Statement from

Bruce M. Alberts, President, National Academy of Sciences;
Kenneth I. Shine, President, Institute of Medicine; and
Wm. A. Wulf, President, National Academy of Engineering

Actions Are Needed To Promote Research Sharing

Sept. 8, 1998

Progress in science and technology depends on the participation of a global research community, as well as on broad public trust and support. Nearly every "proprietary" discovery can be traced to a foundation of theory and results that has been built up over many years from the freely exchanged ideas and efforts of individual researchers.

Sustained national investment in the research enterprise, coupled with rapid commercialization of research ideas by the private sector, has brought great public benefits. However, competitive drives for individual or national pre-eminence, or pressures of commercial secrecy, can inhibit the traditional openness of communication as well as the effective utilization of new research tools. A number of meetings sponsored by the Academy complex have highlighted some disturbing trends. In particular, participants from all three sectors in a program of the Academy's Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable expressed concern that increasing secrecy and proprietary pressures could jeopardize the value and utility of academic research for both public and private ends. These concerns are summarized in a recent brochure from the Roundtable.

We share this concern, and therefore urge that our colleagues place a high priority on the following actions: