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Ethical rules on sharing knowledge when changing labs?

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by totalcommand, May 1, 2007.

  1. totalcommand

    totalcommand Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Jul 26, 2005
    When you're moving between institutions, from one lab to another in a highly competitive field, what are the rules on sharing knowledge you gained in lab #1?

    For example, if you helped develop and optimize a novel assay in lab #1 that will not be published in a paper for a while, is it OK to use that knowledge in lab #2 to share with others or pursue your own project? Should you wait for lab #1 to publish the assay & data before you share it with lab #2?

    What about simply insights you have from the data you collected in lab #1?

    Thanks, I'm not really sure how things work in these highly competitive fields.
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  3. ThatOne

    ThatOne New Member 2+ Year Member

    Jun 13, 2006
    Would you feel comfortable asking the PI in lab #1 whether it was okay? That might be a good starting point.
  4. hawkeey

    hawkeey Member 5+ Year Member

    Nov 6, 2005
    Hmm... to some degree its kind of assumed that some information leakage might occur. I don't think labs are too protective about their methods, especially if they are already published - its almost a scientific mandate that you share your experimental details so that someone else can repeat and verify it.

    Labs regularly select post-docs to acquire a certain skill or knowledge in the lab, and usually the post-doc is more than happy to apply a learned technique to a new problem.

    Definitely talk about to the PIs though. Personally, I feel science should be wide open. Biology for some reason has this strange competitive closeness to it that I really dislike.
  5. totalcommand

    totalcommand Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Jul 26, 2005
    Thanks for the responses guys.

    I would feel comfortable sharing the knowledge if the method was published...but it's not yet and lab #1 does not publish very often.

    lab #1 PI has already joked to a coworker who is moving to another lab that it's too bad that the PI can't erase coworker's memory.

    I'm wondering whether it's fair for lab #1 PI to request I do not use assays/information at another lab until it's published, or if it's fair for me to use the assays/info while the work remains unpublished (lab #1 doesn't publish often).

    I will definitely talk to my PI at some point, but I wanted to know how many grains of salt to take his response with (and whether his or my response could be called unreasonable).

    There are some unpublished things I would like to take to another lab...but I definitely will not if it's wrong to do so.

    Does anyone here have personal experience with this situation?
  6. Circumflex

    Circumflex Junior Member 10+ Year Member

    Mar 6, 2006
    I agree that you should talk with your former PI about what's "fair game." Post-docs usually either become a PI's collaborator or competition. Use your conscience. Plus, you never know where you will end up later in your career. If you screw people over too bad, it might come back to bite you one day.
  7. Dr.Watson

    Dr.Watson 2+ Year Member

    Oct 11, 2006

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