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FAQ: Will I get scooped?

One frequent question we often receive from researchers is the concern of getting scooped. Typically people who ask this question are startups, university researchers, or folks working in fields like life sciences or engineering. Because this question gets asked so often, we wanted to dedicated a longer explanation to answer this.

Experiment works because of storytelling. It’s what drives curious backers, and it’s the reward for seeing a project through. Plenty of successful projects have had sensitive data or information yet still manage to tell a great story without putting their results at risk.

Our most important policy is that the project investigators are in charge of what information or data they choose to disclose. So, this means you get to decide what you’d like to share.

If you’re unsure or what you’re allowed to share, just ask your journal (if you intend to publish) or your university (if there are questions about IP ownership). There will usually be someone who can provide an official or legal perspective for your research setting.

Another way to think about it is that at the end of the day, your backers might not actually care about the keystone or significant data. In fact, your backers will want what’s best for the project to ensure that the research results remains impactful. That means if by disclosing representative data or findings that you won’t be able to publish the results, then that’s not best way to show evidence of impact and complete the story. There are plenty of other ways to show evidence of the project’s impact, such as by sharing representative, deidentified, or even negative data.

As always, our advice for decisions like this is do what’s best for the science, because that’s also the goal of your backers.