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But If You Said It in Front of 500 People, Isn't That Sort of Public?

Following up on yesterday's exchange about Cold Spring Harbor changing its meeting policy to make all attendees sign off on privacy guidelines, bloggers are discussing the philosophy behind it: should scientists be able to present data in a talk and expect it to remain private?

DrugMonkey jumps into the fray by noting that the common concern -- being scooped for publication -- isn't assuaged by preventing attendees from broadcasting what they heard at a session. After all, it's likely that "all of the potential scoopers are either in the audience or their friends are," DrugMonkey writes. "The whole idea of publication priority/uniquity is corrosive to science anyway ... a considerable amount of the secrecy sentiment comes from that particular problem in science. So why should we coddle that with academic meeting rules?"

Meanwhile, Anthony Fejes has a post encouraging openness as well. "Unless the conference organizers have explicitly asked each participant to sign a non-disclosure agreement, the conference contents are considered to be a form of public disclosure," he writes. "To strangle the communication between conference attendees and their colleagues ... is to throttle the scientific community itself."

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