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Positives in negative results: when finding ‘nothing’ means something

Positives in negative results: when finding ‘nothing’ means something

"It’s important to publish all results – both positive and negative – if researchers are to avoid repeating old mistakes. But where is the glory in negative results?" Natalie Matosin, Doctoral Candidate and Martin Engel, Associate Research Fellow, CNS disorders at University of Wollongong, NSW Australia explain the current situation in scientific research and what steps are being taken to redress this imbalance:

This serious issue is being taken up for medical research by AllTrials, with over 80,000 people and 500 organisations signing a petition that aims to ensure that we know what doesn't work and are better informed about the potential side effects of medicines, thanks to the sacrifices of those that have suffered side effects and worse in clinical trials with unpublished results:

As the AllTrials website states:

"Results of half of all trials are hidden. Doctors don't have full information about medicines we use.


Hundreds of thousands of people have taken part in clinical trials that have not published results. Make their contributions count."


Photo: Blue Squill orchid found in the scrub in a nearby conservation reserve. Thanks again to Jay for the identification of this delicate, beautiful flower.

3 Replies

I was always taught that you learn more from your failures than your successes. Publishing thr negatives helps the community at large and can reduce future wasted time. However, it is easy to publish you successes, it takes a brave oerson to publish the failures.



While some research may seem like failure, later on, when more knowledge becomes available, that "failed" research becomes a breakthrough in some other area. It all adds to our understanding. Best wishes


As Einstein said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.....

Einstein also said something like, those who have never failed have never tried anything new......

So not only do we need to know what fails, we should also expect and accept failure when exploring new things!


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