Be positive about negatives-recommendations for the publication of negative (or null) results

Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2019 Dec;29(12):1312-1320. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2019.10.007. Epub 2019 Nov 18.


Both positive and negative (null or neutral) results are essential for the progress of science and its self-correcting nature. However, there is general reluctance to publish negative results, and this may be due a range of factors (e.g., the widely held perception that negative results are more difficult to publish, the preference to publish positive findings that are more likely to generate citations and funding for additional research). It is particularly challenging to disclose negative results that are not consistent with previously published positive data, especially if the initial publication appeared in a high impact journal. Ideally, there should be both incentives and support to reduce the costs associated with investing efforts into preparing publications with negative results. We describe here a set of criteria that can help scientists, reviewers and editors to publish technically sound, scientifically high-impact negative (or null) results originating from rigorously designed and executed studies. Proposed criteria emphasize the importance of collaborative efforts and communication among scientists (also including the authors of original publications with positive results).

Keywords: Good research practice; Negative results; Publication bias; Reproducibility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Negative Results / standards*
  • Peer Review, Research / methods
  • Peer Review, Research / standards*
  • Periodicals as Topic / standards*