Mar 23, 2011

Interview with Dr. Pedram Heidari

We have interviewed Dr. Heidari (Harvard Medical School, USA) who graduated in Medicine at Tehran University of Medical Science.
After graduation he worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Department of Orthopedics of Imam University Hospital for one year. Inspired by a speech from Dr. Abass Alavi in 2009, he switched his research field to molecular imaging. In 2010 he moved to Center for Translational Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital where he develops methodologies for quantitative molecular imaging in oncology.

ARJ: Could you please do a brief introduction of your research?
My current research focus is on quantitative receptor imaging in oncology. This is a new concept that goes beyond detection of cancer and paves the way to measure tumor progression and tumor response to a therapeutics. We postulate that sticking to such approach will allow the clinicians to individualize therapy, adjust the dose of therapeutic based on the tumor receptor status, and refrain from administering non-effective therapy, and help pharmaceutical companies to develop more effective and specific drugs with increased pace.

ARJ: In order to publish your results, what do you think are the biggest advantages of Open Access?
The most important advantage of Open Access is that all the researchers around the globe can readily access to the content of published research; this is especially important for the researchers in developing countries who have limited access to online libraries and databases. Should an investigator having trouble accessing a full-text research paper, he/she most commonly either ignore the existence of such paper or just use the abstract to seek their required information. Open Access not only helps preventing the mentioned problem, but also saves the investigators precious time by eliminating the cumbersome process of finding full-text articles in different databases.

ARJ: As you know our journals are the first with a Total Open Access policy. But, how did you find out about The All Results Journals?
I found out about “All Results Journals” from one of my colleagues who sent me an editorial about the goals of the journal and importance of publishing negative and non-significant data.

ARJ: What do you think of publishing negative results? Will it improve our actual scientific methods? How?
Publishing negative data will help other investigators to learn from the failures of their colleagues and the possible causes of these failures. This way they can avoid practices that result in the failure of the experiments. Moreover, negative results may indicate that using a certain approach to address a scientific question is not optimal and one should seek alternate ways of testing their theory. All and all, a lot of resources can be spared this way and research would be much cheaper and faster for everyone.

ARJ: Are researchers used to publish negative results?
At the moment most of the researchers in the field of biomedical research do not publish their negative results. The figure is much better regulated in clinical research where regulations mandate the researchers to report negative results as well as adverse reactions.

ARJ: What are the reasons, from your point of view, that negative results are usually not reported?
When I think about why people only care about publishing positive findings and are less willing to publish negative results, I find plenty of reasons. Here I try to give you some examples; many established investigators think publishing negative results and failures will hurt their reputation.  Many journals do not like negative findings and they promote publishing positive results to make the journal more interesting for the audience and increase their impact factor. Besides, negative data may constitute huge amount of information comparing to positive results. Publishing this amount of data is very challenging; in addition, the audience for this data might not have time to read all (the negative and positive results).
It is also a matter of money. Securing grant money in such a competitive environment requires showing you are capable and competent. If you are among the few researcher who are publishing all their data, failures and negative results, it might turn you seem unreasonably incompetent to grant reviewers because they are all used to only reading successful stories. It is also a matter of keeping the methods and techniques unique to your own group so only he/she can publish and get grants on that area. In many cases a group spends a lot of resources to reach a new technique or method. Publishing all the negative and positive data means that you are allowing others to know all the details and pitfalls and they can use the developed method within a short period of time and become your competitors to get grants and publish papers.

ARJ: Do the government agencies promote the publication of negative results?
There are few rules and regulations about publishing clinical negative results; in many cases these regulations are not being reinforced, but in other cases (e.g. the use of an investigational new drug in humans) it is strictly monitored with negative results and adverse reactions being reported and published.

ARJ: Ethically speaking, the researchers should publish all the results they obtain when opening new lines; why they normally publish only the successful experiments? Are the negative results less important?
Negative results are as important as positive results; but, as I explained previously, there are many factors that demote publishing negative results. I think many researchers will be willing to publish all their findings if the current mindset of scientific community can be modified. This is not an easy task and requires a large-scale campaign to change the current atmosphere ruling the research world. Of course, the best course of action is to start from ourselves if we want to influence others’ attitudes.

ARJ: We're working on this change you mentioned and getting very good feedback. What feature of The All Results Journals do you like most?
The facts that these journals are Open Access and being indexed in most of the well-known databases, I guess, are the best features. Also, the built in blog for each journal is a unique feature that allows better communication between researchers.

ARJ: What feature of The All Results Journals do you like less?
All Results Journals needs more advertisement at academic sites to increase its audience. All 4 journals collectively published very few articles, which emphasizes the lack of adequate public announcement about the journals.

ARJ: We hope to grow our impact but we need the collaboration of the whole scientific community. Would you recommend The All Results Journals to your colleagues?
I will definitely recommend this journal to my colleagues to publish their negative results in. These journal are the first of their kind and are trying to make a difference in how the scientific community works.

ARJ: Would you submit an article to one of The All Results Journals?
The all results journal is still a very young journal, which has a lot of room for development and improvement; but still if I have negative data I might consider submitting a manuscript to one of these journals.

ARJ: Thank you for your time!

NOTE FROM DAVID ALCANTARA: Please post your comments below trying to add something with some value. Contribute to this conversation with an insight, a practice, or a resource that we can all use to create more value. Thank you!

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