Professional quandary

/ 18 June 2007

I find myself in the middle of a professional quandary. I’ve been working with a program (which will remain nameless for the moment), in which I was asked to do a piece of research. I worked for a very long time on the research, wrote a lengthy paper, and then had it returned to me as utterly NOT what the program desired or needed. I was then given a new set of very specific instructions to meet, to do a complete re-write.

I wrote a new paper, sent it off to the project editor, and had it returned with yet another set of detailed instructions -- many of which would appear to have been better met by my earlier version. Sigh.

I have very little energy for this project at this point, but the deadline is rapidly pressing upon me.

The quandary comes from feeling like my first paper was interesting, and traced some ideas worth sharing. (Granted, I'm always open to criticism as to how well I communicate such ideas, and I'm sure that first paper needs editing). I can't get it out of my mind, though, and each time I sit down to try and work on the second paper, I feel stuck by feeling like my language and ideas in the first were much more worth pursuing.

At this point what I'd like to do is simply send the first one off to seek publication, that way getting it out of my head. But I'm not sure about the ethics of such a thing. Does a paper that was written in the context of research for an organization, even if that organization rejects it, belong to that organization?

Generally, academic work produced by a scholar belongs to the scholar, even if an academic institution was "hosting" that scholar in the process. That is, the work I produce while at Luther does not belong to Luther, but rather belongs to me, it's my own intellectual property.

At this point, my own work in digital media and ownership kicks in, and I ask myself: is it really an intellectual "property" question? Perhaps I'll simply post the paper online, and that way anyone who wants access to it can find it. On the other hand, if anyone reading this blog has other ideas, please let me know!