Illustrative Respondent Comments on Journal Policies on Review of Dual Use Research
“Don’t be paranoid, but don’t be naive either. Many studies should be published that are potentially useful to a determined terrorist but not all; the degree of risk should be assessed. We should not curtail publication that would ultimately help in our defenses. Perhaps, a review board would need to be created for specific journals to advise authors of content that would be of significant harm; this has been done in other disciplines in the past.”
“How can we possibly try to close the door on the free exchange of information at this point?”
“The sequence of the 1918 influenza virus should not have been made public. Although I prefer open publication of all scientific results, some information should be considered too sensitive for open dissemination. That sequence is a recipe for a future terror act.”
A majority of life scientists (57 percent) thought journals should have policies on publication of dual use research.
More than two-thirds of life scientists who responded to the survey, however, did not know whether journals in their field had policies to evaluate dual use potential (Figure 3-7).
Sixteen percent of life scientists who responded to the survey thought all or some of the journals in their field had a policy for reviewers to evaluate dual use potential. Twelve percent thought journals had a policy for instructing authors to disclose research with dual use potential to editors when submitting a manuscript (Figure 3-7).
One percent of respondents said that they had contacted an editor because a manuscript they were reviewing contained knowledge, tools, or techniques that they deemed a potential threat to national security.
The survey also asked several questions about views concerning the responsibilities of professional and scientific societies, which appear to be logical candidates for leading activities on addressing conduct of science and educating their members about their professional responsibilities. The Fink report, for example, recommended that “national and international