The importance of publishing negative results

All of us likes positive results. But the fact is that they are the lower, especially when you talk about Science. Many scientific journals bias towards only publishing "positive" data; that is, data that easily proves a a priori principle. Others, like The All Results Journals are the home for negative data: experimental evidence of hypotheses that turn out not to be true, or other experiments that do not result to an advance of a definite hypothesis but are, nevertheless, a true rendering of that research. For example, if a researcher set up a cell-based experiment and the experiment did not work in a precise 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 unused resource of experimental knowledge locked away in laboratory notebooks that could be of great service to the scientific society at large. Many experiments don't succeed to produce results or expected discoveries. This high percentage of "failed" research can still generate high quality knowledge. The main aspiration of The All Results Journals is to recover and publish these significant pieces of scientific material.

As they (The All Results Journals) continue publishing negative results, the newer generation of doctors will not misuse their time and money duplicating the same studies and finding the same results (negative in this case). Negative results are high-level pieces of data that is worthy to be published. Some authors have pointed out elsewhere the problem of publication bias, a well-known problem in clinical literature, in which optimistic results have a better chance of being published, are published faster, and are published in journals with bigger impact factors. So this is a serious problem.

As researchers we struggle for remarkable insights within biological systems that will further grow our comprehension of the human condition, maturing, cancer, autoimmunity, etc.  Sometimes the components 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 civilization for the greater good. If you make accessible a manuscript about what didn't work you can build on the screw ups of others rather than simply reduplicate them.  Alternatively of three steps forward and two steps back, Science could just move forward.

In Cancer research or chemotherapeutic development, for example, the tendency is to publish data showing potency.  We  propose that inefficacy could also be of great value to the scientific community. What components failed, in what types of cancer and why; the latter question albeit very difficult to answer. One could consider 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 agent could assist in moving the cancer biology field forward by offering a forum to share with the more significant cancer research community the same negative findings that may have contributed to the development of a extremely potent agent.

Basically the tip of the iceberg are being published in Science; only positive results. Initiatives like The All Results Journals:Chem target publishing rigorously performed chemical tests generating negative results. These journals are trying to get out the water the complete iceberg (the complete study, showing "All Results" of the author, the complete picture of his research topic, the real job done, not only the positive outcomes). Scientific researchers have the duty to study Nature and describe all, and this includes documenting the negative results. Even more: the research projects might have been funded by government agencies, and that implies public financial resources... In part, funding agencies have some commitment; they should also support the publishing of all results (specially negative results) not only positive.

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