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 theory. Others, like The All Results Journals are the home for negative data: experimental documents of hypotheses that happen not to be true, or other experiments that do not lead to an advance of a definite theorem but are, nonetheless, a true rendering of that experiment. For example, if a researcher set up a cell-based experiment and the experiment did not work in a particular set of conditions, it would be very useful for other investigators to know this (to avoid time and money wasting and better planning). There is a huge unexploited resource of experimental information locked away in laboratory notebooks that could be of great service to the scientific network at large. Many experiments don't succeed to produce results or expected discoveries. This high percentage of "failed" research can still generate high quality data. The main target of The All Results Journals is to recover and publish these significant pieces of scientific knowledge.

As they (The All Results Journals) carry on publishing negative results, the newer generation of researchers will not waste their time and revenue repeating the same studies and finding the same results (negative in this case). Negative results are high-level pieces of wisdom that is deserving to be presented. Some authors have pointed out elsewhere the problem of publication bias, a well-known situation in clinical documents, in which affirmative results have a better chance of being published, are published faster, and are published in journals with greater impact factors. So this is a serious drawback.

As scientists we strive for remarkable observations within biological systems that will further boost our understanding of the human condition, aging, 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 barely ever published.  Bringing to light these types of insights under peer review will strengthen our world for the greater good. If you make readily available a paper about what didn't work you can build on the pit falls of others rather than simply repeat them.  Instead 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 medications failed, in what types of cancer and why; the latter question albeit hard to solve. One could envision the same trends 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 compound could help out 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 completely useful agent.

Basically the tip of the iceberg are being published in Science; only positive results. Initiatives like The All Results Journals:Chem concentrate on publishing carefully performed chemical tests delivering negative results. These journals are trying to get out the water the complete iceberg (the total 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 responsibility to study Nature and inform everything, and this includes documenting the negative studies. Even more: the research projects might have been funded by nation agencies, and that implies public funds... 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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