Publication of research is vital to most researchers. In academia, in particular, it helps build careers and can be critical to obtaining funding for further research. Publication in peer-reviewed journals validates the research.
As a researcher you need to ensure the accuracy of the results which you publish. Negative and positive results should both be made publicly available. The Research Contract should make it clear that a collaborator cannot suppress the publication of results. You should also specify the source of any funding and the other collaborators, so that any possible conflicts of interest are made clear.
If your research has involved research on individuals (or their biological material) and those individuals are potentially identifiable from your publication of the research results, then informed consent must be obtained for such publication. This procedure will have been the subject of prior review by an Ethics Committee in many cases.
It may be that a Confidentiality Agreement has been entered into to enable you to discuss the possible research before the Research Contract is agreed. Make sure that the interaction between that Confidentiality Agreement and the confidentiality provisions in the Research Contract has been properly considered. You need to make sure that the information disclosed under the Confidentiality Agreement remains protected when the Research Contract has been signed.
Freedom of Information
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 applies to “public authorities”, which includes universities receiving public funds and the Research Councils. This Act can require the disclosure of research results by your institution. The results are generally exempt from disclosure in the following situations:
- They are intended for future publication
- Disclosure would be likely to prejudice commercial interests
- They are personal data
- They were provided in confidence to your institution
To the extent that the research results comprise know how, it may be that the other participant(s) need assistance from you or your co-researchers to be able to understand or to use the know how as part of a licensing arrangement. It may be that this assistance from you could be supplied on a consultancy basis.