The issue of intellectual property rights (IPR) to the data may cause some concern. Neither PEN partners nor CIFOR will be allowed to publish papers that use only one dataset without the written permission from the person responsible for the data collection. Exclusive rights for the study remain with the researcher(s).
CIFOR will hold the primary rights to publish synthesis analysis based on the full data set (or subsets, e.g., only for Africa). Scientists wanting to publish synthesis papers will, however, inform all participants about the proposed papers, and invite and include them as co-authors based on standard academic rules of co-authorship.
All IPR issues will be clearly spelt out in the contract established between PEN partners and CIFOR. As a “Centre without walls”, CIFOR values work by collaborators as much as that carried out by CIFOR scientists, and in most cases publications by CIFOR scientists are done in collaboration with partners.
The question of originality may be another concern: how does the idea about a network on one topic, standardized data collection and research methodologies fit with the PhD requirement to produce original work? The answer is simple: the common data set suggested should be part of any basic survey on forests and poverty. Then, each thesis will have its own topic and apply more advanced theories and methodologies that take care of the requirement of originality.