The fate of suppression submissions

Unpublished appendix to Brian Martin and Clyde Manwell, "Publicising suppression", a chapter in Brian Martin, C. M. Ann Baker, Clyde Manwell and Cedric Pugh (editors), Intellectual Suppression: Australian Case Histories, Analysis and Responses (Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1986), pp. 253-256.

Brian Martin and Clyde Manwell

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"Publicising suppression"

Contents page for the book Intellectual Suppression

Brian Martin's publications on suppression of dissent

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We here give details about the responses of different journals, newspapers, radio and television stations to the material which we submitted to them about the Coulter case or about suppression in general. As well as documenting our various efforts, we present this information to show the sort of activity we undertook, and to present our failures as well as successes.

The different outlets which we contacted, or which contacted us, are listed in alphabetical order. Since we did not plan this study until after the event, there are a few gaps in our records of who contacted who and when; we have tried to indicate our uncertainty when it is important. We offer our apologies to any people in the electronic media whose names we have misspelled. It should be noted that many people mentioned in these accounts have since changed positions.

(Brian Martin: A note is in order concerning my articles and letters mentioned in this appendix.

*** The Adelaide Advertiser is the major daily newspaper in Adelaide. It has a circulation of about 220,000.

The Advertiser played a key role in the early stages of the Coulter case. The case first received publicity in two articles by Advertiser reporter Barry Hailstone on 31 March and 1 April 1980. In the following weeks the Advertiser published a series of letters on the case, including one by the Director of the IMVS, Dr Bonnin, and quite a number in defence of Dr Coulter. A substantial article on the case by journalist Bill Guy appeared on 17 June 1980.

The Coulter case was unusual among cases of suppression at intellectual institutions in South Australia in that the Advertiser presented both sides of the case, rather than either ignoring the situation or presenting 'establishment' views only. Detailed reasons for the attack on Dr Coulter were presented in Barry Hailstone's 1 April article and Dr Bonnin's 12 April letter in the Advertiser, and rebuttals were also printed there, especially the contributions by Rust, Gouldhurst, Gun, Ross and McGregor. A hint at the reason for this exposure of the case can be found in the Report of the Committee of Inquiry into the IMVS where on page 25 this statement appears: "The Committee considers the Institute's relations with the pubic media have become unsatisfactory". Further details explaining this rather unusual statement are not provided. However, it is known that at one time the Director of the IMVS had directed staff not to talk to Advertiser reporter Barry Hailstone due to a previous story he had broken. It is clear that there was among some influential members of the local media a certain distaste for what were regarded by them as highhanded actions by the IMVS administration. Whatever the rights and wrongs of this conflict, it served a significant purpose in that, for a change, the local newspaper was willing to describe a suppression case more fully.

Nevertheless, the Advertiser did not give a full airing of the Coulter case. Coverage of the case in the Advertiser was scanty after July 1980 in particular, since the initiation of legal proceedings at that time meant that good stories could not readily be obtained without considerable extra effort by reporters.

Clyde Manwell: In late April 1980 I sent a 2000-word article, entitled "Cancer research: South Australia is no longer a paradise for dissenters", to the Advertiser. It was not published. No reasons were offered.

References (in chronological order):

Anonymous, 'Writ from scientist,' Advertiser, 26 March 1980, p. 3.

Barry Hailstone, 'Sacked for speaking out - scientist,' Advertiser, 31 March 1980, p. 12.

Barry Hailstone, 'Director gives reasons for scientist's move,' Advertiser, 1 April 1980, p. 8.

Bill Rust, 'Unions irate at "sacking" of scientist,' Advertiser, 8 April 1980, p. 6.

D. A. Cole, letter, Advertiser, 9 April 1980, p. 5.

P. R. S. Gouldhurst, letter, Advertiser, 10 April 1980, p. 5.

J. A. Bonnin, letter, Advertiser, 12 April 1980, p. 5.

Richie Gunn, letter, Advertiser, 12 April 1980, p. 5.

Michael Ross, letter, Advertiser, 18 April 1980, p. 5.

P. R. S. Gouldhurst, letter, Advertiser, 22 April 1980, p. 5.

Ian Maddocks, letter, Advertiser, 28 May 1980, p. 11.

Bill Guy, 'Does Dr. Coulter have to go?,' Advertiser, 17 June 1980, p. 5.

Report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science, December 1980.

*** The Melbourne Age is a major daily newspaper, generally considered one of the highest quality newspapers in Australia. Its circulation is about 240,000.

Brian Martin: On the afternoon of 3 July 1980, Peter Roberts, science reporter for the Age and with whom I had had no previous contact, called me to ask about the Coulter case, about my paper 'The power structure of science and the suppression of environmental scholarship,' and particularly about my knowledge of cases of suppression in Victoria. On the basis of this phone interview he wrote an article which appeared the next day.

Reference: Peter Roberts, 'Researcher says scientists gagged,' Age, 4 July 1980, p. 16.

*** Arena, published in Victoria, calls itself "a marxist journal of criticism and discussion". The journal at times has published material on the critique of science, and in 1976 published Peter Springell's account of his harassment in CSIRO.

Brian Martin: On 11 May 1981 I submitted my article 'Mutagens and managers' to Arena. I received an acknowledgement on 31 May but then no further word for months. On 29 October I wrote asking what had happened, and subsequently received a reply dated 13 November from one of the editors, Doug White. He wrote that the editors agreed that the case was important and that Dr Coulter should be supported, but that they didn't think that publicity in Arena would be useful support. They thought that the case should be part of an interpretation of why such things were happening. He also wrote that detailed comments on my article had been prepared and then lost, but that they would be sent when uncovered. I never received them.

Reference: Peter Springell, 'For the freedom to comment by scientists,' Arena, number 44/45, 1976, pp. 28-33.

*** The Australian is a daily newspaper, the only one for a general readership in Australia distributed on a national basis. Its circulation is about 110,000. Since 1980 it has included in each Wednesday's edition a 'Higher Education Supplement' devoted to stories concerning higher education.

Brian Martin: After a telephone request from Jane Richardson, a staff reporter for the 'Higher Education Supplement' of the Australian, on 2 September 1980 I sent her a copy of my paper 'The power structure of science and the suppression of environmental scholarship'. On 10 September a major story by her, based on my paper, appeared in the 'Supplement'. On the next day, Jane Richardson called me to ask about further cases of suppression, and I gave her some contacts. Also, on 30 September, after my talk to the National Science Forum had been reported, another Australian reporter called to ask about other suppression cases.

Reference: Jane Richardson, 'Academics "are suppressed",' Australian, 10 September 1980, pp. 13-14.

*** The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) is an organisation funded by the federal government which, among other things, runs a television station and many radio stations which are broadcast in most parts of the country.

Brian Martin: In May 1980 I was in Adelaide for a week to attend the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science (ANZAAS) conference and on May 15 to give a talk there on 'The power structure of science and the suppression of environmental scholarship, to the 'History, philosophy and sociology of science' section of the conference. I do not recollect who contacted who, but I do remember I talked with ABC reporter Kirsten Blanch at a dinner with a dozen or so other conference participants. Kirsten Blanch helped produce 'The science show,' a weekly radio programme treating issues of current interest in and relating to science. It is highly popular, with a large listening audience. On 16 May Kirsten Blanch taped an interview with me about the material in my talk. The interview was broadcast on 'The science show' on 24 and 27 May.

On 23 June I was rung up out of the blue by Harry Johnston of the ABC in Darwin, who had obtained a copy of my paper 'The power structure of science and the suppression of environmental scholarship' from someone. He interviewed me over the phone about it. I do not know when or if any of this was broadcast.

On 30 September, after my talk to the National Science Forum had been reported in the Canberra Times, I was interviewed over the phone for the ABC radio programmes 'Morning extra' and 'AM'. I do not know what of this was broadcast. Also, on 22 October, Tara McCarthy of the ABC in Sydney rang me to ask about further suppression cases.

Sometime in the latter half of 1980 I came in contact with Bill Nicol of ABC Television. I forget the details, but I think I may have contacted him about producing a programme on suppression for 'Nationwide.' In any case, he interviewed me on suppression as part of a story he prepared on 'Academic suppression'. The story also contained a segment on the Coulter case. It was broadcast on 14 November 1980.

*** Australian Health and Environment was a consumer-oriented magazine on environmental chemicals and similar topics, published in Brisbane beginning in late 1982. It ceased publication in April 1983 after two issues.

Brian Martin: On 29 November 1982 I sent my article 'Mutagens and managers' to Australian Health and Environment. The magazine ceased publication before a final decision was made on publishing the article.

*** The ANU Reporter is published every several weeks by the Australian National University for circulation at no cost to its members, mainly ANU staff. It reports on research and other happenings at the university.

Brian Martin: On 8 May 1980 I sent a copy of my paper 'The power structure of science and the suppression of environmental scholarship' to the editor of the ANU Reporter, Madan Nagrath, suggesting that he might like to base a story on it, or that I could prepare a very short version for the Reporter. He informed me that he preferred not to publish details of individual cases. So on 10 July I sent him an article 'Sources of political power in academia,' a paper on suppression which didn't mention names, which I had prepared, for similar reasons, for the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia. The article appeared in the 15 August issue of the ANU Reporter.

In response to publicity following my National Science Forum talk on 29 September, the ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Anthony Low put out a statement on 30 September, saying among other things that I had drawn unjustified conclusions about the four cases at the ANU I had mentioned, and that he was reluctant to enter into details of the cases publicly. This statement was reported in the 17 October issue of the ANU Reporter. In reply to the Vice-Chancellor's statement, I wrote a letter which was published in the 7 November issue.


Brian Martin, 'Sources of political power in academia,' ANU Reporter, volume 11, number 9, 15 August 1980, p. 3.

Anonymous, 'Vice-Chancellor denies research suppression charge,' ANU Reporter, volume 11, number 12, 17 October 1980, p. 3.

Brian Martin, letter, ANU Reporter, volume 11, number 13, 7 November 1980, p. 4.

*** Bogong is the Journal of the Canberra and South-East Region Environment Centre. It has a paid circulation of about 300.

Brian Martin: In September 1980 the editor of Bogong, Laurie Shane, asked me for a short version of my article 'Mutagens and managers' on the Coulter case. I prepared this by the end of the month, and it appeared in the next issue.

Reference: Brian Martin, 'Mutagens and managers,' Bogong, volume 1, number 5, Sept/Oct 1980, pp. 10-11.

*** The British Medical Journal is one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world.

Clyde Manwell: On 15 July 1980 I sent a 'letter to the editor' to the British Medical Journal on the Coulter case. On 31 July the correspondence editor replied, saying that they would not be able to publish the letter because they had to give priority in their hard-pressed correspondence columns to issues that were of more general interest than an occurrence in Adelaide, since this might set a precedent for publishing letters on other local issues. (Apparently the British Medical Journal considers Soviet dissidents, about which they do publish material, to be less 'local' than Australian dissidents.)

*** The Canberra Times is the sole daily newspaper in Canberra, with a circulation of some 45,000. It is part of the Fairfax chain, and through its editorial policy and standards is considered one of the higher quality newspapers in Australia, along with the Melbourne Age and one or two others. On 27 June 1980 the Canberra Times published a major article on the Coulter case, the first major treatment outside the Adelaide Advertiser.

Brian Martin: On 27 May 1980 I sent a 'letter to the editor' to the Canberra Times about the impending demotion of Dr Coulter. This was published on 4 June.

After my talk on suppression of scientists to the National Science Forum on 29 September, an article by staff reporter Richard Scherer, based on the written version of my talk, appeared on the front page of the Canberra Times the next day. The following day, 1 October, the paper reported a statement by the Australian National University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Anthony Low (see ANU Reporter).


Brian Martin, letter, Canberra Times, 4 June 1980, p. 14.

South Australian correspondent, 'One man's work under fire,' Canberra Times, 27 June 1980, p. 2.

Richard Scherer, 'Researchers "facing corporate and government suppression",' Canberra Times, 30 September 1980, p. 1.

Anonymous, 'Staff supression [sic] charge "unjust",' Canberra Times, 1 October 1980, p. 7.

*** Capital 7 Television was in 1980 one of two television stations in Canberra. It is a commercial station, the other being an ABC station.

Brian Martin: On Monday 29 September 1980, just before my talk on 'Suppression of Australian research - how widespread is it?' to the National Science Forum, I had a videotape interview with Stephen Taylor of Capital 7. I had had no previous contact with the station, except for a request to arrive a bit early at the National Science Forum venue for the interview. I understand that the interview was broadcast twice that evening. On Thursday 2 October, Stephen Taylor called me. He wanted me to make a statement on camera about the ANU Vice-Chancellor's statement (see ANU Reporter). I said I preferred to wait until after my meeting with the Vice-Chancellor which was scheduled for the next day. (That evening, so people told me several days later, a story on the developing case was shown on Capital 7, including my talk to the National Science Forum, the Vice-Chancellor's refusal to comment, someone else's refusal to comment, and my planned meeting with the Vice-Chancellor.) On reaching the ANU Chancelry at 11.30am on Friday 3 October, to my surprise there was Stephen Taylor and a camera operator. Not being prepared, I turned my back and hurriedly went up the stairs. Stephen Taylor came inside and I talked with him, saying I didn't want to say anything at that time, but that I'd call him back later in the day. After the meeting with the Vice-Chancellor (and the Assistant Vice-Chancellor), I called Stephen Taylor at 2.30pm and said there was nothing to be said about the meeting. He said he'd follow the story further anyway. After consulting various people about what to do, I called Stephen Taylor at 5.00pm and said I was willing to talk about cases of suppression, but not about the meeting with the Vice-Chancellor. I arranged to give him my full paper 'The power structure of science and the suppression of environmental scholarship' on Monday. And on Monday 6 October someone from Capital 7 did pick up the paper. Stephen Taylor called an hour later asking some questions about it. This was my last contact with the station about the issue.

The initial interview with Stephen Taylor went smoothly, but in later contacts I felt somewhat harassed and unsure of what to do. I felt pressured into a confrontation not of my own making. No doubt Stephen Taylor felt he was pursuing a good story and was frustrated by my reluctance and change of attitudes: a familiar case of an eager reporter encountering a reluctant academic. After considerable thought at the time I decided that since the basis for suppression was built into the nature of the university, and since the Staff Association and the ANU administration were not in a position to do much about the cases I had identified at ANU, the main point was the need to counter institutionalised suppression - resulting from funding decisions, knowledge frameworks and organisational prerogatives - by action from all parts of the university and the wider community. With this perspective, the focus on the Vice-Chancellor did not seem fruitful to me. On the other hand, another television reporter, sympathetic to my concerns, suggested that I might had done better to use my short-lived access to television to demand public response and action from the Vice-Chancellor, since that is the sort of thing television is suited for.

*** Crime And Social Justice is an academic Marxist criminology journal published in San Francisco.

Brian Martin: After reading Marlene Dixon's book about suppression of radical sociologists at McGill University, I was able to contact her at the Institute for the Study of Labor and Economic Crisis in San Francisco. She recommended me to the editor of Crime And Social Justice, Tony Platt, who wrote in March 1982 inviting me to submit an article about academic suppression. After some correspondence, I submitted in September an article on suppression of dissident experts, structured around the example of the Coulter case. The article was published in mid-1983.


Marlene Dixon, Things Which Are Done in Secret (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1976).

Brian Martin, 'Suppression of dissident experts: ideological struggle in Australia,' Crime and Social Justice, number 19, Summer 1983, pp. 91-99.

*** Current Affairs Bulletin is a monthly magazine published by the Adult Education Department of the University of Sydney. It features two or three articles per issue, often written by academics on issues of general and current interest. The magazine has a wide circulation and is read and respected in schools, libraries and the like.

Brian Martin: On 28 February 1982 I sent my article 'Mutagens and managers' - updated since the resolution of the Coulter case - to Current Affairs Bulletin. On 3 March the executive editor Wayne Hooper replied that while my article dealt with a serious issue, it was a bit narrowly focussed for their Journal. He said they would have preferred something dealing with wider issues such as the question of relations between research scientists, bureaucracy and governments, including more examples than just Dr Coulter. This response seemed sensible to me, but since my analysis along these lines had already been published by the Ecologist, I didn't pursue this further.

*** The Ecologist is a magazine treating environmental and social issues from a general viewpoint critical of many features of industrial civilisation. It is published in Britain and edited by Edward Goldsmith and Nicholas Hildyard. Earlier, many of its articles were popularised treatments of issues by authors who published more academic or lengthy essays elsewhere. But since 1980 the Ecologist has taken on the scholastic apparatus of footnotes, and published some quite lengthy articles.

Clyde Manwell: On 15 July 1980 I sent to the Ecologist a 'letter to the editor' about the Coulter case, of 750 words length and 22 references, plus photocopies of newspaper accounts. On 21 July Edward Goldsmith replied that the letter would be published plus extra information based on the material from newspaper accounts. The letter however did not appear.

Brian Martin: On 13 October 1980 I sent my article 'The power structure of science and the suppression of environmental scholarship' to the Ecologist. On 3 February 1981 I wrote to ask what had happened to the article. On 3 March I received in the mail two copies of the January/February issue of the magazine, with my article in it. This was a quite satisfying surprise. However, it was disturbing to me that the article had been edited - mainly by being shortened - without my permission, though the deletions and minor changes were well done, with one exception. On 9 March I received a letter (sent, like the copies of the journal, on 26 February) from Nicholas Hildyard apologising for the lack of communication which he said was due to confusion from changing editors and moving offices.

On 12 February 1982 I received from Nicholas Hildyard a copy of a 'letter to the editor' sent to the Ecologist by F. R. Moulds, former Chairman of the Forests Commission, Victoria. Dr Moulds' letter challenged my interpretation of the events in which Dr Moulds had written letters to officials of La Trobe University complaining about the activities of two of its academic staff, Peter Rawlinson and Philip Keane, who had raised the issue of cinnamon fungus in Victorian forests. The Rawlinson and Keane cases were listed as cases of suppression in my Ecologist article, hence Dr Moulds' letter. After consultation with Peter Rawlinson and others, I sent a letter in reply to Dr Moulds' letter to the Ecologist on 4 March. Both Dr Moulds' letter and my reply were published in the January/February 1982 issue.

Clyde Manwell: On 7 June 1982 I wrote to the Ecologist asking about the fate of my 1980 'letter to the editor,' and offering to prepare an updated version. On 9 August Nicholas Hildyard sent a reply explaining that they had intended to print my earlier letter alongside Brian Martin's article in the January/February 1981 issue, but that shortage of space had prevented this, and since then the letter had remained on ice. Nicholas Hildyard said they "would be absolutely delighted" if I revised the letter, bringing it up to date and if possible cutting its length slightly. On 24 August I sent a revised version of the letter, which had become a rather long 4000 words with 42 footnotes. It has not been published.


Brian Martin, 'The scientific straightjacket: the power structure of science and the suppression of environmental scholarship,' Ecologist, volume 11, number 1, January/February 1981, pp. 33-43.

F. R. Moulds, letter, Ecologist, volume 12, number 1, January/February 1982, p. 48.

Brian Martin, letter, Ecologist, volume 12, number 1, January/February 1982, p. 48.

*** The Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia is a society promoting research and development in higher education.

Brian Martin: On 13 February 1980 I proposed a paper 'Functions of the academic elite structure' - dealing with suppression - for presentation at the sixth annual conference of HERDSA, whose general theme was 'Freedom and control in higher education'. The proposal was accepted and I gave the talk at the conference, held in Canberra on 5 May. On 21 May I sent a written version of my paper for the HERDSA conference proceedings of the editor, Allen Miller. The paper listed four cases of suppression at the Australian National University as a basis for the general discussion. Allen Miller replied with comments in late June, suggesting among other things that the specific cases with names be omitted. Accordingly I prepared a version without specific case studies, and sent this to Allen Miller on 7 July, who wrote a week later accepting it. The conference proceedings were published in December that year.

Reference: B. Martin, 'Sources of political power in academia,' in Allen H. Miller (editor), Research and Development in Higher Education, Volume 3. Freedom and Control in Higher Education (Sydney: Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia, 1980), pp. 180-184.

*** The Medical Journal of Australia is the most prestigious medical journal in Australia.

Brian Martin: On 20 July 1981 I sent to the Medical Journal of Australia a 'letter to the editor' about the Coulter case. On 8 September the acting editor, Keith Jones, replied saying that after careful consideration they had decided they would not publish my letter. No reason was given for the rejection.

*** The Metal Worker is published for its members by the Amalgamated Metal Workers' and Shipwrights' Union, Australia's largest trade union. It claims a circulation of 160,000.

Brian Martin: In early 1981 I talked with a health and safety officer of the AMWSU, Angelo Kalafatis, about various environmental issues, and I mentioned the Coulter case. Angelo Kalafatis said the Metal Worker would be interested in an article on the case, so on 9 February I sent my article 'The Coulter case' to the editor. The article appeared in the March issue.

Reference: Brian Martin, 'The Coulter case: sacked for telling the truth to workers,' Metal Worker, volume 1, number 2, March 1981, p. 8.

*** The National Science Forum is a Canberra-based organisation which hosts talks, often by prestigious scientists, on issues relating to science to an audience of journalists, scientists and other interested people. The idea behind the Forum is to give greater publicity to issues relating to science by getting key people to speak out in a forum which allows and justifies considerable media attention. In 1980, the year it was set up, National Science Forum talks were being held about once per month in Canberra. Because it is the national capital, most major newspapers and other media have Canberra-based reporters.

Brian Martin: I have forgotten how we first made contact, but in early July 1980 I had discussions with one of the coordinators of the National Science Forum, Wendy Parsons, and it was arranged for me to speak to the Forum in September that year. On 29 September I addressed the Forum using a drastically shortened version of my paper 'The power structure of science and the suppression of environmental scholarship' for the basis of my talk, which was entitled 'Suppression of Australian research - how widespread is it?'. In both my talk and the written version of it which I prepared for distribution, I listed the ten suppression cases which later were published in my paper in the Ecologist.

The National Science Forum is designed to be a media event, and in my case the occasion led to considerable contact with people in the media, without any initiative on my part required. Here I can only list contacts and consequences of which I am personally aware. Once stories appear, for example in a newspaper, then further stories may be based on the first ones, further contacts made with me or with the people mentioned in the stories, and so forth.

Before the talk, I was interviewed by the local commercial television station, and this led to considerable follow-up (see Capital 7 Television). During the questions and comments immediately following my talk, several other scientists spoke up and said they had been suppressed themselves or knew of suppression. Both my talk and some of the responses were reported in newspapers, in some cases due to a reporter attending the Forum and in some cases based on a story circulated by the Australian Associated Press, the Australian syndicated news agency.

The next day, 30 September - after stories had appeared in papers such as the Financial Review and the Canberra Times - I was contacted by reporters from ABC radio 'Morning extra,' the Australian Associated Press, the Australian newspaper, the Canberra Times and ABC radio 'AM,' and on 1 October by reporters from Sydney newspaper the Sunday Telegraph and Brisbane radio station 4ZZZ. The callers from radio stations usually recorded interviews over the telephone, whereas the reporters from the print media asked questions about the stories already printed and sometimes asked for further contacts. The intense interest from reporters died down after a few days, though I was contacted by quite a few members of the public over the following months as a result of the publicity. By the time my major article was published in the Ecologist early in 1981, the issue was fairly quiet.


Richard Scherer, 'Researchers "facing corporate and government suppression",' Canberra Times, 30 September 1980, p. 1.

Susan Woods, '"Suppression" of research,' Financial Review, 30 September 1980, p. 5.

David Kidd, 'Environment gag claimed,' Melbourne Herald, 30 September 1980.

Anonymous, 'Vocal academics "prime targets for suppression",' Brisbane Courier-Mail, 1 October 1980.

Anonymous, 'Scientists "prime targets",' Hobart Mercury, 1 October 1980.

Anonymous, 'Suppression seen on ecology,' West Australian, 1 October 1980.

Anonymous, 'Scientific suppression?,' CoResearch (CSIRO's staff newspaper), number 234, October 1980, pp. 1-2.

Gordon Taylor, 'Academic suppression at A.N.U.,' Woroni (ANU Students' Association), volume 32, number 14, 22 October 1980, p. 12.

*** The National Times is a national weekly tabloid newspaper, aimed at an upper middle class audience, and often featuring political stories of investigative depth. It is part of the Fairfax group, with a circulation of some 90,000.

Deborah Smith's story on the Coulter case in the 20-26 July 1980 issue of the National Times was the first major national story in any medium, and the only major newspaper story on the case besides those in the Adelaide Advertiser and the Canberra Times.

Brian Martin: On 6 October 1980 - not long after my widely reported talk to the National Science Forum - I talked with Deborah Snow, an occasional reporter for the National Times, and gave her a copy of 'The power structure of science and the suppression of environmental scholarship' plus some backup documents and names of other people to contact. On 5 November I called her about whether she was doing anything on suppression: she said she had set the file aside because of the national election. On 28 January 1981 Debra Jopson, a freelancer for the National Times, called me to ask about my work on suppression. I told her that Deborah Snow had a file on it. To my knowledge nothing appeared in the National Times as a result of these contacts.

Reference: Deborah Smith, 'Labor promises an inquiry into SA medical institute,' National Times, 20-26 July 1980, p. 36.

*** Nature, published in Britain, is one of the most prestigious scientific journals in the world. It publishes articles from most fields of natural science, and includes some news stories and editorial opinion.

Clyde Manwell: In early July 1980 I sent to Nature a 'letter to the editor' on the victimisation of dissident scientists, including the Coulter case. On 24 July the editor John Maddox replied that he was willing to publish a letter on the Coulter case, but he thought my letter was not suitable. He then spelled out a number of suggestions for revising the letter. He also said he would write to Dr Coulter and to Dr Bonnin (Director of the IMVS), without referring to my letter, asking for further information. On 1 August I sent to John Maddox a revised version of my letter, prepared according to his directions. The revised version focussed on the Coulter case, and analysed the alleged reasons for Dr Coulter's dismissal. Since then I have heard nothing about the letter from Nature and to my knowledge the journal has published nothing about his case.

*** New Doctor is the journal of the Doctors Reform Society in Australia. It publishes articles accessible to a general readership on topical medical and social issues.

Brian Martin: In September 1981 I sent a 'letter to the editor' about the Coulter case to New Doctor. On 18 September I received a telephone call about the letter, with the information that the editor was overseas but the letter would be considered for the December issue. Since then I have heard nothing from New Doctor and to my knowledge it has published nothing on the Coulter case.

*** New Scientist is a British weekly magazine treating scientific and related social issues for an educated but non-specialist readership. Many articles are popular accounts of current areas of scientific interest written by working scientists, and there is considerable science news and columns by staff writers. New Scientist is widely read and respected by people doing science and interested in science. Quite often it treats controversial issues.

Brian Martin: On 24 September 1980 I submitted my article 'Mutagens and managers' to New Scientist, and enclosed copies of newspaper articles and letters about the case. The editor Michael Kenward replied on 2 October saying he was sure that they would be able to publish something and that he would write when they had properly considered the manuscript. On 23 October Michael Kenward wrote again, saying that after taking advice from their Australian correspondent, he had decided that they needed something that looked at both sides of the case and which also looked at the institution as well as the individuals involved. He said they had approached the journalist who was the source of most of my material, Barry Hailstone, and asked him to write something for New Scientist.

Fearing that the issues about Dr Coulter's dismissal might be lost in a wider article as proposed, and after talking to the Australian correspondent for New Scientist, Brian Lee, I wrote again to Michael Kenward on 31 October. I said I was worried that the significant aspects of the Coulter affair might be dropped or confused in a discussion of other problems at the IMVS, that surely it was not always necessary to present both 'sides' to a case since they are not necessarily equally valid (as in the case of Soviet dissidents), that I had not depended on Barry Hailstone as a source of much of my material, and that I hoped Barry Hailstone would prepare an excellent article for New Scientist.

On 7 November Michael Kenward replied to my letter. He said that he had decided to ask Barry Hailstone to write something after seeking independent advice and coming to the conclusion that there might be a personality clash involved rather than an obvious case of scientific victimisation. He said they tried to maintain a balance even when writing about Soviet dissidents, but in that case they could expect readers to know something of the background, whereas in stories totally new to the readers balance was especially important. He said that clearly I saw Dr Coulter as an Australian Sakharov, but he didn't, and could provide articles to show where other scientists had been fired because of personality clashes with their leaders. He said he would wait and see before deciding whether the Coulter case was another example of this.

Barry Hailstone was invited to write an article for New Scientist but unfortunately he was too busy at the time to prepare one. I received no further word from New Scientist about the Coulter case, and to my knowledge the journal published nothing on the case.

*** New Society is a British journal treating social issues for a general educated non-specialist audience.

Brian Martin: On 9 February 1981 I sent copies of both 'Mutagens and managers' and 'The Coulter case' to New Society, asking the editor to consider publishing something about the case. On 9 March the editor Paul Barker replied saying they would not be able to use the article.

*** Probe was a tabloid-style consumer newspaper published in Adelaide, of which five monthly issues for national distribution appeared in 1981 before publication ceased.

Brian Martin: In late August 1981 Michael O'Brien, editor of Probe, contacted me by telephone about writing something about technology. I was not able to prepare anything exactly along the lines he desired, but I did send on 31 August several items, including a copy of 'The Coulter case'. This appeared in the October issue.

Reference: Brian Martin, 'The Coulter case,' Probe, number 3, October 1981, p. 5.

*** The Progressive is a United States monthly magazine treating political and social issues from a radical perspective, with a circulation of some 60,000. It publishes long and short articles for a general readership, by both outside contributors and staff writers.

Brian Martin: On 11 November 1980 I sent my article 'Mutagens and managers' to the Progressive, plus newspaper letters and articles about the Coulter case. On 20 November associate editor Carol Polsgrove replied that they were quite interested in the Coulter material, but they would like a shorter treatment - no more than 700 words. She invited me to prepare such a treatment, or to let them do it. On 12 December I wrote that I would not have time to write something myself, and that I hoped they would write something based on the material I had sent. A 400-word item on the case appeared in the February 1981 issue.

Reference: Anonymous, 'Suppression of science,' Progressive, volume 45, number 2, February 1981, p. 13.

*** Quadrant is an Australian monthly journal which includes essays on a wide variety of topics, plus fiction and poetry. The journal is aimed at intellectuals, and has a strongly conservative political orientation.

Brian Martin: In the November 1980 issue of Quadrant an unsigned column appeared which was based on publicity I had recently received in Canberra about my studies of suppression (see Capital 7 Television), and on my article on suppression in the ANU Reporter. The column outlined, with quite a number of inaccuracies and condescending innuendos, my views on suppression, and claimed that "It is fairly obvious that Dr Martin is aggrieved that he and others with similar convictions about the environment, peace and the evils of capitalism, are not getting the academic preferment to which they think themselves entitled". On 31 October I received a copy of the published column via the internal ANU mail, with no indication of who had sent it. On 7 November I sent a 'letter to the editor' to Quadrant outlining my views on suppression and mentioning in particular the dismissal of Dr Coulter. The letter was published in the January-February 1981 issue.


Anonymous, 'Gross and arbitrary power,' Quadrant, volume 14, number 11, November 1980, p. 58.

Brian Martin, letter, Quadrant, volume 15, number 1-2, January-February 1981, p. 119.

*** Science, published in the United States, is one of the most prestigious scientific journals in the world. It publishes articles in most fields of natural science, and includes a significant number of news stories.

Brian Martin: On 29 April 1980 I sent an early version of my article 'The power structure of science and the suppression of environmental scholarship' to Science. On 8 May the editor Philip H. Abelson replied, saying that unfortunately they had a substantial backlog of accepted articles and therefore they could not handle my article at that time, and accordingly he was returning my manuscript.

On 21 May I sent to Science a 'letter to the editor' about the impending demotion of Dr Coulter. No reply was received. On 25 July I sent a revised version of the letter, taking into account the dismissal of Dr Coulter which had occurred in the interim. On 25 September the letters editor of Science, Christine Gilbert, wrote that my letter had been published with some slight editorial changes (for example, omitting some references to personal letters between Dr Coulter and Dr Bonnin).

Reference: Brian Martin, letter, Science, volume 209, 12 September 1980, p. 1182.

*** Science for the People is the major radical science magazine in the United States.

Brian Martin: In January 1981 while at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual conference in Toronto, I briefly helped run a bookstall for Science for the People. I told the others on the stall, who were from Boston where Science for the People is published, about the Coulter case. They suggested sending material for a news item. I did this after returning to Australia, on 9 February. No reply was received and, to my knowledge, since then nothing appeared in Science for the People about the Coulter case.

*** Search is an Australian scientific journal publishing articles on a variety of topics for a general audience, with some emphasis on topics of social significance.

Brian Martin: On 11 March 1981 I sent my article 'Mutagens and managers' to Search. On 15 April executive editor Edward Wheeler replied that the article was not acceptable for publication, and included the comments of two members of the editorial board most relevant to the subject.

The first report on my article described it as a polemic rather than a scholarly or research paper, and suggested publication through the National Times, the Bulletin or Scientific Australian. The report said my article addressed an important topic, was well written, raised some interesting points but was not presented as a critical analysis. In support of the latter claim, the report said (a) that "surely" it was not true that mean publication rates of full-time research scientists were one or two papers per year, (b) that saying as I did that "Dichlorvos is currently under urgent review by the National Cancer Institute in the US, as some animal tests have suggested that dichlorvos may be carcinogenic" was journalistic and lacked the rigorous framework suitable for Search, and (c) that the general grounds for examination of pressure against a scientist should be presented and shaped as a case study.

The second report (comments agreed to by three reviewers) said that my article had little interdisciplinary interest but "might" have some general interest if restructured. It said the presentation of my article was poor, emotive and lacking in scientific balance, and could communicate its message in one third its length. It said the bibliography was hardly scientific in that it consisted largely of reports, letters between individuals or to newspapers, and that diminutives such as Bill were inappropriate to scientific publications. Finally, the report said if a satisfactory revised version of my article were received, it should only be published if the IMVS were allotted equal and adjacent space for presentation of its version of the events.

Edward Wheeler in his covering letter said a suitable example for my article was Clyde Manwell's criticism of Australian Research Grants Committee peer-review procedures in Search, March 1979.

Readers can assess many of these comments for themselves. On the publication rates of full-time researchers, my figures are supported by Sullivan (1975) - see also Blunt (1976). Regarding 'scientific' bibliographies, many of the items in my list of references were chosen for documentary purposes, whether or not they appeared in scientific sources. Also, I declined to change people's names, diminutives or not, from how they are listed on the publication being cited. As for allowing the IMVS equal and adjacent space, in my 11 March covering letter I had written "It should be clear that I am convinced, at least at the moment, of the justice of Dr Coulter's case. If you wish to 'balance' this with views from
the other side, you might solicit comment or perhaps reprint some of the earlier correspondence (specifically Hailstone (1980b) and Bonnin (1980a))".

Personally I consider 'Mutagens and managers' to be a summary of important points about a socially significant case, rather than an exemplar of critical scientific writing, but found the reviewers' comments rather harsh and petty. Nevertheless, Search did at least provide reviewers' comments, unlike most of the journals which Clyde Manwell or I sent material on the Coulter case. When I sent the comments of the Search reviewers to Clyde Manwell, he wrote to me "I think your article 'mutagens and managers' (in the form sent to me quite a bit earlier, for New Scientist) was excellent - frankly, better than my ARGC analysis, partly because I was at the inevitable disadvantage of describing my own case".

One of the suggestions of Edward Wheeler and one reviewer was to resubmit a shortened version of the article as a 'letter to the editor'. Accordingly, on 18 May I submitted such a letter. On 4 June Edward Wheeler called me concerning this, and we discussed at some length Dr Coulter's legal case against the IMVS, and who might reply for the IMVS to balance my letter, since the Director Dr Bonnin had declined for legal reasons. On 24 June I wrote to Edward Wheeler saying that my understanding was that there was no legal reason not to publish my letter. On 9 July Edward Wheeler wrote that Search had decided against publishing my letter, having taken into account their original intention to present both sides of the case, legal advice they had received, and their understanding of the sub judice principle. He added that Search planned to publish a news item on the case, and enclosed a copy of the draft of this item. On 15 July I wrote suggesting some references for the news item. On 5 August I called Edward Wheeler with some suggested corrections for the news item, and the next day wrote a letter putting these suggested corrections in writing. (These corrections concerned the length of the court transcript, the way the case was adjourned, etc.) However, these suggested corrections, even if they had been agreed to, may have come too late to be incorporated in the news item, which appeared in September.

After the resolution of Dr Coulter's court case in December, I wrote to Search on 23 December suggesting that they reopen consideration of my letter, but replacing the word 'dismissal' by 'retrenchment' in accordance with the formal outcome of the case. Edward Wheeler called me in early January 1982: he wanted to be sure that no further legal action was possible so that the IMVS could not use this as an excuse not to reply, and I told him that I understood no further legal action was possible under the terms of the court settlement. My letter appeared in the April/May issue of Search.


Daniel Sullivan, 'Competition in bio-medical science: extent, structure and consequences,' Sociology of Education, volume 48, number 2, Spring 1975, pp. 223-241.

Peter Blunt, 'Publish or perish or neither: what is happening in academia,' Vestes, volume 19, number 1, 1976, pp. 62-64.

Clyde Manwell, 'Peer review: a case history from the Australian Research Grants Committee,' Search, volume 10, number 3, March 1979, pp. 81-86.

Anonymous, 'The case of Dr John Coulter,' Search, volume 12, number 9, September 1981, p. 288.

Brian Martin, letter, Search, volume 13, numbers 3-4, April/May 1982, pp. 59-60.

*** Social Studies of Science is a prestigious British academic journal in the area of the sociology of science, or more precisely, "the social dimensions of science and technology".

Brian Martin: On 19 May 1980 I sent my article 'The power structure of science and the suppression of environmental scholarship' to one of the co-editors of Social Studies of Science, David Edge, saying that the article had previously been sent to Science and hence was written more for scientists than in the style of Social Studies of Science, but this could be changed if the article were considered potentially suitable. On 26 May David Edge wrote acknowledging my submission. This crossed a note of mine sent 29 May in which I said that since the Ecologist had introduced substantial academic documentation for its articles, it might be an alternative if my article were not quite appropriate for Social Studies of Science.

On 31 July David Edge wrote again saying that it would probably be better for me to send my article to the Ecologist, for several reasons. First, due to a long waiting list, it would take a year or more to publish the article even if refereeing were favourable. Second, publication in the Ecologist would give my paper more visibility than in Social Studies of Science. Third, there would be problems in publishing my article in Social Studies of Science, because of the required rigour of data and evidence and of argumentation required.

This was what I had expected. While most scientists are well aware of the sort of processes of which suppression form a part, sociologists would not be convinced of even a single case of suppression - and even the term 'suppression' needs a lot of sociological clarification to be useful - without a wealth of evidence, detailed analysis of the social context, attention to how the legitimacy or illegitimacy of actions is socially constructed by those who make them or view them, and so forth. Two sets of comments by referees sent by David Edge (one with his 31 July letter, one on 10 November) did indeed take very critical views towards the status of my evidence and arguments.

On 6 August I wrote to David Edge thanking him for his forthright comments about my paper, and said I would submit it to the Ecologist.

*** 5UV is a community radio station in Adelaide.

Brian Martin: On 16 May 1980, while in Adelaide attending the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science conference (see ABC), Max Hicks taped an interview with me about suppression for 5UV and also for Melbourne community radio station 3RRR. I forget how I came in contact with 5UV about this.

*** Waikato Environment is a regional journal of the environment published by the Waikato Environment Centre in Hamilton, New Zealand. It began publication in 1981.

Brian Martin: One of the co-editors of Waikato Environment, Alastair Gunn, wrote me on 16 March 1981 inviting me to write a short article on 'environmental research and the establishment'. I had corresponded with Alastair Gunn the previous year about a dismissal case at the University of Waikato, and hence he knew of my work on suppression. I replied on 24 March saying I was not in a position to write a fresh, new article covering untouched ground, but suggesting that Waikato Environment might be interested in using my talk to the National Science Forum, my article in the ANU Reporter, or my article 'Mutagens and managers'. Alastair Gunn replied on 27 April saying that Waikato Environment would not be able to use any of my articles, since several Waikato scientists, of all shades of opinion, had been consulted and agreed that my articles did not accurately reflect the situation in Waikato - and indeed that several university scientists had been studying the adverse effects of lead in petrol, and their careers had not been hurt.


To obtain some attention to cases of suppression in science publications and scientific circles, it is clear that persistence is required. Attention must be placed on mustering convincing evidence and maintaining absolute accuracy, to convince editors and reviewers of the reality and seriousness of the situation. The same convincing evidence and absolute accuracy are also vital in gaining publicity in the mass media, but for another reason: reporters are ready to use any material that makes a good story, and careful and accurate presentation is needed to withstand the inevitable distortion that popularisation entails. Ironically, the very fact that allegations about suppression in science come from scientists makes them more credible with and reportable by the mass media. Unlike academia, what makes a good story for the mass media is less often a learned paper - though this may serve the purpose - than an interview or public statement or speech. For those like us, more familiar with the niceties of academic discourse, learning how to interact with the mass media is quite a challenge.

One thing we have learned is that the general phenomenon of suppression can be effectively publicised via attention to particular cases. As the mass media in particular are fully aware, stories about individuals are of wide interest. In the course of reporting case studies, journals, newspapers and the electronic media will also include general analyses and statements about the sources of suppression which would otherwise receive much lower priority or not be reported at all.