Scientists study scientific secrecy

January 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: The illegal turtle trade—why scientists keep secrets

Related Stories

Growing cannabis with modern science and technology

November 20, 2017

In Canada and around the world, legal cannabis producers face many challenges: varying government regulations, high security requirements and a lack of reliable information on how to grow their crops.

Recommended for you

Cells lacking nuclei struggle to move in 3-D environments

January 20, 2018

University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers have revealed new details of how the physical properties of the nucleus influence how cells can move around different environments - such as ...

Information engine operates with nearly perfect efficiency

January 19, 2018

Physicists have experimentally demonstrated an information engine—a device that converts information into work—with an efficiency that exceeds the conventional second law of thermodynamics. Instead, the engine's efficiency ...

New research challenges existing models of black holes

January 19, 2018

Chris Packham, associate professor of physics and astronomy at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), has collaborated on a new study that expands the scientific community's understanding of black holes in our galaxy ...

Team takes a deep look at memristors

January 19, 2018

In the race to build a computer that mimics the massive computational power of the human brain, researchers are increasingly turning to memristors, which can vary their electrical resistance based on the memory of past activity. ...

0 comments

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.