The adjective, secretive, means “disposed to secrecy”. The adjective, secret, means “done without the knowledge of others” or “kept from the knowledge of others”. The two words are not synonyms. What, then, are we to make of this paragraph:
Dr. He says he has submitted his research to a scientific journal. But nothing has been published yet, and he announced the births of the twins before his research could be peer-reviewed by fellow scientists. He also appears to have taken other secretive steps that defy scientific standards.Gina Kolata and Pam Belluck, “Why Are Scientists So Upset About the First Crispr Babies?“, New York Times, 5 December 2018
There’s something wrong here. Dr. He submitted his research to a journal. He announced the birth of the twins. Those are not secretive steps. They are the opposite of secretive. The article does not tell us what “other secretive steps” he appears to have taken. In fact, it does not identify any step taken by the doctor that could properly be described as secretive, such as, e.g., conducting his experiments at a hidden location, implanting the altered embryos without the parents’ knowledge, or making a false announcement intended to cover up what he had actually done.
It’s not absolutely clear, but I suspect the writers mean secret steps, and that augmentation disease is at work here.