The importance of publishing negative results

Everyone likes positive results. But the fact is that they are the fewer, especially when you talk about Science. Many scientific journals skew towards only publishing "positive" data; that is, data that more easily proves a hypothesis. Others, like The All Results Journals are the home for negative data: experimental evidence of hypotheses that end up not to be true, or other experiments that do not lead to an advance of a  particular hypothesis but are, nevertheless, 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 beneficial for other scientists to know this (to avoid time and money wasting and better planning). There is a huge unused resource of experimental knowledge secured 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 volume of "failed" research can still generate high quality data. The main target of The All Results Journals is to recover and publish these priceless pieces of scientific knowledge.

As they (The All Results Journals) continue publishing negative results, the most recent generation of scientists will not spend their time and revenue repeating the equivalent studies and finding the same results (negative in this case). Negative results are high-level pieces of knowledge that is worthy to be presented. Some authors have pointed out elsewhere the problem of publication bias, a well-known situation in clinical publications, in which affirmative results have a better chance of being published, are published faster, and are published in journals with bigger impact factors. So this is a real problem.

As researchers we struggle for remarkable findings within biological systems that will further enlarge our comprehension of the human condition, maturing, cancer, autoimmunity, etc.  Occasionally 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 enhance our modern society for the greater good. If you make readily available a manuscript about what didn't work you can build on the mistakes of others rather than simply duplicate them.  Alternatively of three steps forward and two steps back, Science could just move forward.

In Cancer studies or chemotherapeutic development, for example, the tendency is to publish data showing efficacy.  We offer that inefficacy could also be of remarkable relevance to the scientific community. What medicines failed, in what types of cancer and why; the latter question albeit difficult to solve. One could visualize the same trends emerging from this this sort of work in terms of gene expression profiling, proteomics and biomarkers.  Agent X will not be good in cancer Y because of overexpression of biomarker Z. A paper focused on the inefficacy of a particular chemotherapeutic chemical could assist 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 contributed to the development of a completely powerful agent.

Basically the tip of the iceberg are being published in Science; only positive results. Projects like The All Results Journals:Chem concentrate on publishing carefully carried out chemical tests producing 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 image of his research topic, the real job done, not only the positive outcomes). Scientists have the duty to study Nature and document everything, and this includes reporting the negative studies. Even more: the research projects might have been funded by public agencies, and that means public money... In part, funding agencies have some liability; they should also encourage the publishing of all results (specially negative results) not only positive.

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