Scientific Leaders Balk At Broad Data Release

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Science  15 Jan 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5400, pp. 307-309
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5400.307b

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By the end of this month--possibly within a few days--the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is expected to take the first step toward implementing a new congressional mandate that "all data" produced with federal funding be given to anyone who seeks them under the Freedom of Information Act (Science, 6 November 1998, p. 1023). But science policy officials have already begun building a case against too freewheeling an interpretation of the new law. Together with key congressional allies, they warn that federally funded research could be hobbled if scientists are forced to disclose experimental results before they are published in a scientific journal, before the end of an ongoing clinical trial, in a form in which human research subjects might be identifiable, or in a manner in which confidential data provided by collaborators might be revealed, among other issues.