I believe that if we continue not to report our negative data we are doing ourselves and the general public a huge disservice. Without negative data publishing we cannot possibly create a complete picture of research. At a critical administrative level this leaves us not knowing what has been researched in a field and what has not been. This means the same dead end could be funded for research multiple times as neither the first, second nor third person to come to the dead end could publish their results.
this way of thinking has been engrained in scientific students for years due to the “publish or perish” mantra that only includes publication of positive results
Due to this negative publishing embargo, it is incredibly frustrating to try and convince students that data is data, whether it is negative or not. I have seen many people completely disregard the results of their projects and despair that they had nothing to write in their thesis as their data was negative! This is just a terrible way to approach data; however, this way of thinking has been engrained in scientific students for years due to the “publish or perish” mantra that only includes publication of positive results.
It does not matter what field you work in, I’m sure that there is a rabbit hole you have fallen down only to come out with negative results. Now, how many other people have fallen down that same rabbit hole and also not published those results? This cycle could lead to an incredible waste of limited research funding and human hours. Not only is this cycle wasting the work of intelligent and valuable students, it is also incredibly discouraging to many when their project, if negative in result, is essentially unpublishable no matter how good the work put into it was.
It intrigues me that other fields such as theoretical physics have online archives onto which all work can be submitted. Perhaps the biological sciences need to move towards an archival model, but that is a whole other argument. For now, Publishers, let us publish our science!