validation of concepts by experimentation and later verification or falsification of published observations. There is no clear line between “for-profit sector” and “academic” research. Some of the research done in companies is basic research with no predictable commercial end point, whereas some academic laboratories are directly connected to companies via sponsored research agreements, collaborations, consulting agreements, or stock ownership.
In the systematic and evolutionary biological community, nations often restrict the right of commercial firms to investigate or use biological samples for which they have allowed export. Because it is a matter of law, and the material is unequivocally the property of the nations involved, investigators are obligated to abide by these restrictions. While there is interest in pursuing the use of such materials by commercial firms in a regulated legal context, at the present time, companies are compelled to negotiate individual separate agreements with a country to use biological samples of interest.
Aside from this unique situation, the committee became convinced during its deliberations that exceptions to standards in one form or another could not be rationalized without sacrificing the integrity of the principle of publication. In considering arguments for making exceptions to community standards, including the need to accommodate commercial interests, the costs of producing data and materials, the vulnerability of young investigators to competition, and an investigator’s right to mine his or her data before others, the committee found that participants in the publication system were just as likely to benefit as to be hurt by a system that favored the sharing of data and materials. In some instances, avenues other than publication are available for those investigators who want to publicize their findings while maintaining control of the related data. In other cases, reasonable and innovative ways can be found to overcome the problems of costs, contractual restrictions, and competition. Notwithstanding the rule of law and other common-sense situa-