A considerable amount of scientific research is conducted in institutes or under contracts which preclude dissemination of the results to other than a select group. Scarce resources are allocated to research which may be duplicated in another establishment or in another country. Secrecy may be maintained either to gain a military advantage (in the case of defence research) or to gain commercial advantage (in the case of industrial research).
Pharmaceutical research, for example, is intensely competitive and may involve corporate counter-intelligence operations and secrecy classifications.
Until its declassification, in 1993, of about 80 percent of documents relating to laser research, strict secrecy by the USA was seen in the as stifling the exchange of ideas, inhibiting progress and limiting international cooperation over the applied use of the research in the development of fusion power. (Scientists in Japan, Russia and Europe had not been under such constraints).
The UK government scientist who in 1999 discussed his experimental results concerning genetically modified potatoes and illness in rats has been "gagged" for life.