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Ethics in research

I attended a seminar on ethics given by the department. All graduate
students are required to take this seminar in their first year.
It was a fascinating seminar. One scenario: A presentation gives you
an absolutely fantastic idea. Do you

  • a) Offer your suggestion freely
  • b) Privately talk about collaboration
  • c) Talk to your research supervisor
  • d) Work on it yourself

I raised my hand without hesitation, and told everyone I’d give my
ideas freely. Ideas are cheap. It’s implementation that really counts.
I don’t mind giving my ideas away. If people _really_ like my ideas,
then they’ll see the advantages in collaborating with me and helping
me grow. If I keep my ideas to myself, however, the world will be
limited by my ability to work on those ideas (and my ability to
concentrate on them in the first place!).

My lab partner whispered that it was obvious that I’m into open
source. It’s something I really believe in. I want to give ideas
away. I want to learn as much as I can so that I can spread what I
know.

Many people don’t like doing that. There’s a lot of pressure in the
academe to be the first to publish, and there are also the temptations
of the commercial world. Those are some of the reasons why people sit
on cool ideas. That doesn’t make sense to me at all, and I hope never
to be in a situation where I have to do that.

I don’t think ideas are scarce. I think they’re abundant, wild and
free. The more ideas I give away, the more I receive. =)

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