Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Pressure for positive results puts science under threat, study shows

Date:
September 13, 2011
Source:
University of Edinburgh
Summary:
Scientific research may be in decline across the globe because of growing pressures to report only positive results, new analysis suggests.

Scientific research may be in decline across the globe because of growing pressures to report only positive results, new analysis suggests. A study by the University of Edinburgh examined more than 4,600 scientific research papers published between 1990 and 2007 and found a steady decline in studies in which the findings contradicted scientific hypotheses.

Papers reporting null or negative findings are in principle as useful as positive ones, but they attract fewer readers and citations, so scientific journals tend to reject them.

It is acknowledged among scientists that this problem might be worsening, because competition in science is growing and jobs and grants are given to scientists who publish frequently in high-ranking journals. Many researchers, therefore, have speculated that scientists will increasingly pursue predictable outcomes and produce positive results through re-interpretation, selection or even manipulation of data.

The study examined research papers in which a hypothesis had been tested, in various scientific disciplines. Over the period studied, positive results grew from around 70 per cent in 1990 to 86 per cent in 2007. The growth was strongest in economics, business, clinical medicine, psychology, psychiatry, pharmacology and molecular biology.

The findings, published in Scientometrics, also show that papers reporting positive results are more frequent in the US than in Europe.

Dr Daniele Fanelli of the University's Institute for the Study of Science, Technology and Innovation, who led the study, said: "Either journals are rejecting more negative results, or scientists are producing more positives. It is most likely a combination of both.

"Without negative evidence in the literature, scientists might misestimate the importance of phenomena and waste resources replicating failed studies. The higher frequency of US papers reporting positive findings may suggest that problems linked to competition are greater in the US than elsewhere."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Edinburgh. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Daniele Fanelli. Negative results are disappearing from most disciplines and countries. Scientometrics, 2011; DOI: 10.1007/s11192-011-0494-7

Cite This Page:

University of Edinburgh. "Pressure for positive results puts science under threat, study shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110912143353.htm>.
University of Edinburgh. (2011, September 13). Pressure for positive results puts science under threat, study shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110912143353.htm
University of Edinburgh. "Pressure for positive results puts science under threat, study shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110912143353.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is blaming doctors for the low number of children being vaccinated for HPV. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins