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 successfully proves a premise. Others, like The All Results Journals are the home for negative data: experimental evidence of hypotheses that happen not to be true, or other experiments that do not result to an advance of a individual hypothesis but are, still, 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 practical for other investigators to know this (to avoid time and money wasting and better planning). There is a huge untapped resource of experimental data confined in laboratory notebooks that could be of great service to the scientific network at large. Many experiments fail to produce results or expected discoveries. This high amount of "failed" research can still generate high quality data. The main goal of The All Results Journals is to recover and publish these treasured pieces of scientific material.

As they (The All Results Journals) go on publishing negative results, the newest generation of experts will not spend their time and Funds duplicating the equivalent studies and finding the same results (negative in this case). Negative results are high-level pieces of expertise that needs to be published. Some authors have pointed out elsewhere the problem of publication bias, a well-known problem in clinical publications, in which optimistic results have a better chance of being published, are published sooner, and are published in journals with larger impact factors. So this is a serious drawback.

As specialists we struggle for remarkable analysis within biological systems that will further expand our knowledge of the human condition, aging, cancer, autoimmunity, etc.  From time to time the pieces just don't add up. These negative results in Biology move our next step at the bench but are rarely published.  Bringing to light these types of observations under peer review will improve our modern society for the greater good. If you make available a manuscript about what didn't work you can build on the complications of others rather than simply repeat them.  As an alternative 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  propose that inefficacy could also be of good relevance to the scientific community. What components failed, in what types of cancer and why; the latter question albeit very hard to resolve. One could visualize the same tendencies emerging from this type of work in terms of gene expression profiling, proteomics and biomarkers.  Agent X will not be powerful in cancer Y because of overexpression of biomarker Z. A paper focused on the inefficacy of a particular chemotherapeutic compound could help in moving the cancer biology field forward by offering a community forum to share with the more significant cancer research community the same negative findings that may have made a contribution to the development of a strongly potent 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 producing 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 inform all, and this includes reporting the negative findings. 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 foster the publishing of all results (specially negative results) not only positive.

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