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Contribution to Book
Norms and the Sharing of Research Materials and Tacit Knowledge
Working Within the Boundaries of Intellectual Property (2009)
  • Katherine J. Strandburg, New York University School of Law

As discussed in Wesley Cohen’s chapter in this volume, recent empirical studies have documented that scientists experience increasing difficulty obtaining tangible research materials from other scientists, while they express fewer concerns than many had anticipated about do-it-yourself tools that can be made in the laboratory, even when those tools are patented. In this Chapter I use a rational choice model of social norms to elucidate some factors that affect the likelihood that a research community will adopt a sharing norm. Based on those factors, I discuss some means by which sharing of tangible research materials can be encouraged. The analysis focuses attention on the costs to individual researchers of sharing research materials with others in a research community and suggests that sharing norms will be strengthened by initiatives aimed at i) reducing sharing costs through standardization, ii) spreading sharing costs through central distribution, iii) providing rewards in proportion to the extent to which materials are shared, and iv) reducing the private payoffs of exclusivity. Though motivated by studies of sharing of research materials, the analysis also applies to sharing of extensive datasets and tacit knowledge.

  • university,
  • patent,
  • technology transfer
Publication Date
Rochelle C. Dreyfuss, Harry First, Diane L. Zimmerman
Oxford University Press
Citation Information
Katherine J. Strandburg. "Norms and the Sharing of Research Materials and Tacit Knowledge" Working Within the Boundaries of Intellectual Property (2009)
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