PAANDA: The Professional Academic Alternative to Non-Disclosure Agreements

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I often get requests from companies or organizations to sign an NDA.

I no longer sign NDAs.

Each time I’m offered an NDA, I have to conduct a clause by clause review of its strictures to make sure it’s not overly broad by accident.

This involves a few round trips with the legal department.

Sometimes, it takes me longer to sign the NDA than to evaluate a technical artifact or idea.

Image Credit: J. Patrick Fischer

I’m tired of signing NDAs.

Sometimes (though rarely), that means I can’t work with a particular company or organization, and that’s something I’m willing to accept.

To avoid confusion, I’ve drafted a short standard reply on why I don’t sign NDAs and what I’m willing to do instead: the Professional Academic Alternative to Non-Disclosure Agreements (PAANDA).

If you’re offered an NDA, you’re welcome to offer the PAANDA.


As an academic, publishing is the lifeblood of my career.

I cannot sign legal instruments that could (accidentally) jeopardize my ability to publish.

Fortunately, academics regularly extend and expect to receive a professional confidentiality during peer review of unpublished research and grant proposals.

I am more than happy to extend the same professional confidentiality to you for the technical review of your idea or artifact.

I understand that this professional confidentiality may not be enough to satisfy your concerns, and if that is the case, I accept that I must pass on this opportunity to collaborate and I thank you for your interest.

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