Nature: Canada’s government should free its scientists to speak to the press.

An interesting editorial was published today on nature.com and will be coming out in tomorrow’s edition of Nature. It’s titled Frozen out: Canada’s government should free its scientists to speak to the press, as its US counterpart has [1]. It has clear importance to the topic of this blog so I’m providing a link to it here.

The following few sentences which are extracted directly from the article do a good job of summarizing its message:

Since Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party won power in 2006, there has been a gradual tightening of media protocols for federal scientists and other government workers. Researchers who once would have felt comfortable responding freely and promptly to journalists are now required to direct inquiries to a media-relations office, which demands written questions in advance, and might not permit scientists to speak. Canadian journalists have documented several instances in which prominent researchers have been prevented from discussing published, peer-reviewed literature. Policy directives and e-mails obtained from the government through freedom of information reveal a confused and Byzantine approach to the press, prioritizing message control and showing little understanding of the importance of the free flow of scientific knowledge.

The editors of Nature devote their career to disseminating science, and are recognized as being among the most qualified in the world to do so. They take their job seriously and are expressing concern about a very serious issue that affects Canada in a very important way. We should heed their message.


[1] The details of how to access the article are:
Nature 483, 6; 2012 (doi:10.1038/483006a)
It refers to another article, also from Nature and with a very similar message, that can be accessed here:
K. O’Hara, Nature 467, 501; 2010 (doi:10.1038/467501a)

Updated March 3/2012 to fix a typo.

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One Response to “Nature: Canada’s government should free its scientists to speak to the press.”

  1. operationwatch Says:

    Here’s a link to a CBC interview where they discuss this article:
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2012/03/02/nature-science-canada.html

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