Friday, February 27, 2015

what is confidential?

A few days ago I was on the bus to uni and the bus was packed with people. Close to me was a lady standing and reading - a paper manuscript, which had in big, fat letters "CONFIDENTIAL" written all over it. One might say, that nobody cares what the other random people on the bus read - and in most cases that is certainly true. But on the other hand most of us certainly expect that their non-published awesome ideas and findings get treated with a bit of mindfulness. But what is a good spot to read a confidential manuscript? How do researchers deal with all the confidentiality that lands in their inbox every day. For academics having an office on their own there is no obvious issue, but all of us post-docs, who have to share offices, are in principle in a bit of a dilemma. A shared office is not a good environment for reading a confidential paper, neither is my favorite coffee shop or the library. In session the whole campus is so crowded that it's difficult to not be surrounded by people at all times. So, do I have to take this part of my work home with me? Or read it on the loo? In reality, I rely very much on the "who cares" aspect. I wouldn't read a confidential manuscript ion the bus or subway, but I do read them in my shared office. My office colleagues work in different fields than I do, so even if they would want to snitch research ideas, my desk would not be a good source for them. However, I do put the print-outs in the shredder when I don't need them anymore. For the peace of mind.