Confusion about Negative Studies

Kay Dickersin, Hugh Tunstall-Pedoe, Marcia Angell

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


To the Editor: As Angell notes,1 a study that is well designed and conducted makes a positive contribution to biomedical knowledge; thus, it seems wrong to call it a “negative study.” Others have requested that similar terms not be used,2 I believe with good cause. What one is really concerned with is the study results, for which the term “negative study” is too broad. Generally speaking, one can obtain one of five possible results in testing a single hypothesis: (1) a “positive” association between factors of interest (in favor of the test hypothesis) that is “statistically significant,” (2) a “positive”.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1084-1085
Number of pages2
JournalNew England Journal of Medicine
Issue number15
StatePublished - Apr 12 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

Cite this