Biddle, Wayne. "Publish-and-Perish in Defense Research," New York Times, 26 June 1983, p.

 

Biddle, Wayne. "Publish-and-Perish in Defense Research," New York Times, 26 June 1983, p.
E22.

Here is a brief piece on the relationship between the government's need for security and secrecy
in research and the scholar's need to publish his findings freely. The issue is clear: the academic
feels that he must be totally unrestricted in using his results no matter what the topic and no
matter what the results. The Reagan administration has another view: there are secrets which
must be protected if our lead in high technology is to be maintained. There are security needs and
not all data should be made available, for example, to Russian scientists. The government feels
that communication must be restricted even though that restriction is unfortunate. This is an old
issue; what prompts these rewritten contracts?

The Department of Defense has recently been writing contracts with word changes in them which
specify government control over findings. The new words suggest that the government retain
control over data for stipulated periods. With these new contracts, bureaucrats retain legal control
over findings and permission to publish can be withheld by bureaucratic inaction.

This is not a new threat of censorship so much as a policy change with unclear implications for
science. The administration is heating up the science-defense relationship.