The Legal Liability of Information Professionals

10 Rules for Self-Protection

1 Ensure all contracts are in writing.

2 If you are drafting a contract, insert a brief disclaimer. Four points:

• Limit your own liability for negligence

• Limit your liability in the case of database errors or omissions

• Limit your liability in the case of limitations placed on you by your client

• Exclude liability to non-clients.

3 Along with your report of search results, include details of:

• databases searched

• databases not searched

• limitations of particular databases.

4 Do not purport to search in areas where you have no expertise.

5 Keep up with all relevant literature, new training sessions, and online conferences.
Keep in touch with your professional peers.

6 Do not provide a client with search results unless you are satisfied that your work can stand the scrutiny of your peers.

7 Develop and use standard procedures and checklists to ensure consistency and thoroughness. Always keep a record of your search.

8 Always read the subscription agreement and do not download without permission.

9 Do not associate with "hackers" under any circumstances.

10 Brace yourself for the next stage: information science malpractice insurance.

(Martin Felsky. 1989. The legal liability of information professionals. CJIS v4 no. 3, 1-15.)