Why does so much research go unpublished?


Why does so much research go unpublished? BishopBlog[1] tries to anser the question. The author took part at a symposium about waste in research. Waste in this context ment unpublished research and researching into something which has already been researched on, e.g. to test the effect of a medicine when there is already a plethora of research showing effect. Maybe this is not such a big problem in other scientific areas than medicine but previous research is often overlooked. Sometimes there is TOO little of replication. For research to get published needs to have a pioneering aspect and exciting in some way. Often, a literature review is neither.

The author of BishopBlog means that journals do not give enough space for presenting previous research and that there is no value in building on previous research. Of course there are many areas where research does not have to build on previous research.

Literatur reviews are needed to e.g. critisize the existing research but also to show exciting patterns in research data which otherwise might not have been visible and in that way show new and interesting problem areas and questions which have yet to be researched. Also, literatur reviews help us to make sure we do not spend resources on topics which have answers. Of course a research question must be reinvestigated if it was some time ago there was an answer. Maybe there is interest to find out if changes has occured and to investigate what effects these changes have.

In the blog the author also gives, according to her, three main reasons as to why research goes unpublished. First, results are inconclusive; second, the manuscript is not accepted for publishing in a journal and third, there is no time to finish the manuscript.

Previously in this blog we have written about negative results which are also results and need to be published. We can learn from research with inconclusive results things such as how should resarch be conducted to get conclusive results. In the same blog post we also wrote about the problem with journals which are not interested in publishing results which they do not consider as novel or exciting. The last thing all researchers can sign is the lack of time. To get a promotion one needs to publish, be able to attract externa research funds but the research which one receives money needs to be conducted.

What can we do to publish the research which is done? It has to do with giving researchers peace to do their work and also that idea that research must be groundbreaking to be published has to dissapear. It is more important to value the stringency of used methods, theories and conclusions.

Pieta Eklund


[1] The author is working with experimental pshycology and specifically communication difficulties in children.

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About Forskningsrelaterat

Bibliotekarie och doktorand som tycker att bibliotekets forskarstöd är intressant, speciellt publiceringsstöd och open access. Skriver en avhandling om samarbete mellan bibliotekarier och forskare. Librarian and a PhD Student working with library research support with main focus on publishing support and open access. Writing a doctoral dissertation on collaboration between librarians and researchers.