HealthOctober 01, 2020

COVID-19 study retractions drive research transparency partnership and push for increased publication of negative/null findings

The Center for Biomedical Research Transparency, the American Heart Association (AHA) and Wolters Kluwer join forces to launch a new Null Hypothesis collection for the AHA’s scientific journals portfolio

Together, The Center for Biomedical Research Transparency (CBMRT), the American Heart Association (AHA) and Wolters Kluwer continue to address the issue of publication bias – and the importance of publishing research with negative findings – by launching the Null Hypothesis Initiative for all of the AHA's 12 peer-reviewed, scientific research journals. As part of the initiative, CBMRT will provide financial support to make articles with negative/null findings freely available online, and the articles will be made available as an online collection within the AHA’s online journals portfolio, at Null Hypothesis. The drive to publish the Null Hypothesis collection is to raise the awareness of the importance of negative/null findings to the scientific community – information that can help to reduce publication bias and give way to future advancements.

The Null Hypothesis Initiative, which was first launched by CBMRT in 2017 with Neurology – the flagship journal of the American Academy of Neurology also published by Wolters Kluwer – has already demonstrated its potential to promote balance in academic publications by encouraging more authors to write up and submit important negative and inconclusive research findings for peer review. CBMRT’s partnership with the AHA seeks to expand the impact of this work by featuring the research work of authors from within the AHA’s robust scientific portfolio who choose to share their research findings for the benefit of informing future research.

The importance of publishing research with negative results has been highlighted recently in the example of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). As clinicians around the world seek research findings to help inform treatment decisions related to the pandemic, the importance of publishing the findings of well-designed research – whether the results are positive or negative – has been confirmed. To move forward, knowing what does not work is just as important as knowing what does, especially when resources and time are limited.

Chair of the AHA’s Scientific Publishing Committee N. A. Mark Estes, III, M.D., commented, “The American Heart Association’s scientific journals are committed to changing and strengthening research culture as it relates to publication bias, and this new Null Hypothesis collection allows us to ensure that we strive for balance. It is critical to ensure well-designed research with negative or null/inconclusive findings are catalogued and available to help inform and validate future research, discourse and clinical care.”

“Together we can address publication bias by encouraging the write-up and publication of all well-performed studies - including those with “negative”/null or inconclusive findings. Doing so not only improves research culture and enhances research efficiency but reduces the risk of avoidable harm to patients by ensuring that clinical practice is informed by a more complete and balanced record,” said A/Professor Sandra Petty, CEO of CBMRT.

The AHA’s online Null Hypothesis collection launches today with an editorial in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes and includes articles gathered from several of the AHA’s journals, including Circulation, Journal of the American Heart Association, Hypertension and Stroke. The Null Hypothesis collection encourages researchers to document well-designed work that they have completed – and that others may learn from – even if the results obtained do not support the expected outcome. 

“We encourage and support the publication of negative study results and see the Null Hypothesis as a positive step to help authors achieve this goal for more balanced research,” said Jayne Marks, VP, Publishing, Health Learning, Research & Practice, Wolters Kluwer. “These efforts can directly improve patient care by helping to avoid repeating studies that won’t work, and, therefore, accelerate new treatments.” 

More on the Null Hypothesis Initiative can be found here

The Null Hypothesis collection will complement the AHA’s robust, existing portfolio of 12 peer-reviewed, print and online, subscription-based scientific journals: Circulation; Stroke; Hypertension; Journal of the American Heart Association; Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology; Circulation Research; Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology; Circulation: Genomic and Precision Medicine; Circulation: Heart Failure; Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging; Circulation: Cardiovascular Interventions; and Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

About CBMRT

The Center for Biomedical Research Transparency (CBMRT) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that facilitates transparent reporting of biomedical research. CBMRT aims to ensure that all biomedical results – including negative and inconclusive results - are accessible in the interests of patient safety & research efficiency. CBMRT coordinates the Null Hypothesis initiative, a series of collaborations with leading medical societies and their journals to highlight awareness of research with negative and inconclusive findings. CBMRT also runs a series of conferences and educational events each year for funders, publishers, industry, academia, regulators and science policy leaders to promote cooperation on efforts relating to improving research transparency.

About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public's health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

About Wolters kluwer

Wolters Kluwer (WKL) is a global leader in professional information, software solutions, and services for the health, tax & accounting, governance, risk & compliance, and legal & regulatory sectors. We help our customers make critical decisions every day by providing expert solutions that combine deep domain knowledge with specialized technology and services.