1) Copyright and ownership of background material and results
The ownership of the background material and research proposals will always remain with the original owner / as specified in the terms and conditions of the research contract, regardless of the use of an AI application. However, instructions on secrecy must always be taken into account when using AI (background material of research as well as research proposals are confidential).
Clarification: The background material of research (e.g., interview transcriptions and questionnaire responses) may be owned either by the university or the researcher. If the material is owned by the university and is in the university’s possession, the Act on the Openness of Government Activities (621/1999), the Archives Act (831/1994) and the Information Management Act (Act on Information Management in Public Administration 906/2019) apply to the material. This means, e.g., that confidential material that is in the university’s possession cannot be processed in an AI application.
2) User rights
AI applications may require the application owner to be granted, e.g., a parallel right of access to results generated by AI. This and any conflicting conditions of the research contract or the funder must be taken into account when using AI and when material generated by AI is used in research.
3) Artificial intelligence in externally funded projects and the funder’s terms
If the copyright terms and conditions of the AI application are in conflict with the funder’s funding terms, this will prevent the use of the application in the project, unless the funder separately gives a prior written consent to the use of the AI application. For example, commissioned research requires that the university transfers all copyrights to the client. In this case, no copyrights must remain, e.g., with the AI application.
4) Processing of confidential information
No confidential information must be processed in an AI application. Confidential documents include, e.g., research proposals and article manuscripts (Act on the Openness of Government Activities 621/1999, section 24), background material of research and other material based on the university’s contractual obligations (commissioned research).
No information contained in contracts or information that must be kept secret based on contract terms must be exported to AI applications. When the university commits to agreements other than those based on the university’s own model agreement templates and general terms and conditions, the agreements must be submitted to the university’s legal services for comments.
5) Personal data
Research material that contains personal data (direct or indirect identifiers or other identifiers to be interpreted as being personal data) must not be exported to AI applications, except when the university has concluded an agreement with the provider of the said AI application that contains conditions related to the processing of personal data. In addition, research subjects must always be informed of the processing of their personal data by means of AI. If the material contains personal data, the analysis of the research data cannot be completed by using an AI application without conducting a data protection impact assessment (PIA/DPIA).
The use of some AI applications requires the creation of a user ID, for which reason it may be necessary to provide the application with personal data. Universities cannot require their researchers to create user IDs for AI applications that require the disclosure of personal data (e.g., an email address and contact information that can be linked to a person).
In unclear situations, the university’s Data Protection Officer must always be contacted.
6) Research ethics
The University of Eastern Finland is committed to following the Finnish Code of Conduct for Research Integrity and Procedures for Handling Alleged Violations of Research Integrity in Finland issued by the Finnish National Board on Research Integrity, TENK. The guidelines specify what responsible conduct of research is.
The use of AI in research must be mentioned when the results of the research are published. The use of AI in research must be mentioned in the documents produced during the life cycle of the research, such as the research proposal, press releases and research permit applications, as well as when the research results are published. In such a case, the application that was used in the research and the purpose for which it was used must be specified.
7) Publications and the instructions of the publisher
Different publications, publication platforms and publishers have varying guidelines and rules on the use of AI applications. These instructions must always be taken into account in the case of materials produced with the help of AI: Some publishers have, in their publication terms, restricted the option to use AI applications or, at the minimum, require unambiguous mention of the use of AI in the production of the material.