- “Many experiments fail, or produce controversial, ambiguous, or unexpected results. For those who bravely—or accidentally—go where few have gone before, Olsen and Christian Pfeffer, a visiting research fellow in pediatrics at Dana Farber Cancer Institute, have created the Journal of Negative Results in Biomedicine to push such outcomes into the mainstream… Yet scientists regularly push negative findings aside, blaming them on shoddy procedures; some researchers bury the results deep in papers, with little explanation, if they publish the material at all. Pfeffer became frustrated by such wasteful behavior and searched for a way to recast negative results. Two colleagues rejected his journal concept before he found a collaborator in Olsen. The classic negative result is an experiment that shows no difference between experimental and control groups: for example, a clinical trial of a drug that works on mice, but turns out to have no effect when tested on humans… Ambiguous or controversial results, or outcomes that challenge entrenched ideas, are also considered negative sometimes.” – “The Power of Negative Thinking” in Harvard Magazine
In science, the ‘blank’ is often the ‘null hypothesis’. For many scientists a frustrating stumbling block, but for Bjorn R. Olsen and Christian Pfeffer and their “Journal of Negative Results Biomedicine”:
- “Journal of Negative Results in BioMedicine is an open access, peer-reviewed, online journal that promotes a discussion of unexpected, controversial, provocative and/or negative results in the context of current tenets.”
Don’t ‘push that negative finding aside’, but consider it a different kind of contribution to the body of scientific knowledge. What is not true, it just as important as what is true.