Aerial photo of outside of the Graduate School building on campus, home to the Office of Research.

Copyrighted Materials and Use in Research

It is the responsibility of the University to ensure proper use of copyrighted material in research.

As stated in the University Scientific Misconduct policy, faculty must adhere to the appropriate and legal use of research material while conducting research studies. This policy allows us to maintain high standards of professional conduct and also to meet federal regulations for receiving research funds.

Common Misperceptions on Copyright Permissions and Surveys Used in Research:

  • “If an entire survey is published in a journal, I can use it in my research.”
    • For use of instruments, tools or surveys published in a journal, you must contact the publisher to obtain permission. An exception to that rule is survey instruments published by state, local and federal authorities. Publishers will vary in their approach to giving permission for use.
  • “The survey can be found on the web, so I probably don’t need permission to use it.”
    • Some survey instruments are improperly distributed on the web. You should investigate the original source of the survey before deciding if it is available for use under public domain.
  • “I obtained permission and I am paying for use of a diagnostic survey tool on human subjects. Anyone on my research team can administer the survey.”
    • You must qualify that personnel administering the assessment have the appropriate expertise. Testing requires a certain level of expertise, especially with psychological assessments. While you complete the IRB review for your project, you may be required to provide evidence of expertise and cite the specifications provided by the copyright owner.