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 skew towards only publishing "positive" data; that is, data that comfortably proves a hypothesis. Others, like The All Results Journals are the home for negative data: experimental proof of hypotheses that result not to be true, or other experiments that do not lead 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 specified set of conditions, it would be very constructive for other scientists to know this (to avoid time and money wasting and better planning). There is a huge  unexploited  resource of experimental data 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 number of "failed" research can still generate high quality data. The main purpose of The All Results Journals is to recover and publish these precious pieces of scientific material.

As they (The All Results Journals) continue publishing negative results, the newer generation of scientists will not misuse their time and money duplicating the similar studies and finding the same results (negative in this case). Negative results are high-level pieces of wisdom that merits to be published. Some authors have pointed out elsewhere the problem of publication bias, a well-known situation in clinical literature, in which affirmative results have a better chance of being published, are published earlier, and are published in journals with greater impact factors. So this is a real drawback.

As scientists we struggle for remarkable analysis within biological systems that will further grow our comprehension of the human condition, aging, cancer, autoimmunity, etc.  Occasionally the pieces just don't add up. These negative results in Biology move our next step at the bench but are hardly ever published.  Bringing to light these types of insights under peer review will boost our society for the greater good. If you make readily available a manuscript about what didn't work you can build on the problems of others rather than simply repeat them.  Alternatively of three steps forward and two steps back, Science could just move forward.

In Cancer research or chemotherapeutic development, for example, the trend is to publish data showing effectiveness.  We suggest that inefficacy could also be of great significance to the scientific community. What medications failed, in what types of cancer and why; the latter question albeit difficult to resolve. One could imagine the same tendencies emerging from this type of work in terms of gene expression profiling, proteomics and biomarkers.  Agent X will not be successful 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 increasing cancer research community the same negative findings that may have made a contribution 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 target publishing rigorously performed chemical studies yielding negative results. These journals are trying to get out the water the complete iceberg (the total study, showing "All Results" of the scientist, the complete picture of his research topic, the real job done, not only the positive outcomes). Researchers have the responsibility to study Nature and describe everything, and this includes reporting the negative findings. Even more: the research projects might have been funded by public agencies, and that implies public funds... In part, funding agencies have some commitment; they should also stimulate the publishing of all results (specially negative results) not only positive.

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