Negative results in scientific research: ethical aspects

Abstract Null, negative or unexpected results are possible occurrences for researchers around the world. Not publishing such results is a waste of resources (time, money, and effort). The objective of this study was to evaluate, through a questionnaire, what medical students and physicians thought about the publication of unexpected or negative results in research and to discuss the ethical aspects of the matter. The questions were answered by 40 students and 30 physicians from a private medical school. It is concluded that the publication of negative or unexpected results is still insufficiently discussed and accepted, perpetuating the belief that publishing such results may harm the researchers’ reputation. Almost all participants believe it is important to publish these kind of results, but only about 60% of them would publish such results. It is therefore important and necessary to broaden the discussion on this subject in medical schools to create a new academic mindset.