Since it was established in 2014, one of the core goals of the ECNP Network Preclinical Data Forum was to facilitate sharing of unpublished information between scientists. This practice of sharing results that are unfavorable is rarely highlighted and therefore researchers and the public are only left with half of the story. “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, $28 Billion each year, similar in scale to the total $35 Billion National Institute of Health annual budget**.
To encourage publication of data where the results do not confirm the expected outcome or original hypothesis, the Negative Prize was developed.
In 2018, the first Negative Prize was awarded to Laura Luyten and Tom Beckers (KU Leuven, Belgium) for the following paper: Luyten L, Beckers T (2017) A preregistered, direct replication attempt of the retrieval-extinction effect in cued fear conditioning in rats. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory 144: 208–215.
Publication Award A $10,000 Euro award is made available through a generous sponsorship support provided by the Cohen Veterans Bioscience, presented at the ECNP Annual Conference and promoted throughout the organization’s communication channels.
Watch this website for updates on 2020 Negative Prize criteria and application. The award will be given in September 2020 at the ECNP Annual Meeting.
2018 Selection Criteria & Evaluation Process The Evaluation Committee received a total of 30 nominations. Of these, sixteen met all eligibility criteria and each manuscript was subjected to an in-depth analysis. There were four to six reviewers invited to assess each panel by answer sets of pre-formulated questions using a Likert scales. The questions were about the study design (blinding, randomization, sample size estimation, exclusion criteria), data analysis and statistics, quality of resources used and technical quality of a study in general, likelihood that these results are conclusive enough to prevent similar efforts, scientific strength and importance, and, last but certainly not the least, ethical aspects.
Due to a significant number of high-quality nominations, selection process was not easy and required an established of a dedicated data analysis panel composed of three renowned experts.
The ECNP Network Preclinical Data Forum is very grateful to all the colleagues who supported this project by acting as reviewers, experts and advisors!
Prevention of possible conflict of interest Care was taken to ensure that handling of all nominations, the review process, the paper reviews themselves, communication with the reviewers and authors, and the decision-making related to the ranking of the nominations was done only by those without potential conflict of interest. Neither the sponsors of the Prize, nor the publishers represented on the Advisory Board were involved in this ranking.
References *Kaiser, Science June 9th 2015. See http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2015/06/study-claims-28-billion-year-spent-irreproducible-biomedical-research. ** Science, July 17th, 2017. See http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/07/house-bill-gives-nih-3-raise-blocks-cuts-overhead-payments.
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*”.
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”.