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Accepted Paper:

All your results are good results? - journals of negative results as a failed communicative genre  
Tobias Lehmann (TU Berlin)

Short abstract:

Drawing on publication data and on document analysis, I analyse competing sets of collective frames at play in discussions surrounding publication bias against negative results to account for the failure of ‘journals of negative results’ to become established as viable publication venues.

Long abstract:

Negative results can be defined as outcomes of research processes that disappoint the expectations of individual researchers or of scientific communities. They are rarely published, as editors, reviewers and authors tend to favour positive results, even though researchers have repeatedly emphasised the value of negative results in collective knowledge production, such as their potential to falsify erroneous assumptions, and have called for initiatives to facilitate their communication. However, as one of these initiatives, journals dedicated to the publication of negative results, shows, the availability of this publication channel has not led to a change in researchers’ publication practices.

I will draw on publication data to illustrate this lack of uptake by authors, as shown by the very low numbers of papers published by these journals, and on document analyses of public statements by researchers arguing for or against the publication of negative results to reconstruct competing sets of collective frames that may account for the failure of ‘journals of negative results’ to become established as viable publication venues. The analysis shows a tension between unconditional ascriptions of (epistemological and practical) value to negative results and a questioning of both this unconditional value and of the journal article as the adequate medium for communicating negative results.

In conclusion, I argue that while other ways to communicate negative results might prove more successful, the genre of the research article, which is linked to specific expectations on the parts of authors and readers, does not appear to fit this purpose.

Traditional Open Panel P215
Frame analysis in science studies
  Session 2 Wednesday 17 July, 2024, -