There is no scientist in the research community who has not got the undesirable results. Actually, I do not know any researcher in my field who has never reported that some of their experiments just DIDN’T WORK! So, why it is so uncommon for people to publish their negative data? Why there is this bias towards publication only positive experimental work?

Let’s just look at this case. In 1999, in London, there was Person X who has tested an effect of molecule A on system B. This person got negative results meaning, the difference was not significant, nothing exciting has been discovered and Person X stopped the study and moved to testing another molecule. Few years later, another person, Person Z, read about the same molecule A, found it interesting and decided to apply to research charity to fund study that will test its role in the same system B. After months of laboratory work and thousands of £££ spent, Person Z arrived at the same conclusion as Person X, molecule A has no effect on system B.


Every day across different laboratories worldwide, researchers try to do work, that somebody else has already done before just didn’t publish it because it wasn’t ‘sexy’ enough for the Editors of Science to put it in the next issue


If we think about the time, the resources and money that could have been saved if the results were published back in 1999, many people would agree that, it is crazy that Person X didn’t publish his/her negative findings. So why does it happen so often in the scientific world? Why aren’t we in favour of publishing this kind of a data? Majority of the research is funded by the government, non-profit organisations or private donations, which is highly competitive as there is a shortage of resources, especially now when countries struggle with the economic crisis. It seems to me that scientific community with all of these people who have PhDs, is being stupid and keeps wasting millions of £££ every year by neglecting the negative outcomes of their projects. Every day across different laboratories worldwide, researchers try to do work, that somebody else has already done before just didn’t publish it because it wasn’t ‘sexy’ enough for the Editors of Science to put it in the next issue.

Why does the scientific community consider negative data as being of a lower value than this of a positive one? We all agree that negative findings are a essential component of a scientific research and they are not just the VALID results but they are also critical for bridging the gaps in our knowledge which allows research to move forward. So what can be done to change current situation? There isn’t any straight answer or method, but if we start transforming the way our research culture dictates what is ‘good enough’ to be exposed to our scientific community, we may be able to get closer to fixing this problem and improve modern science.

How does the lack of negative data reporting affect science?
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