What is believed to be the world’s first prize for published “negative” scientific results, the “ECNP Preclinical Network Data Prize” has been announced by the ECNP’s Preclinical Data Forum. The €10,000 prize, aimed initially at neuroscience research, is to encourage publication of data where the results do not confirm the expected outcome or original hypothesis.
“Negative” findings – most often seen when researchers are unable to confirm or replicate previous results – are often not submitted for publication. Studies with positive results are several times more likely to be published than those which do not result in a positive result. As a consequence, these data are effectively lost to science, which may lead other scientists to waste time and effort trying to duplicate literature results. A recent paper estimated that this costs the US economy alone, $28bn each year, similar in scale to the total $35bn National Institute of Health annual budget.
According to Dr Thomas Steckler (ECNP Preclinical Data Forum Co-Chair, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV):
“Science is historically self-correcting. This process is most effective when both positive and negative results are published. However, negative results are less likely to get published because they are often believed to generate less “value” for an individual scientist, organization or journal. Indeed, compared with the positive data, negative data may appear less exciting, are less likely to open new avenues of research and therefore new funding opportunities. Unpublished data is effectively a waste of valuable real and human capital, particularly in the face of the reproducibility challenge currently discussed in various fields of science: reproducibility in neuroscience has come under particular focus in recent years. It’s startling to realize that over 50% of published biomedical data cannot be reproduced*”.
The €10,000 annual prize money comes from sponsorship from the Cambridge, MA-based charity, Cohen Veterans Bioscience. It will be awarded by the ECNP’s Preclinical Data Forum, which is a mixed industry and academic group which aims to improve the replicability and reliability of scientific data, especially in drug development.
Dr Anton Bespalov (ECNP Preclinical Data Forum Co-Chair, PAASP), added:
“There are hundreds of drug trials which have failed in the last few years. Analysis of the factors that led to these failures is very often compromised by the biased representation of the early, preclinical work. The prize aims to emphasize to scientists and academic publishers that there is real value in publishing all the results, not just the headline-grabbing positive results”.
The call for papers has a closing date of 30th June 2018.
Full details of how to apply for the ECNP Preclinical Network Data Prize can be seen at the following URL: www.ecnp.eu/preclinical-data-prize