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Things Not Found

PLOS launched a collection last week, dubbed 'Missing Pieces', to highlight research it has published that presents negative results.

Much published scientific work is prone to publication bias in which positive results or dramatic results are more likely to be published, notes Julia Belluz at Vox. "If science were a TV show, it would be a lot more like Modern Family than Breaking Bad: the promising and positive results from studies are usually on display, not the dark, ambiguous underbelly of negative and inconclusive research findings," she says.

This, PLOS notes, leads to the duplication of efforts and wastes both time and money.

"The publication of negative results is vitally important for many reasons, not least that it helps prevent duplication of research effort and potentially expedites the process of finding positive results," says a post at the PLOS EveryOne Community blog. "However, the struggle to find a home to publish the work, and the effort necessary to submit and publish what can feel like negligible scientific contributions, has led to concerns that negative findings are becoming the missing pieces in the scientific literature."

Currently, the Missing Pieces collection includes studies on the failure of a microRNA signature to distinguish between lethal and indolent prostate cancer, the inability of mitochondrial DNA to act as a biomarker for innate immune activation in HIV infection, and more.