On January 31 – February 1, the Polish-U.S. Fulbright Commission together with the University of Silesia’s Faculty of Law and Administration organized an international scientific conference titled “The future of scientific research in light of authorship laws, researcher’s ethical codes and government evaluations of the quality of research.” The conference was held in Katowice at the University of Silesia’s Faculty of Law and Administration and gathered around 130 participants.
The first day of the conference centered around the authorship of scientific works in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences with talks delivered by speakers from Katowice, Krakow and Warsaw.
In their presentations, the speakers highlighted the value of the authorship law for researchers i.e. what does it look like today and what it might look like in the future, and pondered upon whether the copyright law actually serves the author. Subsequent panels, foregrounded the issue of copyright from the perspective of specialists in the field of law, active lawyers, as well as researchers who specialize in natural sciences.
The panelists underlined the importance of teaching critical thinking and work ethics, as well as emphasized that plagiarism might be facilitated by the fact that scientists are constantly being pressured to publish and their financial security is dependent on the number of publications. They discussed the relationship between global development and the number of patents, and the level of copyright protection in certain countries including the difference between more- and less-developed countries in this context. The speakers provided numerous examples of how the context of copyright has changed in the past few decades: the number of authors per work, as well as the importance of knowledge transfer, international exchange, and global availability of publications. They also confronted the audience with somewhat unusual questions, such as whether the bachelor’s thesis should be protected by the authorship law, and whether it is possible to commit plagiarism and self-plagiarism at the same time.
The first day has offered a fresh look at the authorship law and a reflection upon whether the current law and regulations match the reality, the new challenges in the field of technology and organization of scientific work, as well as the authors’ / researchers’ needs.
The second day focused on research quality assessment and evaluation in the context of higher education reform. Our guest speakers from Denmark, Norway, France, the Netherlands and USA shared their countries’ experience related to the commercialization of science, the organization of research, and the impact of publication policy on the humanities and social sciences. They also raised an important question of whether one should favor publications in English over those written in national languages, and pointed out the difference between the internationally recognized journals vs. the local ones.
This international conference has provided an opportunity for scientists to meet up, engage in vibrant discussions, and exchange their ideas, knowledge and experiences. Positive feedback from the conference participants shows us that this opportunity has been well taken advantage of:
The meeting allowed us to confront publication requirements (dictated by the Legislator, requirements often unreal and unfair), with the applicable law (including the Constitution of the Republic of Poland), and above all the ethics of scientific research, which we tend to forget about when “chasing” the much-needed points. The confrontation of the perspectives of representatives of natural and legal sciences, though not easy, thanks to the atmosphere of understanding and respect (and often with the help of distance and sense of humor) was fruitful and stimulating. Thank you for reminding us about the importance of the research team’s mentor and his/her role in shaping the attitudes of future researchers – it is especially important for novice managers of project teams. In teams of young people we should teach the principles of cooperation (and co-authorship) as soon as possible – both because they are codified in law, but above all because this is part of good practice and ethics. Without such teams, especially in natural sciences, no “200” would be created, no “slot” would be filled and no research projects would be conducted.
-Karolina Rudnicka from the Gastro Immunology Laboratory of the Faculty of Biology and Environmental Protection (Lodz University)
The conference was jointly organized by the Polish-U.S. Fulbright Commission and the Faculty of Law and Administration of the University of Silesia. The conference was supported by Facultas Iuridica Foundation and co-financed by the U.S. Department of State.
Patronage: Constitutional Law Review
Download the conference materials below (PDF file, partly in Polish, partly in English). Several talks will be published in the form of articles in the Constitutional Law Review in 2020.