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General medicine
Institute for Scientific Freedom
  1. Peter C Gøtzsche
  1. Institute for Scientific Freedom, Copenhagen, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to Dr Peter C Gøtzsche; pcg{at}scientificfreedom.dk

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Scientific freedom and freedom of speech are constantly under attack because of financial, political, religious and other interests. These essential values in democracies get eroded if we do not support them, fight against injustice and provide effective protection for whistle-blowers.

Fraud is another threat to the progress of science. It is so common that a recent survey of 522 consulting US biostatisticians showed that 24% of them had experienced requests to remove or alter data to better support the research hypothesis.1

If research results are unwelcome, they are often published with considerable delay, if at all, and often only after the researchers have modified their results or conclusions according to the wishes or demands of those who hold the power.2 Self-censorship is also common. Researchers may fear losing funding if they are honest, and powerful interests may influence what researchers choose to focus on and stay away from. I have often heard advice from colleagues like, ‘Don’t step into this minefield’ or ‘It is shark-infested water.’ It is far easier to get funding for mainstream projects with rather predictable results than running the risk of rocking the boat with …

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Footnotes

  • Contributors PCG is the sole author.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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