BMC Research Notes has launched with the aim of helping to complete the scientific record. Many submissions are rejected by journals on grounds of interest, which can mean that valuable data go unpublished, becoming ‘dark data‘. This can lead to publication bias, and wasted time, effort and resources of researchers and research subjects.
Small studies and confirmatory studies produce a valuable body of work – most science progresses by small advances rather than headline breakthroughs. Replication of results is essential and these studies are included in meta-analyses and systematic reviews. If the results of a study confirm what is already known or a new method or software tool offers an alternative approach rather than a major advance then we want authors to state this rather than being tempted to make exaggerated claims. Negative results may seem disappointing, but support for the null hypothesis is important and publishing such studies is essential to avoid publication bias.
Valuable data go unpublished, becoming ‘dark data’,
leading to publication bias and wasted time and effort
The journal provides a platform for publishing updates to research reports (such as additional controls, extra time points, more patients or animals), updates to software tools and methods (perhaps optimized for ease of use, speed or accuracy, implemented for another operating system, or using a new interface) and updates to databases (maybe introducing a better interface or new sources of data).
BMC Research Notes is encouraging innovative content with:
· Correspondence articles reporting novel observations deriving from the published literature.
· Hypotheses that will spur other researchers into testing these ideas and claims.
· Data Notes to allow authors to describe public data sets or databases (such as those proposed to be hosted by Google), including how they were collected and curated and likely uses of the data.
· Project Notes to give researchers the chance to describe a research project as a whole, bringing together an overview normally broken into separate publications.
To navigate the maze of science we need
to know the cul de sacs as well as the clear runs
Project Notes also allow researchers to report research projects and trials that did not yield publishable results – this information may prove to be invaluable to other researchers working on related projects and offer a ‘glimpse behind the curtain’ of scientific research, showing how research really proceeds rather than the polished version often reported in the literature. To navigate the maze of science we need to know the cul de sacs as well as the clear runs.
For submissions to the journal, all relevant data should be made publicly available either in public repositories or in additional files to be published with the article. Authors should follow reporting and deposition guidelines as summarised by the MIBBI project and the EQUATOR Network, for biological and clinical studies respectively. We are working on guidelines for the formatting and reporting of data.