UP TO 90 per cent of academic research could be affected by an Australian-US trade agreement that would make it an offence for academics to communicate findings on research, the University of Sydney has warned.

A Senate committee is examining proposals to join Australia in a defence trade treaty with the US.

The Department of Defence says joining the treaty would ''remove the administrative delays associated with existing Australian and US export-licensing systems … and increase opportunities for Australian companies to bid on eligible US contracts''.

But a by-product of signing up to the treaty, under the proposals before the committee, would be the introduction of export controls, that would restrict the ''intangible transfer'' - or communication - by Australian researchers about a wide range of items except with a Defence permit.