Results of research undertaken at the University are ultimately publishable at the discretion of the principal investigator. Some situations, however, may require either confidential treatment of information or a delay in publication if, for example, they concern:
- The need to respect the privacy of information obtained from human subjects.
- Use of information obtained from a third party, such as a company, that was provided to you or the University in confidence. For example, a computer science student researching software engineering techniques may want to validate his or her techniques using a particular software package developed by a company. The company may agree to make the software available to the student under confidentiality provisions. While the student may carry out and publish the research, he or she would not be able to disclose any details of the company’s confidential software in the publication. The UILO will normally review any confidentiality agreements between researchers and their sponsor, and will accept the confidentiality terms provided that the results of the research may be published. You should be aware of any such contracts at the outset of your research.
- A delay in publication may be requested by a research sponsor to allow new inventions to be reviewed for their patenting potential. Publication in these circumstances refers to all public disclosure, including presentations at meetings, public seminars, etc. The University normally permits publication to be delayed for up to three months (and occasionally longer). Public access to a thesis can be restricted for a limited period (typically six months, extendable to 12 months in special circumstances) to allow a patent application to be filed.
- Your desire to commercialize your discovery.
If for any reason a research team cannot reach a consensus about the timing of publication, the matter will be referred to the Executive Committee on Research for advice to the President, whose decision is final. “UBC does not conduct secret research. It is essential that we protect the rights of students and faculty to publish their research and scholarly activity.” — Indira V. Samarasekera, Vice-President, Research.