Academic freedom: protecting "liberal science" in nursing in the 21st century.
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Generating new knowledge through science is one of the most valued contributions of American universities, and is wholly dependent on the tenets of academic freedom. This article provides an overview of academic freedom in the United States, lack of attentiveness to academic freedom in the discipline of nursing, and its relevance for advancing nursing science. Three issues are critically evaluated as they relate to "the free search for truth" that is imperative for scientific progress to occur, including (a) its importance in a liberal science system, (b) recent trends to politically manipulate science, and (c) movements to restrict speech on campus.