The importance of publishing negative results

Everyone likes positive results. But the fact is that they are the lower, especially when you talk about Science. Many scientific journals skew towards only publishing "positive" data; that is, data that easily proves a hypothesis. Others, like The All Results Journals are the home for negative data: experimental documentation of hypotheses that End up not to be true, or other experiments that do not lead to an advance of a  particular theorem but are, on the other hand, a true rendering of that trial. For example, if a researcher set up a cell-based experiment and the experiment did not work in a specified set of conditions, it would be very good for other scientists to know this (to avoid time and money wasting and better planning). There is a huge  unexploited  resource of experimental information locked up in laboratory notebooks that could be of great service to the scientific family at large. Many experiments fail to produce results or expected discoveries. This high percentage of "failed" research can still generate high quality wisdom. The main target of The All Results Journals is to recover and publish these valuable pieces of scientific material.

As they (The All Results Journals) carry on publishing negative results, the faster growing generation of doctors will not waste their time and money replicating the same studies and finding the same results (negative in this case). Negative results are high-level pieces of know-how that deserves to be published. Some authors have pointed out elsewhere the problem of publication bias, a well-known problem in clinical documents, in which optimistic results have a better chance of being published, are published faster, and are published in journals with larger impact factors. So this is a real problem.

As specialists we struggle for remarkable findings within biological systems that will further magnify our awareness of the human condition, aging, cancer, autoimmunity, etc.  Sometimes the pieces just don't add up. These negative results in Biology drive our next step at the bench but are hardly ever published.  Bringing to light these types of observations under peer review will improve our world for the greater good. If you make accessible a article about what didn't work you can build on the pit falls of others rather than simply reduplicate them.  Alternatively of three steps forward and two steps back, Science could just move forward.

In Cancer studies or chemotherapeutic development, for example, the pattern is to publish data showing efficacy.  We suggest that inefficacy could also be of remarkable value to the scientific community. What agents failed, in what types of cancer and why; the latter question albeit very difficult to solve. One could imagine the same trends emerging from this type of work in terms of gene expression profiling, proteomics and biomarkers.  Agent X will not be highly effective in cancer Y because of overexpression of biomarker Z. A manuscript focused on the inefficacy of a particular chemotherapeutic chemical could help in moving the cancer biology field forward by offering a community forum to share with the increasing cancer research community the same negative findings that may have lead to the development of a very successful agent.

Just the tip of the iceberg are being published in Science; only positive results. Initiatives like The All Results Journals:Chem concentrate on publishing rigorously executed chemical studies delivering negative results. These journals are trying to get out the water the complete iceberg (the entire study, showing "All Results" of the author, the complete picture of his research topic, the real job done, not only the positive outcomes). Scientists have the duty to study Nature and document all, and this includes documenting the negative findings. Even more: the research projects might have been funded by nation agencies, and that implies public revenue... In part, funding agencies have some liability; they should also foster the publishing of all results (specially negative results) not only positive.

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