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Journal of Pharmaceutical Negative Results
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Year : 2010  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 4-5 Table of Contents     

Negative results as part of quality research: An insight

Department of Pharmaceutics, Faculty of Pharmacy, Jamia Hamdard, Hamdard Nagar, New Delhi, India

Date of Web Publication20-Sep-2010

Correspondence Address:
Javed Ali
Department of Pharmaceutics, Faculty of Pharmacy, Jamia Hamdard, Hamdard Nagar, New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0976-9234.68867

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How to cite this article:
Ali J. Negative results as part of quality research: An insight. J Pharm Negative Results 2010;1:4-5

How to cite this URL:
Ali J. Negative results as part of quality research: An insight. J Pharm Negative Results [serial online] 2010 [cited 2020 Aug 10];1:4-5. Available from:

Numerous researches are being done in the field of pharmaceutical sciences worldwide in the academics and industries. While industrial researches and their findings are often converted to patents, most of the academic research works are attempted to be converted into research manuscripts and the researcher/group makes efforts to publish the findings in national or international journals of repute. A published manuscript may be regarded as a documented attestation of the research work and is peer-reviewed before publication by experts relevant to the field of research. A published manuscript then becomes a ready reference source for extending the research work for taking it to another level by other research groups and also serves as a source of recognition of the researcher/group. Overall, the research findings documented in the form of research manuscripts give way for future generations to explore new and better or alternate findings, henceforth enduring this never-ending and ever-exciting process of research.

It is somewhat true that the research communities, in general, and those who are involved in pharmaceutical research, in particular, are biased toward publishing successful ideas and experiments. But as the trend is changing off late, authors with a perception of reporting the so called "desired" or "feel good" results sacrificing the decisive negative outcomes sometimes find themselves in a predicament of manuscript rejection. A negative result may be an unexpected, controversial or a provocative conclusion with respect to current understanding of a hypothesis. But it will definitely provide some responsible, authentic and balanced information for the current and future generations of researchers. It is to be understood that the negative results are equally or sometimes more important than the positive outcomes. This editorial is a welcome note for the negative results that result from intuitive and justifiable ideas and are demonstrated by well-planned and executed experiments. It is also encouraged to submit manuscript presenting counterexamples to usually accepted speculations or to published papers. All theories and ideas can be clearly stated and justified by a deep literature review. For each negative result, the researchers should try to find out the possible and logical justification for the failure and should specify the same along with their conclusions. The outcome of the negative result should be clearly stated.

   Objective of Reporting Negative Results Top

The main objective of the publication of the negative results is to provide benefits to other researchers by making them aware that doing the same research will ultimately result in wasting their money and time. Also, the results obtained will not be worth publishing in reputed journals which generally focus on successful outcomes from research. Moreover, it is now said that if the negative results had been published earlier, scientists would have saved a lot of time and money. It is also said that no two minds work in the same direction, a negative result reported may strike the reader with an idea of converting it into a positive outcome which can add oodles to the scientific community.

   Significance of Reporting Negative Outcomes Top

In this exciting field of research, there are always chances to have ideas that fail at the experimental stage for unexpected and often interesting reasons. Much can be learnt by analyzing such outcomes, and meticulous and successful analysis of negative results may lead to a path closer to achieving positive outcomes. Negative results may give rise to new research problems which can be important and interesting. In addition to this, negative results will help researchers to identify dead-ends which subsequently help them to avoid repetition of the same unsuccessful research.

   Reasons Why the Negative Results are Being Concealed Top

"Positive" means those showing that some intervention had an effect, that some newly developed formulation is linked to treating the disease in a superior manner, or more broadly, that one thing is connected to another in a way that cannot be explained by random chance or a mere possibility. It has been reported that generally positive results account for about 90% of the published results. This is an indication that the negative results are hidden. Thus, the results reported in journals do not tally with reality. Though journals are supposed to publish genuine and authentic results, in the present scenario, this is not the case.

What distinguishes the ordinary scientist from the true experimental scientist is the honesty in reporting the unsatisfactory as well as satisfactory results of experiments. This in itself defines the path which the scientific community is going to pursue. Negative findings can result from a poor research design or a good research design and they differ from each other. It is important to be an observational scientist rather than being a mere thinker. Science will progress only if the reporting of the research results is honest.

Presently, "quality research publications" are the major criteria for the judgment of the quality of scientists. Thus, there are always efforts to manipulate or modify the results to suit for publication, with the help of some spurious arguments. The truth is usually hidden by these efforts. It has been observed that some already established results through experimental conduct are given pseudo-novel framework by interpreting data following application of design of experiments.

In a way, both academic and industrial organizations are being unfair to the discipline of science. The number of publications in quality journals is generally considered to be a measure of academic utility. Obviously, the competition amongst the contemporaries for publishing more and more manuscripts adds to the pressure. A major portion of funding to medical research comes from pharmaceutical firms. This also restricts the publication of negative results as the funding pharmaceutical firms want to make money for shareholders by publishing positive results for their drugs.

   Difficulty in Publishing Negative Results Top

It is evident and a known fact that publishing negative results in scientific research is very difficult. A nanoparticulate drug delivery system development with in vitro and in vivo characterization for the treatment of fatal viral disorders can net you a paper in a high-impact factored journal; working hard on the same and achieving no positive outcomes can make it really difficult to publish anything. Reports on a geographic analysis of positive and negative results have shown that productive and competitive research environment favors positive results.

It is of utmost importance that the negative results and data should reach the scientific community so that time and money are not wasted behind these experiments. But it is also obvious that publishing negative results is very difficult and it is posing problems for the scientific community.

The difficulty in publishing negative results prevails due to the "publish or perish" mentality of the researchers which results from the highly competitive environment. If the scenario remains the same, publishing negative results are less likely to happen. In fact, it seems like the publish-or-perish mentality is seriously distorting the scientific community and its advancements. Such an attitude will only result in the depreciation of scientific research and putting pressure on the researchers, which eventually leads to scientific fraud.

   Some Spirited Efforts (Journals Solely Dedicated Toward Publishing Negative Results) Top

Some journals are dedicated to publish negative results and are gaining attention of the scientific community. While some have already been established, others are getting ready to start. These journals display some courageous efforts to publish negative results, whereas the mainstream journals are reluctant to do so. Some of the leaders include Journal of Negative Results in Biomedicine, The Journal of Spurious Correlations, Journal of Negative Observations in Genetic Oncology and Journal of Interesting Negative Results. It will be failing in duty if their courageous editors are not given applause.

The present journal "Journal of Pharmaceutical Negative Results" is a new initiative by InPharm Association and is of special kind in the area of pharmaceutical sciences.

I wish more and more manuscripts reporting negative results are published and make this journal a great success.

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2 Negative studies published in medical journals of India do not give sufficient information regarding power/sample size calculation and confidence interval
Saxena, D. and Yadav, P. and Kantharia, ND and others
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