helenlt on February 1st, 2013
One of our favourite topics (rants) on this blog is reminding you to cite material that you are using. It’s both good practice and a requirement under the Copyright Act. The flip side to this is remembering when you create something yourself to include details for anyone accessing or using your work to cite it correctly. Most of you will do this automatically if you are writing a journal article or a conference paper but what about teaching material?
We recently come across some examples where University teaching material was being made available on a subscription website. We were asked to investigate the matter, but it was made more difficult because many of the powerpoint slides or lecture notes had very little detail about who created them or what subject they were for. Just as your research is important and a claim of authorship is made on any articles and papers you might write, your teaching material is just as valuable and should be properly attributed. This all sounds like common sense and should be automatic but you’d be surprised at how many people seem to forget to do it!
Bibliographic information – such as title, author and contact information – can help protect your work from unauthorised use. Many people want to do the right thing and acknowledge other people’s work or get permission to use copyright material when needed. But if you don’t include the right information, you make it impossible for anyone to contact you and it could mean that your work is misused or gets lost. In the copyright world, works that have no author or where the author can’t be contacted are referred to as orphan works.
So as you start preparing for Semester 1, make sure to include the following on any lecture notes or course material:
- Your name or the name of the staff member who created the material
- An email address
- A title – preferably something that allows that material to be easily identified. “Week 1” when used by every subject across the University is not very distinctive
- Subject name and code
- Department and/or faculty
- A copyright statement – (c) University of Melbourne 2013. Copyright in teaching material is owned by the University
A copyright statement is not needed for a work to be protected by copyright but it helps to remind people that a work is protected and that they can’t just do whatever they want with it.
Finally, if you don’t sign your name to your work, you can’t take credit for your own brilliance.