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Worlds leading journal editors urge self-governance and responsibility ...

DENVER,CO Thirty-two of the worlds leading journal editors and scientist-authors today called for renewed vigilance and personal responsibility among their ranks whenever potentially dangerous research is presented for publication.

But, the editors and authors emphasized that the scholarly publishing community must protect the integrity of the scientific process by publishing manuscripts of high quality, in sufficient detail to permit reproducibility. Without independent verification of research results, they emphasized, We can neither advance biomedical research nor provide the knowledge base for building strong biodefense systems.

The joint statement, released at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting and scheduled for publication in key journals next week, supports the concept of self-governance by the scientific communityan alternative to government review of forthcoming journal articles. The statement resulted from a 9-10 January workshop, sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences and the Center for Security and International Studies (CSIS) at the urging of the American Society of Microbiology, on policies for publishing potentially sensitive, peer-reviewed research.

Discoveries reported in research articles have helped to improve the human condition by protecting public health, improving agricultural yields, promoting technological advances and economic growth and enhancing global stability and security, the editorial group noted. But, long-standing concerns about the risk of good science falling into the wrong hands were brought into clear relief by the events of September 11, 2001.

What is potentially dangerous science? Risky research cannot be clearly defined or categorized, the editorial group said, but any work that might be used by terrorists for malevolent purposes should not be published. How and by what processes [risky research] might be identified will continue to challenge
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15-Feb-2003


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