The Journal of Trial and Error is designed to close the gap between what is published and what is researched. We stand by the call for transparency of the Open Science movement and are concerned about the replicability crisis and the publication pressures that researchers face — especially junior investigators — in their pursuit of a career in science.


Here we have compiled a series of frequently asked questions:

What is the scope of our journal?

In our first issue, we are focusing on the sciences of the mind, specifically Neuroscience and Psychology. The publication pressures in Neuroscience are alarming, perhaps due to the flourishing nature of the discipline in recent decades, and associated high competition. In Psychology, the replication crisis still affects a large number of publications, and instances of publication bias plague the field.

What kind of content do we publish?

Our journal has an innovative format based on interdisciplinary dialogue. We will publish two kinds of articles, both peer-reviewed according to the standards of each discipline:

Short experimental communications

These pieces will show instances of the trial and error process in science. We welcome preferentially two kinds of manuscripts:

  • Conceptual developments based on negative or null results. Positive publication bias (also known as the file-drawer problem) is the tendency to submit and publish preferentially only hypothesis-confirming results. Publication bias is a serious issue in science; we belief that reporting negative results is essential and necessary (Devang Mehta, 2019, ‘Highlight negative results to improve science’, Nature Career Column).

  • Methodological challenges and suggestions, or technical flaws that carry relevant information (advice on the do’s and don’ts) for the field to which they belong.

A space for reflection

In this section, we are inviting researchers from several disciplines to reflect on one of the experimental short-communications. Issues like publication bias (the file-drawer problem) or replication crisis do not have single-layered solutions. We propose a multi-disciplinary commentary on the process of trial and error. The possibilities are varied, but we can outline some options:

  • Reflection from experience in which senior researchers on the same field as the experimental paper may, for example, comment how the methodologies fit in the larger scheme of the discipline.

  • Reflection of the practices based on a social science critique (STS, antrophology).

  • Reflection of the foundations of the given discipline (be it the philosophical foundations, or the historical tradition).

What do we mean by ‘Trial and Error’?

We consider Trial and Error to be inherent and indispensable in science. By Trial and Error, we mean the dynamic and collective process of learning from the ‘successes’ and ‘failures’ of research practices. 

Since science is a joint endeavour, we as publishers want to encourage scientists to report and reflect on failure, both theoretical and practical.

Who can contribute?

We are currently looking for contributors in early-career stages, including late master students, PhD candidates, and post-docs. 

Who reviews the manuscripts that we receive?

Our editorial team assigns to each manuscript three senior scientists in the appropriate field to review the content and scientific quality of the work. The reviewers treat the manuscript and scrutinise the validity of the results by the standards of the discipline and the methods used.

The manuscript’s quality will be evaluated based on whether the work makes a noticeable contribution to the scientific community, independently from the confirmation of the initial hypothesis.

We are committed to having a transparent and open review process.

What are the processing fees?

For the upcoming issue, we don’t charge processing fees. We have been funded by the Utrecht University Funds and the Descartes Centre for the History and Philosophy of Science and the Humanities. 


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