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Comprehensive Online Database of Negative Results

Resource Saver
  (+21, -2)(+21, -2)
(+21, -2)
  [vote for,

When conducting preliminary experiments, scientists try out many ideas that don't work. These results are rarely published, but one must wonder how many times the same experiments are tried by different groups. A comprehensive online database from all branches of science could be accessed and searched to see if your proposed idea has already been tested and discarded. I think it should be a use at your own risk, non peer-reviewed resource with commenting and email addresses available. Talking to the people who conducted the experiments would enable you to determine if you think their methodology may have been inaccurate. Or perhaps you may want to pursue a different hypothesis. This may preserve valuable resources in the lab.

There is already a "Journal of Negative Results." But this is hardly enough to handle the voluminous amount of negative data that occurs in every field, every day.

leinypoo13, Aug 09 2007

Journal of Negative Results for Biomedicine http://www.jnrbm.com/
[leinypoo13, Aug 09 2007]

What if journals already do this? http://vitals.nbcne...risk-reduction?lite
90% of seminal research wrong? [4and20, Aug 24 2012]

Now Baked http://www.figshare.com
Same general idea [leinypoo13, Aug 24 2012]

Obligated http://www.icmje.or...hing_1negative.html
Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted [4and20, Sep 12 2012]


       Many times the precursor experiments that led up to a successful experiment are discussed in the published literature. Also certain times the failure of an experiment is as important and groundbreaking as the success of one. i think you want to be careful in classing negative results as failures.
jhomrighaus, Aug 09 2007

       "Many times the precursor experiments that led up to a successful experiment are discussed in the published literature."   

       I agree. But many times they are not published. I also agree that negative results are extremely valuable.
leinypoo13, Aug 09 2007

       Yes, it would have to be free and collaborative.   

       I bet that journals themselves are not long for this earth. Peer review will take place in real time just like this.
leinypoo13, Aug 09 2007

       It's important to be clear about the two alternative meanings of "Negative results".   

       The first is what you might call a "negative discovery" - the finding that something isn't true. For instance, gene X is not up-regulated in response to drug Y. This is a piece of information almost as useful as the converse "positive" finding. Such results are sometimes published, and should be, but of course they often aren't because they are not as exciting. For such cases, some sort of easy route to publication would be good. An online format would be good, but there ought to be some sort of peer-review because working scientists live or die by their publications: they need to be able to cite this as a peer-reviewed publication, otherwise (regrettably) they will not spend their time on it.   

       The second type of "negative result" is what you might call a "technical failure". For example, "we tried to do X, and it didn't work". This information is still slightly useful to working scientists (and this category can overlap with the "negative discovery" category), but only to a limited extent. In fact, I would not want to read a journal or database of this type. Most of what my group tries to do, we do from a sense of blissful ignorance: I try to find out just enough to try something, and then go ahead. Often we fail where others have failed before. But equally often, we succeed where others have failed, simply because we do things slightly differently, or find solutions to problems as they arise. If we really sat down and looked at the ways in which everyone else had failed, then we probably wouldn't start. Ignorance is often essential.
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 09 2007

       //I bet that journals themselves are not long for this earth. Peer review will take place in real time just like this.//   

       Have you published anything? The whole point of publishing in a good peer-reviewed journal is that, if your paper is accepted, that is a sign that it has been read and criticised by two or more experts in the field (and often modified as a result of their comments). That is why peer-reviewed publications are the currency of science.   

       There are lots of things wrong with peer review (referees are anonymous but the authors are not, leaving plenty of room for bias and grudges; some referees are just plain dumb or lazy; three referees will often give three different opinions of a paper). But, nobody yet has found a better solution.   

       I can publish all my stuff online without peer-review if I choose to (on my group's website, for instance), but there's no point: it doesn't mean anything. Nor do I want to read stuff which has been evaluated by a lot of average schmoes: I want to know that what I'm reading has been reviewed by at least a couple of experts, and also by the editor of a good journal.
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 09 2007

       What was it Thomas Edison said while working to perfect the electric light bulb;   

       "I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work." –Edison   

       Sometimes it is important for scientists to try and fail and go through the same set of baby steps to gain a full understanding of the problems they will encounter. I think taking shortcuts by simply stating that all these have been tried and not worked may leave them critically short of the required experience to troubleshoot and improve their process or technique.
jhomrighaus, Aug 09 2007

       //Ignorance is often essential.//   

       Agreed, and [marked-for-tagline] (or would be if I was an admin) though I would omit the word "often".
nuclear hobo, Aug 10 2007

       gets my vote. +   

       actually thoought you were referring to the HB itself from the title. : )
k_sra, Aug 10 2007

       This is sort of baked as PLoS One: limited peer review; looks like they would publish anything that might be informative. I agree with Maxwell, though, that "We couldn't get conclusive results with this method" isn't useful, unless you know the details of their relevant expertise. In which case you're probably talking to them anyway.
Ford, Jan 24 2008

       This is absolutly brilliant. People need to embrace the value of failure.   

       There was a story once of a man who was cursed to loose every single bet he placed. His wife then, made a fortune in Vegas by consistantly betting against him.   

       Knowing what doesn't work is just as valuable, *in the long term* as knowing what does work.   

       Issues of peer review and the lack of value of stuff form average schmoes can be made up for by automatically tracking the quantity and quality of the findings as any number of online social networks will tell you. E.g. One report that X doesn't work has little value on its own, but 500 start to show a trend; especially if there are no reports to the contrary. Also, when Mr. A says that X doesn't work, and Mr. B proves him wrong, then if Mr. A is also unable to make Y and Z work, it is less likely that they are true negative results.
James Newton, Jan 25 2008

       Failures are often times more important than successes. I think your idea is more to cover the absurdities. For instance cats do not make good rocket fuel. researches have access to all relevant information. I have never known or currently know of a time where someone was given a solution to a problem and then proceeded to attempt all these experiments to obtain the same results. That would be pointless.   

       You may be looking for a negative result. Pouring acid on someone might be positive. People in their field know whats up and those who are simply digging for hope on an idea they made on a subject they know nothing about should read more.
Antegrity, Jan 25 2008

       Only because it's surprising and originally published in a respected journal, I wonder how the link regarding the quality of cancer research affects the publishing process?
4and20, Aug 24 2012

       //Comprehensive Online Database of Negative Results   

       I tried logging onto it, and all I got was the 404 error message...
not_morrison_rm, Aug 25 2012


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