When are positive results a bad thing? When they indicate a possible "threat" to science, according to the University of Edinburgh. In a new study published in Scientometrics, Edinburgh's Daniele Fanelli examined more than 4,600 scientific papers published between 1990 and 2007, and found "a steady decline in studies in which the findings contradicted scientific hypotheses," the university says in a statement. During those 17 years, positive results increased from around 70 percent in 1990 to about 86 percent in 2007. "Either journals are rejecting more negative results, or scientists are producing more positives. It is most likely a combination of both," Fanelli says. The study also showed that this phenomenon was more pronounced in the US than in Europe, leading Fanelli to suggest that perhaps "problems linked to competition are greater in the US than elsewhere." The growing pressure to report only positive results may lead to a "decline" in scientific research around the world, the Edinburgh release suggests.
Positive Results Can Be Negative
Sep 13, 2011