Mar 7, 2009

What do you think is the biggest obstacle in getting scientists to publish their failures?

On the one hand: time. Scientist are often very much occupied with writing new proposals and projects to get money for their research, some of them also prepare their lessons for university and they are, at the same time, teaching new PhD students how to do science. These tasks reduce their time for writing normal scientific results, which represent nearly 35-40% of the total work that have been done in their labs.

On the other hand it’s all about habits. We are not custom to writing these types of results, because we haven’t given them the importance they really have. We throw them away, all our secondary (negative) results, and forget about them. Sometimes they are rescued in a PhD Thesis but that is not the general behaviour. We have to change the general and ancient idea that these results are useless (and this is quite difficult task).

Time and habits are the two the biggest obstacles we have to deal, but we in The All Results Journals see this as new opportunities:

  1. The opportunity to certify all your real work (you can use it to justify projects or research in time schedules), not only the good ones.
  2. The opportunity to improve your field (your secondary results can be used by others in the same way that the positive ones, avoiding to repeat not working experiments) acting as a catalyst.
  3. The opportunity of changing science in the fastest way possible (and, in fact, the society).
In our facebook page we have obtained other interesting point of view:

Why are scientists coy about publishing negative data? In some cases, withholding them keeps rivals doing studies that rest on an erroneous premise, thus clearing the field for the team that knows that, say, gene A doesn’t really cause disease B. We are unfortunately in a very competitive world...

What do you thing?

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