Failed research in the file drawer?

There is no need to hide failures in research


Two years ago I started to figure out how publishing failed research could work. Here I explain why there is a need for that and which ways could work. Like many other researchers in their day-to-day business too, I failed. I made errors in designing an experiment. However, I think there is no need to be ashamed. Science is about trial and error. We just somehow talk more about the trials that work out than the trials that do not.

However, we should not only speak about failure as such – to normalize it a little bit more but also about what exactly failed, to enable others to learn from it. Therefore, I am pretty happy that a failure paper of mine is now published here. It was not an easy endeavor to find a home for that manuscript, it got rejected in method journals beforehand. The reviews often mentioned that they find no worth in publishing about errors and learnings. They even thought it was a stupid error. I mean which error – in hindsight – is not stupid.

This failed experiment was part of a study included in my PhD studies. Although I decided not to include this paper in the final dissertation (for some reasons that I would see differently today – so maybe an error in hindsight :)), I am proud to have it in the world now. Let us share more of these errors and learnings!

Data of the failed study is available here.

The study where that failed experiment was initially included is published here and open access here.

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