What is the Null Hypothesis™ initiative?

  • The Null Hypothesis™ initiative is a collaboration between leading biomedical journals, research institutions, industry and research funders to get more non-positive (“null”) results written up and communicated as publications or pre-prints. Our work allows future researchers to develop better research designs and treatments by accessing a more complete picture of learnings from others;

  • This initiative represents a focused effort to shine light on dark data - null results that never get written up, published or made discoverable, and whose absence from the accessible body of knowledge can impact the interpretation of the scientific evidence. It is our mission to ensure no critical biomedical research results go unpublished by 2030;

  • Estimates suggest that dark data may account for up to $70 billion of research waste worldwide per year. Its existence has many consequences, such as publication bias in scientific literature, research duplication, and - most importantly - skewed interpretation of scientific evidence by future researchers, funders, clinicians, and patients.

  • The causes of publication bias and research waste associated with non-publication of negative results are multifactorial, and these issues are larger than any single journal, publisher, funder, policy initiative, or research institution can address independently. Solving this problem requires a sustained effort that engages multiple stakeholders across all geographies.

    We are all part of the solution!

What is dark data?

Each year, more than 50% of biomedical research results go unpublished and are left undiscoverable, as “dark data”, left in lab books around the world and not shared publicly. These dark data often include “null” (sometimes called “negative”) results that don’t show a treatment or intervention having an effect. This contributes to vast amounts or research waste, in terms of dollars, efforts and resources, diminishes research efficiency, and at worst, can result in avoidable harm to patients.

The Null Hypothesis™ initiative was created to help researchers, institutions, advocacy groups and funders around the world shine light on important dark data.

What is publication bias?

Publication bias occurs when studies with positive results, which confirm the author’s original hypothesis, are favored for write up and publication over null results. This results an incomplete picture of the overall research output - increasing the chance of drawing skewed conclusions from an incomplete public record. It can also impair due diligence for further research if previous studies, especially with null results are not analyzed, reported and made discoverable.

Why is a complete picture of research so important?

A complete view of research is vitally important on many levels. Patient safety depends upon this. Researchers, clinicians and patients rely on accurate reporting of drug development to make choices about participating in clinical trials, and in therapeutic decision making. Scientists need this information to best design new studies, taking into account what has already been discovered, and being able to do due diligence before they begin to design new studies, taking into account what has already been discovered, what has worked and what has not. Funders of biomedical and clinical research (philanthropic, taxpayers, industry) also rely on information being available to scientists and to grant reviewers so that spending on this vital research can be directed towards discovery and new therapies, while limiting waste and risks to patients.

Members of the Null Hypothesis™ initiative

We invite biomedical and clinical research institutions, funders, societies and journals to join the Null Hypothesis™ initiative and benefit from a proven grass-roots approach to improved opportunity for publishing well-performed research studies with null or inconclusive results, and shine light on work that could otherwise remain undiscoverable.

We are proud to launch NullHypothesis.com as a collection of links to papers and additional interviews and materials from the Null Hypothesis™ initiative. Ultimately, our goal is to see this initiative available, dedicating publishing space for these studies in high quality journals internationally, and in every research field.

For membership information please contact development@cbmrt.org

About the Center for Biomedical Research Transparency

CBMRT was founded in 2017 by Associate Professor Sandra Petty and Dr Hugo Stephenson. The charity was born in response to calls for increased transparency across academic and industry funded research. CBMRT is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization registered in New York, NY. CBMRT is governed by an independent Board of Directors and supported by an esteemed Scientific Advisory Committee. CBMRT’s main projects include the Null Hypothesis™ initiative, the highly successful Biomedical Transparency Summit series (held in Washington DC, and EU/UK), and our Ambassador Network.

Support from philanthropy and donations to support our work are welcomed! Help us shine light on dark data, improve research efficiency, and ultimately, improve options and outcomes for patients!

Become a valued supporter today! Contact philanthropy@cbmrt.org