Science & Tech

Study examines data withholding in academic genetics

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Many genetic researchers denied access to resources related to published studies

Eric G. Campbell, of the Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and his colleagues recently surveyed geneticists and other life scientists at the 100 U.S. universities that received the most funding from the National Institutes of Health in 1998. Data was received from a total of 1,240 geneticists and 600 non-geneticists. The survey showed that 47 percent of geneticists who asked other faculty for additional information, data, or materials relating to published scientific findings had been denied at least once in the past three years. Among the geneticists responding to the survey, 12 percent said they had denied requests from other researchers for their own information or materials. They cited many reasons for their withholding, including a lack of such resources as money and time and the need to protect their own and their colleagues’ ability to publish future research findings. “The ability to reproduce science is important,” says Campbell. “When people don’t share published resources, it may slow the rate of scientific advance.” Campbell is first author of the report that appeared in the January 23, 2002 Journal of the American Medical Association.