As of now, we have opened our call for abstracts for the Journal of Trial and Error, for international and ambitious junior researchers who want to publish about their methodological problems and/or negative/null results.

Our forthcoming double-blind peer-reviewed first issue is thematically scoped as ‘sciences of the mind’, and we are now welcoming abstracts in the topic of neuroscience and psychology. The journal will be published fully open access; in the first issue, authors have the opportunity to publish for free. In addition, you can submit your article via email and we will take care of things like anonymization for you (see more information here).

What is our Story?

The scientific paper is the fundamental unit that channels exchange between scientists, and between the public and scientists. As such it’s subjected to constraints and conditions elevated by the scientific community. Unfortunately, it has become standard to only publish flawless and beneficial work for the ‘progress’ of science understood as statistically significant positive results (p<0.05). However, negative and null results are significant too. To bury failure is to hide information for the community. This is the file-drawer problem, or positive publication bias, and is caused by a gap between what is researched and what is published.

With our journal we want to build a counterweight to this bias by publishing papers of graduate students (master, PhD, post-docs), who are willing to change the current reality of big-discovery-science. This can be experiments that describe negative and null results, but it can also be studies that ended in detecting faulty data or other methodological problems – that stand in conflict with science’s etiquette/code of conduct. This way we want to provide a platform, where the question ‘what went wrong’ can be problematized and discussed in a productive and constructive way.

A reflection about the methodology of interpretation and observation and how they changed over time can lead to an increased awareness of science’s contemporary struggles, strengths and challenges. That’s why we want to issue a humanities paper next to the scientific paper. Through this parallel arrangement, we want to bridge the gap between the examiners of ‘what is out there’ and those examiners who link the aforementioned with ‘what is in us’. If you want to read more about the ideas behind this initiative, you are invited to read our Manifesto for Trial and Error in Science.

Our partners include Utrecht University’s Descartes Center for the History and the Philosophy of Science graduate program, the Open Science Community Utrecht, and the student start-up UtrechtInc.

What Does This Mean in Practice?

The Journal of Trial and Error calls for contributions which describe negative results or methodological flaws, that are part of the scientific reality. For our first issue, these contributions can consist of approaches in the fields of:

  • molecular neuroscience
  • cellular neuroscience
  • cognitive neuroscience
  • cognitive psychology
  • engineering psychology
  • clinical psychology

The science articles of the first issue (vol. 1/2020) will be edited by Davide Cavalieri (Inmed, Marseille), Stefan Gaillard (Utrecht University), and Sean Devine (Concordia University, Montreal). All proposals must strictly follow the instructions for authors of The Journal of Trial and Error, which can be found via this link.

For all general enquiries, please contact:
We hope you want to get us in touch with interested young researchers!

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