Scientists study scientific secrecy

Jan 26, 2006

Two Massachusetts General Hospital studies have developed a broad picture of how secrecy is affecting the world of science.

Open sharing of information is a basic principle of the scientific process, but it's well known secrecy has become a fact of life in academic science, the study said.

The hospital's Institute for Health Policy examined a broad range of withholding behaviors and found data withholding is affecting researchers in several fields.

"Secrecy in science reduces the efficiency of the scientific enterprise by making it harder for colleagues to build on each other's work," said Dr. David Blumenthal, the institute's director. "Secrecy cannot be totally eliminated; but to minimize it, we need to understand it better. That was the purpose of this work."

Blumenthal is lead author of a study surveying more than 1,800 life scientists at the 100 U.S. universities receiving the most National Institutes of Health funding in 1998.

The second study surveyed more than 1,000 scientific trainees -- graduate students and postdoctoral fellows from 50 U.S. universities granting the most degrees in the fields surveyed.

The results of both studies appear in the February issue of Academic Medicine.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: How were fossil tracks made by Early Triassic swimming reptiles so well preserved?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Living in the genetic comfort zone

7 hours ago

The information encoded in the DNA of an organism is not sufficient to determine the expression pattern of genes. This fact has been known even before the discovery of epigenetics, which refers to external ...

'Bright spot' on Ceres has dimmer companion

8 hours ago

Dwarf planet Ceres continues to puzzle scientists as NASA's Dawn spacecraft gets closer to being captured into orbit around the object. The latest images from Dawn, taken nearly 29,000 miles (46,000 kilometers) ...

Key facts on US 'open Internet' regulation

8 hours ago

A landmark ruling by the US Federal Communications Commission seeks to enshrine the notion of an "open Internet," or "net neutrality." Here are key points:

Spotify deals with random shuffle and we mortals

8 hours ago

How do we mortals perceive random sequences? An entry in the question-and-answer site Quora focused on a question involving a music-streaming service Spotify. That question signifies how we perceive what ...

Recommended for you

Predicting human crowds with statistical physics

Feb 27, 2015

For the first time researchers have directly measured a general law of how pedestrians interact in a crowd. This law can be used to create realistic crowds in virtual reality games and to make public spaces safer.

Bribery 'hits 1.6 billion people a year'

Feb 27, 2015

A total of 1.6 billion people worldwide – nearly a quarter of the global population – are forced to pay bribes to gain access to everyday public services, according to a new book by academics at the Universities of Birmingham ...

Broken windows thesis springs a leak

Feb 27, 2015

The broken windows theory posits that minor misdemeanors, like littering or graffiti spraying, stimulate more serious anti-social behavior. LMU sociologists now argue that the idea is flawed and does not ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.