Consortia – who pays, who gets the results?

University of Houston professor rails against non-sponsoring companies that manage to sneak access to his code base!

In a recent communication, Arthur Weglein, professor at the University of Houston and director of the Mission-oriented seismic research program set out to define the return on investment for M-OSRP sponsors in these times of ‘scrutinized capital expenditures and research budgets’. Weglein raises some good points regarding the way collaborative research is financed across the industry.

Like other university consortia, M-OSRP has two goals. First is to educate and mentor students, and to assure that their contributions and advances are recognized and published. Second is to provide sponsors with relevant added-value, by solving seismic challenges, and by publishing reports and computer codes. Unfortunately, some companies that are not sponsors, provide interns or hire alumni and thereby get access to the M-OSRP algorithms. They thus derive value without supporting the source of their profit.

Weglein proposes that M-OSRP will continue with its seismic research program as before but that its ‘proprietary, well-documented code’ will from now on only be available to sponsors. The code will not, in general, be published. Weglein’s position is understandable and is how many industry consortia operate. But the approach is rather different to that seen in the open software movement where code is in the public domain and exposed to scrutiny. More on Weglein’s M-OSRP from U Houston.

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