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Development Engineering Journal Special Issue on “Learning from Failure and Null Results in Global Engineering”

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Although global engineering endeavors regularly fail, positive outcomes are significantly more likely to be written up and accepted in academic journals. As a result, negative or null results are often unrepresented in the literature. This can lead to unrealistic expectations for success, decision-making that is disproportionately influenced by positive outcomes, and duplication of research (at great cost) that has already been proven false. This skewed focus also starves the field of critical opportunities for failure to spark new innovations or help refine our understanding of complex problems.

The Journal Development Engineering is excited to announce a Special Issue (SI) that will offer researchers an opportunity to discuss and reflect when things have gone wrong or research has returned null results. This might involve reflections on programs that failed to achieve their stated aims; discussions of setbacks that were later rectified; reporting and reflections on harms that may have befallen various stakeholders through unintended consequences; or hypotheses that have been proven wrong and returned null results. We also invite submissions that support the expansion of opportunities to incorporate failure reflection and analysis into scientific discourse and decision-ma


king. These might include a review on the use of failure or failure analysis in global development fields; a critical exploration of the barriers and opportunities to incorporate failure analysis into global development decision-making; or the creation and validation of quantitative methodologies to study and report on failure metrics for solutions and innovations in different contexts.

Submissions will be accepted through December 31, 2022. Submissions will be eligible for full fee waivers from Elsevier (deadline to be determined). To submit a manuscript for review, please click here. If you have a question about the applicability of a given topic to the SI, please reach out to Amy Bilton (


Development Engineering: The Journal of Engineering in Economic Development is an open-access, interdisciplinary journal applying engineering and economic research to the problems of poverty. Published studies must present novel research motivated by a specific global development problem. The journal, hosted by the USAID-funded Development Impact Lab (DIL) at UC Berkeley, serves as a bridge between engineers, economists, and other scientists involved in research on human, social, and economic development.

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