Humans learn by making mistakes. When the mistakes of others are hidden then we all have to go over the same ground to discover the errors - a waste of time, in many cases. The issue of publishing negative studies is a bit one. When I was researching my book "Why good practice doesn't spread" I could find no-one who was prepared to share, publicly, their experience of a large scale change project that did not achieve what it set out to do. They would talk in private and anonymously - but not openly.
One of my ambitions is to start the online Journal of Quality Improvement and Patient Safety Program Failures. I would love to be able to read about projects that went pear-shaped. I think I would learn more from them than from the ones which advertise greatness.
If you have ideas on what should be included in this Journal then please leave a comment on this blogpost or email me directly.
In the meantime if you want to read a few articiples and papers about the issue check out:
Increased calls for publishing negative clinical trial data
Publish or perish culture distorting research results
The importance of publishing negative results