Editorial: The Journal of Negative Results in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


  • D. Johan Kotze
  • Christine A. Johnson
  • Robert B. O'Hara
  • Kari Vepsäläinen
  • Mike S. Fowler


Over 15 years ago, Bruce Charlton (1987) suggested in his article ‘Think Negative’ that many disciplines would beneï¬t if negative results were given public airing. He argued that science needs reports of negative results for the simple reason that similar investigations, which are often costly and time-consuming, are frequently duplicated and produce the same negative result. Since then, other scientists have expressed similar sentiments (e.g., Knight 2003). Across the range of biological ï¬elds, table talk among ecologists and evolutionary biologists at all levels of academia at some point produces a sigh followed by ‘If I had only known, I would have done things differently’. Recently, a number of the sciences have realised the gravity of the lack of published negative results, and have attempted to fill this publication void by producing journals that report negative results (e.g., the Journal of Negative Results in Biomedicine, the Journal of Negative Results in Speech and Audio Sciences, the Forum for Negative Results [computer science], the Journal of Negative Observations in Genetic Oncology, and the Journal of Articles in Support of the Null Hypothesis). We agree with these researchers that the awareness of negative results plays an important role in the advancement of science, and are realising the objective of making negative results in ecology and evolutionary biology more widely available. This is being done in part through the Open Access System of the Public Knowledge Project (http://www.pkp.ubc.ca/ojs/), an organisation whose primary goal is to make information available to all by providing journal software at no cost.



2021-01-29 — Updated on 2021-02-22