Bioterrorism papers under scrutiny

American Society for Microbiology president calls for meeting to discuss withholding of critical data by journals

Laura DeFrancesco(defrancesco1@earthlink.net)
Jul 28, 2002

Faced with requests by investigators to withhold crucial details in papers that could be related to bioterrorism, American Society for Microbiology (ASM) President Ronald Atlas is calling for the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to convene a meeting to discuss the handling of such articles.

In a 23 July letter to NAS President Bruce Alberts, Atlas said that a meeting of publishers in the life sciences is urgently needed to "initiate discussions about the possible development…of common publication policies in today's atmosphere, where there is increasing concern that technical articles may inadvertently aid those engaged in acts of terrorism."

Atlas, who publishes 11 journals through the ASM, made this request because he has been asked by several investigators to publish articles lacking certain critical details for fear that such details could be "misappropriated or misused." Atlas said in an interview with The Scientist that honoring such requests would set a...

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