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March 04, 2013


It is more than unfortunate that rejected results and results not submitted for publication are not required to be disclosed. There is real value, e.g., the tax dollars that supported it, in knowing what didn't work and why.

Sometimes failures are just as revealing as successes. Sometimes failures aren't really failures at all, but are misinterpretations or flawed experimental designs. Some labs treat failures like trade secrets in the hope that competitors will waste their time and resource going down dead ends. And, when it comes to biomedical research, flawed experimental design is rather common. Not publishing failed or "unpublishable" efforts simply wastes the resource with absolutely no beneficial effect on the bad (sloppy) habits of many biomedical researchers. When it comes to these matters, a little sunshine would probably go a long way to focus minds and discourage avoidable error.

Sadly, but as usual, our clueless congress is in way over its head. Nonetheless, one shouldn't let the perfect be the enemy of something less than perfect. So in that spirit of collegiality; Yay congress!

I agree that purported failures should be published. In fact, in another life I'm gonna start "The Journal of Failed Hypotheses" to put this in one location for everyone's convenience. Imagine how helpful this could be in arguing patentability! I've looked long and hard in the past for examples of long-sought need only to find that the failures couldn't get anything into print, which vastly complicated things. If not this, then set up a "dreck" section to avoid wasting everyone but the patent lawyers' time.

Easy on Congress. Their hearts are in the right place. It is about time someone did something about the stranglehold the journals have on dissemination of scientific findings.

Agree with both comments. Negative results are still results! Today, the scientific world is running out of one thing in particular, money. As Benjamin Franklin put it: Time is money.
The funding scheme and the endless hunt for more and more publications has change research into an individualized sport instead of a team sport as it needs to be for the greater good of the people and that is why progress in the biomedical field is still slow.
By the way, excellent website.

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