying is that you should go with a GPL license and then hope that fellow academics do the right thing and give credit where due. I'd like to further suggest that you request, near the license statement, that the person cite your work. Afterall, the other posts are right, you're not going to sue if someone uses your software without proper citation, so why make it part of the license? Put at the top of each file a polite request to cite and you'll probably get more p
  • use the GPL (Score:3, Interesting)

    by osssmkatz (734824) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @01:57PM (#25086241) Journal

    the GPL does have a detailed description of the attribution issue in their preamble. Asking for attribution on GPLed work as a condition of use is perfectly compatible with the GPL license.

    (The above refers to GPL v.2)

    --Sam

  • If you are refereeing a paper for a scientific journal, and the article just says 'then we crunched the numbers and the answer was 42', then the referee should reject the paper until they cite their computational methods. Otherwise the research isn't reproducible and then it's not science.

  • by klapaucjusz (1167407) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @02:12PM (#25086327) Homepage

    Two points to keep in mind:

    • don't write your own license, use a well-known license that people already understand;
    • don't include an advertising clause.

    You may be able to convince your supervisor by citing the examples of BSD Unix and X11, which brought fame and money to their creators (the CSG at Berkeley, and project Athena at MIT) while using extremely liberal licenses -- the MIT/X11 license (which is what I use for my research) and the 4-clause BSD license, albeit with the advertising clause not being enforced.

    You may also want to cite the following anegdote. Two years ago, I was compiling a Linux LiveCD [jussieu.fr] for our first, second and third year undergrads. One of the pieces of software I wanted to include was a Prolog compiler from a well-known Portuguese university which we use in third-year courses.

    Unfortunately, the Prolog implementation was covered by a fairly strict license that would significantly complicate our distribution process. After a few exchanges of e-mail with the copyright holders, they told us that we were welcome to do whatever we wanted, but they'd not change the license for us.

    After consulting with our legal department, we decided we could not include the Prolog compiler.

  • Mr Supervisor, ok I did the research. What you want conflicts with all of the standard Open Source software licenses that are out there. It's a legal thing about how Open Source licenses usually work. The only way to do it would be to have a lawyer write a custom license. I'm not sure how much it would cost, but the real problem is that using custom untested license could be a real mess.

    I do have some good news though, Mr Supervisor! A lot of academic software development like ours does get released under t

  • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @02:34PM (#25086511)

    It has to be worked out by you, your employer, your funding body, your university policies, and everybody's egos and lawyers. Any one of them can wind up preventing the sensible others from a sensible answer, especially federal regulatory policy on publicly funded research.

    I prefer to use GPL myself, and encourage my employers to do so. It's well documented, easy to follow, and there is now a reasonable body of case law to work with. Whatever you do, don't invent your own, special, unique license. Dan Bernstein did that, and it helped keep djbdns, daemontools, and djbdns from becoming default system components in any OS distribution that I've ever worked with, despite their technical advantages over most other such tools.

    • I just posted the same thing not having seen your post first.

      This is excellent advice and people freelancing how they will copyright/license software can lead to big trouble, violations of contract, etc.
      • Thank you: and to correct my own post, I should have said 'djpdns, daemontools,a nd qmail'. Dan's unique licensing terms caused trouble for the general use of all of them. He's relented now, but it's effectively too late.

  • For my own papers-about-data-analysis-programs, I've had good success with a simple "Please cite this paper" request, but nothing explicit in the license (I use BSD as my university preferred it to GPL). By success, I mean plenty of use of code(s), plenty of citations, and very few cases where I know of code being used and not cited. My observation (as an author and journal referee) is that most authors are happy to cite the papers for the data analysis algorithms with "We used Foo1.2[Barr, et al]" as it
  • Read the FAQ! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bap (75675)

    This is a FAQ about free software licences, see http://people.debian.org/~bap/dfsg-faq.html [debian.org] question 12.g.

    12. g.

    Q: I'm a working scientist, and would like to release code implementing my work. However I want to make sure that people using the software mention its use, and cite my papers, in papers they write. Should I include this in the license?

    A: You have a valid concern. Computer scientists often receive inadequate credit for their scientific contributions. But putting such a clause in the license would

  • If you have made an original contribution, and your software merely demonstrates or implements that contribution, then your advisor is acting in an anti-collegial manner by demanding citation.

    Clearly, anyone extending your results would be foolish indeed not to cite your paper (and there's already a fine reputation-based system for enforcing this social norm, thank you very much), but it sounds as though your advisor is looking to pad the number of citations he has.

    Tell us, does your advisor have tenure?

  • Ask nicely in your "How To Use This Program" document and everywhere else for the attribution you desire.

    Also, enter a comment section in the program code that makes the same request.

    Then code into the program a section that prints as a head/footer in the formatted output or as every Nth line in the unformatted output file text such as "Data created by Program X developed by Person Y at Place Z".

    You'll have your attribution, and likely only those who weren't going to comply anyway will bother to ed

  • by NeverVotedBush (1041088) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @05:22PM (#25087745)
    Since you are asking which license to publish under, it sounds like you haven't done this within the framework of whatever institution where you are working.

    It could very well be (probably be?) that the license you have to publish under is already set and that you are legally bound to follow it.

    Depending on who funded the research, there could be other restrictions and obligations as well.

    Certain funding institutions require there be no copyright at all, while others may have some agreement in place that you might violate if you don't investigate this first.

    Stuff like this is how you can lose funding - not just for yourself, but for the institution. And the legal issues, under the wrong circumstances, could end up haunting you.
  • SocialText, makers of wiki software, created a license that may be just what the OP is looking for and it is OSI approved.

  • Zlib license

    http://opensource.org/licenses/zlib-license.php [opensource.org]

    Just take out the:

    """
    an acknowledgment in the product documentation would be
    appreciated but is not required.
    """

    And replace it with:

    """
    an acknowledgment in the product documentation is required.
    """

    Or some other wording that you like better.

    You could do similar things with licenses such as the MIT or BSD. But, for the love of god, do NOT use the [L]GPL. If you respect the academic freedom of others, you'll stay *very* far away from that license.

The biggest mistake you can make is to believe that you are working for someone else.

Working...