The importance of publishing negative results

Everyone likes positive results. But the fact is that they are the less, especially when you talk about Science. Many scientific journals skew towards only publishing "positive" data; that is, data that comfortably proves a theory. Others, like The All Results Journals are the home for negative data: experimental documentation of hypotheses that come out not to be true, or other experiments that do not lead to an advance of a specific hypothesis but are, on the other hand, 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 specified set of conditions, it would be very significant 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 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 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) keep going publishing negative results, the most recent generation of doctors will not misuse their time and Funds replicating the similar studies and finding the same results (negative in this case). Negative results are high-level pieces of knowledge that is deserving to be presented. Some authors have pointed out elsewhere the problem of publication bias, a well-known phenomenon in clinical publications, in which optimistic results have a better chance of being published, are published earlier, and are published in journals with larger 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.  From time to time the pieces just don't add up. These negative results in Biology push our next step at the bench but are almost never published.  Bringing to light these types of finding under peer review will improve our world for the greater good. If you make easily accessible 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 research or chemotherapeutic development, for example, the trend is to publish data showing efficacy.  We offer that inefficacy could also be of good significance to the scientific community. What components failed, in what types of cancer and why; the latter question albeit very difficult to resolve. One could consider 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 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 lead to the development of a extremely useful 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 carried out chemical tests yielding 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 picture of his research topic, the real job done, not only the positive outcomes). Scientists have the duty to study Nature and describe all, and this includes reporting the negative studies. Even more: the research projects might have been funded by nation agencies, and that means public money... In part, funding agencies have some responsibility; they should also foster the publishing of all results (specially negative results) not only positive.

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