Three years ago, the University of California, Berkeley, plant and microbial biology (PMB) department negotiated an exclusive research relationship with Novartis Agricultural Research Institute that allowed the company to review graduate student and postdoc work before publication. But the university didn't consult the students before trading away their intellectual property rights, provoking lasting anger and confusion, according to a sociologist's report commissioned by the university.

Many students say that Novartis has not actually interfered with publication or slowed their work in any way. Still, ethicists say, the agreement raises questions about the inclusion of student work in agreements over corporate-academic partnerships. "It's one thing for full-bore grown-up scientists to make decisions about where they want to go [for funding], but it's another thing to say that the work of our grad students is open for exploitation by a private company," says Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics...

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