The Massachusetts General Hospital, a Harvard teaching affiliate, has just released the latest in a series of publications discussing data withholding, concluding that:
"Data withholding clearly has important negative effects on the integrity of the scientific education system in the U.S."
In some of the medical areas, there are at least occasionally patent or commercial issues. No such excuses exist in climate science.
In 2000, they reported the following:
Secrecy in academic science: young, productive researchers most likely to be denied data
Although open sharing of the results of research is an underlying principle of modern science, the reality is that researchers sometimes withhold the results of their work either by delaying publication in scientific journals or by refusing requests from other researchers for access to data or materials. In the February 2000 issue of Research Policy, researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Institute for Health Policy and Harvard Medical School report a survey of scientists around the country on the topic of data withholding. They found that those most likely to be victims of data withholding were scientists who were just starting out in the profession, those who were highly productive, or those involved with commercial activities. In addition, scientists who had a history of denying their own data to others were more likely to have their requests for information refused.
In 2002, they announced another report:
While it is generally acknowledged that the progress of science depends on the free exchange of resources and knowledge, a new study finds that data, materials and information are often kept secret in academic genetics. "The ability to reproduce science is important," says Eric G. Campbell, Ph.D., of the Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Harvard Medical School. "When people don’t share published resources, it may slow the rate of scientific advance." Campbell is first author of the report appearing in the January 23 Journal of the American Medical Association.
Now, again in 2006, they have announced another article in the same vein:
Massachusetts General HospitalStudies examine withholding of scientific data among researchers, trainees
Relationships with industry, competitive environments associated with research secrecy
Open sharing of information is a basic principle of the scientific process, but it is well known that secrecy has become a fact of life in academic science. Several studies have described how researchers may withhold the results of their studies from other scientists or deny them access to data or materials. In two new reports, researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Institute for Health Policy examine a broader range of withholding behaviors among life scientists than previously reported and describe how data withholding is affecting researchers in several fields during their training years. The papers appear in the February 2006 issue of Academic Medicine.
"Secrecy in science reduces the efficiency of the scientific enterprise by making it harder for colleagues to build on each other’s work," said David Blumenthal, MD, MPP, director of the Institute for Health Policy. "Secrecy cannot be totally eliminated; but to minimize it, we need to understand it better. That was the purpose of this work."…
"Data withholding clearly has important negative effects on the integrity of the scientific education system in the U.S.," says Eric Campbell, PhD, of the MGH Institute for Health Policy, who led the trainees study. "Failure to address this issue could result in less effective training programs, an erosion of the sense of shared purpose and a general culture of scientific secrecy in the future."