The US Department of Energy has closed its popular internet site listing government and academic science research after two of its rivals complained it was stealing their business.
According to The Washington Post the department is abandoning PubScience, an electronic service that searched millions of articles.
It said that closing the site would save $200,000 a year but the decision has alarmed researchers, who fear that services operated by other federal agencies might also now be forced to give way to private gatekeepers.
PubScience's commercial equivalents offer free searches but charge a fee to publish academic articles.
The Energy Department admitted it had been lobbied frequently by its private sector rivals and their trade group to close down PubScience.
But officials for the government site said that before they closed they had tracked the development of the private-sector services to ensure they were offered at no cost.
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