Faculty Handbook

60.06 Ownership of Written Work

Revised September 7, 2015

Arcadia University acknowledges that its students own the intellectual and creative contents of the work which they produce in their academic courses. Student essays, for example, are the property of the students who wrote them, and instructors at all levels should accordingly be prepared to return essays to their student owners after they have been evaluated. 

Arcadia University makes a distinction, however, between ownership of the intellectual contents of students' work and ownership of the actual physical object which contains those contents. Particularly in the case of examinations, instructors may choose to keep the completed exams in their own possession, since ownership of examination questions resides with the instructor, and not with the students who took the examination. Instructors have the right to retain in their possession both the questions and answers on objective exams, or on objective portions of exams. Students have the right, however, to be shown objective examination answers if they so request. Instructors should inform students of the period of time during which students will be able to see examination materials. 

Academic or creative work in which the substantive contents are inseparable from the physical object, as in the case of paintings, jewelry, musical performances which have been recorded and the like, constitute a separate category as regards the questions of ownership. In such cases, the student is deemed the essential owner of both the contents and the physical object in question, even though the instructor must have the discretionary right to use and even influence the creation of such objects for valid pedagogical reasons. 

Should a conflict arise over whether the student or the instructor owns a given piece of work, students and instructors alike will be entitled to refer the matter to the Provost for consideration.