I was recently honored to have my work mentioned on the Mendeley Data website, which seeks to provide a public repository of research data. However, the circumstances of this mention raise some personal concerns about fair use of Creative Commons material in brand marketing.
This is a unique circumstance that deserves some careful consideration. The Mendeley Data website referred to one of my more-popular FigShare research artifacts (currently #31 of “most viewed” on the site). However, *someone* removed references to FigShare in order to re-frame the work as an example of Mendeley’s archival capabilities. Someone added “Mendeley” to the citation and altered the persistent doi to refer to “mendeley” instead of “figshare”. In short, someone altered the reference and provided a non-existent doi for an actual research product that was hosted elsewhere. Here’s the screenshot:
While I am flattered that my work was integrated into marketing materials for this ambitious project, I’m not so keen on the way that it was adapted. This falls within a gray area of the CC-BY license, which “lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation.” While I was given personal credit for a research product that I created, the altered citation misattributes the figure to the Mendeley Data platform (where I have no figures that I’m aware of).
@andreaketchum funny thing about that: They took one of my figshare products and changed the doi to mendeley. I’ve mixed feelings about it.
— Jason Colditz (@ColditzJB) November 25, 2015
From what I see on the Mendeley Data website, much time and effort has gone into this emergent project. Great- I may even take a beta test of the new platform! However, for a project that hinges on openness and licensing of data, and providing persistent doi metadata and citations, it seems odd to alter the doi of a research product that is archived elsewhere. It might have been better to create a fictitious researcher and dataset, and register an actual doi for it. The marketing materials would then refer to something proper (maybe a witty, Mendeley-themed dataset). I suppose that any exposure is good exposure in marketing… I hope that my meager blog post elicits some new interest in beta testing the Mendeley Data platform. I’ll be happy to hear others’ opinions on my CC-BY rant as well as experiences on the new platform!
Update 2015-12-01: The folks at Mendeley Data have updated the site to reflect one of their own datasets. As much as I’ll miss my notoriety on the site, I appreciate their attention to my attribution concerns. Thanks for the responsiveness!!