Contract conflicts

US universities resisting government attempts to control fundamental research.

Peg Brickley(pegbrickley@hotmail.com)
Jan 6, 2003

Universities are quietly skirmishing with US government contract officers over new restrictions on research and eyeing ominous language in the Homeland Security law which they fear portends more trouble in the future.

Duke University used to see about one government contract a year that required scientists involved in fundamental research to submit manuscripts for pre-publication review. Such clauses are anathema to most universities, which consider free communication of findings essential to the scientific enterprise.

But in the wake of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, DC, the North Carolina-based institution encountered contract after contract with pre-publication review requirements even though the research was not classified.

"There was a rush of these that appeared," James Siedow, Duke vice provost for research, told The Scientist. Normally Duke saw one restrictive contract a year. Four appeared in the months following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001; three or...

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