News & AnalysisScientific Publishing

Danish Sperm Counts Spark Data Dispute

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Science  17 Jun 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6036, pp. 1369-1370
DOI: 10.1126/science.332.6036.1369

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A scientific scuffle over the sperm counts of Danish men has highlighted a tricky question: To whom do data belong? A controversial study published in 1992 suggested that sperm counts worldwide had decreased by nearly half between 1938 and 1990, but since then, scientists have struggled to come up with data of the quality needed to resolve the contentious issue. Last week, in what its editor acknowledges was an unusual move, the journal Epidemiology published a commentary and an editorial on new sperm count data that had not been submitted to it, nor had they been published elsewhere by the researchers who collected them.