Skip to main content


Buy Article:

$43.00 plus tax (Refund Policy)

Scholars have grown concerned that the commercialization of academic science is increasing secrecy at the expense of cooperation and information sharing. Using data from comparable surveys of academic scientists in three fields (experimental biology, mathematics, and physics), we test whether scientists have become more competitive and more secretive over the last 30 years. We also use the recent survey to test a multivariate model of the effects of scientific competition and commercialization (patenting, industry funding, and industry collaboration) on scientific secrecy. We find that secrecy has increased, and has increased particularly for experimental biologists. Only 13 percent of experimental biologists in 1998 felt safe discussing their ongoing research with all others doing similar work. Our multivariate analysis shows that this secrecy is most related to concerns about being anticipated (scientific competition). We find that patenting is associated with increased secrecy among mathematicians and physicists, but not for experimental biologists. We find that industry funding is associated with more secrecy, while industry collaboration is associated with less secrecy, across fields. Our results suggest that the recent concern over increasing scientific secrecy has merit. However, this increased secrecy seems to result from a combination of increasing commercial linkages and increased pressures from scientific competition. Our research highlights the central role that scientists' competition for priority plays in the system of science and that, while such competition spurs effort, it also produces negative effects that recent trends toward commercialization of academic science seem to be exacerbating.
No References
No Citations
No Supplementary Data
No Article Media
No Metrics

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Tsinghua University 2: Georgia Institute of Technology

Publication date: 2009-12-01

  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more